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Thursday, June 29, 2017

America's Throw Away Indian Project: Going For A Drive Part II

A link to Going For A Drive Part I at the foot of this post...

Part II

We were standing in the Post office, and my father had approached the man who had come in to collect his mail.  My dad, towering over him, places his hand on the man's shoulder and asks, "Are you, Cyril Livingstone?"

The man reluctantly responds, "Yes."

We later found out the man who my father approached had been mistaken for another person the week prior who had committed a crime.  Of course, he was released. However, it did make him a little leery, especially when a stranger in a post office approached him and asked his name.  It truly was a case of mistaken identity.

My father introduced himself to Cyril and explained how he adopted me and how he had driven us straight through from California.  The man and my dad looked my way.  I was still hiding in the corner.  Their gaze, in unison, turned to me.  I stood there frozen in time as my father told him the story of my adoption and how he had my biological mother's name and the name of one relative and my dad asked him, "Do you have a sister named Lauraine?"  Cyril responded, "I have a sister named Laura."  Still looking at me Cyril knew right away I was his niece.  He could tell I was the daughter of his sister Laura.  I bear a striking resemblance to my biological mother.  There was no doubt that my dad had found my family.

Julie Miers, born Julie Danielle Rhynes

My biological mother.  
Date of birth, age, location, unknown.

I could hear both my dad's deep calm voice and the unfamiliar voice of the man who was my biological uncle.  I remember hearing them speaking, but nothing distinctive.  I saw this look wash over the small man's face as he gazed at me as if he had seen a ghost.  My papa, with an all too familiar scowl on his brow, rigorously motioned his hands at me to come to him.  With perturbation, shuffling my feet to slow my gate, my hands behind my back and my fingers interlocked, my chin down, and with my shoulders tense and pulled up to my ears, I mosied over and joined the men.  My uncle said, "Hey! My God, she looks just like her." I nervously stood with my pops, grasping his arm and leaning into his armpit and my face on his chest.  This is when my uncle threw his arms around me and said, "I can't believe this is real.  I can't believe this is actually happening."  Cyril was my biological mother's younger brother.  He immediately insisted we come home with him and break bread.

Upon arriving at a strange, to me, home, we were ushered inside by my Uncle Cyril.  My dad and I stood in the living room while my Uncle Cyril disappeared into another room.  Shortly after, my uncle return followed by an old woman. She had her arms wide open and called my name over and over, "Julie, Julie, Julie"  This was my grandmother, Clara.  She was the grandmother who had attempted to get custody of me somewhere between my mother's death on December 21st, 1967 and the date of my adoption, February 8th, 1970.

Clara Livingstone
My daughter's namesake

It was my biological grandfather Gilbert and his wife, Clara who were denied custody of me.  They returned to Canada, and it was at this point I was considered dead by my biological family as was customary.  So, when my dad, George, drove me home and found my family, it was literally as if I had been brought back to life.  I had been brought back from the dead.

Side note for your consideration:  I want the reader to imagine the horrible possibility of your death.  I want you to imagine your parents attempting to retrieve your children from the DHS and being denied.  I want you to imagine your parents going to court seeking custody of your survivors and the courts denying your parents custody and placing your children for adoption?  It is real.  It happened to me.  I want you to imagine for what reason the courts would do this, and I am being polite, misguided act.  Please entertain this idea.  I wonder how you would feel and I wonder how your children would feel?

My family
That fateful day my dad found our way to my home

Back to my story
The family was called, at least the family that lived nearby. They were called, and a huge meal was prepared.  In my memory, it took some time to gather everything and everyone for the celebratory dinner.  How long I cannot remember correctly.  So I will not take liberties with my story.  Much of my memories after that are foggy.  I do remember my grandma Clara giving me a basket she had woven.  I have it to this day

This basket was woven by my grandmother Clara.  I have had this basket for 38 years.

My uncle Cyril, later in life becomes an essential connection to my connection to my tribe.  His name was Cyril Livingstone.  Shortly after meeting my dad and me, Cyril became Chief to our people.  No one knew then my uncle would become a champion for our tribe.  No one knew then Uncle Cyril would become a representative for the Lake Cowichan First Nation band and a member of the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group (HTG). I will speak more about Cyril in another post.

Here is an article tribute to Chief Cyril Livingstone

To be continued...


To read part One: #ATAIP  GOING FOR A DRIVE;  Click here

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

America's Throw Away Indian Project: More than a race

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  If you choose to leave a comment, thank you for making the time to leave comments.   I am happy you found your way here.

