BRIDGER, S.D. - Seven years seemed an eternity for a Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal member as he waited for the return of his adopted daughter.
Wallace A. Little Moon last saw his daughter, Eva Marie Little Moon, when she was 11 months old. His estranged wife, Ella Marie Williams-Little Moon, a non-Indian, took the child in December 1993 and never returned.
Eva was born Jan. 11, 1993, and placed with Little Moon and his then-wife. Eva and her biological parents are also enrolled members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. The Little Moons legally adopted Eva on March 22, 1993.
"The following December Ella took Eva to Boulder (Colo.) for the holidays. I had no idea she didn't intend on coming back or returning my daughter to me. She took Eva and has been hiding out, taking her from one place to another."
Attempts by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and a private investigator to serve court documents proved futile while Ella and Eva were in Boulder, but caused Ella to go to Aurora, Colo., where she disappeared, with the child.
"Eva is 7 years old now. It's time for her to come back home where she won't have to be in hiding. It's time for her to know her people and know where she comes from. What Ella has done is wrong."
A 1997 article in ICT entitled, "Eva Little Moon: stolen child," prompted response from several, anonymous individuals.
"I received these letters that had addresses of where I might find my daughter. These letters gave me hope. The latest letter is dated March 1999. We've acted on this information and I'm hoping it will lead to my daughter returning home to her people where she belongs."
Although he is closer to being reunited with his daughter, legal red tape has hindered Little Moon's attempt to gain custody. The state in which Ella and Eva reside does not recognize the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Court or its tribal attorneys.
The tribal court and the attorneys are working on certification which would allow the state to recognize the tribal court order that awarded Little Moon legal and primary physical custody of his daughter.
"I'm staying strong through prayer. I think of my daughter every day and send prayers for her safety. I'm hoping the state will honor our tribal court's decision and allow my attorney to represent me in state court."
Little Moon's inner courage and strength and traditional beliefs have helped him take his loss one-day at a time.
"I keep her memory alive in everything I do. She's Lakota and she should be with her own people, not wandering from city to city."
Although Little Moon was granted a divorce in 1994, Ella may still go by Little Moon, he said, though she also goes by Ella Marie Rowe and Ella Marie Anderson.
Anyone with information about either the mother or daughter, is encouraged to write to: Wallace Little Moon, PO Box 184, Howes SD 57748.