Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Sid Byrd

Sid Byrd

Honored May 2002

Sidney 'Sid' Byrd

Sid Byrd is a historian. He is a storyteller. He is an author and a translator. He is a fervent advocate for Native American rights and civil rights for everyone.

In his 83 years he has left indelible tracks across the landscape of this country and others. And it all started in Porcupine, South Dakota-9 miles from Wounded Knee.

Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation-site of perhaps the most shameful incident in the long, sad history of the clash between the native people of North America and the European settlers who took the land. About 300 natives died there in an 1890 massacre by the U.S. Cavalry. It is a dark legend.

Sid's powerful Betrayal at Wounded Knee, based on stories told him by elders when he was a child, led to the return of a priceless Sioux garment from a museum in Scotland, where he goes this autumn to celebrate the event. But not an angry or a bitter man, Sid has lived life fully in the world he found. He was active in Dr. Martin Luther King's civil rights movement in the 1960s. He was a Presbyterian minister.

Of his 17 years in Santa Fe, Sid says he most prizes "building bridges" and "mutual respect." "Living in a tri-cultural community has made me richer."


Story by Richard McCord
Photo © 2002 Steve Northup