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Support Info: If you are a Survivor and need emotional support, a national crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: Residential School Survivor Support Line: 1-866-925-4419. Additional Health Support Information: Emotional, cultural, and professional support services are also available to Survivors and their families through the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program. Services can be accessed on an individual, family, or group basis.” These & regional support phone numbers are found at .

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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Archbishop Justin Welby apologises for "building hell, putting children into it and staffing it"

REBLOG from May 4, 2022

Readers are advised this story mentions the physical and sexual abuse of Indigenous children in institutions. There are no graphic accounts included, but the subject matter may be triggering for some people. 

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby delivered an unequivocal apology to children, grandchildren and survivors of Canadian residential schools over the weekend, describing their experiences as “a bit of hell” that was “built by the Church and in the name of the Church.”

The Anglican Church leader met with dignitaries from Indigenous governments from James Smith Cree Nation and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. There, he heard the stories of school survivors about how the residential school system ripped families apart, raised self-doubt and self-confidence issues and left them with traumas as a result of sexual and physical abuse.

“It is the rawest, wickedest, most terrible thing, to molest a child while you read them the Bible,” a sombre Welby told the group after hearing the harrowing accounts.


Archbishop of Canterbury apologizes for church's role residential schools - APTN News


Somewhere, there are records and I want them. They’re mine.


sample of 2022 adoption bingo card

Loved this article by an adoptee

22 Nov

“Here we go again.

Those four words pop into my mind every November, like an annual calendar reminder set to go off with a cartoon “boing.”

November is National Adoption Month, and as an adopted person you might think we’re all a bundle of anticipatory excitement, planning the kegger and booking the cover band.”

For example, I’ve been on a 30-year mission to obtain every page of my medical, adoption, foster care and genealogical records.

I’ve had some success at this mostly because I haven’t stopped asking after being told no.


Mardi Link: Happy National Adoption Month

Monday, November 21, 2022

My Navajo identity was taken from me


Opinion: I’m a Jersey girl born into the Salt Clan. My Navajo identity was taken from me

Editor’s Note: Hilary C. Tompkins, a member of the Navajo Nation, served as the Solicitor of the US Department of the Interior during the Obama administration. She currently practices law in Washington, DC. The views expressed in this piece are her own. Read more opinion at CNN.

CNN  — 

My adoption papers said my mother was “very attractive” and that my “grandmother has some education and is considered to be an intelligent woman.” My father, who was listed as “Plains,” was described as having “hair with a slight tendency to wave.”

These small nuggets of information from my adoption papers were my only connection to my birth family. Only much later in life, as a young adult taking Native American studies at Dartmouth College, did I learn that I also had a legal connection with the Navajo Nation as a citizen of the Tribe.

Hilary Tompkins

I’m like many Native Americans who were placed in White families under the Department of the Interior’s Indian Adoption Project in the 1960s and 1970s.

As with the placements of Indian children in boarding schools, this program removed Native children from their Tribes without justification and assimilated them into mainstream America. When I met my birth family as a young adult, one of my aunts held me and cried, saying the last time she held me I was a baby and she had told the hospital officials that she and my extended family would take care of me, but to no avail. I was taken away and put up for adoption anyway.

Recognizing that the continued existence of Tribal Nations was at stake because of the loss of up to 35% of their children, Congress outlawed this practice in 1978 with the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). At the time, placement with White families was estimated to be at 90%.

Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court held oral arguments in a closely watched case, Haaland v. Brackeen, to decide whether the Indian Child Welfare Act is unconstitutional because it favors the adoption of Native children by Native families.

The states of Texas, Louisiana and Indiana, along with non-Native parents seeking to adopt Native children, say that ICWA amounts to racial discrimination because it has nothing to do with the “ability of Indians to govern themselves.” They argue that the states and non-Native parents should be able to decide the placement of Native children free of consideration of their tribal status because there is no political interest of the Tribes at stake.

And opponents of the Indian Child Welfare Act even go a step further, saying that the law goes against the best interests of Native children by imposing standards that make it harder for them to be adopted into stable, loving homes.

