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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Recognizing Rape, Finding Bravery and Beginning Healing

*TRIGGER WARNING: This article includes graphic content that some readers may find distressing.

Names have been changed. 



GUEST POST By Cassie Roy 

College Trials and Tribulations

I was 22 years old and in college when I was raped by a mutual friend. I had sorority sisters and fraternity brothers. We all shared a common purpose — to get an education and to make memories to last a lifetime. Looking back, I see how toxic the environment truly was and that what happened to me wasn’t my fault.

I was in my second year in college and I had a lot going on in my life. My life was moving in the right direction and everything was going as planned. That is until both my best friend and my grandmother passed away. I was struggling to comprehend what my life would look like without them. I was devastated and sought therapy to help me deal with the unexpected loss of my closest friend and relative. My life was falling apart.

I don’t remember if it was a weekend or a weekday, our sorority always planned social events with the local fraternity. It was rare for me to miss a social function. On this particular night, I went to a well-known party house with my sisters. We knew to make sure we stayed together throughout the night. There were always fraternity brothers we would stay away from. To them, girls were nothing more than a challenge. I guess we thought boys chasing girls was just part of student life.


It Was No Big Deal

Bill was cute. In fact, I thought I might even like to date him because he was always so nice. As the night went on, I lost communication with my sorority sisters. Everyone was drunk. One of the fraternity brothers started to take some people home. I don't know why I stayed or why my sorority sisters left me behind. Maybe because we all just drank too much.

I remember the couches and chairs were all taken — people were passed out and I was ready to pass out. Bill offered me a place to sleep. I felt like I could trust him, besides there was nowhere else for me to go. He motioned for me to come over and lie next to him. “You might as well just sleep in my bed,” he said. “It’s not a big deal.” I did lie down because it was no big deal, just as he said.

From the moment I fell asleep to the moment I woke up everything was a blur. I knew that I had laid down with the intention to sleep but that’s not what happened. I remembered he was trying to kiss me and wondered if I was kissing him back. I couldn’t remember because I was in and out of consciousness.

The next morning I woke up next to Bill. He was still sleeping. I knew something was wrong. I could feel that something had happened to me. I felt sick in the pit of my stomach. When I realized that I was only partially clothed all I wanted to do was cry. I was so confused. Did I want him to kiss me? Did I kiss him back? I must have given him the idea I wanted him to kiss me… Right?

All I wanted to do was get out of that house as soon as I could. I got up and rushed to get out. I was so confused that I started to cry. One of his friends saw me rushing to get out of the house and saw that I was in tears. He didn’t ask and I didn’t stop to explain. I just kept running.


The Aftermath

Bill and I had mutual friends. His friend must have asked him what had happened because he saw that I had been crying. So later that day, he texted me to apologize. “I’m sorry if that is not what you wanted.”

I didn’t respond. I was still so confused. Did I give him the idea that’s what I wanted? Did I kiss him? What really happened? I couldn’t tell anyone because I felt responsible for what happened. It was my fault... right? I shouldn’t have drunk so much. I shouldn’t have gotten so drunk. I shouldn’t have got into bed with him and I shouldn't have passed out.

I didn’t tell my sorority sisters. I didn’t tell anyone. I couldn’t talk about it because I wasn’t sure what happened. I continued to see Bill because he and I were attending the same mixers and events. I tried to ignore him when he started to date one of the girls in my sorority. I was seeing him more than I wanted to and I just couldn’t handle it anymore.

At that time, I thought it was best for me to just leave college. My best friend had died. My grandmother passed away and then that happened. So, I literally just left and I didn’t tell anyone about my experience with Bill.

I didn’t know how significant that night would be in my life until three or four years later. It was life-changing. I was young and single. I used to want to have closer relationships with men, but now things are different. I tried to have relationships. I tried to trust again, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.

There was a part of me that felt responsible. My body and brain were not in sync. I didn’t fight. I wasn’t pinned down. I wasn’t injured. I rationalized that if sex doesn’t leave bruising and it didn’t happen in the back alley it wasn’t rape. I didn’t accept that what had happened was an assault because he didn’t hurt me — or so I thought. 


