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Reading through my family archives, I found the following post, “In her youth, John Crenshaw gave an army sergeant a five-dollar gold piece to release her to him.” I was intrigued. I wanted to know what had happened to this couple—John Crenshaw and the Cherokee Indian maiden. What did this five-dollar gold piece play in the story as I read about their lives set in those before and after years of the Civil War?

I became fascinated with the information that I could piece together to tell the story of two Cheyenne Indian women and their chosen lives through diversity, the Civil War, and their family—my ancestors. While I created some parts in fiction to embellish the story, the written actions of each resilient woman were true, bonded together with the telling of their lives. I was proud to write their stories of love and dedication, and I began to know them as actual women, creating my own “tree of life.” These two women were my great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother. I was intrigued to read of their lives and connected them to my own life.

My father had always told me stories of his Indian grandmother, LeAnna Crenshaw Stone, and now I had actually found her story. Through the archives, I enabled her life to be told again.

“Go now to your dwellings to enter into the days of your life together” (Elliot Arnold, 1947).