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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

All I want for Christmas is my OBC

Ohio signed an adoption access bill....Read here

I posted on Facebook all I want for Christmas is my OBC (original birth certificate) - still wishing for that real piece of paper...Trace

Early infant mortality in Canada called 2nd worst in developed world

by aboriginalpress

"At the root of it is a distribution problem," Smylie said in a telephone interview. "We're an affluent country, but at a systems level we're still not distributing all of our health and social resources equally to all groups."  Smylie said the social imbalance that sees aboriginals struggling with higher than average levels of poverty is compounded by the country's geography. Canada's vast size ensures that people living in remote northern communities often have to travel dozens, even hundreds, of kilometres to receive proper maternity care, Smylie said. Such factors drive up infant mortality within the first year and by extension those infants who do not survive their first 24 hours on earth, she said.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Biggest news story in 2013? #BabyVeronica UPDATED

Why Veronica's story needs to be the story of the year

by Sherrie Roe Bean

I am not from South Carolina but I think that Veronica Brown should be the biggest story of the year nationwide. We can argue about the details of the case all day long but if anyone really wants to know what happened they should read the bench ruling by Judge Malphrus. She is the ONLY judge who heard testimony from everyone involved and examined evidence (like the infamous text message.) Interestingly enough her verbal bench ruling is VERY detailed and thoughtful and carefully explains her position on everything although she has been called inexperienced and "wrong". The narrative of the opinions cited from all of the higher courts do not reflect anything that she ruled, how does that happen? Basically when the SCOTUS ruled that ICWA did not apply they were stating that Veronica Brown's father was not entitled to that hearing at all and his parental rights could have been terminated while he was serving our country in Iraq. Even if that was "legal" there is nothing "right" about it. Someday Veronica will speak and I wonder will anyone listen if she tells us that she was heartbroken and missed her daddy? Will anyone feel sorry for doing this to her? I am sad to say that I think they probably won't. Many adoptees have spoken out on her behalf only to find that nobody cares what they think. We have changed and sealed their birth certificates, stolen their original identities and expected them to just get over it and appreciate the "better life" that their adoptive parents were able to give them. Sad really. Veronica Brown should be the story of the year because it has awakened a sleeping giant. Adoptees are speaking out and gaining attention. The "business" of adoption to provide a child for a home rather than a home for a child is being exposed. This is only the beginning. ICWA?? The only people I know who have a problem with ICWA want something from the Natives, their land, their casinos, their babies. As long as their Nations are sovereign they can't take from them. Yep, this story isn't going away any time soon. It IS the story of the year and hopefully it will be next years story of the year as well. Ronnie Brown's sparkle is going to change the world.

From Facebook Page: 

AND this: Voting on Facebook

What was the top Charleston/South Carolina story in 2013? Choose from our list of newsmakers - listed in no particular order - and tell us why.


Priscilla Stone Sharp Veronica Brown - Many thousands of us were traumatized by Veronica's kidnapping and forced adoption, but a lot of good is coming out of it.
Most major, many hundreds of people have become alarmed enough to galvanize forces to expose and fight the adop
tion industry. We are formulating rallies and protests, getting petitions going, contacting state and federal officials with demands for investigations of corrupt bureaucrats and lawyers, gathering information on other fathers' rights violations and forced adoptions and going to court with them, blogging, Facebooking, tweeting and twittering. There are some making videos and memes. Others gathering the laws of specific states so that we can approach legislators with needed changes.
This is turning out to be what we have been waiting for for decades - the American public (indeed, the world) is waking up to the rampant corruption and abuses of the adoption industry. Things are changing. As I've said all along, the Capobianco name will be cursed in adoptoraptor land forevermore. Because of their outrageous behavior, adoption will never be business as usual ever again.
Age: 68
Occupation: Retired
Town: State College, PA

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The art of Ben Chosa Jr.

My Photo 

I wanted to share this amazing art by Lac Du Flambeau Anishinabe-Menominee adoptee Ani Ben Chosa Jr..... he contributed an essay in the anthology TWO WORLDS.

Here's his artist blog:

His writing blog from prison:

Friday, December 13, 2013

No, I'm not crazy

By Trace L Hentz (formerly DeMeyer)

I think about integrating parts of my persona that were buried or stunted or created as an adoptee growing up with strangers.

