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Mothers: Our Readers Pay Tribute

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Mother’s Day has been celebrated in one form or another for thousands of years, across a myriad of cultures, American Indian among them. The supreme mother of all is, of course, Mother Earth, who gives birth to all things. From Mother Earth sprang the womb-endowed humans who labor in the creation of other humans.

We call these humans our mothers, and though we honor them in small ways daily, we take a step back on a single day each year to pay tribute to our personal creatoress. The second Sunday in May is when we celebrate our mothers in the U.S. and Canada (the date varies around the world). This year Indian Country Today Media Network would like to honor them with you. We started with contributor Gyasi Ross's tribute to his mom in his May 6 column, and we continue below.

We at ICTMN asked our Facebook followers “to tell us what they love about their mom.” The result is this roundup of moving, funny and nostalgic tributes to the women who gave us life.

Of course, as Frank Aspria-Depoe wrote, “My Mom always said to me growing up ----Mother's Day is every day, not just one day that the non-Native says.....................” So we celebrate our moms today and every day.

Happy Mother's Day from Indian Country Today Media Network!



The first thing our moms did for us after birthing us was to feed us—for years and years and years. A couple of you tipped your hats to Mom’s cooking skills.

“Um ... stew and frybread.... Hello! LOL and her heart,” wrote Katie Fixico.

“Mom’s frybread is a band-aid for everything,” said Sarah Sand.


Mom fed us not only with food but also with nurturance, support and unbridled love—even when it was tough love.

“She instilled in me the concept of unconditional love by loving me unconditionally,” wrote Maida Torres.

Lynn Cantu: “My mother had eight children and loved every one of us unconditionally. She had five girls and three boys. She taught us how to be a strong family unit and take care of each other. She taught us how to use our resources wisely. In a big family, nothing goes to waste. My clothes were passed to my sisters. We ate everything on our plate and were glad that we had food. She sewed our clothes for us. She made sure that we had Sunday dinners together. So thank you Mother! I've learned what is important from her. I love thrift stores, garage sales. I still cook for an army, like she did years ago. I love to sew and use my hands to make things. Yes, I still have family dinners together. Thank you mother, I am the woman that I am today because of you! Love you eternally!”

Pauline Smith: “She has been there always, seen everything ... encouraged, loved no matter what ... taught me right from wrong. Gave me words to live by. She has made a difference in everyone’s life ... love her to the heavens and then some, my mom.”

Darren D. Driggs: “I love that my mother is very thoughtful, caring and the kind of person who would give you her last bite of food even if she was starving! And never expect anything in return. Love you Mom!”

Gertrude Ezell: “The best thing about my mother is the fact that she was there when I needed her. She is the reason that my three children are alive today, and the reason that I am alive today. That is a debt I can never repay and I thank her for all the time.”

“I love the fact she believed in all I could become and never gave up on me because without her support, I wouldn't be as successful as I am today,” wrote Jan Eagle Hawk. “She's my saving grace!”

Wrote Marilyn Sheldon: “My mom is my hero, savior and best friend! I'm blessed to call her my mom.... She taught me how to love unconditionally and care about your community. She still does things to help others, and I am so proud to say ... that's MY MOM!”

Janet Black Eagle touched on a mom whose love radiates out to encompass all: “What I loved about our mother is she believed in all religions. It’s okay to worship in a church and everywhere. The creator still hears our prayers and songs in all languages. Go with your heart. She showed us there are no barriers.”

We're even grateful, like Tangaxhuan Wo’ilake, for the tough love: “My mom made me tough in an inner city neighborhood destined to kill young men,” he wrote. “She made us go to college. She showed us how to keep our head up and wary.”

And Deanne Azure: “Strictest woman around! Made me listen, gave me a good swat when I didn't, all in all soooo glad she did! Due to the fact, I'm in law enforcement and needed a clean record, she made sure of that! She's 73 years old now, the only person I'm still afraid of, but I love her and appreciate her more than ever.”


Others noted their moms for their strength, endurance and perseverance against major odds.

“She's 98 years old and still playin' kickball,” wrote Diana Leonard Farless.

“Small in Stature, Strong in Heart,” wrote Kim Wagner.


Sophie Claire: “Even after she was run over by her own car in a freak accident and had to learn to walk again and had a head injury (not to mention the extremely hard life she has had, she literally could write a book about her life), she still gets up every day and is willing to help everyone she meets with a smile no matter how tired she is, and she never gives up, and cares about everyone, and especially takes time out to take care of those that have no one else to take care of them or love them.... I should include all of my grandmothers in this also because they taught my mother their ways of being like this.”