You have a story to tell?  I believe it is important the world hear your tale of survival.  Please submit your article in the comments at the foot of any post.  I have comments moderation activated on my blog.  I will publish your memoir once I have confirmed it does not contain hate speech.  My blog, my decision. Additionally, one may contribute their history anonymously.

At the foot of each post are the words "Post a Comment," or "No Comment," or "Comments," dependent on submissions.  Click on this, and it will link you to my inbox.  I will confirm your submission does not contain hate speech and post your remarks.  I would super, duper, double dog appreciate if you can leave in the comments, your location.  Posting your whereabouts allows me to keep track of what part of the world my blog reaches.  I sure would appreciate knowing the scope of discovery and just how my blog translates to different languages and cultures.
Leaving me a comment as to your opinion of my work, spoken in kindness I would hope, will help me to continue to shape my voice and pinpoint my audience.  I have no formal training as a writer. I just decided one day, to write.

Please forgive my grammar.  As I continue to practice, my writing skills will improve.  I believe in honest feedback, honest impressions, without being brutally honest.  Anything that you believe would be helpful, I invite you to contribute to my story, to my life.

Finally, I care not about your age, race, gender, country of origin, or your income; survival is survival.  What you share about yourself and how you survived, may just save someone else's life.  It is something to consider.

In sisterhood and friendship,


Here are some Survival memes to use and to share.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Her Seven Brothers

Her seven brothers:
By Paul Goble

There was once a young woman who was very good at quillwork. She could make the most beautiful designs and colors. One day she started making a set of clothes for a man, but she didn’t have any brothers or a husband. Once she finished that set of clothes, she made another set of clothes. When she was finished she had seven sets of clothing for men that were the most beautiful anyone had ever seen.

She told her mother she was going to go and find her brothers and take their clothes to them. The mother said she would go with her daughter, but her daughter told her it was too far. The mother said she would go part of the way. They set off. When they reached halfway the mother and the daughter parted.

Eventually, the girl came to a large tipi. A young boy met her, he was the smallest of the brothers. He was overjoyed with his new clothes, which fit him perfectly. The girl went into the tipi and put a set of clothes on each of the six remaining beds. She started cooking and cleaning. The six brothers came home and were very pleased to find her there and took her as their sister. Each of the brothers had some kind of power, but the youngest had the most unique powers.

One day a bison came to the door and demanded to take the girl away to the bison people. The brothers would not give her up. The next day a bigger bison came, but the brothers would not give her up. The third day, an even bigger bison came, but the brothers would not give her up. The fourth day, the ruling bison, the largest of them all, came with the entire bison nation. They demanded the girl, but the brothers would not give her up.

The girl and the seven brothers climbed into a tree. The youngest brother shot it with an arrow and up it grew. Then he shot it again and it grew some more, but the bison below kept trying to knock the tree over. The youngest brother shot the tree two more times. It grew way up into the sky and everyone was able to step off onto the clouds. They knew they could not get down, so the brother turned them into stars. They’re now the big dipper. The girl is the brightest star.

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The Great Mystery Wakan Tanka

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Gossip Hurts Everyone

Once there was a woman in a village who did not have much to do and she became angry at one of her neighbors. So she started a rumor, planted an evil seed that would hurt the neighbor's reputation and make others think less of her. This made the woman feel very powerful and in control. By bedtime, the woman felt bad and the next morning hurried to one of the Elders. She wanted to ask the Elder to help her overcome this evil. On the way to the Elders home that morning she could hear the people in the village whispering about her neighbor and of course, the story had been added on to.
The Elder listened to the woman and when she finished, he told her to go to the bird coop and pick out one bird, ring his neck and then go around the entire village plucking the bird, but to be sure and bring the last feather back to him. The woman anxious to undo the damage hurried to do what the Elder had told her. When she brought the last feather back to the Elder she asked for further instructions. The Elder told her to go home and come back in the morning.
The woman did not sleep at all and hurried to the Elder the next morning again hearing fragments of the words she had started two days before throughout the village as she went to the Elders home. When she reached the Elder, she was very upset and told the Elder, the words she had started were even worse than the day before. After listening, the Elder told the woman to get a pouch and go back to the place of origin and pick up all the feathers from the day before.
The woman hurried to pick up the feathers and eventually returned to the Elder. She told the Elder she picked up all the feathers she could, but could not get all of them because the wind had carried some of the feathers away and the children had picked them up and played games with them and some were taken other places for other reasons. The Elder said, what you have done is punishable by death by our people and you know this. By tradition, you have not sought out your sister to tell her what was in your heart, instead, you went behind her back because the truth would not allow you to face her. Momentarily, you gained power by talking about your neighbor who was not there to defend herself. The words you spoke against this person is like the feathers taken by the wind. Because you did not follow tradition and the ways of our Creator with your tongue, you cannot undo what you have done. You have shamed our people by placing yourself above the truth and the teachings of our ancestors and now you must live with the knowledge you have damaged more than one life, you have hurt us all. You have used your own people as a weapon against your neighbor who has done nothing to you, but because you were jealous or envious or because she disagreed with you, you have divided our people through your actions. He then handed her the feather she had given him the day before as a reminder of the cancer she had started.

