My father, Joseph Alfred Hatfield, was born in Yarmouth (Kespukwitk District), Nova Scotia March 13, 1913. It is through his mother, Anne Eliza Boudreau (born June 27, 1896 in Wedgeport, NS), and in turn, her mother, Celestine Pothier (born December 13, 1862 in Wedgeport, NS) that I trace my Mi’kmaw ancestry.
Mi’kmaw customs, language and history were lost to my father’s Métis ancestors so I did not have the privilege of being brought up in a Native community. Catherine Pedersen, my Norwegian mother, who knew Celestine Pothier for a short time, learned some of my father’s history. My mother encouraged me to learn more when, as an adult, I sought out her memories of my father and his relatives. As a result, what I know about my Mi’kmaw heritage I learned as an adult through over forty years of vigorous genealogical research and reaching out to many tribal people.
Since the early 1970’s, I have been part of tribal communities wherever I have lived—Rock Island, IL; Washington, D.C.; Chicago, IL; Green Bay, WI; New London, CT; and now, St. Louis, MO. Through friendship ties that came about, my friends have invited me to visit their families, dance at powwows or attend ceremonies at their home reservations at Tama, IA; Cheyenne Sioux Reservation in SD; Sisseton, SD; Red Lake, MN; Lac Courte Oreilles in Hayward, WI; Onondaga, NY; Cherokee, NC ; Indian Island, ME and so forth.
Born in North Adams, Massachusetts in 1940, my formative years were spent at a children’s home in Cromwell, Connecticut—run by the Swedish Evangelical Covenant Church of America, the same denomination that ran North Park College (in Chicago), which I attended after graduating from high school. In 1960, between semesters of my sophomore year, Tom Liljegren and I were married. We became the parents of three wonderful children—Katie, Michael and Patti. Eventually, I finished my BA degree at Augustana College in Rock Island and earned an MA in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Iowa.
During a twenty-five year career in the United Way movement as a volunteer then as a professional staff member, I worked with hundreds of volunteers in the Quad-Cities (Moline & Rock Island, IL and Davenport, IA), Washington, D.C., Green Bay, WI, and New London, CT to allocate charitable funds, conduct community needs assessments and evaluate results of funded programs.
I left United Way employment for a brief time from 1990 to1993 to join NAES College in Chicago as vice president of administration. Established in 1974 as a one of the first community-based Native American colleges in the country, it offered a BA degree in community studies at three other campuses besides Chicago—Minneapolis, MN; Menominee, WI; and Ft. Peck in Wolf Point, MT. Through those tough but wonderful years, many friends were given to me from many new places.
In February of 1993, I lost my second husband, Alec Azure, who suffered a stroke. Alec was an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Band in Belcourt, North Dakota. In our brief time together, he introduced me to his large and wonderful family at Turtle Mountain.