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2019: This blog was ranked #50 in top 100 blogs about adoption. Let's make it #1... We hit 1 million reads! WOW!

2019: WE NEED A TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION Commission in the US now for the Adoption Programs that stole generations of children... Goldwater Institute's work to dismantle ICWA is another glaring attempt at cultural genocide.


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Friday, August 16, 2019

'Hits close to home': Coachella Valley area tribes applaud Indian Child Welfare Act ruling

Isaiah Vivanco, Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians tribal vice chairman (Photo: Courtesy of Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians)
Soboba Tribal Council Vice Chairman Isaiah Vivanco said the tribe got what it wanted after signing onto an amicus brief along with hundreds of other tribes supporting the Indian Child Welfare Act last year. 
“The decision is a huge one for Indian Country as a whole,” Vivanco said in a written statement. 

Morongo Band of Mission Indians Tribal Chairman Robert Martin called the ruling a "strong statement" of tribes' sovereign rights and their relationship with the federal government. Martin said the tribe joined the Cherokee, Navajo, Oneida and the Quinault Indian nations to intervene in the case. 
"We were overwhelmed by the massive outpouring of bipartisan support for ICWA, from federal lawmakers to the attorneys general of 21 states to dozens of the most well-respected child welfare organizations in the nation," he said in a written statement. 

Martin described the Indian Child Welfare Act as the "gold standard" for child welfare policy and said the tribal council will remain committed to defending its

Coachella Valley area Native Amercian tribes are applauding a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Indian Child Welfare Act is constitutional.

LISTEN: Coachella Valley Native American tribes applaud Indian Child Welfare Act ruling

Monday, August 12, 2019

Kintsugi: What it means to heal from childhood experiences


As I’ve written, Western culture sees healing—it literally means “to make whole”—as restoring something or someone to an undamaged state; when something of value is damaged, such as a painting or other artifact, our practice is always to repair it in such a way that it looks as though the damage never happened. That tends to be the mindset we bring to our emotional healing from childhood which is, of course, impossible. For that reason, I think it’s far more productive to think of healing using the Japanese art of Kintsugi as the guiding metaphor. When a valuable or cherished ceramic object is broken, the Japanese repair the piece with lacquer mixed with precious metals—gold, silver, or copper—so that the breaks are not only visible but form a pattern of their own, testifying to the object’s history while transforming how it looks. The repaired object remains its old self while becoming an emblem of resilience and newly envisioned beauty.

12 signs that you are beginning to heal:
You’re getting better at naming your feelings.
When things go wrong, you don’t automatically blame yourself.
You don’t automatically second-guess or ruminate.
You’re able to speak up without worrying.
You’re much less sensitive to rejection or slights.
You recognize, label, and dismantle triggers.
You respect boundaries and set your own.
You take pride in what you handled well and cope with what you botched.
You’ve begun to see yourself wholly.
You are no longer ashamed.
You are now setting personal goals.
You are beginning to manage your emotions with skill.           
 

READ: 12 Signs That You're Healing from a Toxic Childhood | Psychology Today

Mending the Hoop 

StrongHearts Native Helpline (1-844-7NATIVE) The StrongHearts Native Helpline (1-844-762-8483) is a safe, anonymous and confidential service for Native Americans affected by domestic violence and dating violence. Advocates are available at no cost 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CST, 7 days a week when you are ready to reach out. StrongHearts offers immediate peer-to-peer support, crisis intervention, safety planning and referrals to culturally-appropriate resources. Visit strongheartshelpline.org for more information on abuse types and behaviors.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

60s Scoop adoptee: Eric Schweig


Eric Schweig
Born:  Ray Dean Thrasher


 on 19 June 1967 
OccupationActor/Artisan/Outreach Worker
Years active1989-present


