From 'White' Woman to 'Red Warrior' Woman
“I had a great life, got saved, and still had a great life. Sure, I had some hard, sad and frustrating times, but they never challenged my core, my hope, my faith, or my very being. That is, until 1999...”
Last updated 3/17/2013 at 3:22pm
I have always been a happy-go-lucky person. I grew up in a loving home and had it pretty easy. So when I came to know Jesus as Savior on July 30, 1989, it wasn’t out of desperation or hopelessness. My fiancé, Dave, and I were at an Amway convention and the guest speakers gave their testimony. They invited people to pray and accept Jesus, noting that ‘tomorrow may not come’ and ‘now is the time’. I started crying. My heart was racing; I knew I had to go forward. I grabbed Dave and practically ran to the front of the auditorium. I was 23 years old.
For the next 10 years, people would invite me to give my testimony. I would tell them I didn’t have one. I had a great life, got saved, and still had a great life. Sure, I had some hard, sad and frustrating times, but they never challenged my core, my hope, my faith, or my very being. That is, until 1999.
In November of that year, I attended an amazing American Indian/First Nations Christian gathering in Ottawa, Canada, hosted by Kenny & Louise Blacksmith. When I got off the plane in Ottawa, I was a ‘white’ secretary who was of American Indian descent, had a heart for Aboriginal people, and who worked for a Lakota evangelist. The music and messages at the conference were life changing. That weekend was the first time I heard Broken Walls’ song, Rise Up Mighty Warrior and to this day it continues to minister deep into my soul.
When I got back on the plane, I knew that I had my own path and vision to pursue. I was excited yet at the same time bewildered. I had no idea the cost of surrender and obedience, nor the immeasurable gift of grace and healing that I would experience.
On our way home from Ottawa, just miles from my house, I had my first flashback and panic attack. I didn’t know it then, but it was the beginning of a rough, heart-wrenching battle for deliverance and healing that I eventually won through a lot of prayer, counseling, support groups and Creator, who covered me in love, grace, forgiveness, truth and courage.
Back in 1996, I received my calling to Native American ministry, during a worship service at Good News Fellowship in Daly City, California. I was a member of the worship team and we were singing “Heart for the Nations”.
October 10, 1996, I received this verse as a confirmation, “Then He summoned me and said to me, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted My Spirit [of wrath] and have caused it to rest in the north country” (Zechariah 6:8 Amplified Bible).
I was born in Norman, Oklahoma on November 24, 1965, the eve of Thanksgiving. I was named Jenifer Lynn High, after my mother. My mother always told me that my name Jenifer meant ‘Giver of Love”. In my early years I took great pride in that name and role.
When I was in my teens, my paternal grandmother began to tell me stories about our Cherokee heritage. At the same time, relatives on my mother’s side were compiling our genealogy and had traced our ancestry all the way back to Amopotoiske (Cherokee) and Chief Wahunsonacock (Powhatan). I was in high school when my family began to acknowledge our American Indian blood.
My Native American ancestry is Powhatan, Cherokee and possibly Choctaw. I am also English, Irish, Scottish, German and Dutch. Following the women’s side of my ancestry and the country where I live, I identify mostly with the Cherokee. The official style of dress for Cherokee women is the Tear Dress, so I had one made. I was so excited because it is the style of dress that is ‘safe’ for me to wear as a woman. I did not feel worthy of a leather dress, much less comfortable in one that would challenge my sense of modesty at the time. The Tear Dress was perfect and a confirmation that in the deepest parts of my soul, I was on the right path.
I got in contact with the tribe where my great-grandmother was enrolled, the Amonsoquath Tribe of Cherokee. They informed me that we are of the Ani Wodi, Paint Clan. The Ani Wodi are the tradition keepers of the tribe and their color is White. In our first step of restoring and keeping traditions, my children and I became enrolled.
Yet deep inside I was always trying to find a way to be independent or separate from my mother. I wanted to be unique, an individual. For years, whether we went by “Jenny” or “Jenifer”, people got us confused with one another. So, while I was in college, I made the decision to go by “Jeny”. Not long after that my mom remarried, changing her last name and I married, changing my last name. The name “Jenifer High” no longer existed for either of us. That was such a sense of freedom.
I didn’t know the width or depth of that until later when I was taking a “boundaries” class. In February 2000, I learned that because of my past childhood abuse experiences and co-dependency, I never really learned that I was independent from others.
In that state of no clear physical boundaries between myself and others and being held accountable to my name and purpose, I was taught that abuse was okay and expected. I was taught ‘wrong’ meant ‘right’ and ‘right’ meant ‘wrong’. I was taught that my inner voice was ‘wrong’ and that others were ‘right’.
I was uncomfortable embracing being feminine. It wasn’t safe. In fact, in my experience, gender didn’t help me one way or another. Although in a healthy world gender is a boundary, it wasn’t in my world. So I attempted to hide and protect my femininity with modesty and a tomboy attitude and approach.
I learned that my lack of boundaries and lack of sense of self also prohibited me from having any true sense of feeling secure or loved. Sure people loved me, but I couldn’t see it. I gave and gave and gave, but I couldn’t receive.
