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Monday, November 30, 2015

Separating Children from their Tribal Culture

Op-Ed On ICWA from Reps. Cole & McCollum

From The Hill Congress Blog:
Prior to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978, it had become apparent that Native American children were systematically being taken from their homes and either put up for adoption or placed in foster care. The rate at which Native American children were taken was especially alarming to tribal nations that depend on their youth to preserve a truly unique heritage. Further, the disproportionate rate of these separations raised suspicions that they were based less in decisions about the well-being of children and perhaps more about separating youth from their tribal culture. In a repeat of the forced boarding school era, tribal nations were once again being told that to save their children, they had to be removed from their communities and cultures.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Aboriginal Health in the Aftermath of Genocide

Genocide and the intergenerational trauma that it produces have had a demonstrable effect on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal peoples.

The federal government worked closely with mainline Canadian churches, who were together responsible for running most schools until the 1950s. The Catholic Church ran approximately 60 percent, the Anglicans about 30 percent, with the Presbyterian, Methodist, and United Churches running most of the remainder. From 1920 until the 1950s, attendance for children aged five to sixteen was compulsory (Milloy, 1999; Miller, 2004, p. 84; MacDonald, 2007). At least 150,000 children passed through 125 institutions, the last of which closed only in 1996. There are approximately 75,000 Survivors alive today, and many face a myriad of social, economic, and other problems as a result of their experiences, on which this chapter later focuses.
A number of recent studies allege that genocide occurred within the IRS system, claims which this chapter supports (Chrisjohn and Young, 1997; Grant, 1996; Neu and Therrien, 2003; Woolford, 2009; Powell, 2011). The term genocide was coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin, who described it as “a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of the essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves” (1944, pp. 27-28). 

The 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention, which flowed from Lemkin’s efforts, defines genocide as follows:
Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
   (a) Killing members of the group:
   (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
   (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
   (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
   (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

If you can't access this paper, I can send it to you. Email me:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Saints and Strangers: Natives on the set (Nov. 22, 23)

Queypo, Trujillo, Means on the set of 'Saints & Strangers.' Courtesy National Geographic Channel.

“Saints & Strangers” is a four-hour, two-night movie event billed as the “real true story of the Mayflower passengers, the founding of Plymouth and their relationship with the Native Americans.” The film, produced by Sony Pictures Television with Little Engine Productions, will air November 22 and 23.


Natives on the Set! Means, Trujillo, Queypo Filming Mayflower Movie in South Africa

National Geographic Channel has released the first photos from the set of Saints & Strangers, a film that tells a more accurate version of the Mayflower/Pilgrims story, and three Native American actors are prominently showcased.

In the still, Kalani Queypo, Raul Trujillo, and Tatanka Means are featured in costume; the trio play, respectively, Squanto, Massasoit, and Hobbamock.

"Saints & Strangers isn’t your grandmother’s Thanksgiving pilgrims story," according to Yahoo News. "National Geographic Channel’s upcoming original four-hour movie event digs deep into Plymouth lore, telling the sometimes-harsh, often-uplifting tale of 101 men, women, and children who crossed the fearsome Atlantic Ocean to settle into the New World."

The three-month shoot is still underway in South Africa. Tatanka Means tells ICTMN that the target premiere date of the four-hour movie event is in November. "The language we will be speaking is Western Abenaki (Eastern Algonquian)," he adds, "and it's being taught by dialect coach and speaker Jesse Bowman Bruchac."

Trujillo (Apache, Comanche, Pueblo and Tlascalan) is one of Indian country's most accomplished actors, having appeared in the films The New World, Apocalypto, Cowboys & Aliens and Riddick. He's also a regular on TV, having appeared in recurring roles on acclaimed series True Blood, Da Vinci's Demons, and Salem. Means (Oglala Lakota, Omaha, Navajo) is known for his co-starring role in Tiger Eyes, and his recurring appearances on Banshee and The Night Shift. Queypo (Blackfeet, Native Hawaiian) can be seen in Slow West, a 2015 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner. Non-native co-stars include Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men), Ron Livingston (Band of Brothers) and Ray Stevenson (Rome).