Last week I had posted on Facebook how I experienced huge chunks of CRAZY, had patterns of unhealthy behavior and even how big blocks of memory seemed hazy or gone. This does not make me any different (or better off or worse off) than others.  If I am to heal myself, I need to know and see how I coped as this little girl who lived in fear and confusion.

My thoughts now?  My crazy hazy chunks of time were in fact self-preservation – it was the only way I could handle what I had to face to avoid fracturing or destroying my delicate developing mind. (And this did happen to others living in a dysfunctional setting in childhood.) I am now aware I had various coping tools, as did my friends. One of the best tools was a vivid imagination. Another one: listening to the small voice inside, a voice of sanity and clarity. Another tool was determination. I was determined to survive and very determined to create a safe environment for myself as a young adult, when I could move physically and emotionally away from where I was raised. I was determined to open my adoption and find my relatives and my ancestry. I never lost that determination. I grew strong.

I had a conversation a few days ago with co-author Patricia [Our anthology is Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects] about this process of integration, how we created little people who could handle situations, a character and persona tougher than us – and now as grown-ups, these little people are no longer needed.  I am not suggesting we had multiple personalities. That is too psycho-speak for us.  As babies and toddlers, we were confronted with strangers who called themselves our parents and they had their own instability. (Both of us had an alcoholic parent). Their imbalance caused our childhoods to be terrifying and unstable. That can put us in a situation of weakness and vulnerability. Our real fears made us very unstable and untrusting.
We chose to survive so we had to be creative in some way. Being creative is an outlet for a grief this enormous. Patricia is definitely an artist and I was a musician – and we both kept journals.
Add to that we are abandoned as infants and not nurtured and denied the bonds with our mother-creator. That also created an instability and frailty that carried forward from childhood to adulthood. This trauma is called the PRIMAL WOUND. Read Nancy Verrier if you are curious.

Remember the movie The Three Faces of Eve? Though Eve was an adult, she had created personalities who could stand-in for her. One movie that terrified me was SYBIL. Sally Fields played a child who was terribly abused and created numerous personalities who stood in for her while she underwent the abuse.  In therapy, these movie characters found out they had created stand-ins, what I call the little people. When they are no longer needed they can melt away. Or integrate back into the soul.

Split Feathers, what American Indians call adoptees or their lost children, have this integration challenge.  It has nothing to do with being crazy, though adoptees tell me they feel like they acted crazy in trying to deal with the strangers who raised us.  I don’t see how we could not be crazy. What other method would work? We had to be split.

Patricia and I are both Native adoptees.  We know this history now. We know it’s historical trauma in our DNA. We know we have the tools to heal this ourselves.

Even as kids we could see we were very different from our stranger parents, yet adoption forced us to pretend, be good and show we were grateful.  Isn’t that crazy?

Anyone who questions the Adoption Cartel (and their propaganda and billions in profit) will be called crazy.

What is crazy are the people who believe “adoption” works so well. How a closed adoption is good – that is crazy. Punishing a woman for having a baby while unmarried and forcing her to give up her child – that is crazy. Sealing our adoption records – that is crazy.  Giving people the idea they can buy an orphan – that is crazy. Believing an adopted child won’t want to know the truth or find their birth relatives – that is crazy.

There are couples right now holding a bake sale, asking their friends to raise money so that they can adopt an orphan. That is crazy – dangerously crazy! Read The Child Catchers if you want the truth about orphans (and how many of these children are not orphans at all but have living parents!! They are sold into adoption as a commodity.)

The fact is adoption is human trafficking.  If a child is taken from their natural parent(s) and sold to strangers, that is trafficking.  If money is exchanged for children and babies, that is trafficking. If lawyers and judges and adoption agencies charge money to handle babies for sale, they are trafficking in humans.

I do write this as a survivor of human trafficking, what was a closed adoption that I opened.  I write this from a place of sanity and balance, after years of working on myself, knowing myself, finding my relatives, and yes, learning the truth.

