My American story begins sometime near the end of the last glacial maximum, around 13,000-16,500 years ago, when my ancestors crossed the Beringian Land Bridge to Alaska. Or so Wikipedia tells me. So while your great- greats- made their way over on planes and boats, mine did it on foot. In the snow (most likely). And uphill both ways (probably).
According to another internet source, ancestory.com, I only have to go back about 150 years before I start running into names like Whirlwind in the House (great-great-grandmother) and Grey Iron (great-great-great-grandfather). I go back four or five generations and my family tree starts to read like a list of Dothraki extras in Game of Thrones.
By the time my origin story began in the late seventies, ringing in the death of disco (in accordance with prophecy), I was handed down the last name of Big Eagle. My parents had made their way off the reservation in central South Dakota decades earlier by way of the military and by chance reconnected in Washington later in life. My parents were older and had lived pretty full lives before I entered the picture. I may have been an accident, with my parents being 43 and 50 at the time of my birth, along with that marriage certificate signed three weeks before the joyous event. I’m assuming there weren’t any shotguns involved.
I grew up in Southwest Washington, far away from any heavy Native cultural influences. My parents weren’t particularly involved in Sioux culture aside from a pow wow here or there. My America was molded by rampant ‘80s consumerism and Airwolf. I had a weird name growing up, but I didn’t realize it because I was blessed with 150% of the size of my peers in school, so if there was any fun to be made, it was never done within earshot. And that’s how my life has continued through today, with people being too frightened of me to inquire about my fascinating surname and the rich tapestry of my people’s heritage on this northernest of Americas.
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