I was born in a small town in Nebraska called Valentine but didn't stay for more than a few hours. It was the closest hospital to the Rosebud Indian Reservation over the state line in South Dakota where my family lived at the time.
My parents moved to South Dakota from the East Coast in the 1970s because my dad was working in community health and my mom landed a teaching job at the St. Francis Indian School — a Jesuit mission school whose school board had only just been turned over to Indian control.
The Rosebud is an isolated but beautiful place. The sky is huge, and the rolling prairie stretches out for miles. It's pocked with these little canyons that are lush with pine forests. My parents planned to stay for one, maybe two years, but they ended up here for five, before moving farther west to Montana. I was just a baby at the time, so I asked my mom, Jeannie Siegler, to travel back with me this summer.
It was an easy sell. Neither of us had been back to the reservation since 1986. But what we found wasn't always so easy to process. Things were tough back then, and they're even tougher now.