As a Native person who was adopted into a White family before the implementation of ICWA, that’s not the way I see it. I can attest firsthand, as a citizen of both the United States and the Navajo Nation, that ICWA is not about race.

I grew up in southern New Jersey, but I always knew I was Navajo. Born in Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico, I was separated from my family with only a few papers as evidence of my Tribal status.

By all outward appearances, my life today gives the impression that the Indian Adoption Project was a success. I was placed in a family that loved me. I received an exemplary education. I live a comfortable, middle class life. I have enjoyed professional success, having served as Solicitor of the Department of the Interior, the third ranking position in the department – the very federal agency that set my course in life. Yet despite these blessings, the Indian Adoption Project left me adrift, a foreigner in my own country.

Upon my return to the Navajo Nation almost 30 years ago, my sense of loss was overwhelming. The Navajo Nation is a different world: Navajo is frequently spoken there and the laws and way of living are based on Navajo traditions. There is no separation of Navajo spirituality from Navajo sovereignty. One foundational principle is ke’ – kinship – which is rooted in a vast clan system. I didn’t know my clan and couldn’t speak the language. Nor did I understand the complex and traditional laws of Navajo society. The loss of my culture was not just personal, but political.

I tried to make up for my losses, learning some of the language, attending our traditional ceremonies and working for the Navajo Nation Department of Justice. But despite my best efforts, I couldn’t catch up. I can vote in our elections but I don’t understand the stump speeches. I can’t run for office as I am not a fluent Navajo speaker. I reconnected with my birth family, but I have never felt fully integrated into Navajo society.

ICWA recognized that in order to have functioning tribal governments, you need the next generation of tribal citizens to be part of tribal political society. Taking away Native children threatens tribes’ future because the loss of their kids jeopardizes Tribes’ ability to be political sovereign entities. The law gives a preference for placing a Native child with extended family members, members of its Tribe or members of another Tribe – a priority that can make it harder for a White family to adopt. It requires state courts to notify the Tribe about the child, and to have them indicate the preferred placement – or to say placement with a particular non-Native family is okay.

During oral arguments earlier this month, two of the justices indicated that they understood how high the stakes are for Tribal Nations. Justice Neil Gorsuch observed during oral arguments that in passing the law, Congress understood that ICWA is “essential to [the] self-preservation of Indian tribes.” And Justice Kagan recognized that “the political entity is itself being threatened because of the way decisions on the placement of children are being made.”

If ICWA had been in place when I was adopted, my Tribe would have been involved in my adoption. Navajo tribal authorities would have had a say in my adoption had I been adopted under the provisions of the law. I could have maintained a connection with my relatives – even if I had ended up with White parents. I still could have been adopted by a non-Native family, but my adoptive family might have been able to connect with my extended family or others, fostering a connection with my Tribe. But because I was placed for adoption prior to the existence of ICWA, I had to reclaim my connection with my Tribe all on my own.

My family and I eventually found each other by serendipity when I was living on the Navajo reservation. In middle age, I have come to accept who I am – a Jersey girl born into the Salt Clan. I have overcome the pain and loss. But I wouldn’t wish my experience on the children of Tribal citizens today. We cannot fail Native children again as we have failed them in the past.

Native children deserve the opportunity to be citizens of both the United States and Tribal Nations. I pray that they will not be the subject of another social experiment based on the decisions of government officials who haven’t walked in the shoes of the First Americans.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

How did we get here? (with some humor)


WHY ICWA MATTERS? Land Theft? Child Trafficking? Cultural Genocide? Horrible Adoption Outcomes? Loss of everything?


Friday, November 11, 2022

Harvard Museum Says It Has Hair Clippings from 700 Native Children Who Attended Indian Boarding Schools

Harvard's Peabody Museum (Photo: Public domain)

**This story contains disturbing details from U.S. Indian Boarding Schools. For support and mental health resources, visit The Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition’s list of resources.** 

Harvard’s Peabody Museum has hair clippings taken from the heads of about 700 Native American children while they were attending U.S. Indian Boarding Schools, the institution announced this morning.