Life Gets Better

I was already on a path in therapy and I don’t know if it was fate or I just got lucky. A domestic violence helpline for Native Americans was moving into the Minneapolis area. I applied for and secured a job with the helpline. My new job afforded me training in domestic and sexual violence. That’s when I started to unravel the confusion and pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place.

Later, after about two years of working and living in the city, I had a conversation with a friend. She and I had similar experiences, and I was able to open up and talk about it. Even though I knew what happened that night wasn’t my fault, I still felt responsible. I was still blaming myself. That’s when my friend helped me to see what my heart already knew — that I had been raped. 


Faces of Rape

Rape has many faces and it doesn’t always look big and scary or violent. Bill wasn’t a scary man coming out of the darkness. He didn’t attack me. He wasn’t a stranger. He wasn't even one of the brothers we all knew to stay away from. He was a friend of my friends. We were friends. In any other situation, I might have had sex with him willingly. But I didn’t consent because I wasn’t given the option.

When I think back to that night, I was so naive to think it wasn’t a big deal. He wasn’t an upstanding guy. He is a non-Native man who thinks he deserves to take whatever he wants whenever he wants. I’m not looking for and won’t ever look for justice. The rape happened to me but it does not define me. I take solace in the idea that education on the topic of sex is changing. Gender identity and sexual orient-ation are on the cusp of being old news and no longer considered abnormal. The world is changing. Education is changing. I’m changing. 


StrongHearts and Common Ties

Native American women are preyed upon by non-Native men in large part because of what history has set into motion. The trajectory of Native women and children being captured, bought and sold by colonizers had ramifications and consequences that Native women still experience in the present day. She was a beautiful young Native woman and he was a young non-Native man. The common thread is undeniably sexual assault and/or rape.

If you or a loved one has experienced sexual violence, StrongHearts Native Helpline can help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For one-on-one chat advocacy visit StrongHearts Native Helpline online or call/text 1-844-762-8483.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Caseworker’s path lined with desire for investigation, love of #ICWA families


Caseworker’s path lined with desire for investigation, love of families

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time when programs across the country like Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s FireLodge Children & Family Services bring awareness to child abuse and neglect and advocate for happy and healthy childhoods for all. CPN Indian Child Welfare Department caseworker Whitney Coots helps children of neglect and abuse improve their situation every day.

She sought a different career path while in college, but life events and interests opened doors for her to utilize her skills in an unexpected way. Coots graduated in 2015 from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond with a double major in forensic science and criminal justice and joined FireLodge’s workforce in 2019.

“I originally wanted to do crime scene investigation. I love it. I still do. My major was a blast, but it is really hard to find jobs in forensic science,” Coots said.

She perused work in criminal justice and spent four years as a probation supervisor before accepting her current role as an ICW caseworker in September 2019. The change reset her career goals, unveiling a desire to help Native children and families.

“I didn’t understand the depth of the (the Indian Child Welfare Act) whenever I started. I knew what it was, and I knew the basis of ICWA, but not truly what it stood for. And so now that I understand that … protecting ICWA and Native American children is what I feel I was called to do,” Coots said.

GOOD READ: Caseworker’s path lined with desire for investigation, love of families


For more information about FireLodge Children & Family Services, visit or find them on Facebook, @CPNFireLodge.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Up and Down, Back and Forth: Still Fighting over ICWA

The demand from white people (non-Indian PAPS - prospective adoptive parents) who want to freely adopt Native kids will NEVER stop apparently... and we know it's always about what THEY want... not what is best for us adoptees.

We have posted about Goldwater before and what their intent truly is...

Federal appeals court strikes key provision of Indian Child Welfare Act
Divided ruling seen as defeat for tribal leaders concerned about act

WASHINGTON — Legal experts are deeply concerned about an “incredibly divisive” ruling from a federal appeals court that struck down parts of a law giving Native American families preference in the adoption of Native American children.

The ruling by a sharply divided U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is seen as a defeat for tribal leaders who said the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act was important to protecting their families and culture.