Monday, November 16, 2015

Native American culture feels effects of boarding schools decades after system closed

Here, from the Grand Traverse Record-Eagle.

Paul Raphael was just a kid in first grade when it happened.

He attended the Holy Childhood of Jesus School in Harbor Springs — a boarding school among hundreds nationwide that operated for more than a century — where Native American children were sent to become “civilized” by nuns.

The nuns were teaching table manners. One asked: What happens after you butter your bread and cut it into four pieces?

“I said, ‘you eat it,’” said Raphael, a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. “I remember the nun coming over and smacking me. She smacked me hard and I fell out of my chair.”

Raphael was so upset he never did learn the answer; he’d never been hit before. But he did take one thing away from watching nuns abuse his classmates over the next several years: “I knew that if I had kids, I wouldn’t treat them the way they were treating us,” Raphael said.

Not just a relic

Memories of Holy Childhood and other Indian boarding schools are still fresh in the minds of Grand Traverse Band members. The three-story building in Harbor Springs operated until 1983, long after other Indian boarding schools run by non-natives closed down.

Some families, like Raphael’s, sent their children to the schools because they thought it was the only way to keep their family together. Some sent their children to the schools because they thought it was the best way to feed their families, and others sent their children so they would learn to read and write.

Tribal children from the region for the most part were not allowed to wear their own clothes or speak their language, Anishinabemowen. Many Indian schools like Holy Childhood started as church-run mission schools designed to teach children in their own language, but their objectives changed in the late 1880s. The federal government took control of Indian education in the U.S. and the facilities shifted from mission schools to boarding schools, said Eric Hemenway, the director of archives and records for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. He focused his studies on the school in Harbor Springs.
“As long as the family nucleus was kept intact, they’d keep speaking their language and keeping their traditions,” Hemenway said. “The government wanted to break this, essentially.”

The schools often used brutal tactics to impose mainstream culture on children and left a legacy of abuse from Pennsylvania to California. Nationwide the schools’ student population didn’t peak until the 1970s when more than 60,000 Native American children were enrolled, according to Amnesty International.

John Petoskey, general counsel for the Grand Traverse Band, said the schools weren’t enough to whitewash the culture. The government then adopted the Dawes Act of 1887, which divided reservations into allotments for individuals. Excess land was given to outsiders, he said.
Now members of the community are focused on healing the wounds left by the schools and other abuses.
Tribal offices shut down for two days this month for a Gathering of Native Americans. The event allows native people to reclaim their histories, stories and ceremonies. It spotlights the community’s resilience.

Raphael, who worked with tribal members battling addictions and became a peacemaker for youth in trouble, said he’s seen many tribal members turn to alcohol or drugs to forget the trauma of boarding schools.

He said the abuse at the hands of nuns likely contributed to some former students’ abusive behavior toward women.

“I think that spilled over into the community,” he said.

He said boarding schools often are discussed at native gatherings, and it always bothered him and his classmates that sometimes they’re talked about as institutions of the past, something that was only experienced by people who are now dead.

“There are people still alive who went to boarding school, who it had a negative impact on them,” Raphael said. “There are those who went to boarding school who are living in fear.”

Raphael recalls one encounter with a former classmate who’d often been called on by the nuns to dole out punishment. The man saw Raphael and immediately stood to fight.

“He said, ‘ever since I left boarding school, I’ve been afraid you guys were going to come back and get me at some point.’ He said, ‘I was so afraid I started drinking. I became an alcoholic out of fear,’” Raphael said.

He assured the man that was not the case. It’s the kind of long-lasting cultural ripple many tribal members have become accustomed to in the three decades since the school in Harbor Springs closed.

A community void

JoAnne Cook, a Grand Traverse Band Tribal Council member, was the first in her family not to go to boarding school. Her mother, grandmother and older siblings all attended the schools.
Cook, who graduated from Suttons Bay High School in 1985, said she didn’t know much about boarding schools until one of her friends was sent to one. They were 10 years old, and Cook thought the pair would have fun if they went together. She asked her mother if she could join her friend at boarding school.
“I just remember the look my mom had on her face. I knew immediately I just asked her something that I shouldn’t have,” Cook said.

