Ramona “Maggie” Lee Childs Jones, “Winuna - Wahacaŋka Ska Wiŋ” 82, died Thursday, February 2, 2023, at English Rose Suites in Edina. She was born in Milwaukee Wisconsin on October 8, 1940, the daughter of Lorenzo and Lucille (nee Campbell) Childs. Ramona was raised on the Prairie Island Indian Reservation and was an enrolled member of the Prairie Island Indian Community. After graduating from Red Wing High School, she attended Winona State University earning a bachelor’s degree and then her master’s degree from Northwestern University. She taught in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. She was a public servant her entire career, teaching elementary through college level courses. She worked for the federal, state and tribal governments, becoming Minnesota’s first Dakota housing director, Prairie Island Gaming Commissioner and Director of Education. She administered and developed the Prairie Island charter school and it’s Dakota Language curriculum. She also taught Dakota language in the Minneapolis Public Immersion Schools. She was active in the Chicago Indian Community, as well as many other reservation communities. Ramona was a consultant for the Minnesota Humanities Commission and served as vice chair of the North American Indigenous Games held in Blaine, Minnesota in 1993.
She was known for her excellent leadership and living the Dakota way of life through her generosity, humility, compassion, her uniting kinship, feeding others, helping others financially, and sharing her knowledge and wisdom. She was passionate about learning, teaching, and the ongoing efforts to accurately represent her Dakota history. Ramona was a leader to many and was proud to have brought Sundancing to Prairie Island from 1993 to 2005.
Ramona is survived by her daughter, Nadena (Thorbjørn) Jones; grandson, Thorulf; sister Reta Childs and brother Alan (Melissa) Childs, Sr.; along with many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and siblings, Christine, Dale, Dennis, Michael and Claudine.
Funeral service will be 10 a.m. Wednesday, February 8, 2023, at the Prairie Island Community Center with Arvol Looking Horse presiding. Visitation will be after 3 p.m. Monday, February 6, 2023, until the time of the service on Wednesday at the Prairie Island Community Center. There will be a prayer service Monday and Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. Burial will be at the Prairie Island Community Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please support education for Native American students. Funeral arrangements are by the Mahn Family Funeral Home, Bodelson-Mahn Chapel.