despite having descended from a distinguished family, Emily sent all four of her children, including Mary, to the same Catholic school, refusing either to teach them about their cultural background or their native language (Lakota Woman, 1990).
Mary’s childhood, which was also spent at the Rosebud Reservation, was filled with poverty, brutality, and racism. The social status of women had drastically changed since colonization, and the introduction of the 1876 Indian Act, which instigated the eroding of native women’s rights in various domains. Part of this had been the introduction of mandatory education in residential schools for all children, and Mary, like her mother, was forced to attend. Her years there were desperately hard, with nuns that beat the children if observed practicing cultural customs or speaking their native tongue, and the young teenager ran away. Aggressive, angry, and confused, within a short space of time, Mary Crow Dog had, like so many other Indian women before her, entered the world of alcohol and drugs (Lakota Woman, 1990).
It was while she was still a teenager that Mary Crow Dog became involved in the protest activities of the American Indian Movement (AIM), where she began to discover her true Indian identity. This enabled personal development and individual growth that helped her come to terms with being a ‘half breed’ – something which had deeply affected her. Then, in 1972, Mary participated in the Trail of Broken Treaties demonstration in Washington D.C., where she met her future husband. She was only sixteen years old (Lakota Woman, 1990).
Leonard, a medicine man, was fourteen years Mary’s senior when she married him in 1973, and she was seventeen. The age gap, however, was less of a problem than the couple’s cultural differences. Mary’s role as the wife of a medicine man held various important responsibilities that often left her exhausted. She learnt the difference between the various ceremonies, she studied