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Wednesday, March 8, 2023


By Trace L. Hentz, Blog Editor and Adoptee (video editor from 2014)

I have been rereading TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects. It's first person accounts of adoptions by non-Native parents and our history.

What was life like pre-ICWA?

Can we please look at the impact of closed adoptions through the eyes of the adoptee-adult?  We are called the Stolen Generation, remember that.

The word often used about being adopted is “cultural genocide and culture loss.”

If we lose ICWA, we go back to that earlier form of genocide: Less Indians on the rolls, less people on the rez, and the adoptee will lose years of ancestral knowledge and history and language we would have received from our relatives. (There are very few adoptees back on their rez.)

This cultural knowledge is not found in books. It’s learned at a kitchen table, in the kitchen cooking, hunting or gathering with your parents, at a beading circle, at a memorial/funeral, or at a social gathering like a powwow, on in ceremony.  It’s learned walking the land. It’s learned hearing your grandparents tell stories. It’s learned over years of contact, contact with your people, your clan, your cousins, your tribal nations.

That knowledge is your inherent sovereign right as a sovereign citizen of your TRIBAL NATION, that lies within the boundaries of America or Canada.

Babies and children adopted by non-Natives, this ancient ancestral knowledge and language is gone, erased. Your tribal history is gone.


Do you think the Supreme Court knows anything about this cultural genocide?  Do you think they know about 1,000 Indian Wars? No treaty went unbroken. Do you think it matters to them what happened 100 years ago, or since ICWA was passed in 1978 to stop the adoption industry and the united states funding child trafficking?

Do adoptive parents know about cultural loss? What do they plan to do when the child asks about their tribe, or their parents, or their history, or their language?

“What is my language,” a child might ask. “Where are my people?”

If We Lost ICWA?

Think about Arnold Lyslo who ran the Indian Adoption Projects in America. He was busy selling his story ideas to magazines so white readers would feel sympathy and want to help. He counted his successes in how many Indian children were placed with white families. (Success? Erased: off the rez, off the rolls.)

It was the perfect storm. The adopters were not told there was a massive inter-country genocidal project going on. They just thought: “Hey, were doing a good thing (adopting a Native kid.)”

How many of these adoptions failed? (I wanted to know that. I asked adoptees to write their stories in the anthologies Two Worlds, Called Home and Stolen Generations.) I sent a bunch of questions to each adoptee.

How many adoptees committed suicide? We don’t know.

How many adoptees acted out and were sent to prison?  Too many actually, quite a few I heard about.

Nobody wants Indians to have anything – especially good-sized populations – that would not work for the people who make sure “Indians stay poor.”

What happens if ICWA fails, and adoption goes widespread again and there is some new method of closed adoptions, like the earlier INDIAN ADOPTION PROJECT(s), or ARENA?  What if they open new boarding schools and force Indian children to attend?   The governments of Canada and America funded them, gave the churches money to take Indian kids, some literally abducted off the rez at gunpoint?

To be continued 

If you cannot afford to buy the book Two Worlds, please email Trace (

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Canada's Residential Schools

The religious organizations that operated the schools — the Anglican Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Jesuits of English Canada and some Catholic groups — in 2015 expressed regret for the “well-documented” abuses. The Catholic Church has never offered an official apology, something that Trudeau and others have repeatedly called for.

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