Cook said she learned more about the schools as she grew older. Many families believed their children would be placed in foster care if they didn’t send them away to school.

The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed in 1978, after Congress reviewed policies and found that Native American children were being taken from their parents at what John Petoskey described as an “alarming rate.” The act gave tribes more opportunities to intervene in parental rights cases.

Both the boarding schools and foster care left behind a community devoid of children, and damaged a culture centered on family. Grandparents traditionally taught children values and language, but that system eroded while children were banned from speaking the language in school, Cook said.

“Then you get to my generation that has had to live through that. We are kind of picking that all back up,” Cook said.

She said the community has to remember its history but not get stuck in it.

“A lot of native people say you have to know who you are; you have to know your story,” Cook said.

Different experience

Not everyone had a negative experience at boarding school.

Elsie Dudley remembers her time at one as a needed escape from Suttons Bay when she was young. Other children and most of the teachers at the public school were prejudiced against natives, she said. She refused to go to class, and when the bus dropped her at school she wouldn’t follow her classmates.

“I’d get off and walk back home, about three miles away,” she said.

Dudley’s father decided to send her to Holy Childhood for the sixth grade in the late 1940s. She spent the next three years there.

At first she tried to pull the same stunts, but one day a nun pulled her aside and explained they could teach her, as long as she was open to it.

“I wanted to learn after that nun sat me down,” Dudley said. “They made it fun.”

Dudley said that unlike others’ experiences, she was never discouraged from speaking her language. In fact, nuns taught her beading, leather work and other cultural crafts. Dudley never experienced abuse or saw any. She even wanted to be a nun when she left school, and later passed on what she learned to her children.

“I showed them structure and that’s what I learned up there,” she said.

Later generations

Eva Petoskey said tribal members had a range of boarding school experiences. Some of her family members ran away, while others appreciated the food and structure.

She considers herself a survivor of boarding schools, even though she never attended one. She knows people her age who were sent to them. Her mother went to a school in Mount Pleasant, and her grandmother to another in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

“I think as a public policy, as a policy of the United States government, it was misguided and harmful,” she said. “It was, I think, a violation of our human rights.”

The Carlisle Indian Industrial Boarding School in Pennsylvania was established in 1879 by Richard Pratt, an army officer who is remembered for his philosophy: “Kill the Indian, save the man.”

Petoskey said her grandmother made the trip by boat and train when she was 8 years old. She expected to find comfortable beds “like the white people” had, but found uncomfortable army-style barracks instead. Many children got sick and died, Petoskey said.

Petoskey is a member of the Grand Traverse Band and the director of the Anishnaabek Healing Circle Access to Recovery Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, a group that helps people struggling with substance abuse.

She experienced the inter-generational trauma left in the wake of the boarding schools that’s common in the region’s tribal community.
“You have this underlying feeling you’re always fighting, about being inferior or insignificant,” she said.

She said many women her age were raised in foster care, orphanages or boarding schools. Petoskey and her husband swore off drugs and alcohol, but not all tribal members were able to make such a commitment.

“I think that some of that internalized oppression that’s resulted from these violations of our human rights has resulted in those widespread problems,” she said.

Cook said there’s still hope the tribal community can get through the boarding school era and become a healthier community.

“We have things that our grandparents were trying to get for us and we were able to finally receive some of that,” Cook said. “Sometimes we’re kind of focused on what we don’t have, versus what we do.”

Now Native Americans have to balance the push and pull between preserving the past and protecting the future.

“Most of the time, society doesn’t set it up where you can really do both,” Petoskey said.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

When Terrorism is Personal #BabyVeronica #FlipTheScript #NAAM2015

Guest Post


We were shocked again today, as incomprehensible violence was unleashed upon Paris. While the newscaster reported as gently as possible that we still did not know the extent of the casualties, my daughter pointed out that forty-three people in Beirut were also killed today, and wondered why that didn’t seem to matter. I said: Because we expect it in Beirut, not in Paris, but that to the people involved I’m sure it didn’t matter where they were.

