Mary Black Bonnet

It’s been said that Mary Black Bonnet can be summed up with an exclamation point. If you know her, you know how accurate that statement is.

Author, Artist, Lakota Winyan, Ina(mother) Goddess. She has lived many lives in the four decades she has walked this earth. She has never accepted the words, “You can’t.” Instead, she has used them as motivation to seek out and do whatever she wished. Never one to live in a box or flow with tradition, she has always chosen professions of her heart. Growing up she filled her world with books, writing, figure skating, dogs and horses. She’s wild, passionate, curious, direct and she loves life. She’s brave, fiercely independent, and has always found her own way.

Having been told she was “too stupid for college” she went out and got manual labor jobs in the areas that made her happy. She cleaned barns for champion show horses, as she dreamed of becoming a jockey on the horse racing circuit. Her next job got her there, in a fashion, as she became a exercise sullky jockey (harness racers/trotters) for a independent barn that raced standardbreds. She went on to be a mental health worker, a Vet Tech, and a lifeguard. She decided to try college and was very successful at it, graduating with an excellent GPA, became a published author, artist, and a literature and writing professor. She’s been an artist-in-residence, a writer-in-residence, gives public readings of her work, motivational talks and workshops.

While she has accomplished many things and put beautiful pieces of work into the world, she is the proudest of her daughter, saying, “She’s the greatest piece of work, (we) ever created!”

Mary has lived through many traumas, cross cultural adoption, childhood abuse, and sexual assault. But she refused to focus on those aspects only.

“I’m so blessed to have the life I do. I’ve been through a lot of horrific things, but Tunkasila has blessed me with incredible, beautiful things, events, people, opportunities, to balance it all out. I am so lucky and so very grateful for this life I get to live; even with all the trauma along the way. The trauma taught me more than the smooth parts. The wisdom I’ve gained from the trauma has benefited my journey as a human. I wake up everyday so grateful to greet another sunrise, have another opportunity to experience life in all its glory and grit. I’ve lived through a lot, but my ancestors did to, so if they can do it, I certainly can. I’m not here alone, I have generations of ancestors and a whole tribe of people before me and behind me. Every choice I make, is an example to my daughter, and to all the other Lakota children, as well as other survivors out there, thinking they are alone, asking themselves, ‘How do I do this?’ The truth is, you can’t do it alone. You have to believe in something higher than you. You were not made from nothing, you are a sacred being and that’s what you have to hang on to when times get tough. Grit in an oyster makes a pearl. Sand and extreme heat make glass, a beautiful flower blooms from roots nestled in smelly, fertile mud. Easy living makes life boring. Our trials and success truly make the people we decide to be.”