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Monday, February 22, 2016

Lost Bird of Wounded Knee


Lost Bird of Wounded Knee

  • Aired: 12/31/1999
  • 26:54
  • Rating: TV-G
The true story of a Lakota child who survived the Wounded Knee massacre, only to be adopted as a "living curio" by a prominent white couple. What follows is another tragedy - a life of racism, abuse, poverty, and heartbreak. 
I highly recommend you read this book. This is a true story, with all its tragedy and horror...  Trace

Truth and Reconciliation: The Findings on Wabanaki Child Welfare in the State of Maine

“Imagine you’re about to have a little one, the love that you have for that little one… and then imagine somebody outside of your family you don’t even know making claims on your little one. They don’t like the way you live and they’re going to take your little one by force. Imagine what the loss is when this is not just your family, but your entire community loses its children.” — gkisedtanamoogk, Truth and Reconciliation Commission member in the documentary film First Light

The U.S. government’s historical attempts to solve the so-called “Indian problem” have included stealing land, introducing disease and warfare, and killing entire tribes. The documented atrocities have been relentless, resulting in great harm to the Indigenous people of this land. One of the most painful of these has been the forced removal of Native children from their families and communities.
In the 1800s Congress authorized the Civilization Fund Act, providing funding for boarding schools for Indian children. Native children were taken far from their homes to boarding schools where they were forbidden to speak their language or practice their customs. Children were separated from siblings and were often badly abused; many died there. Those who survived returned to their communities not knowing their language and traditions, and they and their communities were never the same. The last boarding school closed in 1984.

Child Welfare
In the 1950s, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Child Welfare League of America created the Indian Adoption Project, through which hundreds of Native children were taken from their families and placed with mostly white adoptive parents. The 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act gave Indian children, families, and communities greater legal protections by recognizing “the essential tribal relationship of Indian people and culture and social standards prevailing in Indian communities and families.” Still, through the 1990s, Native children were being placed in foster care in Maine at a rate higher than most other states.
In 1999, Wabanaki Tribes and the state of Maine collaborated to improve state compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. The Muskie School of Public Service, with funding from the Maine Office of Child and Family Services, established a working group (later named Maine-Wabanaki REACH) with tribal and state child welfare representatives as members. The working group trained caseworkers, developed policy, and gathered data about compliance in many Maine communities.

Truth and Reconciliation
Despite positive steps, the working group found that significant problems remained in practice and attitudes toward working with Native children, families, and communities. In 2008, they concluded that in order to create lasting change, the past needed to be investigated and better understood. Over the next four years, the working group created the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission—the first of its kind to address issues of Native child welfare—to investigate systemic abuses and the factors that contributed to them.
The Commission’s articulated intent was to uncover the truth of what happened to Wabanaki people in state child welfare following the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978, and to promote healing and contribute to change in child welfare practices. Its mandate was signed in 2012 by the five Wabanaki Chiefs and the Maine governor, outlining responsibilities, timelines, and guidelines for interactions with tribal communities.
Commissions rely on personal testimony, documentary research, and other sources of evidence to understand the past. The Maine Commission held listening circles, ceremonial gatherings, and interviews in six Wabanaki communities and in five regions with non-Native Mainers. Hundreds of people participated, including Wabanaki elders, children formerly in care, foster and adoptive parents, tribal leaders, service providers, incarcerated people, attorneys and judges, caseworkers and administrators, and parents and grandparents. Talking about memories, often painful and traumatic, was not an easy task, as many people had never before shared their stories.

Commission Findings
The Commission’s final report, presented in 2015, found that Wabanaki children in Maine entered foster care at an average of five times the rate of non-Native children. The report concluded that to improve Native child welfare, the state and the tribes must continue to confront:
1. Underlying racism still at work in state institutions and the public
2. Ongoing impact of historical trauma, also known as intergenerational trauma, on Wabanaki people that influences the well-being of individuals and communities
3. Differing interpretations of tribal sovereignty and jurisdiction that make encounters between the tribes and the state contentious

The report further asserted that these conditions “can be held within the context of continued cultural genocide, as defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948.

