Actor and musician, Bert Malcom, in Art Alley in downtown Rapid City. He chose this location as the art and vibe give him inspiration and solace. Photo by Richie Richards
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Native Sun News Today: Young Lakota man uses music to heal from life traumas

He uses music to heal from adoption trauma

By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Today Correspondent

RAPID CITY – As a child in the foster care system, Alberto “Bert” Malcom, 21, was bounced from family to family across South Dakota before being adopted to a family in Nebraska. This constant shuffling created an unsettled spirit in this Lakota man which has brought the guitar player’s life in a full circle; from adoption abuse and prescription drug use to being an expectant father safely back in the Black Hills.

Born Alberto James Dismounts Thrice to parents Deborah Dismounts Thrice and Frank Lucas, Malcom was adopted to Kent and Lupe Malcom; a non-Native family from Nebraska at the age of 8 years old. He recently moved back to Rapid City.

Until then he was in the foster care system, living in over ten homes in Wall, Spearfish, Belle Fourche and others towns he can’t remember. “I remember a lot of different situations. I felt like I didn’t belong,” said Malcom.

After being adopted, the young musician said his home was physically comfortable, but emotionally empty in many ways. “The Malcom’s are really well situated people. They had a really big house and they could provide everything. They gave me a really decorated place to live,” he said.

The adoption process was slow and detailed for the Malcom’s. Several things had come up during the adoption and throughout this arduous process, Malcom had been in the home with a woman whom he claims never really wanted him there. “When we were going up to the court, Lupe grabbed me by the arm and said ‘I don’t care what you say, but you’re going to get adopted today. It’s not your choice’,” Malcom said during his downtown Rapid City interview.

“After I was adopted, I feel like the walls fell down. My mother disclosed a lot to me. She didn’t want me. The only person really there for me was my adopted father (Kent). Through him, I learned the morals that I still carry today,” claims Malcom.

Of his adopted mother, Malcom said her abuse was never physical, but intimidation, blaming and shaming was her tool of abuse. “She (Lupe) wasn’t physically abusive. She was very emotionally abusive and verbally violent,” said the guitar player and actor.

Alberto Malcom was put in the foster care system with his siblings at the same time. All five were separately adopted. “It was very lonely to be honest. At first they told me I would have all of my siblings with me,” said Malcom.

When two of his younger siblings came to stay for a short period, his adopted mother, “Lupe instigated a lot of things amongst us kids. She was just always fighting with us and arguing with us. She treated us like second class to the rest of the family.”

Malcom says that part of his survival techniques in various homes was to be silent about the abuse or goings-on of certain homes and individuals, in fear that he would be taken and placed elsewhere. This created a fear of separation which he carries to this day.

A turning point came at the age of 17 for Malcom. After feeling emotionally absent and unwelcomed for many years, Malcom says he had given up on trying to be with the Malcom’s. “I didn’t feel like I was welcome anywhere. I never really felt like I had a home. I never felt like I was wanted,” he said.

Constant moving and adapting to new environments was traumatic for Malcom. “The horror of foster kids going through a transition into communities is the blatant racism. People would walk up to me and make remarks,” he said of his homes in South Dakota and Nebraska.

It was during these transitions that Malcom became separated from Lakota culture. By being around such environments, it’s like I was being erased from what I was as a kid. I forgot how to dance at powwows. I forgot what my mom looked like and what my brothers and sisters looked like. I forgot what Lakota sounded like. I forgot everything,” he said.

In Lincoln, Nebraska, Malcom was exposed to other children in the foster care system and others who were adopted as well. “There were all these adopted Lakota kids and they were just as distant from the culture as I was,” said Malcom.


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He uses music to heal from adoption trauma
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