“White Cedar Woman”
Growing up on my reservation in poverty was an immense motivator to prove to my people, family, and myself that, even with limited resources, I can be successful. I’m the first person on both sides of my family to receive their bachelors degree.
I wrote Atíka’s Medicine at the beginning of the battle with stage three thyroid cancer. I was upset and hurt that I thought I lived my life as I was supposed to but received cancer anyway. I’m a mother, wife, and preschool teacher. My life has been dedicated to giving to others. I went on long walks as I prayed to the Creator, “Why me?”
One day as I was walking, it’s as if somebody whispered into my ear: “Write.”
I instantly knew that should be something I loved, experienced, and needs to be heard. I wrote Atíka’s Medicine as a way to heal while receiving treatment for cancer. My goal was for indigenous youth to see themselves in books as people of today and not just the past – to feel comfortable to celebrate their culture, even if they are the only ones in the classroom who understand it. After two years of battling cancer, I received news that it was dormant – asleep. I thought after writing Atíka’s Medicine that I crossed that off my bucket list and was able just to focus on staying healthy.
This past March after teaching in a very mentally unhealthy school, I had a heart attack, which led to heart surgery. I was told by my cardiologist that I was not supposed to wake up from that attack. I began to write again.
My newest book is I am Not a Costume. All this happened, and I’m only 38 years old. I wrote this book based on what I endured as a child as well as my own children when they enter classroom every Halloween. Our culture has been appropriated so much that many don’t see it as offensive. I want to help spread the message that our youth will not be silent anymore.
My daughters are advocators for their culture, and there are many other indigenous children that may feel the same way but may not know that… what to say or how to start that conversation. This book helps get that conversation started in the classroom in a positive way and help educate other educators that history books only tell half of the story.
Atíka’s Medicine takes place in Fort Berthold reservation in North Dakota with Atíka (grandma in Arikara) and her granddaughter Ayasha (little one in Ojibwe). Ayasha is visiting her Atíka for the summer and learns how to overcome being different at school such as poverty, culture beliefs and bullying.
Hi everyone! My name is Ayasha that means “little one” in my Ojibwe language. I proudly represent my Native American Indian people of the Ojibwe and Arikara nation. I am almost 5 years old and now that I am almost all grown up I want to share my story with you.
I went to visit my Atíka (grandma in my Arikara language) for the summer who lives in North Dakota. She is my best friend.
Atíka is a colorful, funny character who ends up using her talent of making the best fry bread on the rez from her house. This is all to raise money for Ayasha and her big sister Aiyanna’s school clothes and supplies. She shows her granddaughters how to get their point across positively about who they are. Their Atíka’s medicine is from their family’s strength.
Ayasha’s lessons from Atika
Atika teaches Ayasha many valuable lessons throughout the book, these were just a few that help Ayasha overcome her bullies and become more proud in her culture and her family.
I am not a Costume
This story is based on real life events. Ayasha is a Native American 5-year old girl who moves to Chicago from Fort Berthold reservation and encounters cultural appropriation at her new school. She sees children wearing costumes of Native American people. Her family and Ayasha come up with an idea of how to educate the people that go to her school about her culture, traditions, and how to honor her people respectfully.
Nawáh, Boozhoo (hello) friends!
I’m Ayasha (little one in Ojibwe), I’m 5 years old and just moved from North Dakota to a big city called Chicago, because my mom got a new job here. This means I have to start a new school, and my big sister Aiyanna, who I call Inaáni’ (my sister), does too. I’m super excited today because the whole school is having a costume party.
Boozhoo Boo-jzou Hello
Ayasha Ay-ya-sh-aa Little one
Nokomis Na-ko-mis Grandma
Eya AA-yah Yes
Miigwetch Meh-gwetch Thank You
Nawáh Na-wah Hello
Atika Ah-ka Grandma
Inaáni Ey-nauh-nee My sister
Raahukoósuu Raw-who-koo-suit Brave, courage