Your family was massacred and you seemed to survive, but no one can survive an experience such as yours and after years of suffering the worst pain imaginable--the knowledge of what was done to your family and the horrific story of how you survived--you finally joined them.
It is my hope that you have also, finally found peace.
Photo taken September 26, 2009/Public Domain.
I wish I could offer you a happy ending with the story of this child who miraculously survived the Wounded Knee Massacre, but out of respect for this child and her family I can only share the cold and bitter truth, a story of terror and unimaginable horror that will break your heart, as it should.
Photo is public domain.
Zintkala Nuni, The Little Lost Bird of Wounded Knee
A shot was fired during the scuffle and the soldiers started firing on all men, women, and children, including the unarmed women trying desperately to save their families by running for any shelter they could find. Later, their dead children were found held tight and frozen stiff in the arms of their mothers as they lay together in the snow.
As her story spread across the country Little Lost Bird was moved from one family to another in a different sort of battle, a custody fight. She was finally given to General Leonard Colby of the National Guard, future Assistant Attorney General of the United States, who posed proudly for photographs showing the child in his arms. Unfortunately for him General Colby failed to inform his wife, Clara Bewick Colby, that he adopted the child.
Clara was a suffragist, activist, lecturer, publisher, and writer, and she happily took on the role of mother to Little Lost Bird. She later expressed her belief that her husband had kidnapped the child in order to draw clients to his law practice, to exploit her even further. Leonard Colby's intentions were far from honorable. He later abandoned Clara and Zintkala Nuni to start a relationship with Little Lost Bird's governess. Clara Colby and Little Lost Bird struggled to survive, and when she was 17, Zintkala Nuni ran away from home. She was recovered and sent to live with her father and his new wife, then discovered she was pregnant and was sent to a reformatory. Her child was stillborn and she returned to live with her adopted mother, Clara Colby. Clara Colby testified in court that Zintkala Nuni was sexually abused by her former husband, General L. W. Colby, while she was living in his home with his second wife.
- D. Dana. Zintkala Nuni Lost Bird. Find A Grave. Retrieved June 17, 2015.
- Flood, Renee Sansom. Lost Bird of Wounded Knee: Spirit of the Lakota. Da Capo Press: 1998.
- Harrison, Eric. "A Girl Called 'Lost Bird' Is Finally at Rest : History: Lakota infant survived Wounded Knee killing and was adopted by whites. Now she is buried among her people." Los Angeles Times. Posted July 13, 1991. Retrieved June 17, 2015.