“It’s a Huge Intergenerational Trauma Cycle. My Dad Knew That. He Lived That."
On this episode, Elizabeth talks to Yufna Soldier Wolf, the youngest child of Mark Soldier Wolf, an Arapaho tribal elder, former Marine, and veteran of the Korean War, who died in 2018 at the age of 87.
Mark dedicated his life to preserving the culture of the Arapaho tribe, whose reservation sits about two and half hours to the Northeast of Casper, Wyoming, documenting his tribes’ stories and history, advocating for the rights of indigenous people and holding the federal government accountable. This was a cause close to his heart—after returning home from Korea in the early ‘50s, Mark discovered his family’s land was to be sold to a uranium mill via eminent domain. They were not properly compensated and government documents of the sale are incomplete.
Like hundreds of thousands of Native American children, Yufna’s father Mark, his father, and his uncle were sent to an Indian Boarding School as kids. These schools, started in the late 1800s, and now mostly shut down, were tools of assimilation to which children as young as 3 were sent far from home where they had their names changed, hair cut, were forced to pray, and were forbidden to speak their native languages. Children were beaten, sexually abused, used for slave labor and died there.
Yufna’s great uncle, Little Chief, was one of the children who never came home, his body buried with the more than 180 kids who died attending the Carlisle Industrial Boarding School in Pennsylvania. In 2017, before Mark died, he and Yufna traveled to Carlisle together to finish the work he, his father, and his father’s father had started: having Little Chief’s remains returned to Wyoming to be properly buried with the rest of his family.
Mark Soldier Wolf, left, Yufna Soldier Wolf, center, and Crawford White Sr. at Carlilse in 2017.
Listen as Yufna describes the special healing work she did with her father and other members of the tribe around the trauma they carry from Boarding Schools, the U.S.’s treatment of Native Veterans, and the decolonization work and rejection of a patriarchal worldview the Arapaho use to move forward. She also describes the work she’s doing to preserve the archives her father hoped would continue to educate us all on the history of the Arapaho people.
Yufna Soldier Wolf in her family's cemetery on the Wind River Reservation. Photo: Casper Star Tribune.