When I was a little girl, we had women’s inipi, (sweat lodge) where all us little girls, after learning to be mindful outside the inipi as little ladies, we were allowed to go in and learn the songs and prayer.
All my life, I have only had inipi with women, until right before I went to prison when I had inipi ceremony with my dad and uncles as they prayed for my strength.
But it was those new moon sweats with Grandma Fanny, my mother, and all my hunka (adopted) aunties that taught me life lessons.
I grew up knowing the strength of women, the strength of sisterhood, I grew up knowing the songs and the ways. When I say ways, I not only mean the songs, how to pray etc.
I mean I grew up knowing how to respect people, how to treat people, how to share and give, how to be thankful, how to be humble, and how to value friendship. I never had a doubt in my mind that I was Lakota and where I was from because of these women. Sometimes I was distracted in life, by life, but I always came back to these life lessons under the new moon. Any situation I was in, in life, came back to these lessons. Sometimes, many times, I put myself in situations where I had to learn the hard way. And again I would remember something from back then….thinking…oh yeah, that’s why….always drawing strength from those nights, long ago.
I will never forget the beauty of strength I witnessed in these women or the way their voices carried under the stars. It was a feeling as beautiful as when you first step out of the inipi, strong, refreshed, and whole.
My goal in life is to be as strong as they were, to learn to love like they did, and to pass on these ways to my daughter.
Thanks to any of the women from those nights long long long (ha) ago, if you read this.