This year, for the first time in a long time, Mother’s Day didn’t bring with it the painful unknowns for Jeanne Winslow and Rachel Banks Kupcho of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. Jeanne and her daughter Kupcho met for the second time last October, more than 35 years after Winslow gave her newborn up for adoption. “The day I got the call was the day I knew my life had changed forever,” says Winslow. That call on a cool October day carried the news that her daughter had found her and wanted to meet.
Their reunion was not a made-for-TV event filled with balloons and flowers. Winslow recalls that seeing her daughter for the first time in such a long time was quietly powerful, a bit like the first time she heard the drum and knew deep in her body that she was American Indian. Like Kupcho, Winslow was put up for adoption as a newborn and raised by non-Indians. Their story puts a quintessential Indian twist on the standard Mother’s Day tale of maternal perfection, and shows the inexorable pull of blood and spirit that so many Native people describe when they speak of wanting to know their culture.
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