Mary Kathryn Nagle, Cherokee, is a partner with the law firm Pipestem and Nagle, and specializes in federal Indian law.  She called the 5th Circuit ruling “incredibly divisive” and said “certain parts of this decision are incorrect.”

PLEASE READ: Federal appeals court strikes key provision of Indian Child Welfare Act | Navajo-Hopi Observer | Navajo & Hopi Nations, AZ


And those same adoptive parents might not want to hear from adoptees or accept how WE feel being adopted.

These words are, according to (adoptee) Eric Schweig, his "mission statement."

"We can never go home because the concept of home is lost on us."

Adoption of aboriginal children by Caucasian couples is to me, for lack of a better term 'State Sanctioned Kidnapping.'  Too often Euro-American couples are preoccupied with the romantic notion of having a "real live Indian baby" or a "real live Inuit baby" which instantly transforms the child into an object rather than a person.  For decades our communities' babies have been unceremoniously wrenched from the hands of their biological parents and subjected to a plethora of abuses.  Physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse and a host of others.   I have first-hand knowledge of this because I was one of those children.  For years my adoptive parents beat me bloody on a regular basis.  I've been trapped in rooms naked and beaten with belt buckles, hockey sticks, extension cords, and once with a horsewhip. His speech


GOLDWATER is behind the attacks on ICWA:

WHAT DO THEY WANT? What is Goldwater doing?



Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Promoting Indian Child Welfare Through Inquiry and Data


Data collection on Native American involvement in adoption and foster care is needed to remedy courts’ failures.

More than four decades after the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), state courts still do not reliably fulfill their obligations under the statute. As a result, Native American children, families, and communities are too often denied the very protections the ICWA sought to establish.

Congress enacted the ICWA in 1978 to address the disproportionate rates at which Native American children were—and continue to be—removed from their homes and placed with overwhelmingly non-Native adoptive and foster families. These removals, Congress recognized, were frequently unwarranted, harmful to Native families and communities, and infringed upon Tribes’ inherent rights of sovereignty and self-governance.

The Interior Department sought to address this problem through a second ICWA rule also issued in 2016.

GOOD READ: Promoting Indian Child Welfare Through Inquiry and Data | The Regulatory Review

Sunday, April 4, 2021

First Environmental-Themed Program in April | “commUNITY: Environment is Sacred”

In April, VMM’s first environmental-themed program will acknowledge International Earth Day with a month-long community-themed online film streaming event, titled “commUNITY: Environment is Sacred,” and a panel discussion. The April programs are free and open to the public but registration is required.


“commUNITY: Environment is Sacred” is a program of six films, featuring themes of water, energy, Indigenous food and health. The themes highlight important environmental issues that have a direct effect on Native lands and an Indigenous philosophy for the world to better understand. The films will be available April 1-30 for worldwide online streaming 24/7 at


The six films include: “
Crying Earth Rise Up” (2015, USA, 57 min.); “Red Power Energy” (2016, USA, 56 min.); “Growing Native Northwest: Coast Salish” (2018, USA, 57 min.); “RETURN: Native American Women Reclaim Foodways for Health & Spirit” (2019, USA, 28 min.); “Rematriation Series: Joanne Shenandoah” (TBD, USA, 10 min.); and “The Seven Generation River” (2019, USA, 27 min.). 

For more information about the films and to register, visit

Lack of federal recognition to slow-motion ‘genocide’


For over 120 years, the Chinook Indian Nation of the Pacific Northwest has been trying to prove its sovereignty to the United States government by seeking formal federal recognition -- yet the tribe is still unrecognized. And the pandemic has only exacerbated the Chinook’s lack of a social safety net.

“We don’t need the government to tell us we’re Indian. We just need them to honor the treaty our ancestors signed.”

READ: Members of Chinook Indian Nation liken lack of federal recognition to slow-motion ‘genocide’

Sunday, March 28, 2021



The Association on American Indian Affairs 


Visit with amazing Native women who inspire us! 

JACKIE CROW SHOE is Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and an Indian Child Welfare Act advocate, and Policy Associate with the University of Southern Maine. She is also a Consulting Organization to the Capacity Building Center for Tribes that serves to support Tribal child welfare professionals. 

