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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

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