Grandmothers Beatrice And Rita long visitor holy dance
Oglala Lakota, Pine Ridge Reservation,
USA, North America




Grandmother Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance

"We use Indian Medicine all the time at home. Our spiritual ways, our Sun Dance ways are encouraging prayer and bringing a lot of people back. A lot of young boys and girls are coming into the Sun Dance and are learning to reconnect with the source of their being."
Grandmother Rita Long Visitor Holy Dance"

Our Lakota people didn't know alcohol.  They were clean. They ate well and lived well. Alcohol was brought into this country. Now it's destroying our people, destroying all the tribes over all the nation. They don't know how to handle it. Even worse are all the drugs these days. We must reach our grandchildren. They need to understand that the Creator provides all that we need. He takes care of us. They don't have to use the alcohol."
Grandmother Beatrice  Long Visitor Holy Dance"


Grandmother Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance

Sisters Rita and Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance are Oglala Sioux and live on the
Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. They are descended from Long Visitor and are members of the Crazy Horse Band, named for the great warrior, Crazy Horse.  The Oglala Lakota of Pine Ridge are the largest band of the great Sioux nation and represent the majority of the Teton Sioux. 

The Pine Ridge Indian reservation is the most poverty-ridden area in America.  Unemployment rates are  85%, school drop-out rates are up to 62%, and suicide rates are twice the national average. These desperate conditions may be of benefit the U.S. government. The United states is pressuring the Lakota to sell them the Black Hills.

In 1868, the U.S. signed the Fort Laramie Treaty which set aside the Black Hills for the Lakota.  In 1869 gold was discovered, so the U.S. grabbed back the land.  In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote "the taking of the Black Hills ($60,000,000,000 in gold) is the most ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealing ever perpetrated on a people by the United States government."  Almost 140 years later, the Lakota remain in the fight for the return of their Sacred Hills. 

But despite overwhelming poverty and oppression, the people still refuse to sell their sacred lands.  Such a purchase would mean a sellout of the Lakota Nation, culture, religion, and values.  When asked about selling, 90% of the Lakota voted "NO."

Grandmother Beatrice and Rita remember having good lives as children. They were poor and worked hard: their home was  heated by firewood and lit by kerosene lamps.  Food came from their garden at the bottom of the hill. The family had their own chicken and cattle.  Most of their water was hauled in buckets from the river to the house until 1985, when Grandmother Beatrice had running water installed.  Everything was done by hand.

When Grandmother Rita was seven,  she left home to attend Catholic Boarding School where she lived 9 months out of the year.  Five year old Beatrice wept and wept. When Beatrice was old enough, she joined her sister at school while the remaining siblings stayed home. Beatrice remembers she and Rita always got into mischief together whether at home or school. They were natural pranksters.

In 1942, their mother became ill with cancer. After graduating from 8th grade, Rita stayed home to care for her mother and the children. She also helped her father because he was a Tribal Council representative and needed to be available whenever called. In 1946, Antonia Long Visitor Holy Dance died. The whole family was sad. Beatrice remembers her father sleeping many nights at his wife's grave.

Rita soon returned to school.  After she and Beatrice graduated, they worked in the the potato fields, earning 3 cents for bushel a potatoes. That's almost 100 pounds!  They bought books with some of that money.

Eventually, Grandmother Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance fell in love. She waited for Grandmother Rita to fall in love, too, so they could have a double wedding ceremony.  Their father paid for the ceremony and for a double wedding dinner!  "We had a good dad," Grandmother Rita remembers. "We always had everything. He made sure we had clothing. He even took care of us after we married. He didn't have to, but he did."

Nineteen years after their mother died, their father was killed in a car accident. Since then, the sisters hold their parents and grandparents in their daily prayers. During the days of organizing and preparing for sacred ceremonies, the family sheds many tears remembering their loved ones.

Today, Grandmothers Rita and Beatrice worry about their people, poverty, and the enormous drug and alcohol abuse problems on the reservations.   They are very disturbed about the effects on youth.   The Grandmothers say teens are disrespecting elders who refuse to give them drug money;  some 13-14-year-olds are having children;  parents and other adults are passed out on the street.  Some who need drugs or alcohol will beg or threaten people for drug money . Both women worry about traveling alone.

"It's really really bad," Grandmother Beatrice says."'s dangerous to go to town. I take Rita with me."

"I'm her bouncer!" Grandmother Rita laughs, reminding us that even in their 80s, sisters Rita and Beatrice remain best friends.

Grandmothers Rita and Beatrice pray for youth to find their spiritual paths and leave drugs and alcohol alone. Grandmother Rita  reminds us of the sacred rites  given to the Lakota people by the White Buffalo Calf Woman 19 generations ago. "Our spiritual ways, our Sun Dance ways are encouraging prayer and bringing a lot of people back," she says.  "A lot of young boys and girls are coming into the Sun Dance and are learning to reconnect with the source of their being." 