SIENA EAST is Choctaw and Isleta Pueblo and a writer, comedian, and actress based in Los Angeles. She studied Film and Television Production at New York University. You can find Siena on Instagram, Twitter, and 

 PURA FE is Tuscarora and Taino and an award-winning singer-songwriter, musician and activist. She is the founding member of the internationally renowned Native women’s acapella trio, Ulali. She currently lives in Northern Saskatchewan. Read more about her and listen to her music at 

SANDY WHITE HAWK is Sicangu Lakota and an adoptee from the Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota. She is the founder and Director of First Nations Repatriation Institute, which helps First Nations people impacted by foster care or adoption return home and reclaim their identity. Sandy also serves as a board member for the Association on American Indian Affairs.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

How to Create an Indigenous Child Welfare System

The Splatsin, among the first nation to create its own, will share hard-won knowledge in an upcoming webinar.

SOURCE:Katie Hyslop March 23, 2021 |

It’s been over a year since a federal law affirming the right of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to run their own child welfare systems came into force.

Yet over half of the children in government care nationally and two-thirds of kids in care in B.C. are still Indigenous, despite making up just 10 per cent of all children.

Bill C-92 allows communities to create their own child welfare systems and services, but implementation is just beginning and no funding is yet confirmed, with the Assembly of First Nations and federal government still in discussions.

The Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Leadership Council have held some information sessions and town halls on creating and operating child welfare systems in B.C.

But Kukpi7 (Chief) Wayne Christian of the Splatsin of the Secwepemc Nation said they haven’t answered all the questions about what it means to have jurisdiction over child welfare.

And he should know. Christian helped spearhead a movement in 1980 that saw the Splatsin become one of the very few First Nations in Canada to create and operate its own child welfare system. It continues to operate today.

And he’ll share the lessons learned in a two-day webinar for other First Nations Wednesday and Thursday.

“I wanted the opportunity to explain to people in a learning environment what is it we actually do. And what does it mean in terms of jurisdiction, because jurisdiction, in essence, is having the resources and making decisions for your children,” he said.

“Our Elders told us back in 1979, when we started the process, this is our inherent law before the white people imposed their law on us, this is how we did it. And so that’s what we codified with our Elders at the time, and that’s what we’ve been operating with now for four decades.

“We know where every child is and who they are in our community,” said Christian. In the community of about 1,000 people just outside Enderby, B.C., 30 to 35 children are in care at all times, he said, a rate that hasn’t changed much since the community numbered 350 in 1980.

“Every child that’s been born in that four decades, we know. And I think that’s the key is that we know, and then they know, who they are and who they’re connected to.”

The law — C-92: An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families — came into effect in January 2020 as a result of a national outcry over the disproportionate number of Indigenous youth in care, as well as the federal government’s systematic underfunding of child and family services in First Nations and Inuit communities.

But 39 years earlier, when the Splatsin of the Secwepemc Nation were pushing for child welfare jurisdiction, it didn’t have national support.

Instead, it had the support of several B.C. First Nations who joined them in a caravan to then-deputy premier Grace McCarthy’s Vancouver house on Thanksgiving weekend to demand jurisdiction over their children’s welfare.

With help from these nations, along with George Manuel, then-Grand Chief of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, human rights lawyer Louise Mandell and Jacob Marule, an exiled member of the South African National Congress, the Splatsin were able to hash out a jurisdiction agreement with McCarthy.

The federal government did not stand in the Splatsin’s way of reclaiming its child welfare services, and ultimately the Splatsin’s jurisdiction was federally and provincially recognized.

But the federal government would not allow several dozen other First Nations to follow suit.

“I think there was about 40 to 45 communities, and it would have made a big difference if they were able to stand up their laws at that time. But Indian Affairs said no to them,” Christian said.

Which is why the Splatsin of the Secwepemc Nation are holding these webinars.

“It’s our way of thanking people for helping us back then, because without that groundswell of support from all the communities, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we’ve achieved back in 1980,” Christian said, adding that Mandell will address the legal aspects of the win during the webinar.