I wondered about what to write today for Flip The Script on National Adoption Month, when everything else seemed to pale in comparison. If those forty-three in Beirut don’t matter, then speaking about against unethical adoption seems little more than whining.

But I thought again of what I said to my daughter – that to those involved it matters greatly. So I am writing this for them. As we (rightfully) grieve over terrorism in the city of lights, there are thousands of children in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere who have been unjustly ripped from their families, and who are living – right now – in fear. To them, Paris must seem very far away. They are experiencing their own personal terrorism, but we don’t see it.

Children who have been taken by CPS (or whatever equivalent of that you may have) are at far greater risk to suffer abuse of every kind under their “care” – physical, sexual, medical, and psychological – than with their own family. Putting children into foster care is too often the beginning of the nightmare, not the end. Considering that the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN) recently calculated that for every one truly abused child that is rescued by CPS, there are seventeen who never should have been removed at all, one might wonder why this happening.

The answer is simple: Money. Kids are a cash crop. Adoption and foster care are a huge industry. And since women and girls are not so easily shamed into relinquishing their children nowadays, the baby brokers had to think of another way to keep those little orphans coming down the pipeline.

Their jobs depend on it.

So now children are taken for these reasons:
  • Poverty, or, just not having as much money as the prospective adoptive family
  • Asking for a second opinion after a medical diagnosis is made regarding your child
  • Being Native American
  • Being short
  • Considering adoption then deciding against it
  • Going to the ER for any reason
  • Using medical marijuana
  • Being a single parent
  • Disagreeing with anything a teacher or other authority figure says about your child
  • Not adhering strictly to the recommended vaccine schedule
  • Being exceptionally attractive
  • Not putting your child into preschool
  • Allowing your child to play in your own yard
  • Having an unusual birthmark
  • Your neighbor or some awful relative just wants to hurt you
  • CPS meeting their “children in care” quotas
  • And I’ll say it again, because this is the #1 reason: You don’t have the money to fight back.
Remember Veronica Brown? Kidnapper-mommy Melanie Capobianco said, when asked by a judge why she and her husband should have the child over the natural father: “We love her more.” They loved her so much, they were okay with tearing her crying and screaming from the perfectly capable family of which she was an integral part. The Supreme Court of the United States agreed. As did lower courts and the governors of two states, as well as many lesser players who earn a paycheck by the misery of others.

You may look at Veronica now, and think, “She looks fine to me. She’s not suffering.” And I certainly hope it is true that she is not being physically abused. But I am certain she is being systematically terrorized in lesser ways. Daily micro-aggressions – the little digs made about her original family, the stipend the wealthy Capobiancos collect for Veronica’s non-existent “special needs”, the primal memory of her father who loved her, of her mother who didn’t, of her sister and grandparents and countless others who are considered unworthy because she’s Matt and Melanie’s plaything now.

We compare the Capobiancos with the Browns and make judgements on which are the better parents, when that never should have been an issue. There should have been no legal battle. There should have been no contest after her father said, “I want to raise her.” That should have been the end of it. But because children are thought of things instead of people, and because the Capobiancos had the money to fight, little Veronica was awarded to them just as if she was a trophy.

We compare and judge and divide. We tear down and blame. We think it can’t happen to us, and that there must have been a reason we don’t know about when it’s our neighbor. And when the threat is thrown into our face, like it was today, we think either that it’s them, meaning “not us” as victims, or it’s them, meaning “anyone who isn’t like us” as perpetrators. The truth is, there is no us and them.

It’s all us. We are us. They are us.

Meanwhile, children are carrying another trash bag of their meager belongings to yet another foster home. They are meeting strangers who are their new parental stand-ins, wondering what they did wrong, wondering if they will be abused here like the last place, wondering if they will be separated from their siblings too, wondering if they will ever see their parents or their pets again. They are being conditioned to accept whatever happens to them, like good hostages, hoping that will win their freedom. Their native language will eventually be squelched, as will their faith, and their memories.

