Lost Bird of Wounded Knee: Spirit of the Lakota

Overview

In December 1890 the U.S. Seventh Cavalry massacred a band of Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Miraculously, after a four-day blizzard, an infant was found alive under the frozen body of her dead mother. The dashing brigadier general (and future Assistant Attorney General of the United States) Leonard W. Colby kidnapped and then adopted the baby girl named Lost Bird (1890–1920) as a "living curio," and exploited her in order to attract prominent tribes as clients of his law ...

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Overview

In December 1890 the U.S. Seventh Cavalry massacred a band of Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Miraculously, after a four-day blizzard, an infant was found alive under the frozen body of her dead mother. The dashing brigadier general (and future Assistant Attorney General of the United States) Leonard W. Colby kidnapped and then adopted the baby girl named Lost Bird (1890–1920) as a "living curio," and exploited her in order to attract prominent tribes as clients of his law practice.After the general's wife, the nationally known suffragist and newspaper editor Clara B. Colby, divorced her husband, she raised the Lakota child as a white girl in a well-meaning but disastrous attempt to provide a stable home. Lost Bird ran away to join Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and appeared in silent films and vaudeville. During her brief but unforgettable life she endured sexual abuse, violence, prostitution, and the rejection of her own tribe before dying at age twenty-nine on Valentine's Day. This remarkable biography examines the life of the woman who became a symbol of the warring cultures that entrapped her, and a heartbreaking microcosm of all those Native American children who lost their heritage through adoption, social injustice, and war.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In July 1991, the Pine Ridge Wounded Knee Survivors Association returned the remains of Zintkala Nuni (Lost Bird) from an unmarked grave in California to her South Dakota homeland. Former social worker Flood, who was instrumental in the relocation, has written a well-documented, powerful and chilling story of Lost Bird's brief life. One of the few survivors of the massacre, the infant was taken by Gen. Leonard Colby to be raised as a white child. Colby, a Nebraska lawyer, hoped to represent Indian claims; his wife, Clara, was an active suffragette who spent half of every year in Washington. Lost Bird was a lonely child confused by her identity-a nonwhite physically, a non-Indian socially. She was sexually abused by Colby, had two disastrous marriages, contracting syphilis in one, and was ultimately rejected by her tribe. Lost Bird spent some time with Wild West shows, drifted into prostitution and died an outcast at the age of 30. Flood's narrative grippingly illustrates the clash between Indian and white cultures. Photos not seen by PW. (July)
Booknews
A biographical history of Zintkala Nuni (Lost Bird), an infant who survived the massacre of Wounded Knee and was adopted by General Leonard Colby who held her up as his war trophy and later abused her. His courageous wife, suffragist leader Clara B. Colby, divorced her husband and attempted to raise the Lakota child alone. This thoroughly-researched account of Lost Bird's short life provides insight into the lives of indigenous people at the time, as well as exploring racism and the suffrage movement. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306808227
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1998
  • Edition description: 1 DA CAPO
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Renée Samson Flood, lecturer and author of seven books of history, has worked among the tribes of the northern plains for more than twenty years. She lives in Montana.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2001

    So Much More Than Expected

    I got this book hoping to learn more of Lost Bird, the child from Wounded Knee, however, what I got was so much more. This was an intriguing history lesson on American Life at the turn of the century. The story offered vivid pictures of the hardships of living and the struggles of all women in the 20th century. I couldn't put it down. A story told with sensitivity to the Indian Nations, as well as truthful and so well researched that the facts stated could never be questioned. Highly recomended by someone considered an authority on Lakota History.

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