Best Self Magazine

Into the Tribe | Being Adopted by a Native American Tribe

Into the tribe, becoming adopted by a Native American tribe, photo by Simon Russell

Photograph by Simon Russell

A professor’s journey to becoming adopted by a Native American Tribe after a lifetime of building cross-cultural bridges


My life has existed at the crossroads of two cultures for more than three decades — one foot planted in the modern American paradigm and the other equally in that of the Native American. Recently, I was deeply honored to be adopted into an American Indian Tribe, an extraordinary event which punctuated my journey of building cross-cultural bridges and mutual understanding. This story begins here:

I met Melinda on a river trip. I was on a leave of absence from teaching; she was a physician practicing allopathic family medicine on the Navajo Reservation. This fateful meeting changed my life personally and professionally.

Melinda’s experience on the

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