Kelley Meyer Sexson will present a history and cultural message at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture on Tuesday, Nov. 16 in conjunction with Native American Heritage Month.
The public presentation begins at 7 p.m. in the Education Center auditorium of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.
Sexson and husband Rick are graduates of the University of Nebraska School of Technical Agriculture, the precursor of NCTA. They produce cattle at the Sexson Ranch in Lincoln County between Wellfleet and Dickens.
As a newborn, Kelley was adopted by Kenneth and Virginia Meyer and raised at the family farm near Wellfleet. In high school, a boy called her a derogatory term. Her program, “Never a Half-Breed, but a Proud, Indigenous Warrior Woman” comes from the painful insult.
“My story is one of being adopted, with a white birth certificate for 14 years, then finding my new life as a native warrior woman,” she said. “And how my two diverse lives connect.”
She said education is helpful for everyone, no matter what race, culture, gender or education level.
At age 57, when she finally met her mother and later, some siblings, Kelley gained insights into the family. Her mother lived in a rural area about 5 miles outside of a Marty, a small town in southeastern South Dakota in Charles Mix County.
Geographic regions across South Dakota are home to Lakota, near Pine Ridge; Nakota in the southeast and Dakota. Each has a separate area, dialect and traditions, although all names translate to “friendly people.”
Since 2007, Kelley has learned about her elders, Native culture, traditions, art and music. She takes online classes to learn the Nakota language.
Researching a story from her mother, historical films, books, and Ancestry.com, she has linked her heritage back five generations to Sitting Bull.
At UNSTA, Kelley majored in commercial horticulture. Rick majored in production agriculture. She recalls writing a paper in Del VanDerWerff’s Human Relations class in which she broached her Native heritage.
“Later, when older and wiser, I was able to learn more,” she said. “I knew Native people from around here so that I didn’t go in blindly.”
Although her mother died a year after they met, Kelley has continued correspondence and visits with a cousin in Sioux Falls, and learned more about aunts, uncles and some siblings.
She plans to bring photographs, stories, a Nakota hymnal and other items to display at her presentation.
Kelley says she was honored to be asked by a friend to share some of her story for Native American Heritage Month. The program is sponsored by the NCTA Diversity Committee, chaired by Erika Arambula.
Part of the University of Nebraska system, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture is a two-year institution with a statewide mission of preparing students for successful careers in agriculture, veterinary technology and related industries.
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