They are not people, they are children and therefore commodities. They are living in their own personal hell, while we reassure ourselves that at least bombs are not dropping on them.

Elle Cuardaigh is author of The Tangled Red Thread and contributor of The Adoptee Survival Guide

Friday, November 13, 2015

GUEST POST: Reactive Attachment Disorder by Levi EagleFeather

CLICK: AMERICAN INDIAN ADOPTEES: GUEST POST: Reactive Attachment Disorder by Levi E...: Levi EagleFeather (Lakota) 

This is one of the most read posts on this blog, please click to read... We thank you... Trace...
"...We're the evidence of the crime. They can't deal with the reality of who we are because then they have to deal with the reality of what they have done. If they deal with the reality of who we are, they have to deal with the reality of who they aren't." - John Trudell - See more at:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Children of the Dragonfly

Children of the Dragonfly: Native American Voices on Child Custody and Education

Children of the Dragonfly: Native American Voices on Child Custody and Education


Sometimes the losses of childhood can be recovered only in the flight of the dragonfly. Native American children have long been subject to removal from their homes for placement in residential schools and, more recently, in foster or adoptive homes.  The governments of both the United States and Canada, having reduced Native nations to the legal status of dependent children, historically have asserted a surrogate parentalism over Native children themselves.  Children of the Dragonfly is the first anthology to document this struggle for cultural survival on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border.  Through autobiography and interviews, fiction and traditional tales, official transcripts and poetry, these voices— Seneca, Cherokee, Mohawk, Navajo, and many others— weave powerful accounts of struggle and loss into a moving testimony to perseverance and survival.  Invoking the dragonfly spirit of Zuni legend who helps children restore a way of life that has been taken from them, the anthology explores the breadth of the conflict about Native childhood.   Included are works of contemporary authors Sherman Alexie, Joy Harjo, Luci Tapahonso, and others; classic writers Zitkala-Sa and E. Pauline Johnson; and contributions from twenty important new writers as well.  They take readers from the boarding school movement of the 1870s to the Sixties Scoop in Canada and the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 in the United States.  They also spotlight the tragic consequences of racist practices such as the suppression of Indian identity in government schools and the campaign against Indian childbearing through involuntary sterilization.

Part 1. Traditional Stories and Lives
Severt Young Bear (Lakota) and R. D. Theisz, To Say "Child"
Zitkala-Sa (Yankton Sioux), The Toad and the Boy
Delia Oshogay (Chippewa), Oshkikwe's Baby
Michele Dean Stock (Seneca), The Seven Dancers
Mary Ulmer Chiltoskey (Cherokee), Goldilocks Thereafter
Marietta Brady (Navajo), Two Stories
Part 2. Boarding and Residential Schools
Embe (Marianna Burgess), from Stiya: or, a Carlisle Indian Girl at Home
Black Bear (Blackfeet), Who Am I?
E. Pauline Johnson (Mohawk), As It Was in the Beginning
Lee Maracle (Stoh:lo), Black Robes
Gordon D. Henry, Jr. (White Earth Chippewa), The Prisoner of Haiku
Luci Tapahonso (Navajo), The Snakeman
Joy Harjo (Muskogee), The Woman Who Fell from the Sky
Part 3. Child Welfare and Health Services
Problems That American Indian Families Face in Raising Their Children, United States Senate, April 8 and 9, 1974
Mary TallMountain (Athabaskan), Five Poems
Virginia Woolfclan, Missing Sister
Lela Northcross Wakely (Potawatomi/Kickapoo), Indian Health
Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d'Alene), from Indian Killer
Milton Lee (Cheyenne River Sioux) and Jamie Lee, The Search for Indian
Part 4. Children of the Dragonfly
Peter Cuch (Ute), I Wonder What the Car Looked Like
S. L. Wilde (Anishnaabe), A Letter to My Grandmother
Eric Gansworth (Onondaga), It Goes Something Like This
Kimberly Roppolo (Cherokee/Choctaw/Creek), Breeds and Outlaws
Phil Young (Cherokee) and Robert Bensen, Wetumka
Lawrence Sampson (Delaware/Eastern Band Cherokee), The Long Road Home
Beverley McKiver (Ojibway), When the Heron Speaks
Joyce carlEtta Mandrake (White Earth Chippewa), Memory Lane Is the Next Street Over
Alan Michelson (Mohawk), Lost Tribe
Patricia Aqiimuk Paul (Inupiaq), The Connection
Terry Trevor (Cherokee/Delaware/Seneca), Pushing up the Sky
Annalee Lucia Bensen (Mohegan/Cherokee), Two Dragonfly Dream Songs
I found this book back in 2004 and read it...very moving stories...  A few of these writers are good friends to me... Lawrence Sampson contributed to the anthology CALLED HOME, published last year... Trace 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Justice Department Sues South Dakota State Agency for Discrimination Against Native American Job Applicants at Pine Ridge Reservation

