I got to see my unni-unni today, (aka Lakota Unni, Cheyenne River Unni, or THE UNNI). She has a big piece of my heart because of all she’s stuck out with me when she really could’ve been like others and said “I’m done.” We go back and forth with each other in our languages… she speaks Lakota to me and I start throwing Korean words at her. I learned about a year ago that “unci” in Lakota is grandma and I never knew why she always looked at me funny when I’d say “Unni.” I’d always have to remind her it’s girl’s older sister and it’s how we address those older than us – a term of affection. She’s another person that I could go on and on talking about how amazing she is but let me just say – she knows when to hug someone, how to explain things, and is straight forward.
I always knew she didn’t like that somebody. She used to say “I don’t know what’s going on with your people but Lakota women don’t tolerate that shit…” I remember the Oppa always saying “Lakota women don’t walk by their men, they walk all over them.” (I told her that once and she didn’t find it funny). She’s someone I look at though and am like “I want to be like her.”
As I was waiting for her to get to her office (she was playing b-ball) I kept thinking about how far I’ve come and how long it took to get better. She gave me some words of encouragement and said the important thing is I’m still here and am stronger. By this time a few other students walked in: two of them being my oppas :) Turquoise Oppa (I just learned today he’s Navajo, I thought he was a Red Laker) and Red Lake Oppa. Two little sistrens came in: Red Cliff & Red Lake. Everyone has an opinion LOL. Unni told my Oppas to lay down the truth about men and Turquoise Oppa, I always listen and take what he says to heart. The sweatshirts for the powwow were in and Unni said “If I give you one will you be happy?” LOL I agreed to it… Happiness bought for the price of nice large hoody
Anyway it felt good being with people I feel are family. Turquoise Oppa and me talked for a long time. Everyone is beyond proud of me for taking my job. This Oppa though, he told me straight up “Your bosses and all those white people are going to look at you as the go-between. There’s tensions always in those areas with whites and Indians and you being an outside Indian and you’re mixed you’re going to be put in the middle.” I said “Well I’m taking the Dakota’s side.” He laughed and said “Well of course but who’s signing your pay check? Them or the white people?” Another guy came in who I’ve only meant in passing… all I gotta say is if Augsburg thought I was fricking militant in my standing as a Native person on campus — watch it for this guy! LOL I was so proud… he’s older than me but I was still like “awe someone’s carrying on my torch.” The joke was someone in his class said something stupid about Indians then when he got called out on it he told the guy “I’m one third Indian.” The guy replied “You’re 33% Indian 66% something else?” The other person didn’t get Indians were using math on him lmao! My Unni doesn’t like the idea of BQ at all… her daughter by all BQ definitions is 1/4th Lakota and her son 3/4th Lakota. Both are raised in the Lakota culture, speak Lakota, etc… So the debate is why is her son, who has an absentee father, anymore Lakota than her daughter who has an off and on father? But yet as a people we do have to deal with people pulling out the “I’m one third so I can…” My Unni, though it drives her crazy, she understands that some of these people truly do believe they are this and have just been misinformed by their own family’s oral stories.
I don’t know if I’m emphasized how much I LOVE this community and am always rejuvenated by just being around other Indians… I told them, before leaving, that I’m determined that I’m not just going to be bringing in a paycheck but actually do something. Red Lake oppa is in his late 30’s and I can tell was a bit cynical hearing someone my age all bright eyes that “I’m determined… I’m gonna,” but he pat me on the back and said “Don’t let the white people get you down.” I told them quickly about the Mickey D’s incident where I was asked “You’re that Indian that sex place hired?” LOL My Unni goes “Yup, my Krystal… graduated from college and within a week was working at a sex place.” LMAO My Oppas asked if there were any other Indians working “at your sex place” that “wanna meet real Indian men? None of those Sioux…” (taking shots at my Unni lmao)
It was a good day to be an Indian though :) good day to have an Unni
Shout out to THE UNNI, Red Lake & Turquoise Oppas… screw it, shout out to ALL my Oppas and Unnis. Y’all brighten up my day & put me on my feet.