The clippings from Native children are part of a collection that includes 1,500 total hair samples from people across Asia, Central America, North America, Oceania, and South America. It was assembled by anthropologist and former Harvard professor, George Woodbury, between 1930 and 1933.  Woodbury took “the vast majority” of samples from living people across the world to study racial hierarchies, The Peabody Museum wrote online.

Woodbury obtained the samples by enlisting the help of “other anthropologists and archaeologists, as well as administrators at a wide variety of U.S. Indian reservations, U.S. Indian boarding schools, and Canadian hospitals as well as missionaries worldwide,” Harvard wrote in an online statement published at 9am on Nov. 10. The collection was donated to Harvard and accessioned in 1935.

According to Harvard University spokesperson Rachael Dane, when the Peabody began organizing its collections in a database in 2008, the location of the Woodbury collection was marked ‘unknown.’ In April 2022, Peabody Museum staff cataloged the Woodbury Collection and determined its contents. 

Many of the samples have the names of the children whose hair was taken, as well as their tribal affiliation.  Approximately 300 tribal nations had samples taken from their kids from at least 21 boarding school locations, plus an additional 12 “collecting locations” noted by Harvard.  The most samples, records show, were taken from 138 children at The Fort Totten Indian School in North Dakota, and 122 children at the Sherman Institute in Riverside, California.

“I just cannot for the life of me wrap my head around something like that,” Rosebud Indian Reservation’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Ione Quigley told Native News Online. She learned that hair samples were taken from her relatives in an email that came through from Harvard late Monday evening, she said. “Why would somebody want hair samples … from little ones? That's a human remain that, for us, holds so much sacredness.”

Harvard says it will return all of the hair samples, and that it contacted tribal chairs and tribal historic preservation officers by email to let them know about the samples, though it “did not have all the emails,” Dane told Native News Online.

“The Peabody Museum apologizes to Indigenous families and tribal nations for our complicity in the objectification of Native peoples and for our more than 80-year possession of hair taken from their relatives,” the museum’s website reads.

Nowhere does Harvard acknowledge that it likely broke a federal law that’s been in place since the ‘90s, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatration Act. Under NAGPRA, institutions are required to catalog and return their collections of Native American human remains and their burial objects. Human remains are defined by law as “The physical remains of the body of a person of Native American ancestry.” The term excludes remains or portions of remains “that may reasonably be determined to have been freely given or naturally shed by the individual from whose body they were obtained, such as hair made into ropes or nets.”

This year alone, at least three institutions have completed reparations of human hair to Native tribes or Native Hawaiian Organizations, according to federal register notices. But Dane told Native News Online that, “the Peabody Museum understands that this type of hair sample, which can be found in many museums and federal agencies, is not subject to NAGPRA.”

“I don’t see how they could argue that [collecting hair samples from children can be done with] consent,” Association on American Indian Affairs chief Executive and attorney Shannon O’Loughlin (Choctaw) told Native News Online. “Human hair is considered remains that require inventory and consultation. My first reaction, because there was hair from a Choctaw child included in there, is…what in the world? How did they not know this existed for so long? It’s so disappointing to see Harvard just not getting how to work with Native Nations.”

O’Loughlin said that the Association intends to hold Harvard accountable for requesting proper tribal consultation, instead of merely asking tribal representatives to fill out a contact form online to be notified when further information on return “becomes available.”

From from 1819 to 1969, the federal government operated more that 400 Indian boarding schools where Native kids were forced to attend with the express purpose of cultural assimilation that coincided with Indian territorial dispossession. At these institutions, the government employed “systematic militarized and identity-alteration methodologies” to assimilate Native children through renaming them, banning the use of their language, and cutting their hair, a federal investigation into the government’s role in the schools released in May 2022 noted.

Quigley, the Rosebud tribal preservation officer, is a boarding school survivor from St. Francis Indian School on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.  She can attest to the lack of consent in Native kids having their hair cut at boarding schools—she lived through it. When she arrived at St. Francis Indian School as a sixth grader, nuns forcibly cut her hair.

“It was very very traumatic for me to have my hair cut like that,” Quigley said. “No affection, no care, nothing. There’s something really wrong in that.”

“Does it seem reasonable to you that this hair was freely given or naturally shed?” Melanie O’Brien, who manages the National NAGPRA Program, wrote in response to questions from Native News Online. “That is the ONLY exception to human remains under NAGPRA.”

