Leslie Jo Fresquez Walking Elk, "Mi Cante Etan Wowaglake", 49, was born May 16, 1962, in Omaha, Neb., and began her journey to the spirit world on Oct. 15, 2011, in Minneapolis, MN.
Leslie graduated from Red Cloud (S.D.) High School in 1980, where she was a varsity cheerleader and academically excelled in state oratory competitions. Leslie attended the National College of Business, Oglala Lakota College, and graduated with her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Black Hills State University in 1991. Leslie began working in the Rapid City (S.D.) School System Indian Education programs at Wilson School, while still in college. After graduation, Leslie taught at Horace Mann School, Rapid City, and then at Wounded Knee District School in Manderson, S.D. Leslie moved to the Twin Cities in 1994 and continued teaching at the Red School House, American Indian Magnet, The City, Inc., and Mexica Multicultural Education Charter School. She was the director of the Teen Indian Parent Program for the Division of Indian Work for a number of years.
Leslie has always been a talented Native artist, and owned a small business she operated at the time of her death, Akisni Regalia. She recently participated in an indigenous cultural presentation in Paris, France, in 2011. Leslie played a mean game of Scrabble, had a ready sense of humor, devoted herself to the red road, was extremely active in AA, and was on the verge of receiving her three-year token.
She is survived by her sons, Anthony Barker, Minneapolis, Cory Barker, Seattle, and Ryan Barker, Fort Thompson, S.D.; her daughter, Sunkmanitu Walking Elk, Minneapolis; her parents, Anthony and Shirley Fresquez, Rapid City; her quasi-Daddy, Jim Hamm, Minneapolis; her siblings Craig Fresquez and Christine Flett, Portland, Ore., Rose Fresquez and Dani (Steve) Daugherty, Aberdeen, S.D., John (Diane) Fresquez, Rushville, Neb., and Mark (Luta) Fresquez, Wolf Creek, S.D.; her maternal aunts and uncle, Lucille, Rosemarie, Judi and Roger; her paternal aunt and uncle, Cathy and Dennis Gene; and many other members of her extended family. She was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents, John and Bessie (Trimble) Cornelius; her paternal grandfather, Daniel Fresquez; paternal stepgrandfather and grandmother, Gertrude and Tony Guiterrez.
A visitation was held on Oct. 19, at Serenity Springs Chapel of Tranquility, in Rapid City. A wake was held on Oct. 20 at Sacred Heart Church in Pine Ridge, S.D. Funeral services were held on Oct. 21 at Sacred Heart Church, with Leonard Little Finger and Pastor Larry Peterson officiating. Interment was at the Cornelius Family Plot, east of Pine Ridge.