Unci is the Lakota word for mother’s mother or maternal grandmother. To the left is my maternal grandmother Eda, visiting the ranch on the Moreau River where she was raised. My relationship with my grandmother wasn’t always beautiful, as it was on this day. These pictures fill me with gratitude. I’ve been thinking about my grandmother often this past week. Primarily because, I read this article about South Dakota. She is a product of this region; her family story closely tied to that of the Cheyenne River Sioux.
My son and I accompanied my grandmother to Eagle Butte, South Dakota to the funeral of her only brother. It was a somber journey, but I’ve drawn joy from the opportunity to know my grandmother better it presented. Places stirred memories and my grandmother shared these stories with me. Her parents raised horses, cattle, and six children on the banks of this river. They seem like an unlikely couple, a blond blue-eyed Norwegian cowboy and Lakota/French graduate of Haskell Institute. After a long life together, they passed away within months of one another.
My grandmother does not have the privilege of growing old with my late grandfather, but she has not let interfere with experiencing life. I hope to live such a rich life, when I am seventy-nine. She walks daily, travels, and talks to anyone. So, I challenge myself to step out the door and take a walk, complement a stranger, and prepare for adventure. Perhaps then, I can accept the mantle of my matriarchy.