Many of the roadblocks the Splatsin have and continue to face in delivering child welfare services are ones that other First Nations communities will grapple with, too.

For example, retaining control over services on and off reserve land will mean dealing with both the provincial and federal governments. As recently as a decade ago, the Splatsin were in conflict with a provincial government that refused to acknowledge their jurisdiction over Splatsin children who lived outside of the community.

“We were going to file a constitutional challenge,” Christian said, but five years ago the deputy minister of children and family development agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding with the nation that reaffirmed B.C.’s acknowledgement of Splatsin jurisdiction.

Nations will also need to determine how they used to govern themselves before colonization and how to adapt those laws into a modern-day child welfare system.

“The essence of what we do and follow is related to the wisdom of our old people,” Christian said, adding it’s the same in many other nations.

Then there are several other matters: federal funding, both initial capital and long-term operating funds; hiring and training personnel; gathering and storing community members’ data; developing culturally relevant child, youth and family programming; developing an appeals process; sourcing and funding temporary caregivers; and liaising with other health and social services that community members use.

Monty Montgomery, associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s school of social work, said finding the right people to work in an Indigenous-run child welfare system isn’t as easy as hiring for a typical service.

“It can be difficult work. There is a sacred responsibility in looking after our young people and working with our young people, our Elders tell us this,” said Montgomery, who is of Mi’kmaq and Irish-Canadian descent.

“And we need to be trained in ways that we understand both the culture and the dynamics of the communities, plus mainstream ways.”

Christian said federal funding has not been easy to maintain. The federal government still pressures the Splatsin to change its child welfare system to a Delegated Aboriginal Agency format, where the offices would be staffed by mostly Indigenous people but operate under provincial government laws and jurisdiction, he said.

“I really have a hard time with the federal government, because they don’t understand jurisdiction,” Christian said. “So when we’re in discussion with them, we’re continuously educating them in terms of what it actually means.”

Because of the lack of federal funding for Indigenous child welfare jurisdiction so far, Montgomery predicts some First Nations will join together to create their own delegated agencies and apply for federal funding that way. But again, they would have to operate under provincial child welfare rules. For a band or nation to do it on their own, Montgomery isn’t sure what operational funding they could access at the moment.

The barriers are real, and not every community or nation will be ready to open and operate their own child welfare system any time soon. But it can be done, Christian said.

“I think at times we get disheartened or so many roadblocks get put in place that people give up,” he said. “And you can’t afford to give up on your children, you have a responsibility to them.”  [Tyee]

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

HUGE NEWS! Deb Haaland makes history as first Indigenous cabinet secretary



In a historic vote on Monday, Debra Haaland was confirmed as President Biden’s Interior secretary. As a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, she will be the first Native American cabinet secretary in U.S. history.

Haaland, a former representative from New Mexico, was confirmed with a 51 to 40 split in the Senate, the narrowest margin of any of Biden’s cabinet picks so far. At the helm of the Department of the Interior, which houses the Department of Indian Affairs, she will oversee 500 million acres of public land, including the national parks system and oil and gas drilling on federal land. The Interior has an important part to play in tackling climate change, as one-quarter of all U.S. emissions can be attributed to fossil fuels extracted on these lands.

READ: Deb Haaland makes history as first Indigenous cabinet secretary


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What our Nations are up against!

What our Nations are up against!

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

Did you know?

Did you know?

Did you know?

New York’s 4o-year battle for OBC access ended when on January 15 2020, OBCs were opened to all New York adoptees upon request without restriction. In only three days, over 3,600 adoptees filed for their record of birth. The bill that unsealed records was passed 196-12.

Help in available!

Help in available!
1-844-7NATIVE (click photo)

click to listen

Diane Tells His Name

where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines
click to read and listen about Trace, Diane, Julie and Suzie

Happy Visitors!

Canada's Residential Schools

The religious organizations that operated the schools — the Anglican Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Jesuits of English Canada and some Catholic groups — in 2015 expressed regret for the “well-documented” abuses. The Catholic Church has never offered an official apology, something that Trudeau and others have repeatedly called for.


As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

Original Birth Certificate Map in the USA

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