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2017-10-12 / Voices

Oyate Ta Icante


Long time ago when alcohol was introduced to our people, it really started to take effect on the youth. I knew great grandmothers who were born in tents in our hard winters, it was a time when tipis were disappearing. Buffalo were dying, and children were feeling the effect of the white man taking over the land. Grandmothers started taking their takoja from the parents and raising them, otherwise they were being shipped off to militarized boarding schools from the age of 4 to 18. Or they were neglected, or worse yet they were being sold. Which to me is also an act of MMIW.

I was contacted by a lady in Oklahoma, her real name was Lakota. She often wondered why her name was Lakota when they born in Oklahoma and born and raised Cherokee. They were part of the Sixkiller clan. She told me in the email that after her mother took to her bed as an old lady she called her into her room, she told her she was ready to tell her story. I am an old lady now but I have something to tell you. I am from the Pine Ridge Reservation. I was born in a cabin in Slim Buttes, where my family is from, my grandmother raised me and took me and my brothers and sister from our mother. She was drinking too much to care for us. I have no desire to go back there but it is my home. I am too old to go back but I want you to find someone there to tell my story to. I want to see the land. I want you to see the land I am from. I want my children to go back there. I know I raised you with your father’s last name but he is not your father. When I was 11 or maybe 12 years old, my mother was outside talking to a white man. He was a Lt. with the United States Army. He had a nice shiny car. I had never seen a car like that. She told me to come look at it. My grandmother was crying, saying I had no shoes and it was winter. As I went out to look at it, she walked back to our cabin. And the man grabbed me and threw me in the car. I saw my little brothers and sisters crying for me. I cried and screamed for my mom to get me. She never looked back. I cried for my grandma. He raped me repeatedly that night. He took me to his house to work as a maid and his wife beat me up. His son and the father raped me many times. When we moved to Oklahoma I was pregnant with you. I was empty inside. I thought of my brothers and sisters often, crying for them at night as a new life fluttered in my belly. One day they had a party and I was serving all the soldiers there. I remember seeing a handsome young Indian man, he was in the army. He looked at me and smiled. I walked away with my head down, ashamed of what I had become. I saw him talk to the Lt. in the back den. The next thing I know the wife had my stuff packed and the Indian soldier was waiting for me. I had no idea what was going on. He said when we got to his place that he was going to make me his wife but I didn’t have to be his wife if I didn’t want to. He knew what they were doing to me, he knew I was pregnant, and he threatened to report it. So they told him to get rid of me. He was there when I had you and even though he was willing to take me home, I couldn’t bear to see my mom again. I loved him more and more until the day he died. Now it is my turn. So please find someone to send me some pictures of my home, someone who can listen to my story.

When Lakota contacted me, I emailed her pictures of the reservation and she bought a beaded pouch for her mom. She listened to my story and repeated it to her mom. She blew the pictures up to posters and hung them around her mom and held her as she cried for her land and old life before she had everything taken from her. She was lucky, she ended up with her husband and well loved by her huge family. A few months later she went onto the spirit world and the following summer her family took her ashes to the reservation to spread them on the land she loved. This is why our women are sacred and need to be respected.

Dedicated to Lakota’s mother, who was a Spotted Horse, she passed in 2011 and I am finally telling her story.

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