PEPPERELL -- Roland Jerome, a full-blooded member of the Micmac tribe, said although the term Native-American is broadly used to describe the indigenous tribes of North America, there are reasons that he refers to himself in other terms.
First of all, there is a misconception that the term refers solely to those tribe members born on U.S. soil; Jerome was born on a reservation in Quebec, Canada.
Secondly, he said, "Probably 90 percent of people in the U.S. are native Americans, because they were born here."
Still, Jerome, who generally refers to his people as "first nation people," has accepted the widely understood term Native-American to describe indigenous tribes, and is largely more concerned about other misconceptions that many people have about them.
That's where the United Native American Cultural Center Inc. comes in. The multicultural organization, which consists of about 10 different tribes, according to Jerome, regularly informs the public about its different lines of heritage through presentations at venues in the area. The Pepperell Senior Center will be hosting the group's two-part event on Sept. 14 and 15.
"We're trying to pass on our history, since our true history is not in books; it's handed down generation by generation," he said. "We don't leave anything out, we tell it like it is."
As part of the presentation, the group will be appearing in full regalia and bringing in displays with items from their various cultures;
"I remember when I was a kid, I used to go with my dad and trade the basics for food," he said.
Now, six to seven decades later, he said, circumstances have chanages.
"They've got all modern things, they've got computers, brand new houses, wall-to-wall carpeting ... They don't really speak the language anymore."
Jerome, who will be playing his Nugumiji drum, said it's important to him to preserve the language to help keep the culture alive.
Lorena Novak was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and is half Inupiaq Eskimo. She, too, hopes to clarify her culture's role in history.
"A week before I started going there (to the UNACC), somebody made a comment to me that Eskimos aren't Native-Americans ... we were here to begin with. We were native Americans," she said.
Novak said the people she grew up with have retained most of their historical practices.
"A lot of people don't understand that there are still (native) people living off land -- hunting, fishing, gathering greens and berries to survive on," she said. "(Some people, especially young children) are just blown away by the fact that people still go out and fish and put fish away to eat during the winter time. A lot of people think we can go to the store to get something for dinner, but it's not like that in a lot of the villages."
As part of her display, Novak has polar bear fur, walrus whiskers and some seal pelts.
"When I go to talk with small kids, we talk about the animals and a lot of them are appalled by the fact I have animal pelts, but I'm just explaining to them that the animal isn't killed just for sake of taking its fur," she said. "In Native American culture, you the take animal when you need to and you try to use every piece of the animal you can."
The main purpose of the group is to bring awareness to the fact that not everything is how it appears in history text books, said Jerome.