DOJ Sues S. Dakota DSS for Discrimination Against Tribal Job Applicants

DOJ Press release here.

The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against the South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS) alleging that at its Pine Ridge Reservation Office, the state agency repeatedly discriminated against Native American job applicants because of their race, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota, alleges that in failing to select well-qualified Native American applicants for several positions in DSS’s Pine Ridge Reservation Office, the state agency engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination and violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal statute that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion.

“Federal law provides all Americans with equal opportunity to compete for jobs on a level playing field free from racial discrimination,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “When employers discriminate against qualified job applicants because of what they look like or where they come from, they violate both the values that shape our nation and the laws that govern it.”

U.S. v. S.D. DSS Complaint here.
According to the complaint, in October 2010, Cedric Goodman, a Native American with supervisory experience as a social worker, as well as several other well-qualified Native Americans, applied for an Employment Specialist position at DSS’s Pine Ridge Office.  The complaint alleges that after interviewing Goodman and the other Native American candidates who met the employer’s objective job qualifications, DSS removed the vacancy and hired no one.  The next day, however, DSS reopened the position and ultimately selected a white applicant with inferior qualifications and no similar work experience.  The complaint alleges that DSS discriminated against Goodman and other similarly-situated Native American applicants based on their race.
In addition, the complaint alleges that denying Goodman’s application was part of a pattern or practice of race discrimination by DSS, where the agency repeatedly removed job postings and used subjective, arbitrary hiring practices to reject qualified Native American applicants for Specialist positions.
Over a two year period beginning in 2010, DSS posted 18 Specialist vacancies for its Pine Ridge Reservation Office.  Even though the agency received nearly 40 percent of its applications from Native Americans, DSS hired 11 Whites and only one Native American, while removing six other openings entirely.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Hard Journey #NAAM #FlipTheScript

By Trace Hentz, reunited adoptee, blog editor

It's November. It's Adoption Awareness Month and Native American Heritage and History Month.

Man, that's too bad. Each deserves more than a month of attention. They deserve ALL our attention.

First up, READ: Lost Daughters: The Journey of Searching. I met Jenn earlier this year at a conference in Boston. She's a gentle soul with a strong courageous spirit.  Read about her journey. I do read Lost Daughters blog, often...

NOW - it's time to THINK HARD about adoption in general.

There is something awkward about being adopted that will challenge you - one, you want to know who you are; two, you are a mystery.  The hard journey to find out who you are is (from my own experience):  intense, epic, scary, challenging, unwritten, a path with an unknown destination, a way to test your patience and courage, and it will be the hardest thing you will ever do or experience. 

It's a path full of hurdles and emotional landmines.

TRUST ME on this!  You find out that the experience is lined with people who will hate you and love you when you go searching to find your identity, your first parents, your first families. There are brick walls called sealed records you'll have to break open or jump over. Emotions and secrets will blow up - yours and theirs.

Love and Hate? Yes, both.  Some people don't want to be found. Some people won't like you. Adoptees do face this and some face the fact their parents are already gone when you're finally able to find them.

The general public has no idea what it feels like to be adopted and live your life as a mystery with a fake identity.  Every time I look at my fake birth certificate, I laugh. It's a joke. The people who are adopted me are NOT my biological parents. But this paper says they are. It's official. It's got a seal on it. It's like a "bill of sale" and a purchase agreement. I have to be this new person because these people "procured" me through adoption. I take their name and be their kid.

