Victor Swallow. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today

Victor Swallow: All the Lakota women that I knew loved their children

A Lakota woman’s bond with her child

By Victor D. Swallow
Native Sun News Today Columnist

The year has come and gone and the world is changing. Our Federal Government, State Government and our Tribal Government are experiencing hatred and corruption to some degree, but through it all I’m doing ok and at my age ok is good enough.

I think back about the old times when Lakota women shared a bond with their children. As a man who has three of his own children, four grandchildren and six great grandchildren I still can’t fully understand the bond between a woman and their child. As a woman carrying their growing child in their womb for nine months and after delivering then nursing them they share a bond.

The following stories are about Lakota women who lived from the 1890s to the early 1920s my mother’s generation. All the Lakota women that I knew loved their children. When seeing them nursing their babies always gave me a sense of calmness and that all is well.

The first Lakota woman that I will write about is Effie Rouillard-Two Bulls. She was my father’s cousin. Their mothers were identical twins, Betty Beatrice and Jenny Gillispie. Effie was married to my mother’s brother Moses Two Bulls. Effie’s oldest child was Fred and mom said he nursed till he was three years old. Mom said one time she was sitting at the table and Fred was bothering his mother to nurse. His mother put cayenne pepper on her breast and let him nurse. He pulled away pointed at the red pepper then at his mothers’ breast. I guess he liked his milk spiked up.

The second Lakota woman I want to write about was my Aunt Dora Two Bulls-Fast Wolf and she nursed her boy Larry till he was four years old. He would be playing outside with the other boys and he would say in Lakota, “Wait I’m going inside and get some ninny and I’ll be back.” He had sort of a puggy nose it was said it came from all the ninny he got as a kid.

The third Lakota woman is my Aunt Jenny Marshall-Two Bulls who was married before she married mom’s oldest brother Stern Two Bulls and they had one child together, Alice Merle. Aunt Jenny was a mid-wife and she delivered my little sister in 1943 and my cousin Betty Two Bulls-Sanders. I don’t know how many others she delivered. Aunt Jenny had five children when she married Uncle Stern and her oldest daughter died she took her two young sons and raised them as her own. Aunt Jenny was in her early 60s.

In spite of her age she took on the responsibly of raising these grandchildren as many Lakota women did during that time. She had a team and wagon that they hauled wood. One of the horses was broke to ride and they would saddle it up and all three of them would ride into the Badlands to look for agates to sell for a little extra money. Aunt Jenny lived to be 95 years old and was born in 1891.

I am older now, tired and worn out and many times I think back to simpler times when Lakota had family values, cared for their young and took care of their elders. I wonder how many of us Lakota with a conscience can look our ancestors in the eyes and say I am a Lakota with Lakota values.


Support Native media and read more news on Native Sun News Today:

A Lakota woman’s bond with her child
Victor D. Swallow was born in 1939, Oglala Lakota, U. S. Navy Veteran, 50 year member of Bricklayers Union, Optimistic realist and fair. Victor can be reached at his daughter’s email address at

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today

Join the Conversation