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Generous spirit: Mary John works to connect the Native community

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In her mind, Mary John can still trace the cracks in the ceiling of the tiny wood home where she spent the first six years of her life.

Though belying a life of poverty, they also formed captivating shapes in the imagination of the girl called "Nonie," or Winona for "firstborn daughter" in Dakota.

To this day, those lines remain vivid, connecting Mary to that precious time with her grandparents, Henry and Agnes Longie, on the Fort Totten Indian Reservation in the late 1950s.

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