Happy Father's Day

Here are some memes you can use and share for Father's day.  To my dad, R.I.P. George Miers, I love you.  Happy Father's day to Buck Rhynes, and Ed Snipes, whom I have never met but are my dads too.   I am who I am today for the lessons of life you imparted to me.  I am grateful for you and I am proud to call myself your daughter.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

American's Throw away Indian Project: Going for a drive

Laura Livingstone Rhynes

This is my biological mother.  This is the only photo I have of her.  When I was twelve years old my dad, George, took me on a trip.  Just my dad & I went.  We drove straight through from Concord, CA to Lake Cowichan B.C., Canada.  My father was armed with only my mother's name and the name of one relative.  How he came about with that name, I will never know.  

When we arrived in Lake Cowichan, my father found the Post Office.  He and I entered the office and I remember feeling very self-conscious and scared.  I hid in the corner.  It was the first time I had ever been around other people that looked like me and I really did not know what to do with my feelings.  I remember feeling very broken inside.  I felt like screaming and fighting and I felt as if I would faint.  My dad was speaking with the Postmaster pleading for information about the person's name he had.  Come to find out it was a brother to my mom and he had passed away.  My dad explained to the postmaster how he had adopted me and he had driven us straight through from CA, we were hungry, we were tired, and he was determined to find my relatives.  

Of course, it was to no avail.  The postmaster, by law, cannot give out information to anyone about anyone.  My dad was very handsome and very charming.  He did not stop.  He told the story of how my adoption was delayed for a year and he and my mom had never been given an explanation for it.  He could only imagine it was due to familial reasons.  Despite that, my dad believed it was his honor bound duty to take me to my blood lands and find my tribe, my family and show me where I came from.  My dad wanted me to be connected.  In hindsight, I now realize that this is because my dad knew of the horrors my people experienced at the hand of the Canadian and U.S. governments with the residential schools and adoption programs.

My dad and me in Victoria B.C., Canada

I was watching my dad talking to the postmaster, never giving up when a man walked through the doors to collect his mail.  The postmaster explained again, by law, she was not allowed to give out information abut anyone.  She pointed to the man who had entered to collect his mail and suggested my dad speak with him. The postmaster was certain that gentleman was a Livingstone.  What happened next was nothing less than clandestine.  

My dad walked over and towering over the man, placed his hand on the man's shoulder and asked: "Are you, Cyril Livingstone?"  

...More on my next post


To read Part II  Click Here

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Religion has the seven deadlies? I believe in the seven sacred.

The traditional concepts of respect and sharing that form the foundation of the Aboriginal way of life are built around the seven natural laws or sacred teachings. Each teaching honours one of the primary virtues intrinsic to a full and healthy life. 

Each law has an animal that embodies the point that all actions and decisions made by man are manifest on a physical plain. The animal world taught man how to live close to the earth. The connection has been established between the animal world, and man has instilled respect for all life in those who follow the traditional Aboriginal way.

To feel true love is to know the Creator. Therefore, it is expected that one's first love is to be the Great Spirit. He is considered the father of all children, and the giver of human life. Love given to the Great Spirit is expressed through love of oneself, and it is understood that if one cannot love oneself, it is impossible to love anyone else.

The Eagle was chosen by the Great Spirit to represent this law, as the Eagle can reach the highest out of all the creatures in bringing pure vision to the seeker. Though the purveyor of the greatest and most powerful medicine, love can also be the most elusive of the teachings, as it depends upon the world that acknowledges the importance of spirituality.

The Buffalo showed profound respect, through giving its life and sharing every part of its being, it had for the people. No animal was more important to the existence of Indigenous families than this animal, and it's gift provided shelter, clothing and utensils for daily living. Native people believed themselves to be true caretakers of the great herds, and developed a sustainable relationship with the Buffalo resulting in a relationship that was a genuine expression of respect.