What’s Next?
The Commission issued a series of recommendations, inviting communities and stakeholders to engage with the underlying conditions that contribute to the problematic relationship between the Wabanaki Tribes and the state of Maine and with child welfare practice failures. The Upstander Project represents one such effort with its films, First Light and Dawnland, companion learning resources, and teacher workshops.
Maine-Wabanaki REACH, which formed the Commission, provides education on history, trauma, resiliency, healing, and ally-building to Maine and Wabanaki communities. Healing circles, health and wellness workshops, and community events focus on resilience and capacity building in all tribal communities in the state. This includes restorative justice and peacemaking circles and creating connections to Wabanaki incarcerated relatives through a prison book drive and pen pal initiative. REACH provides educational events, ally-building, and ongoing ally supports across Maine to deepen the understanding of the shared history between Native and nonNative Mainers. Allies are encouraged to take action to create a more just relationship between Native and non-Native people in Maine via legislative hearings, rallies, letters to the editor, letters to legislators, and volunteering at Truth Commission events. REACH staff are also working with the Indian Child Welfare Act working group on child welfare improvements. REACH will play a vital role in the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations.
As the Commission stated in its final report, “We have heard the voices of the many who spoke with us and to remain quiet is to continue to perpetrate harms that must be known. Consider this report as a step toward refusing that silence and continuing this conversation, that will, we hope, like all the best communication, offer ample time for everyone to simply listen.”
— Penthea Burns is Maine-Wabanaki REACH co-director (

To read the Commission’s report in full, visit 

First Light 
First Light is the first film in a series, anchored by the feature film Dawnland (to be released in 2017), conveying the stories of pain and resilience that emerged during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s process. It  tells a piece of the story of the Commission and its origins. Dawnland will bring viewers inside the Commission and share testimony from those who suffered because of the child welfare system, along with those who upheld its policies.

“When we tell these stories, we feel it in our bodies and our hearts. But I believe we can get to the point where it has less power over us. This was a perfect example of the readiness, that it’s time.” —Sandy White Hawk, TRC Commissioner.

First Light and its learning resources are available for free at These resources help teachers and students deepen their understanding of the brutal and disturbing history of settler colonialism that began with the invasion of Native peoples’ homeland, and government policies that aimed to force Native people to stop being who they are. These resources are central to the Upstander Project’s teacher and student workshops.
The Upstander Project helps bystanders become upstanders through compelling documentary films and learning resources. Its goals are to help educators and students overcome indifference to social injustice, develop the skills of upstanders, and contribute to action-oriented campaigns in response to vital social issues.

View First Light here: 

Introducing the Commissioners
• gkisedtanamoogk (key-said-TAH-NAH-mook), Wampanoag from the community of Mashpee in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and adjunct instructor in the Native American Studies and Peace & Reconciliation Programs at the University of Maine
• Matt Dunlap, Maine’s secretary of state and former Maine state representative
• Carol Wishcamper, former chair of the Maine state board of education, the Maine Center for Educational Service, and the Maine chapter of the Nature Conservancy
• Sandy White Hawk, Sicangu Lakota from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and founder and director of the First Nations Repatriation Institute
• Dr. Gail Werrbach, director and associate professor at the University of Maine School of Social Work

Source: Cultural Survival


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Adoptee Nation: Native Adoptees fighting REAL ID ACT in real time

By Trace L Hentz

Leland Morill Kirk and I gave an interview to the Santa Fe Reporter newspaper that just hit newstands in New Mexico.  

Here is the LINK.

There is no doubt in my mind that many many adoptees are very concerned about their "fake" amended birth certificates. And too many lame lawmakers are still dragging their feet about changing the laws to give us adoptees our original paperwork and birth certificate.  It's getting serious enough that even voting in elections might be affected!

I hope you will share this article and talk to your own lawmaker by sending them the link to this blog.

“On paper, we’ve literally disappeared into the American landscape,” says Trace Lara Hentz, 59, a Greenfield, Mass., adoptee who shared her story with SFR.  For decades, she’s been trying to get her birth certificate from the state of Minnesota, but to no avail, and now she worries about how the Real ID Act will make her life harder without the document.

