Indianz.Com > News > Ernestine Anunkasan Waste’: Identity molded and shaped by many factors
Ernestine Anunkasan Was te’
Ernestine Anunkasan Was te’. Photo courtesy Native Sun News Today
Weaving an identity
Wednesday, July 20, 2022

When a person’s heritage originates from several different tribes and ethnicities, I often wonder how one decides to identify themselves.

In my case, I was born at the Indian Health Service Hospital on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on November 23, 1957, to Andrea Marie Rave and Sylvan Charles Brown. However, I spent most of my youth on the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Indian Reservations, although I am enrolled at Cheyenne River.

My Native American Heritage is linked to several tribal nations. My maternal grandfather, James “Jimmy” Rave, was Winnebago from Winnebago, Nebraska, and my maternal grandmother, Aurelia Mabel Dupree, was Mnicoujou from Cheyenne River.

Grand River National Grassland
The Grand River National Grassland in South Dakota crosses into portions of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and portions of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. Photo by Treva Slaughter / U.S. Forest Service / U.S. Department of Agriculture

My paternal grandmother Ernestine June Brown Chasing Hawk was Hunkpapa from Standing Rock and paternal grandfather Dave Bald Eagle, was Mnicoujou and Hunkapapa from Cheyenne River. My paternal great, great grandmother Adele Cordier was Yanktonai from the Yankton Reservation. We also have traces of Mdewakantowan and Itazipcola ancestry on my mother’s side.

I am also of French descent through my mother’s Dupree family lineage and of both German and French descent from my father’s Braun (Brown) and Cordier lineage.

My father’s side of the family is deeply rooted in the traditions, culture and language of the Lakota. As a young girl, I was often sent to stay with my great grandmother Cecelia One Bull – Brown who lived in the community of Little Oak Creek near Messiah Church along the Grand River. It was the ancestral home of her grandfather Itanchan Tatanka Iyotaka (Sitting Bull) and his sister Wiyaka Waste Win (Good Feather Woman).

We spent summer days picking chokecherries, wild plums and buffalo berries. We would dig for timpsela, gather wild onions, rose hips, wild mushrooms and acorns. In the middle of Little Grandma’s (as we affectionately called her) log cabin was a wood stove, where she would roast acorns, burn sage and cedar.

Little Grandma spoke Lakota with very little English, so I learned to converse with her in Lakota. Both my mother and father were fluent in the Lakota Language, as well as just about every other Lakota relative I grew up with. I don’t speak fluent Lakota myself, but can understand and speak many of the words.

Unci Cecelia’s father, One Bull, in spite of being banned by the U.S. Government, held Sun Dance Ceremonies beginning in the early 1900’s. The same Sundance Ceremony is still being carried on to this day and my cousin Isaac Dog Eagle practiced the Sun Dance Ceremony until he died just a few years ago.


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