Santana


In memory of Santana Marie Janis, 2003-2015.


Her friends remembered her full of laughter, a positive girl with a love for horses, basketball, and her friends. When I met Santana, during a summer math camp put on by her Grandfather, she was the playful yet shy. During a ceremony, Tapa Wankaye Yapi, Santana caught the ball from the North, fully embracing her monkier Waniyetu Wakan Mani Wi "Woman Who Walks With Spirit of the North."

On February 4, 2015, Santana hung her self. The death of the pre-teen rocked the reservation, her friends, and her family. This story is an attempt to show what Santana left behind, and how those who loved her are learning to cope. 

An image of Santana sits on her grandfather's living room table. 

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Looking out the window of her Grandfather's home, where Santana would spend much of her time. 

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A bedroom at her Grandfather's house where Santana would often share with other girls, when she didn't feel like staying at home. 

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Santana in 2014, preparing for the Tapa Wankaye Yapi, the Throwing of the Ball, a coming of age ceremony for girls. She took her own life less than six months later. 

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Early snow covers the ground near her home in Kyle. 

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The Apaloosa at center was Santana's horse; her friends remember her as a fantastic rider. 

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Hopi Janis, one of Santana's close friends, sits with her phone in her bedroom. 

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A basketball game, where Santana would often play. 

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A bedroom at her Grandfather's house where Santana would often share with other girls, when she didn't feel like staying at home.

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A girl at Little Wound School holds up a tarantula at a school speech competition. 

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Inila Wakan Janis prepared wasna, a traditional Lakota food for a ceremony marking the one year anniversary of Santana's passing. 

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Tequanna Red Owl waits for her friends after a church confirmation meeting. 

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The moon rises over Pine Ridge Reservation. 

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The sun sets behind a horse during a summer math camp Santana attended in 2014. 

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Santana's two grandfathers - Inila Wakan Janis and Earl Tall - hold up a shirt with Santana's image and her Lakota name:Waniyetu Wakan Mani Wi, meaning "Woman Who Walks With Spirit of the North."

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Santana's two grandfathers - Inila Wakan Janis and Earl Tall - go through a list of names for who should get shirts with Santana's image on in during her ceremony of remembrance.

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Hopecawin Janis hugs Justice Steele at the ceremony for her remembrance. 

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Jenna Black Bear and Tianna Red Owl sit together at home after Santana's ceremony of remembrance. 

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Hopecawin Janis draws eyes in the snow on her parents car. 

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A letter written by Inila Wakan Janis to his family. The entire community was shaken by Santana's death, but the familyin particular was effected - and has worked tirelessly to reduce youth suicides ever since. 

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