I remember sitting in my bedroom with my siblings rewinding the tape on the stereo pumped up because that rap song hit the right spot. The words meant a lot to me I because they reflected my own life. I grew up seeing drugs all around me. I saw violence first hand on a regular. I grew up listening to Tupac and Eazy-E hearing their music brought words to my feelings. You see I knew more about them and what they stood for than my cultural leaders. I do remember seeing Jackie Bird and thinking she is beautiful I will be a Native leader like her one day. She stood for Native beauty but other than her there was no one who affected me more than those rappers.
I struggled with my identity growing up I guess that is what happens when your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are stripped of their identity through pain and heartache. What is left is a young beautiful rez girl not really knowing her own identity and not knowing how rich and beautiful her people are especially the ones who endured the assimilation before her. I didn’t hear about the abuse that my relatives endured in the name of Jesus. I didn’t read their stories nor were they taught in schools. When I learned about leaders in school it wasn’t the ones who looked like me. I learned about somebody else’s history and believed for years that was my identity.
I met the Jesus of the bible one day and my life of heartache in pain changed. I felt complete but I still had to learn who I was in Christ. I learned of His word and fell in love with everything about Jesus. If you knew the stuff I saw and the things I been through finding Jesus was a game changer for my life.
In this process of searching out Jesus, I begin to pray for truth to be revealed to me. I lived off the rez at this point and begin to attend church. My music changed to contemporary and I had to learn to understand the American and church culture. I was no longer apart of the rez life. I wasn’t fully ready for this as a young rez adult. But at this point, there was no turning back.
I tried to fit into other people’s idea of what my identity should look like. Is it contemporary Christian music? Or is it rap? Is it the American culture? Is it those inside the church? Who am I? Where do I fit in? I would look around me and think no one gets me. I mean how many in American even know that Natives still exist? Do they know the hardships we endured and continue to endure? Who am I? These are the questions I asked Jesus many times.
Then He answered my questions that is when the mask came off the mask of searching for my identity. He showed me that while I am His child created in His image He made me a beautiful rez girl. One who was born in raised in the poorest place in America yet comes from a family of survivors. One whose identity is a proud Lakota woman. One who has worth and value in her people and in His eyes. He showed me that I am Jenny with Jesus and that my life and my story is unique. He showed me that I am a fighter and a leader for those around me. I am a leader for the woman who has been hurt and knows her need for love. I am a leader for the next generation of Native’s showing them it is possible to love Jesus, get educated and still love your culture. I am a leader for the young girl or woman trying to find her identity.
Since the mask came off my identity has begun to form into an even more beautiful godly woman who will stand for justice and fight for truth. My mask tries to come back on every now and then but Jesus keeps me from putting it on. He consistently brings like-minded people into my life who love Him and people who fight for truth just like He calls us to.
My mask is no longer on I am one proud Lakota woman full of Jesus and love for His people. I am a woman who loves listening to Lecrae and NF. I love to listen to people who are able to speak the truth in love. I am a woman living in two worlds one that I call my home and where my family is and one that I live in learning the culture and the norms of this place called America.
I am a woman created for a purpose and who has a specific calling in life that only I can fill. I am the one and only, Jenny Andrews, daughter of Herb Big Crow Sr and Nicole Crazy Thunder both proud Lakota warriors who are in heaven waiting for the beloved daughter. I am a wife and mother to 3 amazing boys but most of all I am a daughter of the King.