mary louise defender wilson
TRIBE: Dakota/Hidatsa Nations
LOCATION: Shields, North Dakota
“In telling my stories I help to restore a sense of pride and respect for our young people. I know that people think about what they are being told and therefore are given a new or different way of understanding. Many students compare our oral stories with what is written about the land, the customs, the way of life and they see the power, strength and wisdom in the story’s message and they believe their ‘eyes are opened,’” said Mary Louise Defender Wilson, a storyteller and a 2009 Community Spirit Award honoree.
Troyd Geist, who nominated her, said, “Few storytellers have such a breadth of understanding and such a sense of the integrated nature regarding traditional stories that they can present them within a Dakota cultural context that more accurately unveils a complex, integrated Dakota philosophy; one that lends itself to revealing human ‘Truths’ in answer to much of Human difficulties. The stories teach one how to live. She epitomizes the spirit of community and deserves this honor.”