I am Episcopalian for many reasons, but I love being Episcopalian because of the church’s promotion cultural understanding and calling for “Episcopalians to serve Christ by seeking Justice, Peace and Love”. I have a deep passion for advocacy, experience, and calling to leadership in a variety of capacities not only within the corporate world, but also the church.
I have been influenced not only by Lakota virtues but also by the Episcopal Church as a cradle Episcopalian. I have been blessed to be exposed to cultural diversity from my upbringing on the rural Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to living in the city of San Diego. This duality has allowed me to expand my traditional knowledge, meet people from all over the world, and understand the essential need for respectful relationships collaboration. I believe a major role of the Church’s mission is to bridge our diverse cultures and restore unity with God and each other in Christ. We are also called to promote peace and justice, and create reconciliation world-wide. My deep faith in the Creator gives me the strength and courage to tell of my experiences and therefore inspire others into leadership.
My faith has led my actions, beginning at the age of 16 in 1994. My twin sister and I protested the 57-year-old “Homecoming Ceremony” at our high school, which was located on a county between two Indian reservations in South Dakota. We both believe we were called to advocate for justice, as we began the peaceful and extremely difficult protest by ourselves. No one told us to do it, but we knew we had to. The community was mostly non-Indian farming community that had little interaction with the tribes at that time. The mascot was “the Warriors” and the ceremony included five “Warrior Princesses, a Big Chief, and a Medicine Man” with complete dress. The ceremony consisted of the Medicine Man dancing around the Warrior Princesses and then stopping to manually weighing them, inspecting their faces/mouths/ears/hair and clothing to finally “choose” one as a gift to the Big Chief. My sister and I felt a deep responsibility to stop this event, not only because of the spiritual degradation but also for the blatantly sexist and stereotypical behavior. We often compared the event to the Episcopal Church and if this behavior would be accepted if a priest behaved in the manner of their so-called Medicine Man. We were deeply offended by how they portrayed our sacred Medicine Men and our people. We educated the communities surrounding the town through the forums and media. During this time, my sister and I were ostracized and stigmatized by the community we grew up in and lost the majority of our non-Indian friends. The Oglala Sioux Tribe and Rosebud Sioux Tribe passed resolutions in support of our endeavor and after four years of peaceful protesting the ceremony was stopped. During our senior graduation in 1995, the crowd would applaud as each student received their scholarships and diplomas, but we were met with silence. One of the scholarships we received that year was from the Episcopal Church.
Since then I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to be exposed to diversity. This has allowed me to expand my knowledge and meet people from all over the world as a military spouse. I am an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge, South Dakota and was raised on the reservation until I left to attend college, first on a scholarship at University of Minnesota-Minneapolis and completing my two bachelor’s degrees at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota. In San Diego, I also went to graduate school obtaining my Masters in Business Administration-Global Management. My past corporate work experience includes Advertising and Marketing at a Native American Viejas Casino and Outlet Center in San Diego, California. I also served as the first chairman of the Viejas SunShine Fund (an emergency employee fund), as well as volunteered for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
I worked at the Viejas Enterprises outside of San Diego, California. Viejas Enterprises has a large casino with over 2000 employees, 2000 slot machines, 30 gaming tables, three restaurants, a bingo hall, a concert venue, and a retail outlet mall with 57 stores. I worked for both the casino and outlet mall for four years. I began my career at Viejas Enterprises in Human Resources and was then promoted to an Advertising Executive Assistant and Communications Coordinator position. In this position I did everything from office administration and budget analysis to graphic signage coordination to planning radio promotion events including table game tournaments, slot machine tournaments and live broadcasts. I also coordinated television commercials and live interviews, wrote and produced the company newsletter, and assisted with Public Relations. I also worked with the graphics department to produce various publications, as well as company wide signage.
In 2000, I found myself working as an Administrator for Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Pensacola, Florida after Hurricane Ivan when employment was scarce… it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. This position allowed me to be a part of many ministry programs nation wide and find my calling to Native American Ministry and Women’s Ministry. My political experience, as well as my journalism experience at Indian Country Today, and corporate experience taught me the world of politics, the positive and the negative.
These experiences taught me that action is more important than words. Action is more important than personal agendas. That what we do today for the future of our people is more important than job titles and it is important to do the work for future of Christ’s Kingdom. As a Lakota and Episcopalian, I try to lead by example and pass on knowledge to all. Communication is essential. My hope is through communication and education: I can encourage reconciliation, spiritual formation, and inspire our people into leadership for the future of absolute equality across genders, cultures, and countries. I believe the combined voices will give strength to the next generation. I believe our role is to organize, educate, train, and inspire the next generation to reach out to promote justice, peace, and love.