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  • My Cunksi (daughter), Cante' Wast'e Win (Good Hearted Woman) began Tae Kwon Do at the age of 8. I thought, maybe, she might like it if she tried it. I just assumed my boys would love the heck out of it. As it so happens, the story was quite opposite. Cante' loved class and in some way, loved the idea of being great at a sport historically dominated by men. Integrity Martial Arts is the name of the school she attends. Their school creed is "you can accomplish anything." Being a parent, you always try to instill this concept in your children. I always tell my daughter that she can accomplish anything no matter the situation. And everytime she faces an obstacle, she remembers this and says "yes, I can do it- I can accomplish anything". After 3 years of practicing diligently, she will be testing for her recommended Black Belt in 7 months. I think to myself, "Wow, my daughter is 11 and will be a black belt!?" I add the question mark, because, at that age, I would have never thought that I could accomplish what she's done, even if I had the opportunity. It made me think of all the other young girls out there, who come from historically disenfranchised communties. I wonder if they had the same opportunities as my daughter, could they have a chance to accomplish the things they want in life. Living on Pine Ridge for 8 or so years, I encountered many young girls who believed their lives were just confined to the rez. They would do as most their female relatives do- maybe graduate high school, have some children, try to find a job, but really what do they get to accomplish? I was stunned at the attitudes that these young women had about themselves! It made me sad and mad, all at once. I felt like shaking them and telling them that this does not have to be their life. When you look at the historical traumas of our people, it's not hard to wonder why they think this way. Some might be aware of it and some might not. It's important to understand our history. I try, even though it's hard, to teach my children their history. When I look at my cunksi in this picture, I like to think that she's getting ready to break down all the walls put up by oppression and privilege. She's getting to ready to break that cycle of trauma and pain. The look on her face is one of perserverance, truth and accomplishment. Her little brother Tatanka Hahin (Slow Buffalo) is seen in the bottom left of the picture, looking and waiting for her to break that cycle. I'd like to think he's getting ready too.
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