No, I am not crazy.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

OHIO Governor signs Adoptee Access (updated)


Call Betsie Norris of Adoption Network Cleveland for details, questions and to find out what this bill can do for you: (216) 482-2314

The amended bill includes the original contact preference and medical history provisions and adds a one-year period in which a birthparent can request to have only their name redacted (whited out) from the birth certificate. After the 1 year period has expired, no birthparent may redact and adoptees from 1964 -' 96 can begin to request their adoption files. This is NOT A DISCLOSURE VETO - all adoptees will receive the contents of their adoption files.

Other new provisions include:
  • mandating that birthparents who redact submit a social and medical history form; 
  • permitting birthparents to un-redact at any time; 
  • adding a mechanism for adoptees to request updates on medical history from birthparents who redacted; 
  • and allowing adoptees born in Ohio but adopted out-of-state and adoptees born out-of-state but adopted in Ohio to request their adoption files. While the redaction portion is not what we had hoped for, we are encouraged that, in practice, the sub bill will function in a way that retains the integrity of the bill. 
We thank Senators Beagle and Burke for fighting a good fight in the Senate!

Only 10 States allow adoptees access to their own information so OHIO is GOOD NEWS!
Pennsylvania and Washington are still working on their laws - stay tuned to this blog! ...Trace

Monday, December 9, 2013

AMAZING new scholarship on Indian Slavery and Genocide

Honorable Justice Murray Sinclair

Photos by Trace
By Trace A. DeMeyer

I was very fortunate to attend some of these panels at Yale in November and had planned to write about some of what I heard. It would actually be better if you watched the panels yourself! This was a ground-breaker - since many of the presenters are Native authors working on new research!

Please watch all of them but especially The Honorable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Indigenous Enslavement and Incarceration in North American History
Video from the Gilder Lehrman Center’s 15th Annual International Conference, held November 15-16, 2013 in Luce Hall at Yale University is now online.
Studies of indigenous slavery have multiplied in the past decade, changing not only the ways we think about slavery, but also race, citizenship, and nation. This conference brought together some of this exciting new work and traced its effects on and within Native American communities. It did so self-consciously in its expressed focus on slavery and incarceration. Such an emphasis, we hope, connected new slavery scholarship done in early American history with contemporary investigations into incarceration and prison studies.
Video of the conference is online at:

I was also able to meet the esteemed author Margaret D. Jacobs who has a new book coming out about American Indian Adoption. As we hugged, we both cried. It was my honor to meet this scholar and thank her for her academic scholarship on our behalf. I didn't know she would be aware of this blog American Indian Adoptees or my two books - but she knew.
Margaret Jacobs is seated at left
  • Margaret Jacobs, University of Nebraska
  • Tsianina Lomawaima, University of Arizona
  • Tiya Miles, University of Michigan
  • Ned Blackhawk, Yale University
  • Moderator: David W. Blight, Yale University VIDEO

Four Horses

Charlie Angus recording Four Horses in the Qu'Appelle Valley
Charlie Angus

I thought I knew Canadian history.
The stories of the National Dream and the Medicine Line may have been dull compared to the myths of the American "wild" west but they spoke of a nation founded on compromise and good governance.
However, as I stood with guitar in hand on the grasslands of the Qu'Appelle Valley I saw my country in a way I had never imagined. Not so long ago on these picturesque fields, Aboriginal children were suffering death rates that were higher than in any western nation until the dark days of the Warsaw Ghetto. And the response from the government of the day to this tragedy was anything but fair.
I came to the Qu'Appelle Valley for the filming of the video "Four Horses." It is a musical video project intended to shed light on this dark history. The project was inspired by James Daschuk's harrowing new book Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation and the Loss of Aboriginal LifeDaschuk's work is grounded in years of academic research but his analysis of how John A. MacDonald used starvation as a deliberate policy to break the Tribes of the west is stirring discussion across the country.

Writing the song "Four Horses" was my way of being part of the discussion. The metaphoric horses of the Apocalypse -- disease, war, famine and death -- touched a chord with Daschuk and publisher University of Regina Press. We began collaborating on the video to reintroduce this history to a new generation.

This is the story of those four horses.

The First Horse
To Fort Qu'Appelle came a Dapple Grey
As the children coughed blood in the autumn rain.
They broke the treaty when the buffalo failed
And fenced the land for the CP rail.

