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The Lakota Martial Arts Instructor Helping Native Women Recuperate Their Strength


Patty Stonefish can take down a fully grown man by his finger. Patty, a 26-year-old joint-lock ninja of Lakota heritage from North Dakota, has actually been studying taekwondo for more than a decade. For demos like the one she is doing tonight, she keeps it easy: single-action moves with names that women can keep in mind in a panic, like grandmother s grip, jazz hands, and, in this case, single-finger takedown.


Based in Fargo, North Dakota, Patty and Dereck are kicking off a series of self-defense workshops in a local community center through their project, Arming Sisters/Reawakening Warriors. Their very first group is little, with just three individuals 2 adults and a preteen lady. Dacia, 41, of North Dakota s Spirit Lake Tribe, stated she’d never heard of the program before realizing the event advertised by the tribal.


Prior to introducing into the hapkido moves, Patty and Dereck talk through the effects of generational trauma in Native American communities. Dacia keeps coming back to the point that strikes her most: You have the power to alter your very own life.


Patty released the original program in 2013 to provide Native American women a self-defense model that was more about rediscovering strength than putting up your guard. In Patty’s words, the workshops focus on putting the self-back in self-defense. I wanted women to rediscover what s effective in themselves.


That indicates common self-defense principles like verbalizing limits and removing yourself from dangerous circumstances are used far more broadly. Removing yourself could imply anything from crossing to the other side of the street to leaving a relationship after years of abuse. And while you might come away with some helpful techniques to thwart an aggressor, the hope is that the physicality and communion will likewise rekindle a belief in yourself.


You are strong, Patty tells women. You are awake. Only individuals can re-empower themselves, Patty says: The re in these sessions is central. When you recognize you can take down a guy like Dereck with one relocation, she states, you begin to believe, I’m strong I’m not just physically more powerful than I thought, I’m emotionally more powerful than I believed. Possibly strong enough to break cycles of violence and trauma.


Patty, who as a preteen endured an attack by two White men, long internalized her own injury; she didn’t inform anybody for several years. I wouldn’t say it out loud even to myself, she states. She hears comparable stories throughout the talking circles that follow her workshop’s trainings. Often women, pushed by one another, share their stories for the very first time.


Lots of women will inform you they put on t know anyone who hasn’t been raped, says Sarah Deer, a Muscogee (Creek) professor at William Mitchell College of Law who has studied violence against Native American women for decades. Eighty-six percent of sexual attacks against Native American women are perpetrated by members of other races, a fact that sets them apart from White, Black, and Latina women.


A couple of hundred miles west of Fargo on the Fort Berthold Reservation, an oil boom started around 2009, bring in countless non-Native employees. Advocates ended up being so concerned about Native women’s vulnerability to violence that a nationwide Native American union petitioned the United Nations to investigate human rights abuses.


Stonefish’s broadened programs warrior track encourages conversations among males and children that challenge exactly what Dereck calls the colonial method to masculinity that stresses splendor through violence and war. Rather, Dereck explores a conventional view of warriors who look after their people, often at excellent sacrifice. We attempt to reveal children how we traditionally valued women as the core and pillars of our community, he said.


She’s vocal with her viewpoints, easily states no when she doesn’t want to try a particular relocation, and shows her strength easily when she does. I simply didn’t know how to express it, she stated. No one truly revealed me how to use it till now.