Julia Blackhawk

Julia Blackhawk
Julia Blackhawk is one of those killed in the I-35W bridge collapse.
Photo courtesy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press

With scissors, comb and an eye for style, Julia Blackhawk moved nimbly around her seated mother. It was a pixie look that Julia styled that day in the kitchen --- short, layered, the back barely touching the nape of the neck.

That was three weeks ago, before the bridge collapse took Julia's life.

The youngest of Carole Blackhawk's five children, Julia was captivated by beauty. Her idol was Horst, the man who spun a hair business into gold. In the last days of her life, she was a student stylist at Aveda, the place he founded.

"It's all we'd been hearing for years," Carole Blackhawk said. Indeed, Julia's friends often called her "Native Barbie."

But 32 years did not make a one-dimensional life. Julia Blackhawk, who lived in Savage, was immersed in raising her 9- and 12-year-old sons. Among the family, she was an upper. Her method -- outrageous, funny faces at whichever members were feeling blue.

She'd also begun serious study of the traditions and spirituality of her Winnebago tribe. Blackhawk had recently taken a new Indian name, Thunder Woman, during a pow-wow at Easter.

The tribal spirituality helped with a deep hurt not long before her death.

Julia and her Yorkshire terrier, Diamond, were inseparable. She would stride along in high heels, wearing big, stylish sunglasses and carrying the dog in a handbag slung over her shoulder. A month before the bridge went down, Diamond died under the wheel of a car.

The image of Julia and Diamond is vivid for oldest sister Dawnita Blackhawk-Bury, but the image will have to remain in the mind for the next 12 months. All photos of Julia have been passed to friends.

"She has a journey to make," Dawnita said. If Julia looked back and saw her family gazing sadly at the photos, the hesitation would prolong her journey back to her ancestors, her sister said.

Julia Blackhawk's body was transported to Nebraska for a Native American funeral ceremony.