Daschuk takes us back to the brutal winter of 1878 when Ottawa began receiving reports of the starving Cree, Assiniboine, Okanese and Blackfoot begging for food and dying in front of government forts. The collapse of the buffalo economy was a catastrophe that had been expected for some time. In fact, when Treaty 6 was signed two years earlier, the government made guarantees of food and medicine to help transition the people if hunger hit the plains. But as the winter wore on, MacDonald reneged on the Treaty commitments.

In a notorious House of Commons debate, he bragged that the government would withhold food "until the Indians were on the verge of starvation, to reduce the expense." Hunger became a convenient tool for forcing the First Nation people onto marginal reserve lands to secure the development of both the CPR and immigrant farm settlement.

The Second Horse
I saw a black horse at Cut Knife Creek
But the Great Poundmaker was a man of peace
He spared the soldiers true to his word
So they hung the braves at Fort Battleford.

The loss of the buffalo reduced the Plains tribes to destitution. When the starving Cree and Blackfoot went to Fort Battleford to seek food from the Indian Agent the government responded with soldiers, cannons and gatling guns.
The Cree had not come to fight. They wanted food for their families. However, when the troopers attempted to move against the hungry people they found themselves overexposed and facing a defeat that would have been larger than the Little Big Horn. Any American can tell you the story of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull but how many Canadians know the story of the great leader Poundmaker? He ordered the Braves to allow the soldiers to go leave unharmed in order to prevent bloodshed.
In response, the federal government "hunted to death" the Cree and Assiniboine braves. A number were publicly executed at Fort Battleford in the largest mass hanging in Canadian history. MacDonald forced the famine-struck families to witness the hanging in order to "convince the Red Man that the White Man rules."

The Third Horse
The third horse danced for the Great White Chief.
Hunger's a lesson that's so easy to teach.
To kill a warrior you need a gun in hand
But to kill a people you need a bureaucrat man.

One of the most disturbing aspects of Clearing the Plains is how the famine became an institutionalized tool used by Indian Affairs used to further degrade the people forced onto reserves. Officials who tried to improve conditions were often fired or overlooked for advancement. For example, the government removed Dr. John Haggerty who is credited with stopping a smallpox epidemic. The government saw his efforts as a waste of money. Instead, the government promoted venal Indian Agents who used the withholding of food and forced sexual favours to lord over destitute communities. Thus was born the bureaucratization of misery that became the hallmark of Indian Affairs throughout much of the 20th century.

The Fourth Horse
The pale horse waits at the mission school.
Progress they say can be so cruel.
But the spirit lives on across the Great North Plains
As the people find their voice again.

The Pale horse is the symbol of death. And nowhere did death take a bigger toll than among the children forced into mission schools where the tuberculosis rates were appalling.
But the Four Horses also teaches us something else -- the extraordinary resilience and determination of First Nation people. Despite a century of substandard education, health care and housing, they have not been eradicated or assimilated. In fact, they are now reclaiming their rightful place in Canada. 

SOURCE:  Huffington Post, Dec. 9

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Swept up by the Relocations Programs

In the documentary Lost Sparrow, these four Crow tribal members as children were adopted by non-Indians in New York State. The boys were killed in a tragic accident trying to save their sister from abuse.
By Trace A. DeMeyer

I was speaking with an adoptee yesterday who was told by his adoptive parents that maybe he was put up for adoption due to the Indian Relocation Programs. Maybe his Indian parents tried living in the big city and failed and because of poverty or whatever, my friend as a young boy was swept up by social services who placed him for adoption. My friend actually can speak some of his language but we are not certain if he is Lakota or not.

Indians moved around in these relocation programs. An adoptee could be from Montana and raised in New York.

Read this:

This reminds of the first story I wrote for Talking Stick Magazine about Native adoptees who are casualties of forced removals - not all children were taken from the reservations - some were snatched from big cities, too. You see it fits the pattern of the "Nation Builders" to create an idea, even a bad one, and innocent children are usually the casualties.

The PBS website offered this:  Since first contact, Native Americans have been given three choices — which weren't really choices at all.


