Lakota keeper of the traditional ways, great grandmother, Native American Church elder, beadworker.

About leaving home for Catholic Boarding School at age seven:
       "I was sent to school with new moccasins and a shawl. I didn't know of word of English. When I arrived, the nuns grabbed  my hand and took me from one place to another. I didn't understand anything they were saying. We went down one hall and then another, where I heard children screaming and playing. The nuns opened a door into a great big playroom, where there were little girls playing. That's where I had to stay until they gave me a bed."
        During Rita's first day of school, the teachers only spoke English. Rita, who only spoke Lakota, just sat there.  "After weeks and months went by I began to
understand the language, especially 'yes' and 'no.' That was kind of hard. My own Lakota language was finally cut out of my mind, because we would get punished if we ever spoke it."


On having children:
Grandmothers Rita and her sister, Beatrice, were married in a double wedding ceremony. After four years, Beatrice had four children. Rita had none. "People made fun of me.  They said I was taking bad medicine so that I wouldn't have children. My feelings were hurt. I helped Beatrice take care of her children, and I prayed to the Great Spirit, why didn't I have children? Then I had all these kids, including twins, seven boys and finally one girl." 


Lakota Women's photo (1891): Denver Public Library

Grandmother Rita/Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance Home page  Native Village Home Page