Grandmother Standing Woman: Local Indian elder shares her traditions

Grandmother Standing Woman is a strong believer in tradition — and of preserving it by sharing it with others. An American Indian with ties to three tribes, she has spent nearly her entire life studying the ways of her elders and now passes that knowledge on to those around her.

On Thursday, she shared a small piece of what she has learned with a group of children at the Atascadero Library — bringing song, stories and her own handmade regalia to the discussion.

“Kids are our future, and as elders — all elders — we should be out there teaching,” she said.

An elder with bloodlines to the Nez Perce, Cherokee and Chumash tribes, the longtime Atascadero resident is also known as Sandra Weipert.

But those close to her and those who seek her healing ways simply call her Grandmother.

She has been a respected pow-wow dancer for more than two decades and makes her own regalia and beadwork. She is involved in community healing ceremonies and local drum circles.

It’s as important to listen to those close to you, she said, as it is to share traditions.

“Children’s voices are getting lost because we are so busy these days,” said Weipert. “Kids can lose their way when no one listens to them.”

To help children be heard, Weipert made “talking sticks” with them at the library’s children’s program.

Each stick, made of willow branches, includes something special to each child — such as a ribbon or a feather.

The sticks were used by American Indians to direct conversation in meetings. The stick entitles whoever is holding it to speak without being interrupted.

“It is amazing what children will say if you stop to listen,” said Weipert.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939.