The first “choice” was for a tribe to assimilate into the dominant American culture, become "civilized," give up tribal ways and be absorbed into America society. Many tribes tried this, many times through history. Education was the tool for assimilation in the boarding school experience. The government push to assimilate native tribes continued through the 1950s Urban Relocation Program.


Even if a tribe, like the Cherokee, tried to join the American society, they could still be forced to relocate to Oklahoma Indian Territory hundreds of miles away. That's what happened on the Trail of Tears.


Some tribes chose to fight or were forced to resist. While many have won some battles, they lost all the wars. Hundreds and thousands of Native Americans were killed in battles or by disease or starvation. One of the worst examples of genocide was what happened to the California tribes.
On our Interactive Map, you will see how various tribes experienced assimilation, relocation or genocide during American history.

So we see history is full of puzzles and mysteries like lost children who are swept up by relocation programs and placed for adoption like my friend who has no clue where he belongs or which tribe or what happened to his family.  It is his puzzle and others we need to solve....

If you'd like to read my earlier post about the tragic documentary LOST SPARROW, click here

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Private eyes to hunt for residential school abusers

The federal government intends to hire private investigators to track down the alleged perpetrators of residential school abuse.

A First Nations woman cheers while taking part in the Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday September 22, 2013. Thousands of people attended the walk that wrapped up a week Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada events in the city. From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 aboriginal children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools in an attempt to assimilate them into Canadian society. They were prohibited from speaking their languages or participating in cultural practices. The commission was created as part of a $5 billion class action settlement in 2006 - the largest in Canadian history - between the government, churches and 90,000 surviving students.
Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press
A First Nations woman cheers while taking part in the Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday September 22, 2013. Thousands of people attended the walk that wrapped up a week Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada events in the city. From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 aboriginal children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools in an attempt to assimilate them into Canadian society. They were prohibited from speaking their languages or participating in cultural practices. The commission was created as part of a $5 billion class action settlement in 2006 - the largest in Canadian history - between the government, churches and 90,000 surviving students.

OTTAWA—The Canadian government intends to hire private investigators to track down alleged perpetrators of abuse in the Indian residential school system.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is seeking private eyes to track down as many as 1,000 clergy members, former residential school staff, and students alleged to have abused Aboriginal children in the residential school system.

The goal is to give the alleged perpetrators an opportunity to participate in a court-ordered adjudication process known as the Independent Assessment Process (IAP), which helps residential school survivors settle claims for the abuse they endured.

Once located, the former residential school employees will be given the chance to voluntarily participate in the IAP.

“Canada is obligated to make an effort to locate and contact persons named as alleged perpetrators in claims filed in the (IAP),” wrote Andrea Richer, spokeswoman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, on Thursday.

Richer emphasized that participation is voluntary.

“It is the choice of the alleged perpetrator to participate or not in the IAP process.”

The federal government is required to locate the alleged perpetrators under a settlement agreement reached with Aboriginal groups in 2006. The hunt will take investigators from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and throughout Canada’s North.

Investigators will be asked to locate between 800 and 1,000 of the alleged perpetrators in the first year of a potential four-year contract. Once their targets have been located, investigators will turn over contact information to Aboriginal Affairs. In the event those named in survivors’ claims have died, investigators will be asked to provide proof.

Related stories

It’s not the first time the federal government has deployed private investigators to attempt to locate those named by residential school survivors, but the numbers suggest there are many Ottawa has yet to find.

It’s been estimated that 150,000 children were wrenched from their family homes and put into the federally-funded, church-run residential school system between the 1870s and the 1990s.
Approximately 13,000 former students took legal action against churches and the government for the emotional, physical and sexual abuse, as well as the underpinning systematic racism, they endured in the residential school system.

In June 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood in the House of Commons to formally apologize for the government’s role in perpetuating the school system.

“To the approximately 80,000 living former students and all family members and communities, the Government of Canada now recognizes that it was wrong to forcibly remove children from their homes, and we apologize for having done this,” Harper said.

“The burden of this experience has been on your shoulders for far too long. The burden is properly ours as a government, and as a country. There is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian residential schools system to ever again prevail.”

The apology was the high-water mark for relationship between First Nations and the Conservative government. That relationship is now strained on a myriad of fronts, spectacularly demonstrated by 2012’s Idle No More protests across the country.

