Jennie Seminole Parker (Northern Cheyenne) is from the Tongue River area of Ashland, Montana. Her Cheyenne name, Otse’eme, translates into “Brave Woman.” She is a Sundance Woman who stands strong in her belief that ceremonies help heal the people and the land. Jennie is fluent in the Cheyenne language and lives a traditional way of life with her large extended family.
Jennie is the last remaining child of her father “Big Spider,” who survived the U.S. military assault on the Cheyenne people at Fort Robinson, Nebraska on January 9, 1879.
Her father’s message stays with her, even today: “You will never know real fear until you have been chased and hunted like an animal.” Big Spider, Jennie’s father, was indeed chased liked an animal by the United States Military and volunteer militias for over 400 miles and yet, he made it home to the Cheyenne people’s beloved northland. Jennie comes from this strong line of strength and courage.
From this legacy of historical trauma and warfare, Jennie devotes her life to sharing her knowledge and wisdom with younger Cheyenne people.
In January of each year, young Cheyenne people re-enact this run for freedom by enduring an epic five-day, 400-mile Fort Robinson Memorial relay in subzero weather. They finish the journey that many of their relatives could not. “I like to see the runners understand where they’re from, and what they have,” states Jennie.
Jennie has participated as a runner, along with the young people, and today serves as their elder advisor. Now in its 23rd year, the youth dedicated the 2019 Fort Robinson Spiritual Run to Jennie Seminole Parker.
Like all the legacy leaders, Jennie continues to carry on the many responsibilities of her Tribe. She is a life-long teacher and advisor. In 1992, she was recognized as “Teacher of the Year” by the Montana Indian Education Association. She taught tribal college students for many years at Chief Dull Knife College, and now serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors.
Chief Dull Knife College recently purchased land at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Coming full-circle, the tribal college built a memorial to the Cheyenne people who died there, and for those who ran to freedom, including Jennie’s father, Big Spider.
Jennie shares her courageous Cheyenne heart with the young people of today, encouraging them to connect with their spirit, live healthy lives, and most of all, to be proud of who they are.
Please join me in celebrating Legacy Leader Jennie Seminole Parker.