My mother's side of the family traces their ancestory to the Lakhota Souix. My maternal grandmother was born on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Growing up, I did not understand the significance of having native artwork in our home or being given a native name. Although we always took pride in our heritage, there were no pow-wows, no large family gatherings, and I had never talked with my grandmother about her childhood. So for years, the pictures stayed on the walls, the tribal blankets remained thrown over the couches, and the dream catchers never really moved from the dusty corners they were placed in when I was younger.
Some major works from my family's favorite native artists, Beverly Doolittle. These are just two of the pieces that I remember hanging in our house.
"Two More Indian Horses" "Prayer for the Wild Things"
Portrait of my mother and I painted by Beverly Conrad in 1997.
"Matho gí chicala & Thingleška"
When it came time to apply to colleges, I faced crude remarks about my heritage and how "easy" it would be for me to get into any school I wanted. After years of not even thinking about race, ethnicity, and nationality I suddenly had many questions of my own. During my first semester, I found new ways to celebrate diversity with the Balfour program as well as the multicultural student's programs and services. Within MSPS, their cultural group "Native American Students Association of Notre Dame" has connected me with native alumni and current students of a wide range of native races. Currently NASAND consists of Cherokee, Lakhotan, Ojibwe, Osage, and Potawatomi students.
A little more about me:
Legal Name: Dominic J. Acri
Adult Native Name: Wanblišake (Eagle's Claw)
Adolescent Native Name: Matho gí chicala (Little Brown Bear)
Tribal Affiliation: Rosebud
BIA Registration Status: Submitted
NASAND, the Native American Student Association of Notre Dame, is one of the smallest groups on campus. Our close-knit group hosts meetings, discussions, and other events to spread awareness of native culture. The group works closely with the local Potawamini tribe and focuses on service, education, and encoraging diversity on campus.