Schweig was born in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. He is of mixed race (Inuvialuk, Chippewa-Dene and German).[2] He is the oldest of seven children, who were all adopted out as part of the Canadian government's failed attempt at forcing Inuit and First Nations children to assimilate into white society. Schweig's biological mother died of alcoholism in 1989. He never met her. "She didn’t drink a drop of alcohol until we were taken away," says Schweig. "We were part of the whole assimilation program—forcibly taken away, although my adoptive parents told me I wasn't."[3] Schweig was adopted at six months of age by an English speaking German-French family.[4] He spent his childhood in Inuvik until he was six, when his family moved to Bermuda. They later moved back to Canada.
"I eventually grew tired of living in a prison without walls and ran away when I was 16. What transpired between then and now has been a roller coaster of alcohol, drugs, violence, failed relationships, despair and confusion. Who am I? Where do I come from? Where is my family? Where do I belong? When life's mystery has been shattered by strangers watching over you, a lot of these questions are lost." [5]
Schweig ran away to Toronto, Ontario, where he supported himself by framing houses. In 1985, he was part of the cast of The Cradle Will Fall, an experimental adaptation of Frank Wedekind's Spring Awakening produced by Theatre of Change at the Actor's Lab; this was his first experience as an actor. In 1987, at twenty years old, he was approached by a producer who suggested he audition for a role in the movie called The Shaman's Source (1990). With little formal education or experience he won the role. The film launched his career in the film industry. (wiki)

***

the artist with one of his masks
Eric Schweig Adoption Speech

The following speech was given by Eric Schweig on February 19, 1999 at the Vancouver Inner City Foster Care Conference. Invited to the conference to share his own experiences and perspectives, Eric was pleased to have the opportunity to speak on a topic close to his heart. The ramifications and issues surrounding interracial/cultural adoption are, for him, much more than a topic. They are the legacy he has been given; they are what has made him who he is ... and who he is not. It is very much the spirit behind his art; certainly the tragic inspiration for his Adoption Masks. To fully appreciate the Inuit Masks, the Adoption Masks, and all else that Eric carves, one must first appreciate the heart & motivation that creates them.
His participation in the conference was a chance to encourage more involvement on the part of the native community, be they extended family or neighbors, in the plight and care of children who desperately need someone to intervene and protect. It was also meant as a plea to replace governmental paternalism with community assistance.

These words are, according to Eric Schweig, his "mission statement."
 
Firebar
"We can never go home because the concept of home is lost on us."
Firebar
 
