Red Leggings Woman
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
“Our women are the backbone of our nation. They are the nation builders.” These words from Medina Matonis are the framework of her life. She has witnessed women in her community surviving institutional and intimate violence. She has watched them rise with resilience, strength, and compassion. Through their power of who they are as Lakota women, they are restoring their traditions and ceremonies. Medina began helping the 100 Horses Women’s Society host the Becoming a Woman Ceremony. Now she has been asked to transition to a leadership role in the society.
Stepping into this role came natural for Medina. She has been serving the Cheyenne River Sioux youth through school programs. Students and parents asked her to bring Lakota teachings to the school, so she established and ran an after-school Lakota Club for seven years. Her small and large acts of love made a difference for youth. Medina now focuses on her new leadership role with the 100 Horses Women’s Society. She looks forward to sharing cultural knowledge, womanhood teachings, and life skills, as well as welcoming girls and young women to the society through the coming-of-age ceremony.
With her mentor Sandra, Medina envisions expanding the society activities the society for girls and young women. Making moccasins, learning the language, and visiting important landmarks can all contribute to building a positive identity. Medina observed first-hand the power of bringing the youth to sacred sites where they connected with their stories and the land. Those memories and places are now a part of who they are.
The other teachings Medina plans to provide through the society are life lessons—making choices, respecting yourself, securing body sovereignty, and maintaining healthy boundaries. She has learned these lessons and applied them to her life to create a loving and safe home where you will hear prayers in Lakota and the family refer to one another by their Lakota kinship names.
Medina’s goal is to establish a women’s group in all twenty-one of the Cheyenne River reservation communities. She sees this as a road to fulfill the dream to create a safe future for all her female relatives.