Jessie Taken Alive-Rencountre Teaches Lakota Family Values Through Children's Books

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Danielle Bartelli Oldfield
March 21, 2024
Photo: Young Lakota Shawl Dancers, 2013 by Neeta Lind, Wikimedia Commons

Jessie Taken Alive-Rencountre Takes Creative Control

As March continues and we celebrate women who’ve made and are making a difference, the accomplishments of Jessie Taken Alive-Rencountre, Hunkpapa Lakota from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, must be brought to light. This children’s book author, busy wife and mother, jingle dress dancer, and woman on a mission has committed to sharing her stories to promote Lakota lessons and offer subtle messages to the next generations.

Rencountre recently made the tough decision to leave her counseling position with the Rapid City School District in South Dakota to pursue, present, and promote her creative projects. For ten years, she worked as an elementary school counselor. She also spent five years as a high school counselor.

Her work with young people, along with the Lakota values with which she was raised, inspired Rencountre to write four books all rich with deep meaning. Her first book, Pet’a Shows Misun the Light, emphasizes the importance of kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and love. It resulted in Rencountre being awarded the Great Plains Emerging Tribal Writer’s Award.

The book Thunder’s Hair features a young man who is fed up with school bullies. He considers cutting his hair until his wise grandmother reminds him of the power of having long hair. A grandma figure intervenes again in Rainbows in December when the character Kimi faces the loss of a loved one. Although meant for primary grade children, the message in We Are All Related: Mitakuye Owasin, Rencountre’s fourth book, shares the belief that one creator made all living things and we are all interconnected. This is a message that may apply to readers of all ages.

Jessie Taken Alive-Rencountre credits her parents with inspiring her as a child to continue her writing. She hopes that, with her family’s love and support, she will continue on her path of storytelling. She has said that she felt it was necessary to follow the “intuitive pull” she felt to leave her counseling position to continue her creative work. Tragically, Rencountre lost both of her parents to COVID-19 in 2020.  From that enormous loss, she felt that it was urgent to learn and share the knowledge she carries as a Lakota person. She wishes to make use of precious time to continue the messages of her people and lessons learned from her family.

Jessie Taken Alive-Rencountre believes a deep cultural awareness will strengthen Lakota (and other) youth and may help to break the cycle of generational trauma. Rencountre uses storytelling, song, and dance to heal. Those readers who enjoy her books may also find healing. Rencountre will continue her book writing and touring.

You may wish to follow her and her family’s journey as they work together to accomplish their goals.  Jessie married Whitney Rencountre over twenty years ago. From humble beginnings, they have worked hard to achieve positions that contribute to Natives nationwide. It was during COVID that Whitney, with others, created Social Distance Pow Wow, an online Facebook (Meta) Group that featured drummers, dancers, stories, music, and so much more. It was during this time that Jessie hosted a Women’s Empowerment Show.  SDP continues to this day.  History, news, images, cultural events, accomplishments, pow wow highlights, and shopping opportunities are just a few of the posted information scrollers will discover.

Those interested in reading about or ordering Jessie Rencountre’s books may do so by visiting her website: