Finding Our Roots--The Most Immediate and the Most Ancient

Eliott Sitz is 13-years-old and a popular performance poet at Thomas Starr King Middle School in Los Angeles. He was adopted at age nine by Ken and Teresa Sitz. Recently Elliott wanted to know about his roots, about his family (he has six siblings), and why he looked so dark and indigenous. His adopted parents are White (at one point his adoption papers had mistaken Elliott as Cherokee). Teresa Sitz, to her credit, decided to find out. She's quite the amateur genealogist--she discovered that Elliott's birth name was Elias Juan Gonzales (Elliott prefers his adopted name from a previous foster family). That part of his scattered family is in California, including his grandparents (he has one sibling that was adopted and now lives in Nebraska). And that--and this is where I come in--he's related to Luis Rodriguez!

Elliott is definitely Native--his side of the family, my mother's, have roots in the Raramuri tribe of southern Chihuahua, Mexico (they are also known as the Tarahumara). His grandfather is my first cousin Juan Jimenez, who's the son of my mother's brother, my uncle Francisco (Kiko), who also happened to be my Godfather.

Teresa contacted me about three weeks ago. Only a week before she met Juan and his wife Margaret in the Inland Empire. And Elliott has met many of his siblings but two. Now it was our turn to meet, which we did about three Saturdays ago at Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural.

I brought with me photos of the Jimenez side of the family, but also of my family here in Los Angeles. They included my grandparents Monico and Ana, my great-grandmother Manuela (full-blooded Raramuri), and many others. Elliott seemed fascinated and happy--his eyes were wide open and alive. Teresa and Ken were amazing people, the right kind of parents for Elliott. And Elliott met my daughter Andrea, her daughter Catalina, my wife Trini, and he spent an hour or so with my sons, Ruben and Luis. It was quite a reunion.

You can see some of the photos I brought by clicking Rodriguez Family Photos.

At the bottom of these are two photos of Elliott and myself. You can see the resemblance.

Below is one of Elliott's poems. He's quite the writer, like his long-lost cousin three times removed, but somehow very similar in interest with words:

Tossed Around, by Elliott Sitz

I’ve been tossed around since I was three,
Always strangers next to me,
Is there any home that’s just for me?

I’ve been tossed around since I was four,
Social workers at my door,
Looking for trouble, nothing more.

I’ve been tossed around since I was five,
I guess I was lucky to be alive.
Not much left to do but survive.

I’ve been tossed around since I was six,
Every day I took my licks,
by chicks, bricks, and sticks.

I’ve been tossed around since I was seven,
From dawn to dusk, it wasn’t heaven,
Hope it’s better when I’m eleven.

I’ve been tossed around since I was eight,
How long do I wait,
Before it’s too late?

I was finally home when I was nine,
As you can see I changed my rhyme.
Toys, books, room, parents, school, all mine.
Now everything is fine.


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