photo by Paul Baker
Rita was found in Johnson, Kansas rummaging through
garbage cans. She was taken to the county jail, declared unfit to
care for herself, and institutionalized at the Larned State Hospital.
At Larned, she was diagnosed as schizophrenic, for speaking in a
"word salad." Rita told the doctors that she was Tarahumara,
from northern Mexico. The Tarahumara do not speak Spanish or English.
After 12 years in a mental hospital, by coincidence a psychiatrist
was found who spoke Tarahumara. He interviewed Rita and found that
not only was she not schizophrenic, but that her biggest problem
was "being estranged by fate from the support and spiritual
comfort of her all-inclusive culture."
Rita will be permanently affected by the medication she was given
in Larned. She now lives in a nursing home in Chihuahua city.
(information from "Mistaken Identity", Mary Sanchez,
Hispanic Magazine, May 1996, p. 30)