“It’s criminal neglect in my mind,” Hentz claims, “how certain states would refuse us these documents and that the federal government would write an act that wouldn’t even consider us.”
“There are hundreds of thousands of adoptees out there like me,” she says. “While I understand the need for security, I don’t think we’re going about it the right way.” - See more at:

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Trauma of Stolen Generations 'passed down'


A survivor says the trauma of the Stolen Generations is being transferred to younger generations in a cycle that needs to be broken, ahead of the eighth anniversary of Australia's apology.
Sharing stories and bonding with other Stolen Generation members has proved to be one of the best ways to help men and women heal, a new report from The Healing Foundation says.
Survivor Aunty Lorraine Peeters says children are still being affected by the older generation's loss of culture, family and community.
"If you grow up in a household where you've got traumatised people that have all these issues, they are being transferred down to the next one," she told reporters at the launch of the report at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) in Sydney.
The launch included performances from musician Archie Roach and a gathering of survivors who shared their stories.
Aunty Lorraine, 77, who was taken from her parents and trained as a maid, has called on the federal government to take up the report's recommendations for more indigenous-led programs.
"(The trauma) will continue if it's not broken and ... collective healing is one way of getting through that," she said.
An analysis of 31 projects involving 3676 Stolen Generations members has shown the western model of counselling doesn't help victims, The Healing Foundation says.
They need trauma-informed services with knowledge of the Stolen Generations, says the foundation, which is a national organisation focused on supporting members of the Stolen Generations and their children.
Recommendations to the government include greater access to "collective healing" opportunities, such as yarning circles, trips and family reunions.

Originally published as Trauma of Stolen Generations 'passed down'

Monday, February 8, 2016

The costs of being adopted

That's me on the right with my adoptive family

By Trace L Hentz

News stories like this one in Missouri enrage me (read below).  31+ states restrict adoptees’ access to their original birth certificates, just like Missouri who is now considering a change. Some states will charge fees in the thousands of dollars for an adoptee to get their own identifying information.

Minnesota is still holding my OBC hostage. WHY? Old laws, old ignorant beliefs. All my parents, birth and adoptive, are dead. Why can't I have a piece of paper that has my real name? Why should I have to pay anything to have it? I didn't ask to be adopted. I didn't ask to have a fake amended birth certificate.

Has anyone else heard of the REAL ID ACT of 2005 that will require we all have documentation as to our identity. The creators of this ACT didn't think of 7+million adoptees - most don't have any real identification?

And let's look at more costs! State Intermediaries also charge adoptees fees: More money we don't have. I spoke with an adoptee last week and she said Lutheran Social Services told her to pay them $1000 and there was no guarantee they'd even find her file. No, they don't give refunds either. REALLY?

(2016) Karen Vigneault and I are still assisting Native adoptees who are trying to find their tribal families. And it's free. But we run into roadblocks with states like Missouri, Minnesota and Utah who are holding Native adoptees own documentation hostage. (look in the reference section to get in touch with Karen or me.) If you need to know information about the state where you live, and how to open your adoption records, please email Karen or me.

The costs of being adopted is not even mentioned in this story below:  

Missouri considers easing adoptee birth certificate access

Feb. 6. 2016
JEFFERSON CITY • Danika Donatti first met her biological father when he was in hospice dying from complications of a disease she might also carry.

Donatti, 18, was adopted shortly after birth. She has known the names of her biological parents since childhood but didn’t try to form a relationship with them until she learned her biological father was fighting cancer and a rare genetic disorder, which she had a 50 percent chance of inheriting.

“I could have this and I wouldn’t have known that had I not had my birth certificate,” she told The Associated Press.

Missouri is one of more than 31 states that restrict adoptees’ access to their original birth certificates, according to the American Adoption Congress, a group advocating expanding such access. Adoptees can obtain their original birth certificates only through a court order; they can access their adoption file, which can contain identifying information, if their biological parents give their permission or die.

