Sunday, May 27, 2012

Searching for My Native American Heritage

~ Joyce Little White Dove ~

I was born in Los Angeles, Veda Joyce Reinert. To Zelda Edith Clark, born in Ten Strike, MN on July 25, 1921, and Melvin Davis Reinert, born in Pawnee City, Nebraska, August 25, 1921. My Mother was a streetcar driver in downtown Los Angeles, and my Father was a bus driver, out of Phoenix, AZ. They were never married, so I learned of him at a later age.

I grew up in the Los Angeles area, in a little town called Sunland. It’s in the foothills of Southern California USA. My mother married Wallace G. Telford when I was a few months old. So my name growing up was Joyce Telford.
When I was about 4 years old, I would go to special places with my Grandfather. There they would use his name John Red Cloud. He was born on the Rosebud Reservation Sept. 22, 1894. Oglala Lakota Sioux. My Grandfather was the grandson of Chief Red Cloud. Grandpa was about 5 when Chief Red Cloud passed; he only had a little memory of him. My Grandfather told me to never talk about the dances or the places we went, as it was against the White man’s laws. Back then it still was.
Grandpa explained his two separate families. He called one his Native Father Jack Red Cloud, and Mother Nancy Good Cloud. He lived on the Reservation until he was 15. His white father William Allen Clark and mother Ruth C. Walker took him and his sister Dora B. They weren't allowed to speak their Native language or use their names. He was to forget he was Lakota, which they could never do. Grandpa's sister was older. She was able to keep her heritage, and go back to the Reservation.
When he would tell me of the Sundance - watching them pray and dance for the People, I could see it in his eyes, feel it in my heart. Then he would get so sad, as he missed his Lakota Family. He would say his heart was always there, and through him I am always there.
When he married my Grandmother Mina Ruth Abbott, born Dec. 5 1895 in Minnesota USA, they could not tell her family he was Native Sioux. It was kept between the two of them.
My grandparents moved from Minnesota to Santa Paula, California. They homesteaded, and built the farm. They were on a main highway so Grandma started a feed and pet store. Grandpa was a tree surgeon, and took care of the citrus trees in the Santa Paula area. They opened a nursery.
When my Children were in grammar school, I was called in. The school asked me if I was interested in putting my children in special Native American classes, as they would receive credits for them. Now remember I never told anyone I was part Lakota Sioux. So how did they know? I signed the papers. I gave the school everything I knew about my Grandfather. I never found out how the school knew. I know my mother knew. She would get mad at me and say things like “I’ll beat the Indian out of you” and would beat me with belts, hoses, sticks - whatever she had in her hand.
I knew it was ok now to share the stories of my Grandfather with my children. I showed them pictures where he was born. When my youngest son was born, I named him John, after my Grandfather. I explained things as they got older. I really didn’t understand why I had to prove who my grandparents were.
I took my children to visit their great Grandfather John Red Cloud. He had eye surgery, so he had some vision. Grandpa held John for a long time. My other two children, Debbie and David, sat with him. Grandpa with a big tear running down his cheek said, “This is my Red Cloud Family.”
I tried several time to call the Rosebud Reservation to ask about registration. I was told I have to live on the reservation or have family there. I have lots of family there, but they just don’t know me. They wanted no part of me. Everywhere I went it was the same.
I went to talk to someone on the reservation here. They took one look at me and didn’t even want to give me the papers to file. Just that I had to have all the numbers, and information on each person for five generations.
I started Ancestry about 8 years ago. I found my Grandfather, John Red Cloud. It took years but I gathered all the information they wanted, and guess what, they wouldn’t talk to me. I have been told because I don’t and have not lived on the Reservation. To Native America I am a white woman, and will never be accepted.
I have never given up, this is a part of me. It is my Soul. It is something my Grandfather gave me. He wanted it so bad. We use to pray to all our relations. We would do a fire circle and Grandpa would ask them to protect me. He would also ask for them to help find my way to the Family. He knew I belonged, and he wanted me to know.
My Family is happy with what I found, but I would still like to go further with it. I found a new friend and she is helping me now. I recently filed with the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

So now... I wait.


  1. I have tears in my eyes as I read this Little White Dove - Joyce, I wish I could help in some way. All over this world, somebody is trying to fit in and are not accepted, what is it about us Humans? I know it sounds silly but, this Irish woman would want to give you a big motherly hug and tell you everything will be okay! There I have said it. You are a lady and you are beautiful Little White Dove