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Monday, July 25, 2011

Standing Bear's Footsteps, Ponca Chief, new documentary (preview)

Film Clip:

The 4th biennial VisionMaker Film Festival will be held September 30 through October 6, 2011, with screenings at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center and Sheldon Museum of Art.
The VisionMaker Film Festival showcases Native film and video projects that often do not get the spotlight they deserve in a crowded entertainment market. This Festival provides a forum for these productions to gain media and viewer attention. The Festival will aggregate and screen the best of not only Public Television productions, but feature-length and short films as well.
The Festival will feature a range of generations from the story of Standing Bear, a Ponca chief who went to court in 1877 to prove he was a person in the eyes of the law and in the process redefined what it means to be an American to the story of four young Native Alaskan athletes as they compete in the traditional sports of their ancestors.
The Social Media-friendly weekend, October 1-2, 2011, is a new addition to this year’s Festival. Half of the theater will be open to text messaging and status updating via Facebook and Twitter. This initiative is designed to increase public awareness, public engagements, strengthen social movement and ultimately promote social change. Filmmakers will be available for Q&A via Skype, an online, live video chat.
The Sheldon Museum of Art will feature "GRAB," a new NAPT documentary and an Official Selection in the 2011 Sundance Film Festival; plus, attendees will be able to interact with filmmakers Billy Luther (Navajo Hopi Laguna Pueblo), Princella Parker, Omaha (Associate Producer, Standing Bear’s Footsteps), Christina King, Creek/Seminole/Sac & Fox (Co-Producer, Up Heartbreak Hill), Bennie Klain, Navajo (Director, Columbus Day Legacy), and Heather Rae, Cherokee (Family: The First Circle)
Read more:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Adult Adoptees: Documentation and Deportation

In all but SEVEN states, adoption files are sealed tight. Adoptees don't have rights to see their own documents. Adoptees like me are given a fake birth certificate that says adoptive parents are your real parents.
Where were you born, adoptees? This is the new burning question!
I am still wrapping my brain around this since so many First Nations children from Canada were brought to America through the Indian Adoption Programs and ARENA. These children did not choose to come here! Thousands were brought here and adopted here!
Now this -- Adult Adoptees may be deported if their adoptive parents forgot to file paperwork and get them citizenship? This is real, folks. It's already happened!
I used to think it was hard being raised by strangers, forced to pretend I was someone else, given a fake birth certificate to show as my identification. Now adoptees must prove they are American-born or face deportation. 
Could this get any crazier? You spend your childhood in American and then get shipped out?
Unsealing my sealed adoption required nothing less than a miracle in Wisconsin, a closed record state. Fortunately, after many years and many attempts, I found my first family... And yes, Helen and Earl were American-born citizens. Even though Helen and Earl are deceased, I am still denied my OBC- my Original Birth Certificate - from Minnesota (another closed record state)... Other adoptees have this same dilemma and disconnect from the truth and their identity.
What if you were born in Canada or South America and adopted in America? These children did not choose to be adopted or choose to come to America. How are we supposed to know where we were really born? What if your adopters didn't tell you the truth or file the papers? 
This topic will surely gather momentum here in the USA very soon, with immigration so busy deporting adult adoptees who were not born here.  
How many adoptees will be affected? It's unclear.
How did this happen? Unknowing adoptive parents who didn't file papers.
Will immigration help First Nations adoptees find their tribal families? I honestly don't know. But I plan to find out and investigate!
If you were deported, please leave a comment on this blog so I can contact you.
To read the Guide for Adopted Adults,  Click here.
Read Von's excellent blog: Guide for Adopted Adults... Click here....

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Yakama teen in 22 foster homes - ICWA not working

Teen who committed suicide had been in 22 foster homes

LYNNWOOD, WA -- A boy who jumped to his death from a Lynnwood overpass in January had been on a waiting list for a bed at a state-run psychiatric hospital. He had been in 22 different foster homes since 1998.

The boy, 14, ran away from his Lynnwood-area group home Jan. 21. Just 20 minutes later, he jumped from the Alderwood Mall Parkway overpass onto I-5 below.

His public death, which played out in front of shocked witnesses and stalled traffic on I-5 for hours, haunted many. The state's Children's Administration on July 20 released an executive fatality review of the boy's death. The administration is a division of the state Department of Social and Health Services.

