[This is not fiction.]
I called my Lakota friends this evening to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving. Okay, it’s Black Friday, I know that. But we are on vacation and I wasn’t able to make the call yesterday.
I almost wish I hadn’t made the call today either.
My friend asked how our Thanksgiving was and I told her it was lovely. I asked her the same question, hoping that the day had been good for her. I should have known better. You probably knew better, if you’ve read any of my prior posts about my Lakota friends.
She told me that the aunt she and her husband were living with had been hospitalized twice recently and told to stay off her feet or she might lose her leg (complications of diabetes). That’s easy for the doctor to say, but who will care for the young children in the aunt’s care and custody while she stays “off her feet”? She worried about her 18 year old daughter who recently moved from Pine Ridge Reservation to Salt Lake City. She told me about the shoulder pain that she is still having after months of seeking treatment at the clinic on the reservation. She has finally gotten a referral to an orthopedic doctor, after months of being given stronger and stronger pain medications. Then she told me about her youngest daughter, who turned 15 in July. She was 10 years old when we first met her and it has been a tumultuous 5 years.
Allow me to recap for any of you who are newcomers to our drama. We began sponsoring a ten year old Lakota girl 5 years ago. Over the past 5 years, this girl has given her mother more than a little grief and had more than her share of mishaps and problems. She began drinking. She was raped. She ran away from home several times. In July, after another runaway, she was finally placed in state custody by the juvenile system of South Dakota as a chronic runaway with substance abuse problems. After 2 weeks in juvenile detention in Rapid City, she was placed in a secure “girls’ home” in Mitchell, SD.
So her mother thought she would finally be safe, even though she was now 4 hours away from her home instead of just 1 hour. She would be safe.
But she was wrong!
Her daughter was NOT safe.
This past weekend, my friend got a call to tell her that her daughter had miscarried the baby. Baby?!!!! Okay, if she was pregnant, according to her mother’s frantic calculations, it had to occur in July, before she went into state custody. That meant at least 4 months! She had not known her daughter was pregnant. She asked the person who called where the baby was. She would go to get the body so they could have a funeral. No, the person responded. It was only a 6 week pregnancy. There was no body.
[Pregnant pause . . . if you’ll excuse the pun]
6 weeks??!! That couldn’t be – she had been in state custody for almost 4 months!!! There must be a mistake. But there wasn’t.
Uh oh . . .
My friend is not a calm person when someone has hurt one of her daughters. I would compare her to a mama grizzly when someone has ventured too near her cub. She began by cussing out everyone she encountered. She contacted the local television news. She is still angry.
She still has no answers.
I know my Lakota friend. She will get answers. It may take time, but she will get answers, because someone who was supposed to be helping her daughter and keeping her safe hurt her instead.
And that was a big mistake.
I’m sure someone will be paying for that mistake eventually.