Julia White Bull is our new Travoisian! Julia recently joined the Travois Asset Management team as an asset manager. She helps clients meet investor and state reporting requirements and keep properties in compliance with rules and regulations for the life of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developments. She’s an alumna of both Haskell Indian Nations University and the University of Kansas.
Read on to learn more about Julia!
1. Where did you work before you started at Travois?
I previously worked at the University of Kansas as a research aide, and I also worked in several different law firms. In these law firms, the main focus was property management, evictions and debt collections. My skills from my experience at the law firms will help me have a shared understanding with the clients and nations we work with. Helping families move into homes is critical in Indian Country. As an asset manager, I want to ensure the clients have resources available to them as well.
2. What is your educational background?
In 2010, I received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) in Indigenous and American Indian Studies. In 2015, I received a master’s degree from the University of Kansas (KU) in Indigenous and American Indian Studies.
3. Do you have any family details that you’d like to share?
I am an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe located in North Dakota and South Dakota. But I grew up on my maternal side’s reservation at Cheyenne-River Sioux Tribe. I also grew up in small towns, rural areas and cities such as Minneapolis, MN, and Riverside, CA. In short, I am born and raised a Lakota.
I have two lovely children: my son, Ohitika, and my daughter, Ohinniya. My son’s name means “brave” in the Lakota language, and my daughter’s name means “breath of life” or it means “smiles all the time” (interpreted differently by fluent speakers).
I have a twin sister, and we are 18 minutes apart. We are fraternal twins, but we look a lot alike. My grandpa (who is also a twin) said we are womb mates. And yes, twins are common on both sides of my family, and my twin sister and I are the first girl twins on my maternal side.
Powwows have always been a part of my life. We have been dancing at powwows since the age of 3. My twin and I were taught to bead and sew at the young age of 12. Beading entails family designs and structure with our close-knit families. I have sewn and beaded all of my regalia and also my children’s regalia. I actually took my time on our regalia, and I didn’t rush, so the designs and beads are still intact.
4. What inspires you?
My children, my culture, colors, art, sunsets and sunrises.
5. Who has the most influence in your life?
My father, grandfather and grandmother. Although my father and grandfather are in the star nation, I think of their wise words and advice they have given to me. My father was an astounding artist, he was a craftsman and a skillful quiller. I remember watching him flatten the quills with his teeth, his beadwork looked like paintings, and he also did acrylic work on canvas or buffalo hides. He was always doing something, and I took interest in the same art he did.
My grandfather was a huge activist in Indian Country, but I always knew him as Lala (Grandpa in Lakota). He had an eloquent way of speaking to audiences and captivated everyone by his moving words and the tones in his voice. I studied the way he interacted and spoke to audiences. I truly admired that about him. My maternal grandmother is my only grandmother left. She helped raised me and my twin, and she’s still old fashioned. We still get birthday cards in the mail and phone calls about the weather.
6. What brought you to Travois?
Several former colleagues and my alumni Listserv at KU directed me to apply to Travois. The mission and goals are aligned with my degree and work history.
7. Do you have a slogan, wise words, or life philosophy that represents you?
My grandpa was very passionate about matrilineal societies. So while in grad school, I became more passionate about matrilineal societies and used the information in my thesis.
One of the most profound Lakota philosophies my grandpa taught me was the number 28. There are 28 days between each full moon, 28 days between each menstrual cycle, 28 ribs in the buffalo, 28 squares on a turtle’s shell, and there are 28 feathers on a male’s headdress to point to the heavens so the man can be in balance with the woman.
The other two sacred numbers in Lakota way of life is four and seven, four times seven equals 28. There are four directions, four stages of life, four colors representing each direction and the list goes on. There are seven ceremonies, seven stars, seven bands of the Lakota, and the list goes on for the number seven as well. I learned so much in grad school and implement it into my work and home life. Just like the tepee, it represents the woman, and if you look at the tepee, you can see a woman cradling her baby (the flaps at the top of the tepee).
8. Who’s the one person who makes you laugh the hardest?
My son, Ohitika. He has flourished in the last year as a young man and has the greatest sense of humor.
Fill in the blank:
On weekends, you’ll find me: At a park or movies with my children, traveling to powwows with my children or in front of my sewing machine and beading table.
The best gift I ever received was: My children. They truly grounded me and helped me become who I am today.
I’d love to meet: Michelle Obama – she carries herself in an elegant and graceful way.
If someone were to make a movie about your life, who would play you: Katherine Marie Heigl – she will need to dye her hair brown, ha! She’s a great actress and my friends have mentioned we resemble each other.
My favorite song of all time is: “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton.
A happy memory is: Beading and sewing my first pair of leggings for powwows when I was 12 years old. I still have them and keep them as a reminder of how practice makes perfect.