Adoption of aboriginal children by Caucasian couples is to me, for lack of a better term 'State Sanctioned Kidnapping.' Too often Euro-American couples are preoccupied with the romantic notion of having a "real live Indian baby" or a "real live Inuit baby" which instantly transforms the child into an object rather than a person. For decades our communities' babies have been unceremoniously wrenched from the hands of their biological parents and subjected to a plethora of abuses. Physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse and a host of others. I have first-hand knowledge of this because I was one of those children. For years my adoptive parents beat me bloody on a regular basis. I've been trapped in rooms naked and beaten with belt buckles, hockey sticks, extension cords, and once with a horsewhip.
I'm not saying this to shock you or to gain pity; I'm just stating fact. I eventually grew tired of living in a prison without walls and ran away when I was 16. What transpired between then and now has been a roller coaster of alcohol, drugs, violence, failed relationships, despair and confusion. Who am I? Where do I come from? Where is my family? Where do I belong? When life's mystery has been shattered by strangers watching over you, a lot of these questions are lost.
There has been some good times as well, regardless, but for reasons that I've just started to understand, there has always been an impending sense of doom that controlled my actions and behavior, but now that I've been clean and sober for 8 months and actually started working on myself I'm beginning to step out of my father's shadow and into the light of day where life isn't so murky or such a struggle. 
  There are many of us who have been raised in this manner and not just aboriginal people. A myriad of different ethnic groups have suffered the pain and humiliation of being brought up by certain morally bankrupt individuals who seem to get their kicks out of abusing children.
I shouldn't neglect to say that there are some, not many, but some Euro-American parents who have raised their adopted aboriginal children in a stable and loving environment. But for the majority of us, living as a young aboriginal person growing up in an environment with that much hostility and disregard is an all too early lesson in pain and loneliness.
I haven't even begun to speak about the cultural devastation that occurs when an adopted teenage aboriginal person wakes up one day and realizes just how different they are from the world around them. How differently they are regarded at school, in the mall, on the street, and at home. The racial slurs in public, the condescending looks from strangers that sometimes turns into outright violence, depending on the situation.
And what about the aboriginal mothers and fathers who will probably never forget the new baby smell that babies always seem to have, and who will never be able to see them again? Can you imagine the profound longing in their hearts that they feel every day their child is gone?
A lot of us are discarded, lost, and wander into self imposed exile only to be devoured by the system because we have no idea where it is that we belong. We end up being "nowhere people" with absolutely nothing to hang on to; nothing to keep us grounded and safe. We can never go home because the concept of home is lost on us.
So my hat goes off to those of us who have survived the ordeal with our souls intact and still above ground, and my prayers go out to those who haven't.
Many of us are dead. Many of our biological mothers and fathers are dead because the absence of their children forced them to give up, and lose themselves in alcohol or drugs and eventually die from broken hearts.
I have an urgent appeal to the Canadian government, or any government that advocates the adoption of aboriginal children to Euro-American parents. If you insist upon taking our children away from us, or if they have to be removed for their safety or well being, let aboriginal people handle it. Your paternalism is insulting, and to coin a phrase, "it's getting old." Let "us" find a safe environment for them, that is either within or in reasonable proximity of their respective communities, and assist us in doing so.
We are not all 100% healed, but healing takes time, and we've waited 500 years already, I don't see how a month or two of decision and law making by you will matter much.
In the meantime, I hope other adopted adult or teenage aboriginal children of these so called parents are listening and remember that no matter how lost you feel, how lonely it is, or how scared you feel, reach out by any means within your power, because somewhere there might be a man and a woman who look just like you and who are bound to you by blood, who never forgot about you, and are still waiting to meet you and invite you back to a place that is your RIGHT to belong in. Your community, your family, and your home.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak about an issue that is scarcely recognized. It means the world to me.
 
 

Friday, August 9, 2019

OVERTURNED: Fifth Circuit: #ICWA is Constitutional on All Counts

The Fifth Circuit overturned the Northern District of Texas today with strong language supporting ICWA. The Court found that the plaintiffs did have standing, but found against them on all other counts. There is a dissent forthcoming from Judge Owens.

Equal Protection:
We begin by determining whether ICWA’s definition of “Indian child” is a race-based or political classification and, consequently, which level of scrutiny applies. The district court concluded that ICWA’s “Indian Child” definition was a race-based classification. We conclude that this was error.
We disagree with the district court’s reasoning and conclude that Mancari controls here. As to the district court’s first distinction, Mancari’s holding does not rise or fall with the geographical location of the Indians receiving “special treatment.”
Anti-Commandeering:
We examine the constitutionality of the challenged provisions of ICWA below and conclude that they preempt conflicting state law and do not violate the anticommandeering doctrine.
Non-Delegation:
We find this argument unpersuasive. It is well established that tribes have “sovereignty over both their members and their territory.” See Mazurie, 419 U.S. at 557 (emphasis added)"
For a tribe to exercise its authority to determine tribal membership and to regulate domestic relations among its members, it must necessarily be able to regulate all Indian children, irrespective of their location.
Authority to Issue Regulations
Here, section 1952’s text is substantially similar to the language in Mourning, and the Final Rule’s binding standards for Indian child custody proceedings are reasonably related to ICWA’s purpose of establishing minimum federal standards in child custody proceedings involving Indian children. See 25 U.S.C. § 1902. Thus, the Final Rule is a reasonable exercise of the broad authority granted to the BIA by Congress in ICWA section 1952.
Conclusion:
For these reasons, we conclude that Plaintiffs had standing to bring all claims and that ICWA and the Final Rule are constitutional because they are based on a political classification that is rationally related to the fulfillment of Congress’s unique obligation toward Indians; ICWA preempts conflicting state laws and does not violate the Tenth Amendment anticommandeering doctrine; and ICWA and the Final Rule do not violate the nondelegation doctrine. We also conclude that the Final Rule implementing the ICWA is valid because the ICWA is constitutional, the BIA did not exceed its authority when it issued the Final Rule, and the agency’s interpretation of ICWA section 1915 is reasonable.

