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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 https://nctr.ca/contact/survivors/ .
The genetic sequencing company 23andMe recently tapped into its vast bank of data to release a study on genetic origins, producing the biggest genetic profile of the United States ever conducted—big, but nowhere near complete.
Out of more than 160,000 genomes, only 3
percent of 23andMe customers who authorized their data for the study
were black, compared with the approximately 14 percent of the United
States population who identifies as such. And while the paper traced
what percent of white, black, and Latino customers’ ancestry led back to
Native Americans, there were no users, as far as the paper reported,
who self-identified as native people.
There are a lot of reasons for this. The
service isn’t free, and not everyone wants—or can afford—to shell out
$99 to learn about their ancestry. But when it comes to Native
Americans, the question of genetic testing, and particularly genetic
testing to determine ancestral origins, is controversial.
In the past decade, questions of how a person's
genetic material gets used have become more and more common.
Researchers and ethicists are still figuring how how to balance
scientific goals with the need to respect individual and cultural
privacy. And for Native Americans, the question of how to do that, like
nearly everything, is bound up in a long history of racism and
* * *
In many ways, the concerns that Native Americans have with genetic testing are the ones most people have: Who will be using this data, and for what?
Today, DNA can tell us a little about a lot of
things, from disease risks to ancestral history. But ultimately it’s
pretty limited. In fact, 23andMe was recently chastised by the FDA,
which claimed the company was overselling the predictive power of their
test for medical use. But in the future, that same little sample of DNA
could be used for purposes that haven't even been dreamed up yet.
People might be okay with their DNA being used to research cures for
cancer, or to explore their own genetic history, but balk at it being
used to develop biological weapons or justify genocide.
These are questions that anyone who gives their genetic
material to scientists has to think about. And for Native Americans, who
have witnessed their artifacts, remains, and land taken away, shared,
and discussed among academics for centuries, concerns about genetic
appropriation carry ominous reminders about the past. “I might trust
this guy, but 100 years from now who is going to get the information?
What are people going to do with that information? How can they twist
it? Because that’s one thing that seems to happen a lot,” says Nick
Tipon, the vice-chairman of the Sacred Sites Committee of the Federated
Indians of Graton Rancheria, an organization that represents people of
Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo descent.
Another reason many tribes struggle with a
scientist asking for a DNA sample involves the DNA collection process.
Namely, that it requires removal of some piece of the body. In the
living, this may seem simple: a swab of the cheek or a quick blood
sample. But for scientists who want to study historical DNA, they have
to remove a piece of the dead body. It’s a small piece, but DNA analysis
is almost always destructive. This, again, isn’t a specifically tribal
issue, as Tipon points out. “How would current people feel if their
great-great-grandfathers were dug up and their bones were destroyed
during testing to prove a theory?” he asked. “Rest in peace means
forever, not to be disturbed, not to be studied, unless they consented
Some of the questions geneticists seek to
answer are also provocative among Native Americans. The first is the
issue of migration: Where did different people come from? Who colonized
the United States first? Where did they go once they arrived? These are
questions that archaeologists and geneticists are really interested in
because they help paint a picture of how migrations patterns occurred in
the United States before white settlers arrived, and how European
settlement changed things.
figuring out where your ancestors came from becomes complicated when it
entails a legacy of exclusion of displacement. Tribes each have
important cultural histories, that include their origin stories. Many of
their histories say that the tribe came from the land, that they arose
there and have always lived there. And many of them have more modern
histories that include white settlers challenging their right to live
where they did.
So to many tribal people, having a scientist come in
from the outside looking to tell them where they’re “really” from is not
only uninteresting, but threatening. “We know who we are as a people,
as an indigenous people, why would we be so interested in where
scientists think our genetic ancestors came from?” asks Kim Tallbear, a
researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, the author of Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science, and a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe.
Tallbear says that from her perspective,
researchers offering to tell tribes where they’re from doesn’t look any
different than the Christians who came in to tell them what their
religion should be. “Those look like very similarly invasive projects to
us,” she said. Tribes haven’t forgotten the history of scientists who gathered native skulls
to prove that native people were less intelligent, and thus less
entitled to the land they lived on than the white settlers. To them,
these genetic questions of origin look pretty similar.
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.
Almost 7000 bodies found and not one member of the church has been arrested. The names are out there. The church must be held accountable. #NeverForget#EveryChildMatters
The Justice Department is protecting the names of many perpetrators of abuse of Indigenous children. We need a special independent prosecutor who can force the government and church to turn over the documents. There can be no reconciliation without justice.@MumilaaqQaqqaqpic.twitter.com/5TL6OxKM5O
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?
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
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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