Gladys Thunder Hawk-Gay

Oglala Lakota


Gladys Thunder Hawk Gay has been making quilts and star quilts for over 80 years, since she was 6 years old, she watched her mother, Susanna Jealous of Him sew quilts. Gradually she started sewing quilts by hand then by sewing machine. As a little girl, she was guided by her grandmother, Louisa Two Heart, to bead moccasins and bead. Since she was a young child, she was raised to prepare traditional foods such as papa (dried meat), tunpsila (wild turnip) and canpa (chokecherries) among many others. She is highly skilled at skinning and butchering buffalo, elk, deer, and rabbit. She continued to prepare traditional foods throughout her whole life including today. Various times she is asked to prepare spiritual food for ceremonies, wasna (dried shredded meat mix) and canpa hunpi (chokecherry juice).

Additionally, Gladys has led huge gatherings of her tiospaye (extended and distant family), and organized naming and honoring ceremonies. Through these activities which are publicly announced across the reservation through radio, flyers and newspapers, she has ensured that many Oglala Lakota people have received Lakota names, and understand the spirituality and making of relatives process. The reason she started these tiospaye gatherings, was so that relatives distant, new, and close would get to know each other, and build community and connection while participating in ancient Lakota ceremonies.

Gladys was born a Lakota speaker. Despite going through the traumatic experience of boarding school, she retained her language and traditional practices and passed them on to her children successfully. All of her children are fluent in the language and were raised in a traditional Lakota way.

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