My grandma was a warrior.

There is always an uproar when a scantily clad model, celebrity, or even our own women wear war bonnets.  There is always an outcry and I have even stood my ground against this:  You can not do this.  It is wrong.  Women do not traditionally wear headdresses like men, etc.

There have been attacks on fashion shows, Gwen Stefani, Victoria’s Secret,  Halloween costumes, and these social media attacks have been successful.  There re always strong women behind them, giving the reasons why our women don’t wear warbonnets.  Most of the time, because they are nearly naked, the main reason is stereotyping Native women that way.   As if all native women hyper sexual vamps when the rate of sexual violence against native women is higher than the national rate.  The number of missing and murdered Native women is off the charts and rarely does each case see justice.

I have stated these facts as I learned them.

Then I learned that my very own great great great grandmother wore a warbonnet.

She never placed it on her head and it was there but for a brief moment.  It was while posing for a picture.  The warbonnet was placed on her head by Chief Sitting Bull and it belonged to him.  She is wearing an elk tooth dress in the picture and the warbonnet.  He put it on her because he said she earned to wear it.  She fought alongside her sons and husband in the battle at Greasy Grass.  She was a part of a women’s society who made sure, there were no survivors.

My unci, my grandmother was a warrior.   And she wasn’t a warrior only because she fought in battle as a freedom fighter.  She was a warrior because no matter what she did in life she did it as a means for survival.

She walked back from Canada to South Dakota carrying her 10 month old son, Lone Hill.  All the way back she followed a wolf, she could understand him.  He led her to her people.  She walked back from Canada because Lone Hill’s father hit her and she left.  She had no help, no domestic violence rights, no police to protect her, no shelter to go to.  She walked back because she knew she wasn’t going to be treated like that.  Because she missed her family, and because she wasn’t going to raise her son like that.

She found her family and went on to have more children and become a great warrior.

So see, when women wear warbonnets because they think it is sexy or cute, or because they think it is the cool, hipster thing to do, I take offense, on a personal level.  My grandma was a warrior, she lived her life as such and as a woman of strength.  She didn’t even have the nerve to honor herself with a warbonnet, but a great chief did.

Because she earned it.

And I know that whatever I do in this lifetime, my struggle or accomplishments will never live up to or even be half as close as her- but I will try to live my life as I hope she would be proud.  A warbonnet is for those who deserve it.  Warriors, and hardly anyone I see wearing them are.  And that is a damn shame.

My great great great grandmother Susie Shot in the Eye

My great great great grandmother Susie Shot in the Eye


22 thoughts on “My grandma was a warrior.

  1. nice post.  thanksBruce ****************”Whenever possible practice compassion. It is always possible. ” – Tenzin Gyatso “Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” – Edward Abbey  

  2. I am not Native American (or maybe I am??? — my ancestors invaded this continent 400 years ago, and I’m sure they were no better than most of the invaders. Only the women know for sure). But I weep for the conditions forced on the indigenous people of this country. You, however, are a Warrior with Warrior blood, and Warrior history. I feel blessed just to be able to read your words. Despite our varied backgrounds, we all are Sisters. We need our collective strength to overcome our constraints and to restore health to this Earth.

  3. I honer the women you talk about. I know of the same strength. It takes a lot to up and leave on your own. I left do to my Hubie was going to kill are child because,the child was a girl. I took a beating protecting my daughter. He busted my back. I took my daughter and a suitcase with a busted back went on a airplane. After being back home I had trouble walking. I desired I would not let him win this one. I’m walking today with pain but I’m walking.

  4. Inspiring. My mother and grandmothers were strong women. I wish I could go back further than two generations in my family, to know what earlier women experienced.

  5. Thank you for sharing this information about your grandmother. That is a beautiful picture of her. Much respect to a brave & determined woman who knew her own worth enough not to submit to abuse. Amazing journey!

  6. It is also increda-offensive to dress sexy as a nurse, cowgirl, pirate,teacher, sailor, Eskimo, peasant, gangster, slave, prisoner, or even as a police officer for as all these people went through hard ships as well. I am a native Alaskan living a subsictance life style and I am wondering where the cry babies from the other stereo types are. Actors and actresses shouldn’t dress as other people, it’s not there job. As for professional mascots they should definitely change to gringos so we can forget about our native pride already. It’s making us look like sorry little girls.

  7. Thank you for writing that and sharing how it should be…Honorable Recognition that is confirmed by another or others who have also earned the right to wear one.

  8. I enjoyed your blog on “my grandmother was a warrior” thank you for this. It put some shiz into perspective for me. Enjoyed reading it.

  9. Thank you for sharing. I believe you are going to be the women your grandmother was. A warrior with words. Thank you again for sharing.

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