Jessie Rencountre is a dancer, a mother, a writer, a wife, and a counselor. For the past twelve years, she has been a school counselor in the Rapid City School District. Twenty percent of the district students are American Indian. Schools should be sacred places. For Indian students often they are not. Jessie provides a sense of comfort for Indian parents—they know she will create cultural and emotional places that are safe for their children.
Growing up on her home reservation, Standing Rock, Jessie was surrounded by her Lakota culture and values. This shaped how she saw herself and the world. Jessie’s parents modeled their cultural values of compassion, kindness, love, unity and forgiveness. They utilized their culture for healing and hope for many individuals and families. Jessie witnessed the power of prayer and the deep wellness that comes from ceremony, traditional medicines and foods, and sacred places. She sees these things as the true path to wellness for her community and nation.
When the pandemic reached levels to shut down the country, Jessie and her husband co-created an online platform called Social Distance Pow Wow that has been hugely successful, with a following of over 200,000 members. Jessie leveraged the audience to bring a spotlight to Native women. She utilized the platform to organize and host the Women Empowerment Show. Jessie has reached out to other audiences—that of children and teachers. She has published three children’s books that teach lessons integrating Lakota values. Her first book, Pet’a Shows Misun the Light, won an award. The story teaches compassion and forgiveness.
In late 2020, Jessie lost both of her parents to Covid. It was a devastating loss for her and the community. Jessie feels a new sense of urgency to learn and share knowledge as Lakota people. She recalls a Lakota leader’s prophecy made when reservations were first being established. He said that their way of life—their culture and their language would return in seven generations. Jessie is in that seventh generation. She believes this return with strengthen the spirits of Lakota youth and break the cycle of generational trauma. She intends to do everything she can to see this prophecy fulfilled. Jessie is a Lakota woman of honor.