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Standing Rock has embraced my siblings and me

To the Editor,

I’d like to bring to the attention of the Santee Tribe the difficulties encountered by my mother Delores Williams-Burge, my three siblings and me. My mother was enrolled at Santee after being adopted into the tribe by her Santee mother, Emeline Trudell, back in 1936. Mom finally tracked down her biological mother, a Standing Rock Woman, back in 1961 and it was known that Mom was half Sioux for nearly 60 years. This made her three children ¼ Sioux. It was also known that Emeline Trudell, who adopted Mom, was a second cousin to Mom’s biological mother. Therefore both mothers were Sioux but enrolled at different tribes. As Mom’s grandmother, Mabel Ida Trudell, as well as her great grandparents Levi Trudell and Emily Colombe-Trudell, and great-great-grandparents Francis Perron Dit Trudell and Mary Iciyapewin, were also Santee, she came from a long line of Sioux from Santee.

In the past, any inquiries we made to see if Mom’s children could be recognized by Santee were rebuffed as we could not prove we, the children, too had Sioux blood. Prior to her passing this past year, Mom and I were able to open her adoption records and finally had physical proof of her biological parents. We also had an Ancestry DNA test done where we matched the blood of both the named parents to my mother.

When I called Roberta Redwing at Santee to inform her we now had the requisite proofs and would like to be enrolled along with my mother she requested that I send her my paperwork, which I did immediately. I waited and after no word back, I finally called Roberta to get an update on our request. That was when I was informed Roberta had been talking to the Tribal Council at Santee and had been trying to get Mom ousted out of the Santee tribe after 80 yrs. Roberta had not brought our request to the council and seemed to be actively trying to bar us from Santee and wished to toss the matter at Standing Rock, without informing us.

Although my mother’s history is complex I never imagined someone from Santee would not only refuse to present mother’s children’s requests to the Council but would actually try to dis-enroll my mother while she was on her deathbed. Is this how the Sioux treat the Sioux? Apparently, it is how Roberta Redwing handles legitimate claims and in my humble opinion, her behavior should be investigated.

Happily, Standing Rock has embraced my siblings and me and we are now enrolled there.

Sallie Thurman

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