Lorraine Watson: “The bestest about my mother is she had me at [the] very young age of 15 and strived to take care of me, she ended up getting cancer and struggled with chemotherapy back in the ’70s, she never showed her side effects to me and never let me worry, she’s a cancer survivor and fighter to this day. She works hard every day of her life and barely getting any time to herself and has to go to the doctor every week for [the] daily struggles of working so hard. Thank you creator for giving me life to such a wonderful mother, and now I'm a mother of four beautiful daughters!”

Bradeen Belknap: “My mom is a strong woman. She raised three girls by herself with no assistance from any programs or child support. She went to night school for her degree and worked full time at a bank and part time cleaning apartments. She still made time for us girls with homework and was strict about our after-school time and boys. Thank you Mom for sacrificing so much for us.”

Nora P. Augustine: “My mom grew up in the Depression and wore rags.... She became a single parent with me and my two brothers, with no support she got off of welfare scrubbing toilets and put herself through college, becoming a fifth-grade teacher.... She is blind and still walks each day with courage.”

Likewise, Mom passed that strength on to us.

"My mama taught me that wherever I go on this Earth, the Earth will always be my home, and I can always reconnect at any time," wrote Dawn Kailikeola Lehman.

"My mother taught me never to waver in my determination," wrote Sandra Arseo.


Then there are the moms who upheld tradition while bridging old with new.

“I love my mom because she taught me our traditional values and language while also encouraging me to embrace education, resulting in a modern traditional woman,” wrote Lynn Manning. “Pisa supica i pia! (I love you Mom!)”

Angie Mahkee: "Our mother raised us to be proud of our culture, to embrace knowledge in all forms and to be kind to all living things. These values have made me the woman I am today, and gave me the foundation on which to raise my daughter right."

Tory Aragon: “I love the way my Nyah (mother) teachers our young girls about our native traditions, which she is willing to share. Talks about the old ways and keeps them alive in her heart. Amoo shroo ma! Nyah!”

Tatanka Win Johnson: “I LOVE that after raising her nine children, she continues to raise her grandchildren and show them the Lakota way. She welcomes anyone into her home and makes sure they leave her in a good way whether it be by food or advice. She is a strong Lakota woman who I deeply admire. She's not only my mom.... She's my best friend, and I don't know what I would do without her.... She's my Rock! She's been there through my failures and my triumphs. I’m privileged to be one of her children. SHE IS THE DEFINITION OF WHAT A MOTHER IS. ?”


Some especially poignant posts pay tribute to mothers who are no longer with us.

“If my mom were here today I would say that my mom was always caring, loving and giving up a lot of her time on the weekends to me and my brother and sisters,” wrote Alex BlueEyes. “And would always cook for all of my siblings, which consist of 16+. Now that was a mother who cared for all of us, even if they were stepbrothers and sisters. Love you Mom, and I miss you so much. I wish you were here to see me off on both my deployments.”

Similarly, Jerome DeVine wrote: “My mom crossed over at too young an age, but she had immense strength for her family and for all who came to our doorway. She taught me very early on to value every human being as a unique and beautiful intentional gift from our Creator. She taught me risk, adventure, strength, perseverance, nurture and integrity. Her love lives on in my heart and in the memory of the great three children my wife and I have raised. I wish our new grandson could meet her, but we will tell her story to him.”

Sandra Nail: “She tried really hard to make a good home for us. She truly loved her family. Best at being a mom who was part of our lives growing up. Miss her a lot. She died in 1980.”

Laura Lee C. Hair didn’t get to know her biological mother very well. “The woman I call Mom opens her heart to everyone that needs it,” she wrote of the woman who raised her. “She raised her own children plus many others. My mother passed when I was five. Growing up without a mom was very hard.”

Jamie Finney: “She was looked down upon and criticized for actions of my father, but she never backed down and she stood her ground, to me she was wonderful. I'm sorry she’s gone, she was a great lady to me.”


With us or no, our mothers are the first people we fall in love with, be we men or women. And their beauty never fades.

“Her love and teachings throughout my life still continue. I wish there were stronger words than ‘I love you’ to show her, her beauty inside and out,” wrote Billy-Jo Shingoose. “I thank My Mom for her lessons and continually being my best friend ? Momma Goose ‘You are Beautiful’ ?.”

“Love every single line and wrinkle on my mama's face,” wrote Joyce Esquer. “Speaks to all her struggles, heartaches, triumphs and goodness. Hers is as magnificent as the landscape of Dinetah.”