First Nations have also pressed, to no avail, for a commission into missing and murdered aboriginal women. Many, including the Assembly of First Nations, have also lined up to oppose federal plans for new education standards on reserves. AFN Chief Sean Atleo has likened the planned First Nations Education Act to an intrusion into First Nations affairs akin to the residential school system.
The government has also been criticized — most recently by a report from Auditor General Michael Ferguson — for not cooperating with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, mandated to compile a complete historical record of the residential school system’s legacy.

“Are whoever the contract winner is going to have access to documents identifying some of these perpetrators? These are documents that the Truth and Reconciliation has to go to court to get,” said Jean Crowder, MP for Nanaimo-Cowichan and the New Democrat’s Aboriginal Affairs critic. “Are they going to have a broad access to documents? Are they going to get more than the TRC gets, because the TRC is fighting to get documents that the government won’t cough up?”

The department has budgeted $521,980 for the first year of the contract spanning from the award to March 31, 2015. An optional second year has been budgeted at $383,000, for a total of $904,980.
Two further optional years have been planned, meaning the search could potentially continue until 2018.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving? The deprivations and atrocities that followed

By Stephen L. Pevar
Every schoolchild is taught that the holiday of Thanksgiving commemorates the feast the Pilgrims arranged to thank the Indians for their friendship, for sharing their land, and for showing them how to grow, harvest, and store food. Accounts say that the generosity of the Indians saved the colonists from starvation during the harsh New England winter of 1620.

Very few schoolchildren are also taught, however, about the deprivations and atrocities that occurred to the Indians afterwards, first at the hands of the colonists and then by the United States government. Ironically, if the United States believes today that it has a poor immigration policy, imagine how self-destructive the Indians’ immigration policy was by welcoming the very people who would soon seek to destroy them.

Within 100 years after the United States gained its independence from Great Britain, tens of thousands of Indians were killed in wars defending their homelands. The United States entered into nearly 400 treaties with Indian tribes between 1783 and 1871 (when Congress ended treaty-making with the Indians), during a time when tribes were very powerful. In exchange for Indians relinquishing most of their territories and ending their defense of them, the US set aside smaller portions of land that were forever guaranteed to the treaty tribe.

When the federal government became stronger, however, it broke virtually all of these treaties and confiscated most of the land guaranteed in them. During the 1830s, for instance, Indians living in the Southeast were marched at bayonet point nearly 2000 miles to “Indian Country,” now the state of Oklahoma, during which thousands died.

These land grabs and treaty abrogations were even approved by US Supreme Court. The case of Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, decided in 1903, involved an 1867 treaty in which Congress guaranteed the Kiowa and Comanche Tribes that no additional land would be taken from their reservation unless the tribes gave their express consent. Several years later, the federal government took additional land despite opposition from the tribes. The Supreme Court held that Congress has “plenary power” (full and complete authority) over the Indians and can break a treaty essentially whenever it wishes.
Lone Wolf the Younger, Kiowa. Photo taken by De Lancey W. Gill.  Public domain via Wikipedia Commons.
Lone Wolf the Younger, Kiowa. Photo by De Lancey W. Gill. Public domain via Wikipedia Commons.

In addition to taking Indian land, the federal government, during the latter part of the 1800s, encouraged social reformers and missionaries to remove Indian children from their reservation homes and place them in boarding schools (sometimes thousands of miles away), where their Indian culture was literally beaten out of them. The government also prevented the Indians from leaving their reservations to obtain food, and many Indians starved to death. When some Plains tribes continued to resist placement on reservations, the government began slaughtering the bison on which they depended. Millions of bison were killed and left to rot, until by 1900, there were less than a thousand bison left. With their food gone, Indians were forced to surrender. Hatred for the Indians was so profound that General Sheridan, when told by one Indian that he was a “good Indian,” reportedly smirked and said, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” Sheridan was one of the generals who ordered the slaughtering of the bison.

