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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 12, 2003 - Issue 91


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Dakota Needs Your Help, NOW

by Tristan Kwiecinski

A two-year old boy with a rare blood disease desperately needs your help. Dakota Kwiecinski's only chance for survival rests on bone marrow transplant, but his Caucasian and Navajo Indian genetic lineage makes finding a donor a long-shot.

Dakota suffers from hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, commonly called HLH. Dakota first developed symptoms of the disease that triggered HLH last February. Then, after weeks of fevers over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, Dakota's eyes rolled to the back of his head, his skin turned yellow, and he had difficulty responding to the sound of his mother's voice.

In late March, Dakota's family entered a room full of pediatricians of varying specialties sitting in a circle who explained Dakota had been diagnosed with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH. It is a rare life-threatening disease that primarily attacks children at a very early age. This destructive disease is often triggered by an infection that appears non-threatening. However, HLH must be treated aggressively, often with chemotherapy, and control of the disease, if achieved, is temporary. Without treatment, the disease will return and claim another life.

An intense chemotherapy regimen set the disease into remission, but doctors say if a bone marrow donor is not found it is unlikely Dakota will survive the next year.

In response to this news, bone marrow drives appealing to potential donors of Native American and mixed race ethnicity in the New York area will be held on July 22, 2003 at the American Indian Community House, 708 Broadway, 8th Floor, in Manhattan, from 10am to 2pm. There are about 20,000 people of Native American ancestry living in the five boroughs. Another drive is scheduled for July 26, 2003 at the 25th Annual Thunderbird American Indian Mid-Summer Powwow to be held at the Queens County Farm Museum at 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park, Queens, from 12pm to 5 pm.

In addition, a series of donor drives aimed at the Navajo communities in New Mexico-Dakota's home state-will be held later in July. In Michigan, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians held a bone marrow registry drive and a blood drive on July 5th at their Annual Powwow to help find a donor match for Dakota and other Native American people.

Bone marrow transplants offer the only chance of a cure for this disease. Dakota's greatest difficulty here is finding a matching bone marrow donor. While Dakota's search focuses on Native American and mixed race donors, his match may come from a donor of any ethnicity. Volunteering to become a donor increases the odds for every child in need of this life-saving procedure.

Those wanting to donate to the Dakota BMT Fund in care of Bank of America can go to Visit Dakota's website at to learn more.


Window Rock-Vice President Frank Dayish, Jr. and Shiprock Chapter President Duane "Chili" Yazzie have teamed up to help little two-year old Dakota Kwiecinski in his nationwide search to find a bone marrow donor and more importantly a match. Both leaders have pledged their support and will be getting tested Wednesday, July 16th at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock.

"My wife and I are very concerned about Dakota's future and his quest to find a bone marrow donor match," said Vice President Dayish. "I would like to challenge all Navajo leaders and tribal employees to get their blood tested."

Dayish said he is planning a motorcycle run in honor of Dakota's birthday celebration on August 2nd at the fairgrounds in Window Rock. He also wants to invite everyone to join him in finding a donor match or assist with medical expenses by making a monetary donation.

Dakota's grandmother Kathleen Holmes said Vice President Dayish and his staff have been a tremendous help in getting national attention and assistance for her grandson's life or death condition. She said Dakota's only chance for survival against this rare blood disease, hemophalgocytic lymphohistiocytosis, commonly called HLH, is a bone marrow transplant.

"We are asking our Navajo people to take a few minutes out of their day to help one of our own." Yazzie said. "This little boy is fighting everyday to celebrate another birthday and it's up to us to help him get there."

Dakota Kwiecinski is half-Navajo and half-Anglo and lives in Queens, New York with his mother Tristian Kwiecinski (Kwaa-chin-ski) and his stepfather Christian Regnaudot. His biological father is Navajo from Newcomb, New Mexico.

Bone Marrow Drive Locations:

Saturday, August 2 Fairgrounds Dakota's Birthday Celebration
8:00am-4:00pm Window Rock, AZ

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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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