Fifth Circuit: ICWA is Constitutional on All Counts

by ilpc

MORE: https://www.narf.org/cases/brackeen-v-bernhardt/ 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Sudden Fury: Infamous murder in Maryland involves adoptees!

Editor NOTE: This is one of our most popular posts so we are reblogging it.

If you do know where Michael Schwartz is, please leave a comment on this blog. Read this post to the end, as to his life in prison conviction.

(2011) You know everything happens for a reason. I just received the book “Sudden Fury” about an adoptee who killed his adoptive parents in Maryland. I opened to page 378 and saw this …"Early in 1989, Michael began searching for the natural parents and siblings he left behind when he was four. ‘I’d like to know where I’m from. All I know is I’m an Indian from somewhere.’” This book was published in 1989.

Michael’s adopted brother Larry confessed to murdering their parents alone and did not indict his adoptive brother Michael.

This is the news I found…

Cape St. Claire killer Larry Swartz dies at age 37

By ERIC HARTLEY, Staff Writer (2005)

Annapolis, Maryland - A man whose brutal slaying of his adoptive parents nearly 21 years ago became one of the county's most infamous murders, inspiring a book and a made-for-TV movie, died Wednesday night of an apparent heart attack, his former attorney said.

Larry Swartz, released in 1993 after serving nine years in prison, had moved to Florida, was married and had an 8-year-old child, said his longtime lawyer, Ronald A. Baradel. He was 37.

"It was like losing a son," Baradel said. "He and I had developed pretty much of a fondness. We'd been out of contact for a couple of years, but re-established contact a couple of weeks ago."
To protect the family's privacy, Baradel declined to say where in Florida Mr. Swartz was living.

On the night of Jan. 16, 1984, 17-year-old Larry Schwarz fatally stabbed his father Robert, a computer technician, in a downstairs clubroom. Kay Swartz, a teacher at Broadneck High School, was stabbed and bludgeoned with a splitting maul after being chased through the community. Her nude body was found next to the family's swimming pool.

County police arrested Larry, the oldest of the Swartzes' three adopted children, a week later after determining that his footprints were in the snow near his mother's body and a bloody handprint was his.

The police investigation found that Mr. Swartz suffered from a personality disorder and had suppressed his anger against his parents for years.

Robert and Kay Swartz were devout Catholics, and their household was described as one of strict discipline. Kay Swartz was unable to have children of her own, and her husband, an anti-abortion activist who picketed Planned Parenthood offices, was eager to adopt unwanted children.

Larry's sister Anne was at home during the murders, but his brother Michael had drug and behavior problems that had landed him Crownsville Hospital Center.

In 1990, Michael Swartz helped to murder a man for a jar of quarters. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. (note: this is the adoptee who is Native American or perhaps not)

Larry Swartz finally snapped one night after drinking in his bedroom. He first stabbed his mother, then attacked his father, who tried to stop him. After pleading guilty to second-degree murder, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He was released Jan. 23, 1993.

The case inspired a book, "Sudden Fury: A True Story of Adoption and Murder" by reporter Leslie Walker. It became a New York Times best-seller. A 1993 television movie based on the murders, "A Family Torn Apart," starred Neil Patrick Harris of "Doogie Howser, M.D." as Larry Swartz.

Mr. Swartz died without any warning, Baradel said. An autopsy was planned and funeral arrangements weren't available. Baradel said he was always confident that Mr. Swartz could have a normal life if given the chance. He never thought the murders reflected Mr. Swartz's true character.

"It's not the kind of person he was," Baradel said.

[source: http://www.hometownannapolis.com/cgi...5/01_01-03/TOP]

photos from book

Her Native American identity was omitted from her adoption records

  ...Now she wants it back.

