Where Courage Is like a Wild Horse: The World of an Indian Orphanage

Where Courage Is like a Wild Horse: The World of an Indian Orphanage

Where Courage Is like a Wild Horse: The World of an Indian Orphanage

Where Courage Is like a Wild Horse: The World of an Indian Orphanage

Synopsis

The dreams of a courageous Apache girl illuminate the hidden world of an Indian orphanage in this unforgettable story. Over forty years ago, Sharon Skolnick (Okee-Chee) and her sisters were removed from their Apache parents and became wards of the state of Oklahoma. She and her nearest sister made their way together through the Oklahoma Indian child welfare system. Shuttled back and forth between foster homes and orphanages, they finally ended up at the Murrow Indian Orphanage in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Here, Skolnick tells the gripping and ultimately triumphal account of the year the sisters spent there. Murrow was a place of wonder and terror, friendship and loneliness, where resilient children forged shifting alliances and conspired together yet yearned in solitude for a home and family to call their own. Skolnick paints an absorbing portrait of the world of an Indian orphanage, a world both bright and dark, vividly rendered through a child's eyes but tempered by the perspective of the woman who survived the,Indian child welfare system and became an Apache artist.

Excerpt

The girl you'll meet in these pages has become, in 1996, a fifty-two-year-old woman named Sharon Skolnick. My Indian name, by which I am perhaps better known, is Okee-Chee. I've lived half my life in Chicago, where I have raised my family of four children and, now, four grandchildren. My family owns and operates the only American Indian-owned art gallery in Chicago; I am a painter, doll maker, and craftswoman of some reputation. I've been lucky enough to see some of my dreams come true.

Four decades ago this summary of my life seemed unlikely. in 1953 I was a ward of the state of Oklahoma, living with my sister in the Murrow Indian Orphanage. My name then was Linda Lakoe. I was the oldest of five daughters of Richard and Amelia Lakoe; all of us had been removed from the custody of our natural parents. I have met my natural mother briefly and have corresponded with my natural father, but I've never felt comfortable enough with either of them to inquire about the details of the trauma that destroyed our family.

My nearest sister, whom I call Jackie in this memoir, traveled with me through the Oklahoma Indian child-welfare system. the others were adopted independently by various families. We have gotten to know each other as adults, but we have not overcome our initial estrangement to function as a real family. the wounds our natural parents and subsequent foster homes and orphanages inflicted on us have not healed sufficiently to allow that.

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