Native Sons & Daughters
4/1/2004
Record your American Indian roots: our guide shows you key resources for discovering your tribal ties.
Lucy Pretty Eagle's gravestone was the first erected in the Indian Cemetery at the Carlisle (Pa.) Indian Industrial School, She died March 9, 1884, not even four months after arriving from South Dakota's Rosebud Indian Agency. The 10-year-old Sioux girl came to Carlisle in poor health — and with a different identity. Like other students, she was given an Anglicized name to replace her Indian name. Take the Tail. After Lucy died, her father, Pretty Eagle, wrote:"She had died the year before but had come back to life again." He didn't know that his daughter's death would spawn ghost stories and tales of her being buried alive — which have obscured the real details of her life.

Researchers Barbara Landis and Genevieve Bell culled these facts about Take the Tail's life (and death) from her student file and other sources, as part of their project to document the Carlisle School's history <home.epix.net/-landis>. The biographies they've pieced together would thrill any genealogist.

Luckily, if you have American Indian ancestors — Sioux or any of the 562 federally recognized American Indian tribes — similar discoveries may await you. Millions of today's Americans can claim family ties to the continent's first peoples: Officially, American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States number 4.3 million, including 3.1 million tribe members. And because government policies and intermarriage led many tribe members to assimilate over the centuries, even more people share American Indian heritage. Some might not realize they have tribal ties — or haven't been able to prove it.