Rest in Peace Karen Vigneault, the woman who made miracles for Native adoptees

Kimberly Linebarger, left, with sister Gudrun Drofn Emilsdottir, in lobby of Seven Clans First Council Casino Hotel, Newkirk, Oklahoma, November 19, 2018.

Guðrún Emilsdóttir, circa 1967, baby picture

Guðrún Emilsdóttir, adopted shortly after birth, was 28 before she tracked down her birth mother.

Her birth mother gave Emilsdottir her birth certificate, which named her father, Henry Linwood Jackson.

“My nephew started looking for Henry,” she said.

Eventually, he contacted Native American genealogist Karen Vigneault, a member of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California who was profiled in an earlier VOA story.  On Vigneault’s advice, Emilsdottir took a DNA blood test; they uploaded the results onto an online database and waited.

20180929_093011(PHOTO: Iceland covered the story too) (Karen Vigneault, an enrolled tribal member of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel and college and tribal librarian, has a face tattoo.)

(READ Long-lost Native American Sisters Reunite for a Joyous Thanksgiving)

Emilsdottir has returned to Iceland but is planning to return to Oklahoma in July 2019 for the “Encampment,” a pow wow the Otoe-Missouria tribe has held annually for more than 130 years. It’s an occasion for the tribe to sing, drum, dance and remember their history and traditions. And celebrate family, lost and found.

Henry Linwood Jackson, Otoe-Missouria tribe member, ca. 1965.

BIG READ: Long-lost Native American Sisters Reunite for a Joyous Thanksgiving

The reunion happened because of the tireless methodical work of librarian and tribal genealogist Karen Vigneault; she and I have worked together since 2013.

I learned yesterday that Karen has passed away in San Diego at her home.

She made miracles and reunions for adoptees, like these sisters.

It is impossible to put into words the impact she had on me and the lives of many adoptees she helped. She worked to find adoption records, tribal histories, family genealogy and find relatives that adoptees could contact and meet.

This loss is personal and devastating.

Not just to me but to readers of this blog who are still searching and hoping and waiting and wanting to find their families.

Karen traveled to Iceland late last year to meet Guðrún and the Iceland media covered it. Her wish was to reunite Guðrún with her tribe and relatives. She succeeded.

Published by

Lara/Trace

...mosaic artist ...author ...poet... blog consultant... kinda done as a book publisher

24 thoughts on “Rest in Peace Karen Vigneault, the woman who made miracles for Native adoptees”

  1. It’s rare and beautiful to see the pairing of “miracle” with “tireless methodical work of librarian and tribal genealogist.” What a testament to sheer effort in performing miracles in people’s lives, and in inspiring others to do the same. Your sorrow is surely great, my friend. I hope your joy in knowing and working with Karen is great too.

    Liked by 1 person

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