Carlisle’s mother is Native American and her late father was black. She has spent her life celebrating all of her heritage.
But as she heads into college, there’s a problem: She can’t get the government to acknowledge both parts of her identity.
Now 18, Carlisle was placed into the foster care system as an infant and adopted when she was a child, but one box checked on her foster care and adoptive records identify her as African-American. There’s no mention of her Native roots, meaning the state doesn’t legally recognize her status.
She’s spent the last two years ping-ponging between county and state officials to add her Native American heritage to her records, to no avail.
Her adoption records not only listed her race as African-American, they also stated specifically that she was not Native American. Sarah Carlson, her adoptive mother, was stunned. She had no idea they were incorrect.
Carlson was sent to Ramsey County, where the girl was first placed into foster care, to figure out what had happened. She provided the county documentation from child services at the time of adoption, including a family tree showing Carlisle’s biological mother and grandparents, all Native American and enrolled members of the Lower Sioux Community.

(This story originally appeared at: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/08/07/her-native-american-identity-was-omitted-from-her-adoption-records-now-she-wants-it-back)


GOOD READ

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Indian Child Welfare Act Clinic

July 31, 2019 |
University of Minnesota Law School
 
Shannon Smith ’99, executive director of the ICWA Law Center
The Indian Child Welfare Act Clinic (the “ICWA Clinic”) is a full academic year, four-credit program beginning in the fall semester. The casework focuses on litigation involving the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and Tribal Code. The clinic is led by two adjunct faculty members from the Minneapolis-based ICWA Law Center—Executive Director Shannon Smith ’99 and Litigation Director Andrea Braun. Smith recently took the time to answer a few questions about the clinic and how it impacts students, clients, and the community.

Please briefly describe the work of the ICWA Clinic.
The ICWA Clinic provides direct legal representation to American Indian families impacted by cases implicating the Indian Child Welfare Act. The mission of the ICWA Law Center is to strengthen, preserve, and reunite Indian families consistent with the mandates and spirit of the ICWA.
What legal experience do student participants get?
As certified student attorneys, students formulate arguments and present in court. Students work closely with the Law Center staff to create attorney-client relationships. Students have the opportunity to analyze complex legal situations in the context of pending litigation. They draft court documents including motions, petitions, responses, and briefs. 
How do students who plan to practice in legal areas outside the ICWA benefit from participation?
The ICWA Clinic provides an outstanding opportunity to spend time in the courtroom. I graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1999. As a 2L, I was approached to sign-up for the ICWA Clinic because the clinic I originally registered for was full. The decision to register for the ICWA Clinic opened up so many opportunities for me. Since starting with the ICWA Clinic in 1997, I have had the privilege to represent thousands of families. I love my work and am challenged every day. I have been the executive director at the ICWA Law Center for 16 years and I continue to love what I do.
What makes you passionate about this particular area of practice?
The ICWA Law Center is an amazing place. Advocating on behalf of Indian families, we collaborate with tribal representatives and community providers to identify the family’s strengths and needs. Throughout representation, we work to ensure families are protected and needs are appropriately assessed and best met. Through advocacy, we are committed to ensuring parents have a voice in the future of their children.
What would you say to a student considering this clinic as an experiential learning opportunity?
The ICWA Clinic provides an amazing opportunity to provide advocacy in the courtroom with the guidance of experienced attorneys passionate about their work.

For more information about the ICWA Clinic, visit its webpage.

Takeaway Podcast ICWA

What our Nations are up against!

What our Nations are up against!
Survivors, write your stories. Write your parents stories. Write the elders stories. Do not be swayed by the colonizers to keep quiet. Tribal Nations have their own way of keeping stories alive.... Trace

Help in available!

Help in available!
1-844-7NATIVE (click photo)

click to listen

Diane Tells His Name

Please support NARF

Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

Indian Country is under attack. We need you. Please join the ranks of Modern Day Warriors. Please donate today to help Native people protect their rights.

where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?

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.