What I Have Learned From The Grand-mothers
I was raised by my Wazazi (Osage) Grandmother. She was very assimilated, but remembered certain things about our culture, our very Nature as Indigenous Women, things that she raised me with and never wanted me to forget. She would take me to our Ancestral Lands and teach me to Pray, among some of our other spiritual values. She would take me to Seminole and Cherokee powwows in the Southeast part of the country where she and her husband had retired. When I came to a certain point in my life after multiple traumatic brain injuries in one year, I was no longer capable of complex colonial thoughts. I had no choice but to go back to the simple teachings my Grandmother raised me with.
Upon my arrival to Pueblo territory, I felt like it was only respectful to learn about the history and cultures of our Southwest Relatives. During my academic studies in Northern New Mexico, I was very blessed to get to do my undergraduate Independent Studies with renowned Pueblo Scholar and Museum Curator as well as interview Rina Swentzell from the Kha’Po Tribe (Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico). From the time I spent with Pueblo Grandmother Rina Swentzel, I realized that although she had left to experience the outside world of academics, the things that she cherished most was the connection when she was in Nature and the memories of being with her Great-Grandmother on the Land. That essentially as Indigenous Women there is no separation between our bodies, our spirits, and the Land which we are stewards of and that kindness and quiet observation are among the most valuable of virtues in Life.
From my time with the Grandmothers of the Oceti Sakowin Seven Council Fires, specifically the teachings and wisdom of Martina Looking Horse (Mni Conjou Lakota), Regina Brave (Oglala Lakota), Marie Whirlwind Soldier (Sicungu Lakota) and Dorothy SunBear Rowland (Oglala Lakota), I have learned that standing for what Natural Law and our shared Values as Indigenous Womxn often comes with great Sacrifice and a lifetime of Commitment.
Martina Looking Horse, my adopted Lakota Mom, shared with our daughter and I one time: “We as Lakota Oyate (People) were given the spiritual Virtues as guides. No one is able to live them perfectly, but the more we live those Values, the stronger our Prayers will be.”
Essentially, from the Grandmothers I have learned that as without the sacrifice of women, the Natural Life Givers, there would be no continuation of Life. That the Wisdom and Compassion that Matriarchy brings to a culture is that variable that creates a sacred balance. A Harmony that has been all but forgotten by the world. And its time that we Remember.
“We are Mother Earth’s Army.”Dorothy SunBear Rowland, Oglala Lakota Grandmother & Activist