But I am not their kid. They don't own me.

If the general public had any idea of the fandango and farce we adoptees live with and under, then the adoption laws could change faster. The laws are changing but very slowly.  There are several years of adoption propaganda written by a billion dollar adoption industry to make money.  It's a BUSINESS! You will rub up against it when you see the words "Forever Family" --- and the public chooses sweetened propaganda: It makes it sound so good. It makes all adoption good.

The Indian Adoption Projects were cultural genocide so they won't mention it, or us, or they'll deny it ever happened in the USA.  THE STOLEN GENERATION is called that for a reason and the governments in North America are still denying the public the truth. If there are 6 million adoptees living today, MANY of them are First Nations and Native American adoptees.

If you are not adopted, take a moment to consider how adoptees are given a big lie to live with --then we're expected to be grateful to the people who want us to be something we're not?  You'd have to be crazy to think anyone can live like that!

No wonder being adopted is so emotionally destructive.

To survive, I took on adoption like a college class. I got real good at chasing ghosts. I got good, like private detective good!  Read One Small Sacrifice, my memoir.  Because I started doing research on adoption back in 2004, I decided to find out even more on orphanages, trafficking and illegal adoptions. It's a bloody battlefield of coercion and greed and scandal.

Now I am posting here as well:  I'm also posting some of the best blogging on this adoption topic all month, so please take a read...

Like this:

We Clock You from a Mile Away

by Snarkurchin
Dear wealthy, white, entitled moms of adoption: Adult adoptees see you, and some of us don't find your words "inspirational."
The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.
++++++++++++++++++  ====================

So strap on your reading glasses - this is the month for ADOPTEES to #flipthescript on adoption propaganda.

Epigenetics: Scientific Evidence of Intergenerational Trauma

archive photo

By Ruth Hopkins 
Originally published November 26, 2011 

Shortly after his second birthday, my son stopped talking. The onset of symptoms was just that abrupt. After nearly two years of visits to doctors and specialists, he was finally diagnosed with atypical autism.

Autism encompasses a spectrum of psychological disorders in which the use of language, reaction to stimuli, interpretation of the outside world, and the establishment of social relationships are difficult and unusual. One in 110 children have autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and males are more likely to have it than females. Autism is a complex disease with no single known cause. The range of disorders that autism comprises is such that no two children who’ve been diagnosed with autism are the same. Autism arises from a mixture of genetic and environmental factors, which as of yet, have not been clearly delineated.

Epigenetics, a relatively new field in science, could help define the causes of Autism and offer up new modes of treatment for the disorder, as well as other diseases like cancer, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Epigenetics is the study of gene expression governed by the epigenome, the cellular material that sits on top of our genetic code. The epigenome does not change the genetic code inscribed in our DNA; rather, it activates or silences genes through the mobilization of molecules called methyl groups. These chemical changes are triggered by our environment. Toxins, pollutants, changes in diet, deficiencies in prenatal nutrition, and exposure to stressors alters the way our genes are expressed through the epigenome. Furthermore, epigenetics has proven that these changes in gene expression are passed down to our offspring, for at least one generation.

Epigenetics renders the argument of nature vs. nuture moot because it establishes that the two are are inextricably intertwined. In regards to human development, one is as important as the other. We know that negative behaviors like smoking cigarettes, poor diet, or drinking access amounts of alcohol shortens our lifespan, but now epigenetics is confirming that these behaviors can predispose our children, and even our grandchildren, to similar diseases and decrease their longevity too.

Research in epigenetics reveals that both paternal and maternal toxic environmental exposures play a role in the development of disease in their offspring and future generations. Parental exposure to the popular herbicide Roundup has been linked to birth defects in their offspring. Vietnam veterans who were exposed to the herbicide agent orange, like my father was, pass on an increased risk for spina bifida and other diseases to their children. The prenatal nutrition of mothers has been shown to have an impact on an offspring’s risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

A study on the eating habits of multiple generations of families in Sweden revealed that grandfathers who went from a normal diet to regularly overeating had grandsons who died an average of six years earlier than the grandsons of those who didn’t. The bottom line is this: your grandparents’ and parents’ behaviors, and any toxins or trauma they were exposed to, affects your health directly.