The Bear provides many life lessons. Courage is an essential teaching Bear offers. Bears integrate both "gentle" and "ferocious" making a unique consolidation of traits. Approach a bear cub and no foe will intimidate the Mother bear. The Mother Bear's lack of fear is a legitimate demonstration of courage. To have the mental and moral strength to overcome fears preventing us from living our true spirit journey as human beings is a great challenge. As humans faced with life's challenges, we can look to the Mother Bear's courage and emulate her vigour and intensity. Bear's example shows us how to face dangers to produce the courage we need neutralize our fears.

Long ago, there was a giant called Kitch-Sabe. Kitch-Sabe walked among the people. His presence was to remind humans to be honest, and to obey the laws of nature. The creator wishes humans to be honest to each other. Being reputed as honest and humble is a high honour. The saying, "There walks an honest man. He can be trusted." is an immense honour to Indigenous Peoples. Altruism and integrity are considered foundation virtues. Elders have said, "Never try to be someone else, live authentically. Be honest with yourself. Accept who you are the way the Creator made you."

The building of a community is entirely dependent on gifts Creator give and how people employ said gifts. The Beaver's example of using his sharp teeth for cutting trees and branches to build his dams and lodges expresses this teaching. If he did not use his teeth, the teeth would continue to grow until they became useless, ultimately making it impossible for him to sustain himself. As with Beaver is with human beings. One's spirit will become weak if it is not fulfilling its use. Proper agency of one's spirit and purpose in life contribute to the development of a peaceful and healthy community.

Recognizing and acknowledging that there is a higher power than man and it is known as the Creator is to be deemed truly humble. To express deference or submission to the Creator through the acceptance that all beings are equal is to capture the spirit of humility. The expression of this humility is manifested through the consideration of others before ourselves. In this way, the Wolf became the teacher of this lesson. He bows his head in the presence of others out of deference, and once hunted, will not take of the food until it can be shared with the pack. His lack of arrogance and respect for his community is a hard lesson, but integral in the Aboriginal way.

To know the truth is to know and understand all of the original laws as given by the Creator- and to remain faithful to them. It is told that in the beginning when the Creator made man and gave him the seven sacred laws, the Grandmother Turtle was present to ensure that the laws would never be lost or forgotten. On the back of a Turtle are the 13 moon, each representing the truth of one cycle of the Earth's rotations around the sun. The 28 markings on her back represent the cycle of the moon and of a woman's body. The shell of the Turtle represents the body real events as created by the Higher Power and serves as a reminder of the Creator's will and teachings.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

America's Throw away Indian Project; A walking death

Artist: Davêd Joaquên
"Return of White Buffalo Woman"

I have walked by my computer a thousand times since I have decided and publicly declared to tell my story.  I walk by and look at the screen as if it is whispering my name and the keyboard is also whispering, beware, don't listen to it, don't do it.  I continue into the other room.  My fingers feel like a thousand pounds right now.  I have no way of telling my story without hurting someone.  Isn't that strange?

I am an adoptee and the only other people in the world who will understand me without another word is another Native American Survivor of the Adoptee program.  I do not write this for pitiful sake.  But it will illicit pity in you.  I don't want your pity, but a part of me does.  It is a little part deep inside me that says if you feel pitiful for me you actually heard me.  Because when you look at the stark facts of the adoptee program, it is truly a dark and ugly thing.   It is a walking death.

I want you to imagine your community you live in.  I want to picture your neighbors and their families.  I want you to imagine their homes and all the dinner parties you have attended at their houses, the birthday parties, the Chivas. I guess I need the reader to imagine any kind of gathering attended at another's home and in your own home for the purpose of this excercise. I want you to imagine all the children that are friends with your children.  How you have taken your children on play dates.  I want you to imagine your entire town, large or small and try to think of it as a tribe or better yet, your own tribe.  You have your own leaders, healer, hunters, bead artists, carvers, builders, gardens, everything, every talent, contained within your village.

