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Indigenous Women Leaders Podcast: An Interview with Lakota Elder Madonna Thunder Hawk

“First of all, you don’t need anyone’s permission to Stand up for something no matter what teeth. “ – Madonna Thunder Hawk

She may be from the silent generation (before the baby boomers), but anyone who knows Madonna Thunder Hawk (81), the Lakota of the Sioux Sioux, also knows she’s not a silent type. increase. Her name is, after all, synonymous with the American Civil Rights Movement in India, and generally Native American resistance. It was her actions that began in 1969 that proved louder than words.Early leader of American Indian Movement (AIM)Thunder Hawk participated in the occupation at Alcatraz, One of the most important events in Native American history, was the first modern-day protest, primarily led by indigenous peoples, of whom 400 supported Indian self-determination. Civil resistance lasted 19 months. In 1973 she South Dakota injured knee hijackingA 71-day profession involving 200 people, activists have stood up for the rights and injustices of the Convention against Native Americans. Thunderhawk states that he was not thinking about the importance of what political activity was at the time.

“I didn’t have time to benchmark. It was a constant and continuous push. We never sat down to see what we did. What’s the next struggle? We didn’t have time to think about it. We will face more and there is always something to do. We were always looking forward to it like our ancestors. It’s a constant survival. It was a mode. You never looked back. “

As she moved forward, her work as a frontline protester and reformer evolved. She doesn’t like activists saying “overuse”.She co-founded Women of All Red Nations (warning)Focused on the issue of native women. She also Black Hills Alliance To fight uranium mining in the sacred Lakota land. She helped establish a survivor school to replace government-run schools, where culturally relevant teachings on topics such as tribal sovereignty were the norm. She is currently working as a tribal liaison. Lakota People’s Law Project, “Working with indigenous communities to protect sacred lands, protect human rights, promote sustainability, reunite indigenous families, etc.” “Your work changes as you get older. I’m still busy. I still have problems. I have land infrastructure problems and water problems,” says Thunderhawk.

Water guardian

Protecting the land and water protected by the treaty is not an easy task for frank supporters. It’s no wonder Thunderhawk joined tens of thousands of protesters or “water guardians” at the Standing Rocks Reservation in South Dakota in 2016. “”Water is life ” Also “Mni Wiconi“(In Lakota) Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).. Indigenous youth and indigenous adult women played a vital role in the movement. In response to a call from the AIM Cohort, Thunderhawk helped manage the camps that attracted international attention. “My job was with Philis Young, who was the liaison for the (Standing Rock Sue) tribe,” continues Thunderhawk. “We traded directly with the Morton County Sheriff’s Office and the Army Corps of Engineers. They were virtually ready to bomb us. We knew their tactics, governments at all levels. We learned from that day. I ended up staying until the end. “

Native Children Advocate

As a mother, grandmother, and now a great-grandmother, Thunderhawk speaks very loudly about native children. “I’m part of my grandmother’s group, Wasagi and Najin (” strong “). We work at the local level. “

Specifically, she stands strong for those who are forced into foster care. Statistics show that Native Americans are up to four times more likely to have their children separated and fostered than non-Native Americans. According to the National Association of Child Welfare of IndiaThe ndian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) became a law in 1978, 25-35% of all Native American children were taken from their homes and 85% were located outside the community. Since the legislation was enacted, the number of native children in non-native homes has dropped to 56 percent of children removed from their families.

Boarding school survivor

Thunderhawk is well aware of how terrifying it is for children taken away from home. In 1946, she and her sister were sent to a BIA boarding school, where they were given government-issued clothing. The first day was literally painful. “They thought we had head lice,” she recalls. “They took us to the basement, where there was a big tub of kerosene. They soaked our heads in the water. Then they toweled our heads. I wrapped it in. I could feel the scalp burning. “

She survived the boarding school like her mother. It definitely set the stage for her life path as an activist. “They said I couldn’t speak. I soon went into protected mode,” says Thunderhawk. She sticks to the native children who remain in their community, no matter what the cost, even if that means working with the government.

Wasagi and NajinA group of grandmothers, consisting of elders like her, also known as “OG” or old grandma, work with YG or young grandma to find solutions to community problems. Currently, they are working with South Dakota to find ways to keep foster children booked.Team up with a group called Just a smile, They are building a children’s village to keep the Lakota children who may have been sent to the tribal land. “I thought they were a religious group (Simply Smiles) trying to save the Indians. I assumed that, but I knew it wasn’t what they were doing. We started talking. We said we needed to keep our children in the settlement, “says Thunderhawk. “We don’t have enough foster parents to put our children in the settlement. There are lots of dysfunctions, drugs and alcohol. It’s really hard. We need to do something.”

Thanks to the partnership between OG and Simply Smiles, the Cheyenne Sioux Children’s Village now has a building. What is needed now is a foster parent who can help raise native children in an environment rooted in native traditions and healing practices.

Deb Haaland

The work of Thunderhawk’s life has brought about positive changes. She has made great strides in Native American treatment and life. Seeing that, it was amazing that Deb Haaland was appointed as Secretary of the Interior earlier this year. You see. It’s amazing that there are natives and of course women there! We know she will be a great person. She is ready to step up. Many indigenous women across the country are like that. Now is our time! I can just sit down and see it and get glory. “

Advice for young people

Thunderhawk has spent his life as a mover and shaker. What is her advice for young people?

“Whether it’s a problem or you want to pursue education, be the best in the bunch. Make a plan. Have a vision. Have a sign. What ability do you have? Also participate. Do whatever you can. Everyone needs. You are responsible. See what your ancestors did to talk and breathe. If you only have one, be a role model for kids. It’s important. Be that hero for your kids. Your ancestors are around us. That’s ours. It’s a strength. We got off to a good start for everyone else. “

To watch a female eNews interview with Madonna Thunderhawk, click below.

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Written by Fem Society

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