O’Brien said that she can’t say if Harvard has failed to comply with NAGPRA unless any person alleges it, and the Department of the Interior investigates it. 

“If this were determined to be a failure to comply with NAGPRA because these human remains were not reported in an inventory, the penalty amount would be $7,475 times the number of lineal descendants, Indian Tribes, or NHOs involved,” she wrote. If Harvard were found to be out of compliance with NAGPRA for its collection of inventoried 700 hair samples, it would owe more than $5 million.

Harvard University has one of the largest collections of Native American human remains in the country, according to the inventory it did report in the 90s. Currently, the institution holds at least 6,162 ancestors. Harvard received five federal grants totaling $287,430 from 1994 to 1997 to complete its inventory. It also received two extensions to complete their inventory in 1998 and 2000, public records show.  

This is a developing story.

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Haaland v. Brackeen: The Case that Could Break Native Sovereignty

Why ICWA Matters

Breaking News
tags: Supreme Court, Native American history, Tribal Sovereignty, Haaland v. Brackeen, Indian Child Welfare Act

Rebecca Nagle is a journalist based in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Her podcast, This Land, won the American Mosaic Journalism Prize in 2020.

Every generation of Americans has seen an effort to undermine Indigenous sovereignty. The latest attempt heads to the Supreme Court tomorrow.

In the sprawling federal lawsuit Haaland v. Brackeen, a handful of white foster parents, among other plaintiffs, are asking the Supreme Court to overturn a law called the Indian Child Welfare Act. ICWA was created in 1978 to prevent family separation in Native communities. When the law passed, about a third of Native children had been removed from their families. But in the lawsuit, far more than the future of Native children is at stake.

When a Native child is up for adoption, ICWA prioritizes placing that child first with relatives, then other members of their tribe, and then other Native families. These placement preferences, the non-Native foster parents claim, give them “fourth-tier status.” Their pro bono lawyer Matthew McGill told the Fifth Circuit that this was all because “they are not and cannot be, because of their race, Indian families.” (Notably, in two of the three underlying custody cases, the non-Native foster parents won custody—when blood relatives also wanted to raise the children.) Citing the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the plaintiffs claim that ICWA violates their constitutional rights by discriminating against them.

What makes the case tricky is that many people in the United States think of Native Americans as a racial group. But that is not how American law works. Under federal law, tribes and tribal citizens are not a racial group, but a political one. Accordingly, ICWA applies only to Native children who either are enrolled in a federally recognized tribe or are eligible based on a given tribe’s citizenship requirements. Just as certain laws apply to me because I am a citizen of the United States or a resident of Oklahoma, certain laws apply to me because I’m a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Those laws flow from the treaties signed between my sovereign Indigenous nation and the United States, established through the same constitutional process the U.S. uses to sign treaties with Britain or Japan.

A host of federal statutes—including on land rights, water rights, health care, gaming, criminal and civil jurisdiction, and tribal self-governance—treat Native Americans differently based on this political classification. In this light, I fear that the Brackeen lawsuit is the first in a row of dominoes—if the Court strikes down ICWA, everything else could soon go with it.

If ICWA is unconstitutional because it is based on race, then what of the clinic where I get my health care that serves only tribal citizens? If ICWA discriminates against non-Native foster parents, what of gaming regulations that allow tribes to operate casinos where non-Native casino developers can’t? What “racial group” in the United States has their own police forces, courts, elections, governments, and lands, as tribes do? The possible shift is radical. The U.S. has been passing laws that treat tribes and tribal citizens differently from non-Native citizens since the founding of the republic. If that is unconstitutional, the entire legal structure defending the legal rights of Indigenous nations could crumble.


Thursday, November 10, 2022

ICT: Indigenous people flock to DC for ICWA hearing

 ‘If you take our children, you take our identity’

Approximately 60 stood in line waiting to sit inside the court to witness the oral arguments. Many sat between the Capitol and court listening to three hours of oral arguments on their headphones, and others listened to the line of speakers and songs all morning and into midday.

