On the morning of December 29, 1890 Tokeyamaniwin, the daughter of Chief Two Shields of the Miniconjou band, strapped her baby to her back and mounted her horse in a panicked frenzy as the sound of gunfire echoed over the snowy banks of Čhaŋkpé Ópi Wakpála, Wounded Knee Creek. In an attempt to protect her baby and herself, the nineteen year old slid off her galloping horse into a ditch only to discover that it was too late. A bullet had lodged into the cradleboard, instantly killing her baby and saving her life.
Tokeyamaniwin, later Anglicized by colonizers as "Walks First Woman" or "Jenny Leads On," was my great-great-grandmother, one of the survivors of the Wounded Knee Massacre. Like all her daughters, I bear both the trauma of genocide and the resilience of our indigenous blood. As her descendents, we are here to heal the hoop and continue the legacy of our culture and traditions.
The Tokeyamaniwin Project is named after my great-great-grandmother as an act of reclamation of my Lakota language and culture. The project aims to:
1. Preserve indigenous plant medicine by making flower and environmental essences throughout Lakota territory and collecting the stories and mythologies associated with these regions.
2. Create a dialogue with mental health providers and other care providers about the beneficial uses of flower essences for people experiencing chronic and acute post-trauma symptoms, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, and anxious/depressive states.
3. Make and distribute flower essences to those suffering generational trauma caused by the effects of long-term colonial genocide.
4.Engage native youth on the Cheyenne River Sioux, Pine Ridge, Rosebud, and Standing Rock Reservations to learn and create flower essence medicine for the healing of their communities.
One of my greatest obstacles in pursuing this work has been finding a safe place to stay while in the field and on the reservation. Although I love staying with my family, each time I do so I am displacing someone else's sleeping space. I am raising money to purchase a camper van so that I can travel to South Dakota as often as needed to work with the youth and gather stories from my elders so that I can make this medicine available to those who need it most.
Thank you so much for believing in this project and supporting me along the way.