Grandmother Rita and Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance expressed their gratitude to the Grandmothers Council for being asked to join. They spoke about peace, love, hope, faith, and charity, all the things that go with Mother Earth.  They hope the Grandmothers Council brings good things to the children, grandchildren, and children to come and will give a voice to the Lakota People.

Text adapted from:
"Grandmothers Council the World: Women Elders Offer Their Vision For Our Planet"
by Carol Schaefer
Trumpeter Books, 2006



Special Roundtable Discussion:
Women's Ways of Knowing: Lessons from Indigenous Midwifery Traditions\
Thursday, May 8, 2008
12 noon – 2:00 p.m.
Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
Washington DC

Open to the Public. A roundtable discussion with special guests of Indigenous midwives from U.S., Canada, and Mexico, who will share their cultural knowledge about midwifery and the broader issues related to women's health.

Beatrice Long-Visitor Holy Dance (Oglala Lakota), Traditional Midwife, The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers
Martha Koneak Greig (Inuit), non-practicing Traditional Midwife, Social Counselor & Consultant; and Rosa Hernŕndez Girón (Chiapas, Mexico), Traditional Midwife, Sanitary Jurisdiction of Comitan de Dominguez
Moderated by
Katsi Cook (Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne), Traditional Midwife


Native Village News Articles Archives
Page 1   Page 2

Beatrice and Rita Media Articles

The Sacred White Buffalos: Miracle and Miracle's Second Chance

Sioux to Illini: Return Regalia


A Lakota Christmas Story

The Arrogance of Ignorance

2007 World Peace and Prayer Day

Marlon Brando's Unfinished Oscar SpeecH

A Day of Hope on the Pine Ridge reservation


Native Americans and Mount Rushmore
The insult of Rushmore to the Sioux

Crazy Horse, Tashunca-uitco (1849-1877)
The visionary leader committed to preserving the traditions and values of the Lakota  way of life

Lakota Victory & Veterans Songs
Listen to sound clips of traditional music

 **Lakota Women's Honor Songs
From the Standing Rock Indian Reservation

A Lakota "fast food"

The Cooking Spirit” story
As told by Rosella Goodwill Archdale, Lakota

IHS Native American Tales
From Wigwam Evenings: Sioux Folk Tales Retold and Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Myths and Legends of the Sioux
McLaughlin, Marie L. (1916)

Native American Astronomy
Lakota constellations related to Black Hills features, ceremonial observations, and more

Voices from the Western Front
Press clippings and other writings saved by a farsighted Lakota family.

(Sioux) Literature
Pine Ridge Photos, 1890-1900
From American Memory

NASA and Lakota Star Knowledge

Lakota Language Consortium

A star is born.
 How Star Quilts are created.

World Myths and Legends in Art:
Lakota Woman's Dress

 First Americans for Grade Schoolers
Created by a Muscogee Creek student at Stanford, this site features the Dine, Muscogee, Tlingit, Lakota, Iroquois
The Right to Be 
Harriet Skye, 61-year old Lakota woman filmed her pilgrimage back to her people.

264 courses in 91 languages including Lakota.

Incident at Oglala
Watch the entire documentary online, for free. Produced by Robert Redford

Sioux Ghost Dance
Filmed by Thomas Edison in 1894

*Wolakota Youth Council
Prepares youth for future roles as peacekeepers and caretakers of the land, and empowers them to enter the global forum.

Diabetes: Notes from Indian Country:
Present community solutions to this health crisis in Indian Country.

Black Hills Treaty, 1868-
Recognizes the Black Hills of Dakota as part of the Great Sioux Reservation

Lakota Doll Making Tradition


June, 2007: Grandmother Beatrice's 80th Birthday photo gallery:

NPR Radio broadcast
Features Grandmothers Flordemayo, Beatrice, and Rita Blumenstein

The Sacred Land Film Project
Reflections of Hopi, Wintu and Lakota elders on the spiritual meaning of place.

The Buffalo War 
 Different cultures facing off over the killings of Yellowstone National Park bison.

*Lakota Winter Counts
  The world's largest database of Lakota "winter  counts" (1701 to 1905).

The Legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman

Great Plains Restoration Council
Million Acre Project, a plan to re-introduce buffalo to the Great Plains.

Hair Pipes in Plains Indian Adornment
A Study in Indian and White Ingenuity

The Tipi
The nomadic lifestyle of the People of the Plains required portable dwellings. The tipi was an ideal answer.

ultural Differences in Raising Children
Audio commentaries include those from Larry Swimmer, Lakota-Oyate


Top photo: USA Today
Chokecherries background:
Bison hide background adapted from:
Buffalo Calves Photo:
The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers  Native Village Home Page