A family reunion, so to speak, took place at the Dupree district #1 Community Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 25, with attendees coming from as far as Belle Fourche, Sisseton and St. Francis. A main topic of conversation at the gathering was Lost Bird, an infant survivor of the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. After being taken from the massacre site by General Leonard Colby, she was adopted and raised by his non-Indian family and spent much of her adult life searching for her biological parents in South Dakota. She died in California in 1920.
Through media sources the Crane-Pretty Voice families have heard it said that Lost Bird had no relatives and this troubled them since they know it to be untrue. The relatives are here on Cheyenne River and they are interested in setting the record straight. They would also like to see the body of Lost Bird (which was searched for, repatriated and reburied at the Wounded Knee Memorial mass gravesite in 1991) returned to the Bridger area where the biological mother and father are buried.
Some of the direct descendents of Lost Bird who live in the area are Angeline Bear Eagle Taylor and her brother Matthew Bear Eagle, who are grandchildren of Walter Joe Crane Pretty Voice, a brother of Lost Bird. He (Joe) and his wife Emma (Bissonette) provided a home for Julia Rock Crane Pretty Voice who was Lost Bird's mother. Other direct descendants are Virginia Crane Pretty Voice Ozuna, daughter of Walter Joe Crane Pretty Voice; Virginia's sister Dorothy Crane Pretty Voice Alvarez; Frieda Holy Bull Condon, Gary Holy Bull and Curtis Circle Bear are grandchildren of Sophia Crane Pretty Voice Holy Bull, sister of Lost Bird.
Lost Bird was one of 13 children. Approximately 157 direct descendants were counted by the Crane Pretty Voice family, and the list was far from complete.
Many descendants have vivid memories of Julia Rock Crane Pretty Voice. Angeline Taylor recalls that she was playing with a matchbox on the day before Julia died and during her play, buried the box. Angeline was 6 or 7 at the time. When Grandma Julia died the next day, the family was upset about Angeline playing that way.
Virginia Crane Pretty Voice Ozuna remembers attending boarding school at the old Cheyenne Agency when Julia was admitted to the hospital with a broken hip she suffered as a result of a fall from a bus in front of the Cherry Creek store. After Julia had spent some time at the hospita without improving, Virginia's parents, Walter and Emma Crane Pretty Voice, went to the Agency and brought Julia home to Bridger. Julia lived with them until her death.
Both Virginia and Angeline remember the bullet scar in Julia's left shoulder, which was inflicted during the Wounded Knee Massacre. Over the years they recall Julia telling of the shot that hit her, how she fell, still carrying the child, her first-born, and how the baby was taken from her. Julia thought they were all dying and, in her pain and anger, was unable to recapture her daughter.
Frieda Holy Bull Condon, another direct descendant of Lost Bird, has spent much time and made several long trips trying to contact relatives and learn the history of her genealogy. She is finding that while this effort is most rewarding and heart-warming, it is also costly.
Ellen Condon In The Woods was also present at the meeting. Ellen remembers Julia being with Josephine and Tommy Condon, Ellen's parents. She has many memories of coversations with Julia during those years. For many years Elen had kept a collection of Crane family records and she promised these to the Crane-Pretty Voice family.
Frieda Condon reported that the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has recently established a Cultural Preservation Committee, and she is hopeful that some interest and financial assistance through this group might be possible.
Francis Crane Pretty Voice is the son of Lost Bird's brother, Abraham/Thomas. He lived at Bridger until he was 7 years old, then moved to St. Francis where he still lives. He has been married for 47 years and expressed apology for appearing so soon after the death of his wife only three months ago. He was this gathering of relatives as very important and wants his immediate family to know their relations. His daughter, Joyce Little Elk, and her family, were in attendance. Francis is in favor of having Lost Bird's remains buried at the Bridger site near Jackson Springs.
He expressed concern that the Crane family was never notified of all the proceedings taking place over the past years. He also thinks that the Crane family should be taking steps to see that further money-making schemes concerning Indians should be handled in such a manner that Indian families benefit from it rather than organizations, societies, and the like.
"We're just interested in our Lost Bird, that's all," commented one descendant. "We just want her brought back. Many people are trying to make money out of her story, but not our family. We just want her brought back home.
While this family reunion was a ventilation of feelings for many in attendance, it was evident that their awareness of family names was sharp. They were all in agreement in working toward the goal of moving Lost Bird's remains to the Jackson Springs burial ground and know there is much work ahead for them.
Wounded Knee...a collection