Wicahpi Wiyakpa Win
Shining Star Woman
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
Sandra Frazier’s Lakota name is Wicahpi Wiyakpa Win (Shining Star Woman). Names given to the People are important because this is the way the Spirits know a person. Sandra comes from the Lakota Two Kettle Band of the Oceti Sakowin. Many Lakota women influenced Sandra, including her mother, grandmother, and Eunice Larrabee, a grassroots Tribal Councilwoman. Sandra tells us that “At every juncture of my life, an older woman appeared to teach me.” From her family, she learned traditional teachings and from Eunice she learned the political issues of tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction.
Sandra served her Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal community in many ways. She’s been a school counselor, worked in tribal administration, and led the tribe as a tribal councilwoman, but found her calling in bringing back a ceremony that has been nearly lost in her homeland when the federal government made all native ceremonies illegal. For the past 12 years, Sandra and her hunka sister Rosie have hosted the Isanti Ca Lowanpi (Becoming a Woman Ceremony) on the reservation. Through ceremony and the sharing of cultural knowledge, she is helping girls and women find confidence through their tribal identity. In this way she is building the capacity of her tribal nation. Sandra believes that her generation is the bridge to the regeneration of “Lakota being” after years of colonization. A powerful testament to this was her participation in her parents receiving their Lakota names, having lived through the time when that was not allowed.
At this stage of Sandra’s life, she remains active in her community by being a good relative and having a safe house for people. She also continues to be an activist—seeing Harney Peak renamed Black Elk Peak and getting access to sacred sites in the Black Hills for ceremony. The Oceti Sakowin were politically separated from the Black Hills by Federal legislative acts that took the land illegally. Through efforts like Sandra’s, the people remained spiritually connected. She is a force. She is passing on her knowledge through mentoring younger women to host the Becoming a Woman Ceremony. With the support of her young mentee, Sandra envisions expanding the work with girls and young women to have a group in every community on the reservation with dedicated helpers. She knows these girls and young women will lead their people into the future as good relatives and strong Lakota women.