Delphine Red Shirt: Women face dangers in this world every day

Delphine Red Shirt. Photo by Rich Luhr

In This World Women Face Danger Daily
By Delphine Red Shirt
Lakota Country Times Columnist
lakotacountrytimes.com

I grew up mostly around women, great aunts, aunts, cousins, sisters, and a strong mother. I never knew my grandmother, but my mother said she was older when she had her only daughter. My mother’s older brothers said my mother was strong and independent because she was raised by her grandmother.

Now, I have daughters and I worry about them because the world is and has always been more dangerous for women than any other group. Whether that danger is overt or covert; how men talk about women or think about women. As recently as last week when a presidential candidate, Donald Trump expressed how he felt about women.

A friend of mine, a linguist told me about how language can heal people; and conversely how what we say can create harm. The curious thing is all of us were brought into this world by women. Many of our cultures talk about the earth as mother or grandmother; unci makoce; should we as Native people return to our own languages to heal negative views about women?

The nation’s reaction to what the presidential candidate, and his own reaction, saying that the other candidate, Hillary Clinton’s husband has said worse things about women. Indeed we all know that story of how Bill Clinton ruined the life of a woman Monica Lewinsky.

When issues like this arise, we need to look in our own backyard, as well. I wrote for two newspapers, one that I had written for, for a very long time; and this one. If you open the pages of many of the local tribal newspapers, you will not see many Lakota women represented as writers in those papers? Why? Very often who holds the editorial key determines which doors are open to women writers.

That’s not always the case in the publishing world. A friend of mine alerted to me to a new book, “Sioux Women” by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve. Virginia writes to dispel stereotypes and negative images about Native Americans, according to the National Endowment for the Humanities where she is featured. A book about strong Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota women is long overdue.

Not a day goes without my thinking about the Lakota winyan, ina mitawa kin he, who brought me into this world, how strong and humble she was. What I remember most is what she told me: that strong women own themselves. To emphasize this in the Lakota, she would say, mi c’i gluha.


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I hope that is what I can teach my daughters, nieces (whom I pray for by name each day), and now my granddaughter, grand-nieces, and those who will come after. In this world where women, more than any other group, racial or otherwise, face danger daily by those who through thought, word, and deed, seek to make them feel less than they are.

We cannot as women, continue to support locally, state-wide, or nationally any individual who purports to represent all of us, women and men, while harboring ill-will against some of us.

(Delphine Red Shirt can be reached at redshirtphd@stanford.edu)

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