How to Use this Blog

Howdy! We've amassed tons of information and important history on this blog since 2010. If you have a keyword, use the search box below. Also check out the reference section above. If you have a question or need help searching, use the contact form at the bottom of the blog.
ALSO, if you buy any of the books at the links provided, the editor will earn a small amount of money or commission. (we thank you) (that is our disclaimer statement)

This is a blog. It is not a peer-reviewed journal, not a sponsored publication... The ideas, news and thoughts posted are sourced… or written by the editor or contributors.

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.


Search This Blog

Friday, September 3, 2010

Losing your right to be Indian

Ellowyn Locke's doll
     I’ve been thinking how some things have not changed significantly in Indian Country. The following testimony happened in 1974, when Indian leaders decided to stop the wholesale removal of Indian children to boarding schools and for adoption to non-Indian families.  Mr. Byler spoke eloquently to Senator Bartlett and Senator Abourezk about detribalization.  The result  was the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which is meant to prevent non-Indians from adopting American Indian children.

            Excerpt:
            Senator BARTLETT. Do you feel that the boarding school removes some of the parental responsibility …that it creates a gap between the children and the parents, in which it makes the job of the parents more difficult and harder to achieve?

            Mr. BYLER. Yes; I think this is very much the case. In addition, I would say also we can really take the whole educational experience. Dr. Edward P. Dozier criticized Headstart programs for some Indian communities on the ground that an Indian child has such a short time in his life to learn how to behave in his own environment, to pick up the cultural and behavioral patterns of his parents. It was bad enough to start school at five or six because that bobtailed the opportunity the kids had to learn this. Now with Headstart in some communities, that age is down to 3 years, so these preschool experiences denied the children the opportunity to learn how to function properly in their own society.
            And it demoralizes the whole functioning of families when those children who grow up in a boarding school become parents themselves and have not had the opportunity to observe normal child rearing.
            In some of the early poverty programs funded under OEO, Indian tribes asked for funds to train their teenagers to be parents because they didn’t know what it was like because they had been away in boarding school.

Senator BARTLETT. What should be the structure for facing up to the emotional needs of Indian children and also in meeting the educational needs?

Mr. BYLER. I believe that in terms of the educational needs, that would be contracting the Indian schools with tribes that wish to contract for those schools. Where the tribes have taken over those schools, and there are not many yet, the educational result has been dramatic.
            For example, in Florida the Miccosukees had never had a school at all, none of their children attended school until 1961 or 1962. They took over their school about 4 years ago and, 1 year after the tribe itself had taken over the school, the comparative educational achievements of the children improved by 50 percent.
            Dropout rates have dramatically been reduced in the Busby school on Northern Cheyenne, and the Rocky Boy school, both in Montana, since Indian tribes have taken them over. So, I do think that educational needs can be met more adequately by the Indian community controlling the schools themselves.
            In terms of the emotional needs, I think perhaps one of the most central things to the emotional life of the Indian family and the Indian child, is to remove from that family the threat that their children will be taken away from them. I think this is the most dangerous aspect. It has a far greater impact on Indian emotional life than any other single factor.
            I think that in societies throughout the United States, and Indian societies, not all impoverished children or families suffer this kind of family breakdown. Among the Miccosukees, children are not taken from their parents, nor among the Coushattas of Louisiana; it’s unknown, the kind of breakdown that one sees in some Indian communities. It’s not because of Indian poverty. There are many societies in the world that are much more poverty stricken than the average American Indian community, but exhibit little or none of the family breakdown.
            I think it’s a copout when people say it’s poverty that’s causing family breakdown. I think perhaps the chief thing is the detribalization and the deculturalization, Federal and State and local efforts to make Indians white. It hasn’t worked and it will never work and one of the most vicious forms of trying to do this is to take their children. Those are the great emotional risks to Indian families.
            [More of this testimony is available at: www.liftingtheveil.org/byler]


            So what happened years ago, its effects are still being felt today. Loss of culture and language could have destroyed Indian Country but it has not. We may be wobbly but we’re still working…
            For adoptees that went through what I did, we look in a mirror and know something is wrong, yet we feel helpless to change it.  Who can discuss identity issues with you if you’re not a part of your tribal nation? I’m troubled tribes are so busy surviving they don’t reach out and search for their lost tribal members, like adoptees.
            I am so troubled by this disconnect, I try to connect adoptees to each other since we share the feeling of being lost. Our grief can’t be healed until we’re united successfully with family, relatives and tribe. Many have succeeded. Many more are trying.
            Many Native American adoptees are opening up and talking. Our identity is not mirrored back to us. We lost more than culture. We lost our right to be Indian. We have to fight to regain it. And with sealed adoption records, we may never be able to…

2 comments:

  1. I think what happened to the First Nations families and children was horrible. The way they continue to be ignored today is awful as well.

    My Adoptive Mother's great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were taken from their homes and families and put in Carlisle Industrial Indian School to "correct" them and teach them the ways of the White majority. No one in the family ever talks about the Iroquois-Onondaga part of the family or knows very much about these ancestors. It took several generations in our family, past the Indian School, before there was a first high school graduate then college graduate. So much for "fixing." Instead, they harmed these individuals and these families and made life harder and the repercussions spread throughout generations to come.

    How could anyone think the Indian Adoption Projects or boarding schools were ever a good idea? :-(

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think what happened to the First Nations families and children was horrible. The way they continue to be ignored today is awful as well.

    My Adoptive Mother's great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were taken from their homes and families and put in Carlisle Industrial Indian School to "correct" them and teach them the ways of the White majority. No one in the family ever talks about the Iroquois-Onondaga part of the family or knows very much about these ancestors. It took several generations in our family, past the Indian School, before there was a first high school graduate then college graduate. So much for "fixing." Instead, they harmed these individuals and these families and made life harder and the repercussions spread throughout generations to come.

    How could anyone think the Indian Adoption Projects or boarding schools were ever a good idea? :-(

    ReplyDelete

Please: Share your reaction, your thoughts, and your opinions. Be passionate, be unapologetic. Offensive remarks will not be published. We are getting more and more spam. Comments will be monitored.
Use the comment form at the bottom of this website which is private and sent direct to Trace.

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.