Now I want you to imagine the government barging into your home and taking your children from your custody because they just do not like the way your town lives, the way your language sounds, and they want to take all of your property and they do because they want to.  I want you to image your graveyards where generations of your loved ones and ancestors have been buried.  The most sacred grounds any culture has, the ground to honor it's past.  This government, they don't give a shit about your graveyard either.  The either build over it or maybe they dig it up in one hundred years and take the bones and put it in a museum for your grandchildren to wonder if it is you sitting behind that glass.  That adult grandchild who is himself a grandparent, knows in their soul that the bones behind that glass contain the same DNA that is within their own bones, but they can never return those sacred bones to their sacred grounds because what was once the place where your town was for hundred, maybe thousands of years is completely gone and a new culture of people are living on it.  This adult grandchild who is now a grandparent himself can not ever have those bones return to the family for burial in their new location of consecrated grounds because the law won't allow it unless one can prove you're a direct family member of those bones.

I can not write anymore.  this truly is the most difficult thing I have ever undertaken.  I have to describe to my reader how it feels to me.  In doing so, I have to walk through all of the emotions I have put to rest.  It stirs in me an anger, and a pain so deep.  I have to process.  When I feel inspired again, I will return.  But for now, imagine your children are gone and your property is gone, in fact, your whole town is gone and you are nowhere.  You have no idea where you are.  It might as well be the moon you are on. The only food you have is the rotten food the government is giving you and the only thing to drink is the alcohol the government is giving you.  You are on the moon, no child, rotten food, with only a poisonous substance to drink.  Stay there and look at the emptiness around you and try to imagine how that feels.  Now stay there every day until I write again.  Stay in that place until I return.

I may never return.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

An Achomawi Legend

An Achomawi Legend
Spider Woman

Sixty little spider children shivered as they slept. Snow had fallen every day for months. All the animals were cold, hungry, and frightened. Food supplies were almost gone. No one knew what to do. Blue Jay and Redheaded Woodpecker sang and danced for Silver Gray Fox, who floats above the clouds. Since Silver Gray Fox, the creator, had made the whole world with a song and a dance, Blue jay and Woodpecker hoped to be answered with blue skies. But the snow kept falling.
Finally, the animals decided to ask Coyote. “Coyote’s been around a long time, almost since the beginning. He might know how to reach Silver Gray Fox.” They went to the cave where Coyote was sleeping, told him their troubles, and asked for help. “Grrrrowwwlll…go away,” grumbled Coyote, “and let me think.” Coyote stuck his head into the cold air outside and thought till he caught an idea. He tried singing in little yelps and loud yowls to Silver Gray Fox. Coyote sang and sang, but Silver Gray Fox didn’t listen or didn’t want to. After all, it was Coyote’s mischief-making when the world was new that had caused Silver Gray Fox to go away beyond the clouds in the first place.
Coyote thought he’d better think some more. Suddenly he saw Spider Woman swinging down on a silky thread from the top of the tallest tree in the forest. “Spider Woman’s been on Earth a long, long time,” Coyote thought. “She’s very wise. I’ll ask her what to do.” Coyote loped over to the tree and lifted his ears to Spider Woman. “Spider Woman, O wise weaver, O clever one,” called Coyote in his sweetest voice, “we’re all cold and hungry. Everyone’s afraid this winter will never end. Silver Gray Fox doesn’t seem to notice. Can you help?” Spider Woman swayed her shining black body back and forth, back and forth, thinking and thinking, thinking and thinking.
Her eight black eyes sparkled when she spoke, “I know how to reach Silver Gray Fox, Coyote, but I’m not the one for the work. Everyone will have to help. You’ll need my two youngest children, too. They’re little and light as dandelion fluff, and the fastest spinners in my web.” Spider Woman called up to her two littlest ones. Spinnnnnn! Spinnnnnn! They came down fast, each spinning on eight little legs, fine, black twin Spider Boys, full of curiosity and fun. Spider Woman said, “My dear little quick ones, are you ready for a great adventure?” “Yes! Yes!” they cried. “We’re ready!”
Spider Woman told them her plan, and the Spider Boys set off with Coyote in the snow. They hadn’t gone far when they met two White-Footed Mouse Brothers rooting around for seeds to eat. Coyote told them Spider Woman’s plan. “Will you help?”
Sun began to warm the earth. Shoots of grass pushed up through the melting snow. Meadowlark blew her silver whistle of spring across the valley, calling streams and rivers awake. Coyote came out of hiding, raced to a distant hilltop, and gave a long, long howl of joy. The animals held a great feast to honor the rainbow, Silver Gray Fox, Spider Woman, the Spider Twins, Coyote, and the hard work everyone had done together.
To this day, after the rain, when the sun comes out, dewdrops on spider webs shine with tiny rainbows. This is the spiders’ special reward. You can see for yourself.