I was taught to make people happy at any cost. I was taught that feeling and acting happy was the only appropriate emotion. It’s no wonder I was so happy-go-lucky. It was the only option. It became my survival mechanism.
I learned that I needed boundaries so that I would give love and receive love in a good way. My name ‘Jenifer’ did not represent giving love or receiving love in a good way. To me it had been used to manipulate me into accepting abuse. That abuse cost me my voice, my identity, my purpose and my vision.
For three years I had been involved in advocating for the restoration of the Indigenous voice, identity, purpose and vision in the Body of Christ. Not only that, but I was advocating for Indigenous people to truly see, receive and accept who they are as Creator’s children. I had been advocating from the place of an outsider, a foreigner to the concept of injustice and abuse, a stranger to manipulation and fraud. I was advocating from the point of an intercessor, hearing God’s voice and reading His Word and proclaiming His truths.
In fact, Creator burned Habakkuk 2:2-17 onto my heart, commissioning me to speak it out to the Church whenever given the opportunity, on behalf of His heart for Aboriginal peoples, particularly the indigenous people of North America: “…Then the Lord replied, “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay….” “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies! ... The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and your destruction of animals will terrify you. For you have shed human blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.”
He also charged me to share this one: “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of My people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord” (Jeremiah 6:13-15 NIV).
As an intercessor, those verses brought forth such humility, repentance and weeping as I prayed for hours on behalf of my ‘white’ ancestors, the dominant society, and the Church.
Then I realized I was the one who was blind. I was blind to the real meaning of my name, I was blind to my perceptions of self, I was blind to my family history, and I was blind to the concepts that held me in bondage. I was not meant to be an outsider, I was not a foreigner to injustice and abuse, and I was not a stranger to manipulation and fraud. Not only did Creator call me to intercede for our American Indian and First Nations people, He called me to embrace my own Native heritage, so He could use it to heal me and reveal my testimony.
In 2000, Wilma Bob, co-founder of TEOTTM (The End of the Trail Ministries), and I went on a healing journey. In addition to joining Wilma for her public meetings of reconciliation ministry, we supported each other as we visited significant places where we experienced abuse. She went with me to a place in Missouri where I was molested by a group of boys during my middle school years. I went with her to the boarding (residential) school on her reservation. Something powerful happened in our lives, as we heard each other’s stories, prayed for one another and literally visited the abuse sites together.
I went back to Missouri in 2002 for an American Indian Christian conference. It was also the first time I sang the Cherokee Morning Song from the stage. That day was life changing for me as I was publically acknowledging my American Indian heritage.
After the conference, I went to visit the people of my tribe. Later that day I participated in a traditional naming ceremony when I was told that I was no longer to be known as “Jenifer”, but I would be known as “Usdigeyvqua Gayvhi”, which roughly means “Running Brook”. There are no words to describe how amazingly healing it was to be released from the curse and receive a blessing. The true meaning of ‘Jenifer’ is ‘fair’, ‘fair lady’ or ‘white wave’. My true name was restored and transformed. My false name was brought to an end (Isaiah 62:1-3).
Nearly a year later, I went to Oklahoma. While I was there I thought about the memories and flashbacks I had over the last three years regarding the abuse I experienced while living in Oklahoma. I thought about the scars and the blood and the pain. Then I thought about Christ on the cross, picturing His blood flowing down from the cross onto the ground. I thought about how all the earth is connected and that the very ground I was kneeling on in Oklahoma was connected to the very ground that was under the cross 2000 years ago. I thought of Christ’s blood flowing all the way from Israel to Oklahoma. I thought how wonderful it was that Yahweh brought me to Oklahoma and how He was bigger than any trauma I had ever experienced. I received so much healing. He healed me when I was back on my land, embracing my Cherokee heritage.
In 2004, I returned to Missouri as a keynote speaker for a conference hosted by Tipi Ministries. I also went to Peru for a conference hosted by Rett & Sherrill Bragg, where I shared my testimony. Later in 2004, I hosted my first Convocation of Eagles prayer and worship conference. In 2005, I went to Israel and Washington DC. Later in 2005, I went to Idaho for the second Convocation of Eagles, which was hosted by the Bob Family.
In November 2010, almost exactly 11 years after my trip to Ottawa, I returned to Canada for the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards as a nominee for Best Aboriginal Music Radio Program for Across Turtle Island that I used to host. I walked down the red carpet in my Cherokee Tear Dress with my husband and children.
Through my involvement in First Nations ministry, the Creator Yahweh, His Son, My Messiah, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have been restoring my voice, restoring my identity, restoring my purpose and restoring my vision. I became a follower of Jesus when I was 23 years old. I died to my old (false) self and was born again. My new (true) self, in Christ, is now 23 years old and I have a testimony.
I can honestly say that in these last 13 years of going from a ‘white’ woman with no testimony, through memory recovery, PTSD, and deliverance from severe co-dependency, and forward as an American Indian ‘Red Warrior Woman’ with a greater dependence and trust in Creator Father, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit, that the Gospel is true.