Happy Mother’s Day: The Strength of Our Mothers

Mother’s Day 2019

Published May 12, 2019

Often, among Native people, mothers serve as the greatest soruce of strength within our families. Today, across America, Mother’s Day is being celebrated to remember and to thank our mothers.

This coming July, my mother will turn 88-years-old. With each passing day, I feel blessed my mother is still with our family. She remains a great source of strength within our family because of her ongoing prayers and encouragement.

As with so many other American Indian women, my mother has always been a woman of great determination and has never shied away from attempting to correct a perceived wrong. While my siblings and I attended school, Mother would often rally for us in the principal’s office if she thought a school teacher was picking on one of us simply because we were American Indians.

Several years ago, I was asked to contribute an essay to a book, entitled Thin Ice; Coming of Age In Grand Rapids. In that essay, Even Though I Was Not ‘Raised Indian,’ I wrote concerning my mother:

Jennie Whitepigeon Rickert Wicker

“My mother also taught me the valuable lesson of how one person’s voice can make a difference. One wintry Saturday morning when I was fifteen, Mother and I attended an Indian meeting at the old Westside Complex near downtown Grand Rapids. There were perhaps eight American Indians present, including my mother and me, to discuss American Indian affairs with Michigan state Senator Milton Zaagman. He apparently was reaching out to the American Indian constituency that particular morning. My mother raised her hand and told the senator that it was just ridiculous that the Michigan Commission on Indian Affairs consisted of more people who were not Indian than those who were. She asked him how people were not Indian could even know what Indian concerns were. The state senator listened and told her that he would look into the matter.

One day after school a few months later, my mother showed me a small article in “The Grand Rapids Press” that, as I recall, consisted of only two small paragraphs. It reported that Senator Zaagman had created legislation calling for the Michigan Commission on Indian Affairs to be made up of primarily American Indians.”

There is no doubt, my mother’s determination contributed to a certain aggressiveness I have had to employ in my line of work as I attempt make a difference in Indian Country.

As an American Indian journalist, I am blessed to meet and talk to American Indians from across Indian Country. In my many conversations, I often discover many American Indian mothers are similar to my own. Many of us have had mothers who taught us to stay strong in our daily lives.

Beyond my mother’s guidance about life matters, the greatest gift my mother bestowed to me and my siblings has been her unrelenting love. She is a strong woman of faith in God, who believes God is love. So, on this Mother’s Day, I honor my mother, Jennie Whitepigeon Rickert Wicker, who showed our family love and guidance.

Happy Mother’s Day!



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