YATES, N.D. After living off the reservation for 60 years,
Hazel Red Bird, 84, returned to reservation life in Eagle Butte,
S.D., located on the Cheyenne River Reservation.
remember it was 2006 when I was living in Racine, Wis. and I called
one of my granddaughters to let her know I was having a medical
procedure done," Red Bird said. "After the call, my granddaughter
insisted that she was coming to Racine and bringing me to the Cheyenne
River Reservation to live."
Bird grew up just south of the Grand River, near Wakpala, S.D. until
she moved off the reservation in February 1948.
first experience off the reservation was miserable, but I knew I
had to cope with it," Red Bird said.
moving to Racine in 1957, Red Bird worked as a medical secretary
and later as an Emergency Medical Technician and eventually a Registered
retiring from nursing in 1990, Red Bird became an ordained Episcopal
Deacon and volunteered a lot of her time to church activities and
returning to the Cheyenne River Reservation, Red Bird has learned
how to bead, do leatherwork and tan bison hides.
Bird can still speak and understand the Lakota language today, but
struggles with it.
now speak broken sentences because I didn't have anyone to
speak Lakota with (in Wisconsin), except when I came back (to Rreservation)
on vacation," Red Bird said. "While living in Wisconsin
I did a lot of presentations about our culture, trying to build
bridges and I did not ask for any fees."
Bird attended the 2009 summer workshop held in Cannonball, N.D.,
where 22 participants worked in small groups to complete the tanning
process for each of their bison hides.
hide tanning workshops are delivered at two different locations
during the summer months, rotating among the eight districts located
on the Standing Rock Reservation.
had to learn how to tan hides because it was something I didn't
know how to do, so I took the opportunity when it was offered and
now I can teach my grandchildren," Red Bird said. "It
was a wonderful experience with a lot of hard work and I'm
glad that I didn't have to do it when I was young and able
now if I could just learn how to make fry bread."
Bird's mother was Susan Bears Heart-Shooting Bear and her father
was Samuel Red Bird.
grandfather on her father's side was William Red Bird and great-grandmother
was Ellen Red Bird (Gliyukinwin-Woman Returns Home).
grandfather on her mother's side was Maurice Shooting Bear.
Bird enjoys golfing, reading books, and was an active bicyclist
and cross country skier in her younger days.
more information about the Sitting Bull College Bison Extension
Education program and hide tanning workshops contact Rick DeLoughery
at (605) 823-4318 or by e-mail at email@example.com