The boy was a dependent of a Yakama tribal child welfare agency and had been a ward of the state since he was a toddler. The Herald is not naming him because of his age and the circumstances surrounding his death.

State law requires the Children's Administration to conduct a fatality review every time a child dies unexpectedly while in its care or while receiving its services, spokeswoman Sherry Hill said.

The fatality reviews don't seek to explain all the circumstances surrounding a child's death.

"We look at ways to improve education, policy, training and then if there are any legislative changes that may be needed," Hill said.

During the boy's life, the Children's Administration had worked with the welfare agency and tribal courts to provide services to him.

Tribal leaders and tribal health care workers were involved in the fatality review. So were representatives from multiple districts within the Children's Administration where the boy had lived, Hill said.

Since June 2009, the boy had been in group homes supervised by staff. Just weeks before his death he was placed at Cypress House in the Lynnwood area awaiting room at the psychiatric hospital.

In the year leading up to his being placed in tribal care as a toddler, the boy was visited at least six times by Child Protective Services, records show. Each visit investigated allegations that the boy's mother was abusing or neglecting her children.

Social workers for years tried to involve the boy's parents in his care.

His mother committed suicide in 2001. A few years later, his father was sent to prison.

The boy and his siblings' longest stay in one place was several years in a Yakama Nation foster home. The stability of the home was good for them while they dealt with their mother's death, the review says. However, the foster father died in 2004, and the grieving foster mother asked for the children to be removed.

After that, the boy had a history of struggling to adjust to new homes. He had significant behavioral and mental health issues, the details of which are blacked out in the report.

The boy in 2009 faced legal trouble in Benton and Yakima counties, court records show. Both cases involved assaults. He was still under active court supervision at the time of his death.

Late last summer, caseworkers started trying to get him into a psychiatric hospital.

The fatality review found that case workers did not consistently convey information about the boy's history to all involved in his care, especially regarding his behavior issues and safety planning. People at the group home in Lynnwood may not have known about the behaviors that led the state to seek a hospital placement. He was supposed to be under constant "visual and earshot" supervision at the home.

The review team concluded more supervision may have been needed. It also suggested more scrutiny for placing young people with such complex cases outside their home communities.

The review recommends that Children's Administration workers in similar cases make sure every caregiver has a comprehensive summary of the case. That discussion should occur before the child is placed at the home. The administration also may want to develop additional training for foster parents who care for children with complex mental health and behavioral issues, the team suggested.

In the week after his death, the boy's body was returned to his family for burial. An obituary that ran in an Eastern Washington newspaper said he was an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation. He spent at least part of his life on the Yakama Reservation and was a member of the Shaker and Longhouse religions.

Memorial services took place over several days in the Yakima area shortly after his body was sent back home.

[I am saddened by this story so much. This tragedy again scores the fact that the Indian Child Welfare Act has not worked in many ways and needs attention.   Prayers for this teen and his tribe...Trace]

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Aboriginal Sixties Scoop Class Action Lawsuit

This class action lawsuit has been filed against the Government of Canada. The lawsuit alleges that between 1962 and 1996, Canada negligently delegated Indian child welfare services to the Province of British Columbia. Ignoring its obligations to Aboriginal children, Canada took no steps to prevent them from losing their Aboriginal identity and the opportunity to exercise their Aboriginal and treaty rights when they were placed in foster homes and adopted by non-Aboriginals.
The plaintiff, a status Indian, was taken from her parents and placed in foster care when she was a young girl. She is bringing this lawsuit on her own behalf and on behalf of status Indians who were living in British Columbia and placed in foster care or adopted between 1962 and 1996.
If you are a status Indian who was placed in foster care or adopted between 1962 and 1996, please complete the Do You Qualify? form or Contact Us for more information.
Click here for their website and contact info

