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Getting cultured

Posted on Thursday, June 21st, 2007.

A day after Mitra and Jenna attended the Sioux Falls Festival of Cultures, they happened to have a day full of interviews of South Dakotans from many different cultural backgrounds, thanks to the Multi-Cultural Center of Sioux Falls, an excellent outreach partner.

Paul and Kathy Summers-LaRoche had been married for almost twenty years before Paul found out, while sorting through his adoptive parent’s belongings after they had both passed away, that his biological parents were Native American. He recounted his first phone conversation with his brother, at the age of 38, and the shock he felt when he heard, "Brother, you are a Lakota Indian." Since that day fourteen years ago, Paul and Kathy moved to the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation to live near Paul’s family, and Kathy became the producer of the band whose music was inspired by Paul’s journey, Brule, in which both their children play instruments. Finding out that Paul is Native American was a blessing for both Paul and Kathy, who say they have "started a new life, with new hope."

Ikoba Lokonobei came to StoryCorps with his daughter, Santina, to talk about leaving his home in Sudan for the United States. When Santina asked her father if he had planned to come to America, Ikoba explained that it was the civil war in Sudan that forced him to leave his country. Initially, he didn’t understand how to cross "beyond the waters" to a new found land, but after escaping to Kenya as a refugee, he managed to find his way to the U.S. Ikoba told Santina about the struggles of adjusting to life in the States, but said that ultimately he was proud of the sacrifice he made in order to give his family a good life. After the interview Santina revealed her own worries about adjusting to life in Africa in the future, where she plans to be a doctor so she can help those less fortunate than herself in her father’s homeland.

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