This house project is on hold until the family gains more stability or a qualified building crew steps forward to pick up where we were forced to leave off.
Anna Mae is my loving two year old grand-daughter. She was born with Down Syndrome. I have witnessed many miracles in my life of now half a century. This miracle occurred for Anna Mae and happened because I really believe in the Creator. Our Lakota word for Creator is Wakan Tanka. I believe that Wakan Tanka is with me all the time, and because I believe this way, I give in this way, all my thoughts and feelings to Creator. So in this same way, my little family has now grown to a big family. I am thankful every day and count my blessings, because everyone is doing good and I know one day soon, I can stand and make a circle and see all my smiling and laughing family. Eight children and fourteen grandchildren and forever increasing forward on and on earth…Leola One Feather
November 15 2005
Just One Stitch
When Anna Mae was born at Pine Ridge Indian Hospital we were crowded around her Mom, comforting her. We were massaging her legs and back, trying to rub away her anxiety and pain.
My nieces, Dene Black Elk and Davidica Little Spotted Horse were helping my daughter, Oyeptehesanwin, do her breathing. She was so young, only sixteen.
It wasn’t working, something was wrong. I was so glad Davidica found what was wrong. Her blood pressure was dropping. The doctor on call came into the room and checked Oye’s abdomen for positioning of the baby. He told us she would need a c-section. We were all aghast. My daughter was then asking for help. She had worked so hard to have a normal delivery and now I had to sign papers for a serious surgery.
I knew my daughter was strong. She walked at least 20 miles a week, she stayed on her diet, no soft drinks or foods condusive to gestational diabetes.
So away they took her to surgery, all cloaked in blue uniforms, I thought I was in a trance. Ten minutes passed and I heard the cry of Anna Mae. A beautiful girl. I went to stand by the window to look at a miracle once again. She rolled herself into a ball, and rolled back and forth just enjoying her new arrival. Little did we know that there would be problems. The first we discovered was an umbilical cord only 12 inches long. This meant that normal delivery would have pulled Oye’s womb inside out.
Two days rest after the arrival of Anna Mae and I returned to the hospital to see Oyeptehasnawin and Anna Mae. My daughter was sleeping and poor Anna Mae had on UV light shades the nurses had put on for her jaundice.
I went to stand by her, thinking of the effective herbal tea we could be giving her instead of this light, when I noticed she was quivering, I touched her leg, but she wasn’t cold. My heart started to beat…somethings wrong with baby. I called the nurse, Elaine, one of many wonderful women who have come to our reservation giving more of themselves than most folks do at Christmas. Elaines face and persona make you want to bask in her warmth. Elaine came quickly, seeing the seizures I witnessed. The lab people came for blood samples and within an hour she was being prepared to be transferred to Rapid City Regional Hospital.
The IHS (Indian Health Services) doctors had just realized Anna Mae has Down Syndrome along with a hole in her heart, and her lung. The doctors warned us she would have to be operated on, and she really only needs one stitch. ..
It was the beginning of my begging prayers. And then, I knew the mercy of my creator.
I would wake in the middle of the night, and go outside, no matter how cold and pray that Anna Mae would heal. We live in an old trailer house that is so cold sometimes, you can’t possibly walk barefoot or else you get coldness and cramping in the arch. I would come in from the prayer time, and check on my beautiful, happy grand daughter and cover her up. I made her some fully beaded blue moccasins with little leggings attached. The leggings wrapped around her little brown legs and were tied with long buckskin strings.
Children kick covers and get sick, so this kept her feet warm, and when she would awake she will see the small intricate patterns on her moccasins. I believe because I made moccasins for all my children and grandchildren, they will develop an eye for art. Besides that, moccasins are warm and soft and comfortable.
When my grandmothers made me new moccasins I felt like I could glide like the deer and leap about here and there. There is magic in moccasins, and everyone on earth should own a pair (Anna Mae had four pair of beaded moccasins in just her first year, today she is working on her seventh pair).
Just this year (2005), the State of South Dakota took Anna Mae from her Mom and charged her with medical neglect. The Oglala Souix Tribe has laws over this jurisdiction of Lakota children, enrolled members of the tribe. But, the State took her, and put her in foster care. We got her back, two days later, and I arrived at the thought; when State and Federal Agencies are in collusion with Indian Health Services, our children don’t have a chance.
Our only alternative is to stick to spiritual guidance, and call in our Holy Medicine Men and seek intervention. I called Richard Moves Camp and asked for prayers for Anna Mae. The State workers found Anna Mae with me, and wanted to take her, but I wouldn’t allow it because I prayed with every amount of energy her heart would heal and surgery would no longer be necessary.
So the State Social Workers took us to the Rainbow House in Omaha Nebraska and left us. We had no travel money or food, (When was the last time you were forced to travel with no food money?) I had only the baby’s bag. The next morning a hospital shuttle took us to the Children’s Methodist Hospital to prepare for surgery. I began to feel tears well up into my eyes, threatening to spill out involuntarily. I thought of the 500 years our people have been butchered and used as cadavers and experiments for the advancement of science and mankind. I personally have known other Moms whose babies disappeared into medical facilities suspiciously, never to return. And then, I thought, I will run out of here with her. I had two doctors and a calling card, and fourteen diapers and milk in a baby bag and I could get water on the way. I knew I couldn’t let them take her and hurt her, even though they said they would only take one stitch.
I prayed, and remembered my sons Stanley and Noah and how they sun danced and pierced their chests for Anna Mae, so she would heal. Then, a great calm came over me. I felt a breeze next to my face.
The whole while Anna Mae clung to my neck, her little chest pressed against mine. I wanted her heart to beat and be strong. I felt it then, that her heart was fine. Such a tiny little brave hearted warrior woman she is. The surgeon entered the room and asked me if I was Anna Mae’s grandmother. I said “yes”. She said “you don’t want Anna Mae to have this surgery?” I said “No”.
The words rang clear when she said next “Anna Mae’s hole in her heart is closed”. The tears spilled from my eyes again, but this time from happiness.
So I believe creator really hears my prayers and knows how much I love my children and grandchildren. One day they will be grandparents and they will have their moments of prayer for all sick people.
Anna Mae is learning to walk and talk. One day she will speak the Lakota language fluently and we will have good conversations. For now, she sings hand game melodies and we gamble.