Native American Month Family Story: My Mother: 5 Foot Tall Super Hero
Most people have heroes. Some wear spandex and wear a cape. Some have super human strength. Mine is 5 foot tall and I call her Mother.
I honor my mother for her desire to create the best opportunities for me, my three siblings and 8 grandchildren. My mother is Navajo. She lives on the Navajo nation and recently turned 73. She is born for the Black Streak through the Woods clan, which is symbolically the Bear Clan. Mother has the force and strength of the bear when she is cornered, especially, when she is protecting her cubs. Mother may be a little person in stature but never say “no” to her because that word is forbidden.
At age 6 Mother was taken away from her family and the Navajo Nation. She was taken by the U.S. Government from Steamboat Arizona and sent to the Indian boarding school in Anadarko, OK over 700 miles from home. She graduated High School from Anadarko Indian School as the Salutatorian of her graduating class. She went on to College in Arizona to earn an Associate Degree.
Mother is an advocate on many levels. She made sure that we were fairly treated in school. She made certain that my father was successful as she held him tall from behind – encouraging him to advance in his career. She was the eldest and matriarch in her family. Her mother (grandma) was a quiet and unassuming person but mother was a force to contend with if grandmother was mistreated for wronged by the system. Mother’s six siblings came to her for financial support, guidance and assistance – so mother became a one person social welfare agency to the family and to an extent to our community.
Mother also took in several of her nieces and nephews as our home served as an unofficial foster home. Mother served as a caregiver to my father in his years of illness and eventual passing 9 years ago.
She worked all her life so we had a part time mother. She created a nonprofit Assisted Living facility with a board of directors that is representative of the community. She loves being the boss. As far as I can remember she was always the boss. She dedicated over 40 years to caring for Navajo elders. Her early years were spent learning to be a leader.
She has gone before the Navajo Nation Council to advocate for the needs of Navajo Elders. She is recognized by our community as a person with political influence and clout.
What makes her my hero is she listens to me. She hugs me when I need support. She cries with me when I need understanding. She lovingly pushes me when I need encouragement. She loves me no matter what I say or do.
Mother is growing older now. It takes longer for her to listen and understand me because she has hearing problems. It takes longer for her to travel and to walk because she has pains in her legs. She is now becoming shorter than 5 feet tall.
I have learned so much from my mother. I honor her and I hope to treat her with the same love and patience she gave me throughout my life-- because now she is not as physically strong as she used to be.
I am born for the Black Streak through the Woods Clan – I am of the Bear Clan. I am strong like my mother—I am of her blood and she is of mine.