Canku Woksape

Having purged here was helpful.  It allowed me to flow again and get some clarity.

   Life has been busy here@the Turtle tipi.  We are full swing into school and I’ve made a website for our school since it has such a huge interest from others.

  When I wrote (and write) the curriculum,  it has always been with the goal of it being  co-op, membered, owned and run by parents, collectively.  I have many parents who are interested but not in the co-op part, they find that a bit intimidating.  But I continue to speak of it and treat it as the co-op I see it becoming.

For those who are new here and have no idea who I am or anything about  me and the home school I created,  I’ll briefly explain.   Obviously my name is Mary Black Bonnet and I wear many hats; author, artist,  educator, advocate,  speaker, workshop presenter, the list goes on. However, my favorite and most important role/hat/title I hold is Ina(mother) to my most sacred creation to date, my daughter.

She was born knowing two languages: Lakota, which we spoke to her in utero and American Sign Language ( ASL).  She was signing at four months.  For me, education wasnt a timeline looming down the road, it was an everyday occurrence.  Our days were filled with real life experiences as I imagined my Ancestors educated my relatives before me. Allowing hercto experience life on life’s terms. On some levels now, its called Montessori education. The idea of not talking down to your child or treating them as some foreign creature who has just arrived on a new planet and needs to learn what a fork is. It’s so much broader than what I’m going to cover here but I will go deeper into it in other posts.  Anyway,  so as my daughter grew and the herds of sheep were peppering me with where she was going to pre school I was a bit bewildered.  Why would I send her outside our own home to be educated by someone who was

A) not Lakota

B) didn’t have the same values, beliefs and standards that my husband and I did?

Beside the fact that I’d done a proper job thus far. Granted, I had years of experience in childhood development and had been a Montessori teacher.

But my husband, myself and our daughter were and will always be Lakota first. For me, that rules everything, in my own life and in my daughter’s life.  For those who don’t know me or haven’t read my books, I was taken away from my Lakota birth family at 18 months and raised by non-Indian people.  I returned to my homeland,  my tribe and (what’s left of) my birth family.  But I had to re-learn my language,  I had to learn my traditions. I had to learn the why’s,  the how’s and the because’s of the blood that runs through my veins.  And I did. (It’s a never ending process, FYI. ) I swore that when I bore a child, they would never NOT know who they were, where they came from or what they were here to do.  As a child  I had to wander the world lost, alone and cold, constantly wondering if I was loved or wanted, wondering what my purpose was. I knew ny child would not suffer that at my doing.  So I spent my pregnancy speaking to her in Lakota.  Our Lakota babies are born knowing and speaking the language I knew if my baby forgot it and lost it through her baby years, it would be my own shortcoming.

But back to school….I realized we did not have a proper Lakota first learning environment  anywhere and I had no intention of sending her off to school where she’d be inundated with English.  I could see her Native tongue fly right out the window. Not on my watch.  Hence I began writing a curriculum that was language and culture based. Hence the birth of Canku Woksape.

If cunksi ends up abandoning her language, her culture,  herself,  it will be because she chose to walk away from it and not because it was not provided for her, or because she was not breathing, bathing and eating it.

Our culture has suffered great cultercide on many levels,  for many generations.  But as a Lakota winyan (Woman) who has torn my future out of the hands of my  oppressors,  I will not stand by and let my daughter wander this giant world alone, confused,  ungrounded and lost.  She IS someone, she has a place in the hoop of life, her beginnings go way back to the dawn of time and her future is strong, solid and hers for the taking. The choices she makes will be her own, but she has a long line of ancestors and spirits protecting her, guiding her and rooting for her.

Not to mention myself and her father who know we won the child lottery.   Belly buttons DO matter!!! I know I may not always agree with the choices she’ll make but I will ALWAYS love her and stand by her.

*Note…since then head start programs on my reservation (Rosebud) have implemented Lakota language program. They teach basic words (because thats usually all the teachers know.)  But by the time she was head start age, her vocabulary was far beyond basic words.


Oh my. Its 2:32 A.M. I need to go to sleep.  I have a meeting in the morning and much on my to do list.

This post meandered like a  winding stream but you got the just of it.  If you are ever looking for perfect Mary Black Bonnet writing,  don’t look at my blog. I try to keep it clean, but for me it’s akin to having coffee with my readers at my favorite coffee shop.

Not to mention it’s extremely late.

More later I promise.  Thanks for reading! I’m sending a   wave and hello to my loyal readers and fans! Stay tuned, I have some great things coming for you all soon!

Until then,

peace and Turtles…….








Lakota Winyan.
Cunksi’s Ina.