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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 17, 2003 - Issue 87


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The Lost Birds

Cetan Num
Editor's Note: This is a article about the "Lost Birds" These are Native children that for one reason or another have not been raised by their Native families and/or have suffered from abuse. If you have a story to share, please email it to

Little GirlA long time ago there was a girl called Zintkala Nuni, or Lost Bird. She got this name after the battle of Wounded Knee. This is her story.

It was December 1890. The winter was very difficult for the Lakota because the United States government had been killing off the Buffalo. The Buffalo are very sacred to the Lakota. They are one of our closest relatives and give of themselves to feed and clothe their Lakota relatives.

Chief Big Foot was leading his band of Lakota to the Pine Ridge Reservation to be with Red Cloud's people. Chief Big Foot had become very sick because of the cold and the hardships he faced at the time. On December 29th the Lakota ran into the 7th Calvary while on their way to Pine Ridge. The place where they met is Wounded Knee.

When the soldiers tried to take away the Lakota's guns and other tools they use to hunt the trouble began. Some say it started when a Lakota man who could not hear refused to give up his gun. They say he did not understand what was happening and when the soldiers began to take the gun from him a shot was fired.

The soldiers started firing at the Lakota men, women and children. The men tried to get to their guns to protect the women and children. Women grabbed for their children and ran for safety. But the soldiers ran after them and shot helpless, unarmed Lakota.

Lost Bird's mother held her baby tight as she ran as fast as she could. She could hear a soldier coming behind her and felt a bullet hit her. She fell to her knees and pushed the baby up under her shirt to keep her warm. The soldier shot at her again. She managed to dig a hole in the snow to try to save Lost Bird before she died.

Four days later some men came out to Wounded Knee to bury the victims. They found the baby barely alive. General Colby dressed himself as part Lakota and went to where a Lakota woman was taking care of the baby. He told her a story and ended up taking the baby from her People.

Lost Bird spent her life looking for a place to belong. She went back to the Lakota people but she had spent so much time in the white society. She didn't feel accepted by the white society because of the prejudice they had against the Native people. Lost Bird died very early in her life. But the Lakota found her and brought her home to be buried with her family at Wounded Knee.

Adoption of Native Children

Timeline of the Indian Child Welfare Practices:

  • 1492-1776 Colonial Years: Children are taken from their families to be put in orphanages, asylums, etc.
  • 1776-1830 Removal Period: The reactions to the Colonial Years started the Foster Care Movement
  • 1831-1880 Reservation and Treaties Period
  • 1880-1930 Allotment Era: Children moved from family to family
  • 1880-1930 Children are taken from their families and put in boarding schools where they are beaten for speaking in their native languages, etc.
  • 1930-1950 Indian Reorganization Act Era: BIA takes control of the reservations, children are still being taken away from their families, tougher adoption laws caused illegal interracial adoptions of native children
  • 1950 – 1970 Native American Termination Era: the government tried to force native families off of the reservations and into the cities, they also scared many parents to give up their children, the child abuse protection act was passed in 1974
  • 1970 to present Self-Determination Era: native women were sterilized by force so that they could not have children by the government. Indian Child Welfare Act drafts & hearings – 1972 – 1976; passed in 1978

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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