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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Spirit Lake Youngster Heading to Perform in Washington DC

Hunter Street is no ordinary seven-year-old, second grader.

Normally he’s in Mrs. Pavek’s class at Sweetwater Elementary School in Devils Lake but he’s heading to Washington DC later this week to perform for the second annual White House Tribal Nations Conference and President Barack Obama.

Street was selected for the honor by the National Congress of American Indians after they heard his singing on a You Tube video. He will be performing the Lakota Flag Song at the beginning of the opening ceremonies of the conference. It is equivalent to the National Anthem for the Lakota people.

Melissa Merrick, Street’s mother, will accompany him on his trip to Washington. She says she doesn’t know who’s more excited about the trip, her son or she. They will be leaving Wednesday morning to make sure they get to Washington in time.

Merrick says her son has been singing since he was two years old and has a gift for learning the words and songs. “He’s most familiar with the Lakota and Dakota culture,” she said. “He is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, that was my father’s tribe. I am Spirit Lake, Dakota, and he is being raised here. The traditional way is part of who we are,” Merrick said.

A proud mom, Merrick has her hands full raising four boys: her brother Brier Lebeau, 15; and sons Kasen, 14, Richard III, 11 and Hunter.

The White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington DC convenes on Thursday, Dec. 16. The opening ceremonies was broadcoast on the website. It began at 8:30 a.m. EST, 7:30 a.m. CST.

Merrick worked on the 2008 Obama campaign locally as part of First Americans for Obama. She and her former husband, Richard Street, Hunter’s father, had to pass background checks as part of the process leading up to Hunter’s invitation to the congress.

She said at last year’s congress two young men from Pine Ridge performed at the opening ceremonies, now, this year, it will be her son. “That’s a real thrill for me, I am so proud of him,” Merrick said.

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