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lies the Social Worker Told

Guest Blog By Mary-Lee

When I was adopted in 1946, the unrealistic expectations my adoptive parents were given by the adoption social worker were terribly unfair to them, but also pretty darned unfair to me, too.
Of course there are all the usual ones. Most egregious is the one we adoptees all know... the one that said, “If you do a really good job as a parent, she will never want to know anything about her birthparents.”
Then, hedging their bets I suppose, is the one that said, “If she ever does want any information about her birthparents, all you need to do is come to us and ask.” Not all she needs to do, notice, but all you need to do. My adoptive parents, in partnership with the social worker, were set up from the start as the sieve through which all my questions and the answers would be strained and filtered. I was not a part of that plan. But I digress.
The one really unrealistic expectation “my” social worker set up before my adoption was finalized was, “Her I.Q. is one point below genius, so she will be able to take advantage of every opportunity you will be able to offer her.”
I really wonder how the social worker knew this. I was a bit over a year old at the time and barely able to speak. If I had been older, I might have laughed out loud. But again, I digress.
Still, my adoptive parents were required to have me tested, at their own expense of course, sometime before the adoption was finalized. I needed to prove myself able to see and hear perfectly or I would not have been offered for adoption. I also needed to demonstrate my intelligence.
And the intelligence test I was given? My adoptive mother told me about it years later. The doctor had a large picture of some items that he held up for me. He said, “Show me the shoe.” It seems I had just received a new pair of shoes for the special occasion so, quite naturally, I stuck my newly-shod foot straight up and out. “Yes, that’s a very nice shoe,” he said, “but show me the shoe in the picture. “ The second time I barely missed hitting him in the face with the shoe... the one that was definitely not in the picture.
So... onward. No sense kicking a dead horse, or a lively doctor either.
The next task was to put the doll in the chair. The problem was that there was a piece of glass between the child with the doll (me) and the designated chair. The less gifted child would try to put the doll through the glass and into the chair. The “genius” would simply walk around the glass and install the doll safely in the chair. My response? I pulled the glass over and shattered it. But I did put the doll in the chair exactly as I had been instructed.
And so on it went. I can only wonder how the doctor managed to score his test... after he swept up the glass from his floor. Whatever dilemmas he must surely have dealt with, the score eventually did come back to the social worker and I was one I.Q. point below genius. Yeah! You bet!
My parents’ problem, especially my mother’s problem, was that I never managed to live up to my hype.
Yes, at first I got A or A+ in the school subjects, but my teachers wrote that I could do so much better if I would only apply myself, and they all staunchly refused to give me better than A- in effort.
My mother dissolved into tears when I eventually brought home a B+ in arithmetic. I clearly remember her sitting on the lid of the toilet seat sobbing, “Blessed Mother, where did I go wrong?”
Then I got my first D, in religion of all things. My own suspicion was that the grade was given in a fit of pique because I had, only recently, not stopped blowing my nose in class while Sister was giving the meditation. But that’s just my suspicion. My mother had her own suspicions. None of them boded well for me.
I was truly a mediocre student all the way through school. My mother had told me that she would send me to college to become something “respectable,” like a teacher or a nurse... but not an artist or a translator, which were my preferences. I took as many elective foreign language credits and art credits as I could manage, and those good grades actually helped save me from flunking out completely, but still I stuck with teaching. I really tried to please. Doggedly.
Then came a day that I remember especially well... the day before my adoptive mother died. I was barely twenty-one, and still needed her approval desperately, so I pointed out to her that I was finally a teacher, and that I was living on my own and able to support myself, and wasn’t she at least proud of me for that? Maybe that was the wrong time to ask. I don’t know. But her answer?
“No. I'm not proud of you. You could have done so much better.”
My mother died thinking that she had failed as a mother. But I had to live knowing that I had disappointed her in some basic way and truly not understanding how I could have done otherwise. All because of an unrealistic expectation... a lie actually, among many lies that need not have been told. I have long since forgiven my adoptive mother for believing them... and myself, for not living up to everyone's expectations. But I will never, ever forgive the social worker. Never.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Henry Roe Cloud - first Indian graduate of Yale

New Documentary on Henry Roe Cloud

(First Indian to Graduate from Yale)

Reynaldo Morales, the documentary maker, sent this link to the excellent documentary on Henry Roe Cloud, the first American Indian to graduate from Yale in Connecticut and also a co-author of the Meriam Report. Henry was a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Ned Blackhawk at Yale helped to make Henry the face of American Indian alumni at Yale.
Click here for documentary

This is a hero of mine. Henry is Thunder Clan, a true leader. Please watch this movie....Trace

Wilfred Buck Tells The Story Of Mista Muskwa

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You are not alone

You are not alone

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.

Diane Tells His Name

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60s Scoop Survivors Legal Support


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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