Flollowing the Ancestoral Trail

Sunset Over Ponds, Monodnacks, N.H.I’ve been reading Diane Wilson’s Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life. The material is new to me, yet deeply familiar. Reading the book is somehow like coming home.

My sister called last night. I returned her call this morning. As sometimes happens, we got to talking about our upbringing. I was musing about how “Native” our parent’s values were. “No surprise,” my sister suggested, “Dad’s Mom was a full blood.”

“I would love to know what tribe we are on her side,” I mused. Your nephew knows. He was at a family reunion recently, and found out. You know, he finds ways to discover these things. Anyway, he told me a couple of times but I don’t remember.”

“I’m not sure. Our cousin the gerontologist doesn’t even know,” was my response. “Miami?” I suggested. We’ve thought we we’re Miami.

“No, something else.”

“We’ll, please ask him for me and let me know,” I requested. “Dad’s Dad was from the Black Hills. I imagine that means he was Lakota but there are other possibilities. I wish we could figure out our Native ancestry on Mom’s side. I’m pretty sure it’s only on Mom’s Mother’s side. The Cherokee connection seems strong. I think her Dad was solidly European.”

“Grandma Watson was hard to get to know,” suggested my sister.

‘Yes, she was tough as nails and silent. I wish she had spoken to us about our heritage. I guess her silence makes sense though, given the way we Native people were treated in Indian when Pop was a kid. I guess passing was her best option, raising all those kids by herself. She couldn’t pass but they could.”

About that time the topic turned and drifted down different rivers. I’m still thinking though.

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