Haaland v. Brackeen challenges the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law that has been referred to as the “gold standard” for child welfare by many child welfare organizations. It was enacted in 1978 to “halt the unnecessary forced removal of Native kids from their families,” said Sarah Kastelic, an enrolled citizen of the Native Village of Ouzinkie and executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association.

ICWA - Sarah Kastelic, executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association and an enrolled citizen of the Native Village of Ouzinkie, stands outside the U.S. Supreme Court with a sign in her language in Washington, D.C., on November 9, 2022. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, ICT)

“So in our organization, one of the things that we talk about is the recipe for colonization,” Kastelic said. This recipe is “consistently followed by colonizers to colonize Indigenous people.”

She said there are five ingredients:

  1. “Take the land;”
  2. “Control the natural resources, especially the water;”
  3. “Usurp, replace Indigenous governance to delegitimize Indigenous thought;”
  4. “Undermine Native worldview, values, traditions, beliefs;” and

And number five, “the most important ingredient,” she says, is to “sever Native children from their sense of identity, from their culture, from their sense of belonging, from that sense of connectedness to something.”

This would meet the United Nations definition of genocide.




The fate of ICWA

Each side presented their oral arguments Wednesday to the U.S. Supreme Court for the most serious challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act in recent memory. The decision in Haaland v. Brackeen will be a major force in the future of ICWA and the scope of tribal sovereignty. Today on Native America Calling, Shawn Spruce analyzes the legal debate from a Native perspective with Matthew Fletcher (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians), law professor at the University of Michigan Law School and author of the Turtle Talk blog; independent journalist Suzette Brewer (citizen of the Cherokee Nation); and Dr. Sarah Kastelic (Alutiiq), director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association.


Full Brackeen Indian Child Welfare Act oral arguments  (Indigenous Wire)

Oral arguments in Haaland v. Brackeen, a U.S. Supreme Court case that will decide whether the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 is constitutional and/or will be altered in any way, were heard yesterday. Books will likely be written about this law and the case — and their impact on tribal sovereignty — and we’ll be featuring much more about the issues at stake in days to come.

For those so inclined, take a listen to the 3-hour oral arguments, which are online here. Transcript here.

Of note: Not a single lawyer arguing the case in court yesterday were Indigenous, although Natives with Jenner & Block and the Native American Rights Fund did help prep for the case. A Native has never served on the U.S. Supreme Court, and the high court usually decides several cases each term that impact tribes and Indigenous citizens.


Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Unprecendented ATTACK on ICWA

 “This is an all-out nuclear war attack on ICWA,” said Mary Kathryn Nagle, a Cherokee attorney for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center who filed a brief in support of the law. “We have not seen that before. That’s either ironic or interesting, because the law has been on the books for 44 years, and this is the first time the constitutionality of the law has been challenged. This is unprecedented.”


NDN Collective LIVESTREAM #ICWA Lawsuit


The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was passed in 1978 as a federal law that set standards for the removal and out-of-home placement for Indigenous children; it protects the best interests of the child by placing them in homes that are connected to their tribes and relatives. Brackeen is challenging the constitutionality of ICWA, as it places preference for the placement of Indian children to the tribes themselves.

This Wednesday, November 9th, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments for the Brackeen v. Haaland (2021) case. 

Learn more about the case, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and the fight to protect ICWA by visiting these resources:

Monday, November 7, 2022

Zoom Discussion on Brackeen ICWA CASE November 9th - free to register


Brackeen Post-Oral Argument Discussion – via Zoom

Please join the Indigenous Law and Policy Center this Wednesday, November 9, at 6:00 p.m. ET for a post-oral argument discussion of Brackeen over Zoom. Wenona Singel will be moderating this conversation with speakers Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Melody McCoy and April Youpee-Roll.

The link to register is here. Please see the below flyer for more information.

Videos are not displayed in this email and must be viewed on the website.

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.

no arrests?

Crime Scene

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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 40-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. According to the 2020 Census, 3.6% of Colorado's population is American Indian or Alaska Native, at least in part, with the descendants of at least 200 tribal nations living in the Denver metro area.

Diane Tells His Name

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


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

Why tribes do not recommend the DNA swab

Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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