If the parents cannot be found, the information remains sealed.

Legislation scheduled for a vote on Feb.9 by a Missouri House committee would change that. The Missouri Adoptee Rights Act, sponsored by Rep. Don Phillips, would open access to original birth certificates to adoptees at age 18.

The current law creates hardships for adoptees that should not exist under the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause, said Phillips, R-Kimberling City. “It doesn’t say, P.S., by the way adoptees, sorry about your bad luck but you’re not included.”

After an adoption is finalized, a court amends the child’s birth certificate to list the adoptive family as the parents. An adoptee doesn’t need consent to get nonidentifying information about biological parents — which can include a medical history if it was provided at birth.

The current arrangement protects the confidentiality of the birth mother, said Laura Long, and it would be wrong to change that retroactively.

Long, who is an adoptee, works as a confidential intermediary for people seeking their biological parents’ permission to release their identifying information. Many parents consent, she said, but many were traumatized by getting pregnant and placing their child for adoption. People still feel stigmatized by that, she said, and it’s still a secret for some.

The state should respect the wishes of parents who agreed to adoption because of its confidentiality, said Tyler McClay, general counsel for the Missouri Catholic Conference, which opposes the bill. He said a better model is Illinois, which makes identifying documents available unless the biological parents opt out.
The bill is HB 1599.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Grieved Out: Suicide Rates At Crisis Levels

The numbers are staggering.

10/02/2015 | Anna Almendrala Healthy Living Senior Editor, Huffington Post

AP Photo/James MacPherson  A stuffed bear is placed on a white picket fence on Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 in New Town, N.D.

Five years ago, psychiatrist R. Dale Walker was invited to a small Northern Plains reservation that had suffered 17 suicides in eight months. It was there, listening in a group therapy meeting, that he first heard the phrase "grieved out."
Walker, who specializes in American Indian psychiatric issues and is himself a Cherokee, felt overwhelmed at the toll that suicide was taking on reservations and Indian communities.

"One of the most difficult things to hear is when the community says, 'We can grieve no more. We're cried out. We just can't respond anymore to the problem,'" he said. "It really does have an impact."
Walker has become more attuned to this sense of being too exhausted to grieve with each new call to an American Indian community that is facing an unusually high rate of suicide.

Suicide looks very different in Native communities than it does in the general population. Nationally, suicide tends to skew middle-aged (and white); but among Native Americans, 40 percent of those who die by suicide are between the ages of 15 and 24. And among young adults ages 18 to 24, Native American have higher rates of suicide than any other ethnicity, and higher than the general population.

A new report, published by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, highlights what Native American health experts have long known: Suicide among Native youth is a crisis, and one that is not receiving the attention it needs.

Keep Reading 

The long term affects of poverty and Third World conditions on reservations are genocide... My Uncle Black Bear Stephen LaBoueff has worked on this issue for several YEARS. I also interviewed him for News From Indian Country and we keep in touch. ...Trace Hentz, blog editor

Read Stephen's blog:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Reclaiming OUR memory

"I'm 70. I'm on my way out, and I don't have a problem with that -- that's natural. But when I look at my descendants, our young people, I just kinda think we have to reclaim our memory. The genocide of civilization is there to erase that memory -- we don't remember we're human beings anymore. That's why there's all the false prides. That's why there's the drug use, the alcoholism. Those are symptoms of it. It's the genocide itself. It's denied itself. It's the genocide that's created these conditions. We've forgotten that we're human beings, and we're passing this diseased perception of reality amongst ourselves. We really need to look at who we are. It's not enough to say that 'I'm a traditionalist.' It's not enough to say 'I can speak the language.' It's not enough to say 'We're all about respect.' It's not enough anymore. We have to understand what we're saying. We have to understand tradition, culture, sharing, love. That's the way it was a long time ago. That was our way of life." -John Trudell (1946-2015) -- 💙 fly high...
Wind Spirit Spotted Bear's photo.

Wilfred Buck Tells The Story Of Mista Muskwa

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They Took Us Away

They Took Us Away
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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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