Likewise, your behaviors and any toxins or trauma you’re exposed to could affect the health of your children and grandchildren. Epigenetics may provide hard scientific evidence of intergenerational trauma among American Indians and link it directly to diseases that currently afflict us, like cancer and diabetes.

The term “intergenerational trauma” has been used to describe the cumulative effects of trauma experienced by a group or individual that radiates across generations. For natives, intergenerational trauma has presented itself in the form of genocide, disease, poverty, forced assimilation via removal of children from their families to boarding schools, the seizure and environmental destruction of homelands, and other routes of European colonization.

The effects of intergenerational trauma include substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and a variety of other emotional problems. Emotional stress has also shown to effect gene expression via the epigenome. Studies show that the withholding of affection by a mother elicits brain changes in her infant that impairs their response to stress as an adult.

Epigenetics offers remarkable potential for the prevention of disease among American Indians as well. We can use epigenetic inheritance to restore the action of our genetic code from one generation to the next.

Once environmental stressors are removed and behavior is corrected, our DNA will revert to its original programming. We could cure diabetes through behavioral changes that allow our epigenome to operate correctly. The elimination of toxins and pollutants could greatly reduce the incidence of cancer and birth defects. Such modification of environmental exposures and behaviors will restore and even improve the overall health and capacity of our genetic line.

As for my son, further research in epigenetics may soon decipher the specific mixture of genetics and environmental exposures that lead to Autism Spectrum Disorders. Along with other scientific discoveries, we are hopeful that such studies will develop treatment that will lessen the severity of the symptoms that make his life difficult.

Until that time, we’ll continue to love and nurture our son, and thank the Creator for entrusting us with such a miraculous, artistically talented child, whose brave struggle to learn how to express emotions like anger and love inspires everyone around him.

Ruth Hopkins (Sisseton-Wahpeton/Mdewakanton/Hunkpapa) is a writer, a pro-bono tribal attorney, a science professor, and a columnist for the Indian Country Today Media Network. She can be reached at 

Read more: 

PUBLISHED here on this blog in 2014: HERE

Thursday, November 5, 2015

60s Scoop: Sharing their stories


Cole Burston/Toronto Star

Shaun Ladue

Shaun Ladue calls himself the “survivor of a horrific childhood.” Adopted into a white family at the age of 3, Ladue, 48, says he endured abuse while growing up in Watson Lake, Yukon. So, at 14, Ladue left and never went back. He later became the first child in care in the Yukon to graduate high school and go on to university. And despite grappling with mental health issues for more than a decade, he’s “put all that behind” him and has reconnected with members of his biological family.
Looking back, Ladue recalls hearing the wind blowing in his backyard as a child — a unique, comforting sound he’s never heard anywhere else. “I now think on that wind, my ancestors were speaking to me, and they were giving me the strength to survive day-by-day abuse and ridicule,” Ladue says.

For three decades across Canada, thousands of aboriginal children were taken from their homes and adopted.

KEMPTVILLE — The scent of tobacco and sage fills the air as members of Canada’s aboriginal communities gather around a fire on the shores of the Rideau River.

Each takes a turn fanning medicinal smoke towards their bodies in a cleansing smudging ritual. Then, one by one, the 40 or so attendees of this Indigenous Adoptee Gathering introduce themselves to the group. Some are from Ontario, others from Manitoba or the Yukon. Some are Cree, others Métis or Ojibway.

Most are members of a stolen generation.

Beginning in the mid-1960s — and for several decades after — thousands of indigenous children across Canada were removed from their homes and typically placed with white middle-class families in Canada and abroad.

Patrick Johnston, author of the 1983 report Native Children and the Child Welfare System, dubbed it the Sixties Scoop.

Here is the link to the 60s Scoop story, photos, profiles and video in the Toronto Star HERE

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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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