Michiyo Ohoka (Olowan Waste Win) was born in Osaka Japan to Sueo and Masayo Tani. Her grandfather was a Buddhist monk and was the caretaker of a temple. She grew up practicing the traditional fire ceremonies of her ancestors and when she was introduced to the Native American practice of the sweat lodge it resonated very deeply with her and felt closely akin to the spiritual practices that she grew up with.
Michiyo tended fire for seven years in Japan before coming to the United States in 2001 to embark upon a vision quest under the late Chief Phil Crazy Bull and participate in the Sundance. She would return several times over the next few years before relocating to the United States permanently in 2004.
Michiyo spent the last 12 years traveling the country, supporting Sundances, sweat lodges, the Native American Church and other traditional ceremonies. Michiyo was a phenomenal singer and she dedicated her life to sharing her gift of song with the world. She also was a cedar woman and offered spiritual food to the Tree of Life at the Paradise Sundance on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. She also loved the traditional art of porcupine quill work. Her jewelry and other pieces were superb examples of the ceremonial art form.
In July of 2013 Michiyo was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation therapy in Albuquerque, NM. Throughout the difficult treatment, Michiyo remained positive and vibrant. She never held any regrets about the life she chose and she was always resolved to live her life fully in each moment, making the most out of every situation that life had to offer. Her undying passion for life, in all its glory and struggle, was a testament to the strength of her spirit. Michiyo was committed to living a life of integrity and service. She embodied the principle of unconditional love, with an innocence and purity of heart that never went unnoticed. Through her living example Michiyo enriched the lives of everyone who was lucky enough to have met her. She is survived by her parent, Sueo and Masayo, her brother Masaaki, her son Cocoro and her special friend Tsuyoshi.
A one night wake was held at the St. Francis Community Center on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Cremains were interred at the Clearwater Cemetery in Crazy Horse Canyon not far from the Paradise Sundance grounds.
Chief Marvin Swallow and Chief Leonard Crow Dog officiated memorial services.