I’m an angry Indian,” Roger St. John, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, told the First Nations Repatriation Institute’s second annual adult adoptees summit. The elite panel included child-welfare specialists, judges, lawyers, community activists and scholars. The most important experts, according to the organization’s founder/director, Sandra White Hawk, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, were adult adoptees—such as St. John—who related their experiences at the three-day meeting at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in St. Paul in 2011.
Thanks to copious newspaper coverage of the massacre and its aftermath, Lost Bird became her generation’s celebrity adoptee, but fame did not save her from a fate that was a harbinger for too many Native children. She endured intolerance and isolation, and when she rebelled as a teenager, was shipped back to her birth family, where she no longer fit in. After a stint in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the loss of three children—two died and she gave away the third, according to Flood—Lost Bird was felled by influenza in 1920, at the age of 30. “Throughout her life of prejudice, exploitation, poverty, misunderstanding and disease, she never gave up hope that one day she would find out where she really belonged,” Flood wrote.
Or lucky. According to Sharon Whiterabbit, Ho-Chunk Nation, a business consultant and internationally known rights advocate, the son she’d given up as a teen mother found her because he lost his social security number. To get a new one, he had to petition the courts for his original birth certificate and, using the information he found there, tracked her down.
According to Terry Cross, Seneca Nation of Indians and founder and executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, nontribal child-welfare workers usually did not recognize the large support network that Native children enjoy: “In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, children were removed from Indian families because auntie was taking care of them, and the system called that neglect. But it was simply a different cultural way of meeting the child’s needs. To this day, social workers who remove Native children don’t know what an Indian family is and what supports are available
in the extended family and tribe.”
[And each story like this one will finally change this devastating history... Megwetch everyone...Trace]