Lost Tribe

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Judge Low refused to make a finding as to the legal status or rights of the 'Nato Indian tribe. "If the 'Nato Indian Nation desires to proceed in Texas with respect to the care and custody of the children, it is free to do so," Judge Low wrote.

Ellis Burt, one of the attorneys advising Rebeka on her case, called the decision a shame. "The judge said he was not going to change jurisdictions, but if [Clayton] wanted it, take it," Burt says. "It was a total abdication of responsibility. It's going to be a mess. You haven't heard the end of this yet."

Henry Clayton was equally upset with Judge Low's ruling. "The judge took the easy way out. He turned jurisdiction back to Texas. He should have given us jurisdiction. He does not understand Indian law."

Clayton is mulling his options, which include, he says, taking the matter to Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. "The 'Nato Indian Nation is not finished yet," he says.

As the conflict with her father and his court plays out, Rebeka finds herself thinking more about her Native American roots. The only picture decorating the walls of her small apartment is a small, black-and-white print of an Indian in full headdress. She plans to study more of her heritage, so she can teach her children. She would even accept help from her father and 'Nato, she says, if she trusted his motivations more.

"If he really wants to help me and help the Indians," she says, "why doesn't he do it legally?

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Ann Zimmerman