During the past 50 years, conditions have improved for most tribes as a result of a shift in public attitude towards Indians and a change in congressional policies. A few tribes have even become wealthy as a result of casinos. But conditions on most reservations remain substandard and impoverished. As President Barack Obama noted in November 2009, the unemployment rate on some Indian reservations is 80%, nearly a quarter of all Indians live in poverty, 14% of all reservation homes don’t have electricity, and 12% don’t have access to a safe water supply.

Non-Indians often wonder why more Indians haven’t left the reservation to seek a “better” life. But this underestimates and misunderstands the importance to many Indians of their tradition, culture, and religion, much of which is tied to the land. Whereas millions of immigrants came to the United States to join the “melting pot,” many Indians have resisted assimilation and remain deeply rooted in their ancestral homelands.

For those non-Indians who wish to commemorate the origins of Thanksgiving, there are many ways to do so. One would be to urge public schools to tell the whole story about the Indian experience. Another would be to lobby Congress to enact more helpful Indian policies and programs. A third would be to donate to organizations that give assistance to Indians in their efforts to rejuvenate their governments and restore their economic, political, and social structures, such as the Native American Rights Fund, the Association of American Indian Affairs, the National Indian Child Welfare Association, and the National Congress of American Indians, among many.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. Hopefully, this year and in years to come we will spend part of the holiday reflecting on its origins and dedicating ourselves to fostering the values of the Indians who selflessly assisted their new neighbors.
Stephen L. Pevar is the author of The Rights of Indians and Tribes, Fourth Edition. He is a senior staff counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union. Mr. Pevar worked for Legal Services on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation from 1971-1974, and taught Federal Indian Law at the University of Denver School of Law from 1983-1999. He has litigated numerous Indian rights cases and has lectured extensively on the subject.
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Indian Children and Their Guardians ad Litem

Matthew's book

Fletcher & Fort: “Indian Children and Their Guardians ad Litem”

Kate Fort and I published a short paper for a Boston University Law Review mini-symposium on Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl: “Indian Children and Their Guardians ad Litem.”

An excerpt:
One of the primary goals of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is to limit the influence or bias of state workers in decisions placing American Indian children out of their home and community.1 While this focus usually concerns state social workers, the officials who most often seek removal of a child, or the courts, the body that issues the orders and opinions, guardians ad litem (GALs) receive less attention.2 Despite this lack of attention, GALs exert a similar level of influence as state social workers. In Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl,3 the role of the GAL was unusual but critical – the GAL, while officially appointed by the court, was handpicked by the adoptive parents.4 The role of the GAL remains understudied in the ICWA literature, though GALs continue to exert enormous influence in the courts. Unfortunately, many GALs throughout the nation subvert the national policy embodied by the ICWA by advocating against the implementation of the statute in case after case.5
There are three other papers in the symposium:

Perspective I by Professor Barbara Ann Atwood is available here

Perspective II by Professor James G. Dwyer is available here, and

Perspective III by Professors Naomi Cahn and June Carbone is available here.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

#BabyVeronica: Cherokee Nation Files Forceful Response to Capobiancos' $1 Million Attorneys' Fees Suit

November is Adoption Awareness Month

On Friday the Cherokee Nation came out swinging in their response to the motion filed weeks ago in Nowata, Oklahoma county court in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, in which Matt and Melanie Capobianco are seeking approximately $1 million in attorneys' fees and costs. Their recent filing in Oklahoma is the second jurisdiction in which they have sought compensation in the four-year custody battle that ended in September when Dusten Brown relinquished his biological daughter to the Capobiancos after losing at the United States Supreme Court in June. Immediately following the child's transfer in September, the couple filed similar litigation in South Carolina seeking roughly $500,000 in that state.

RELATED: Capobiancos Sue Dusten Brown for Nearly Half a Million in Fees
Cherokee Nation Mourns as Veronica Is Returned to Adoptive Family

In its 50-page response, the tribe bluntly told Nowata County Judge Curtis DeLapp that it is not responsible for paying the fees and costs for the Capobiancos because of its Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity from suits without its express consent. Additionally, the tribe said that the statute under which the couple is seeking compensation, the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, is not applicable to the tribe.

"Clearly, these people are trying to throw spaghetti at the wall in whatever court they can find to see what's going to stick," said an Oklahoma lawyer who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the case. "But, several things immediately come to mind. First, the tribe is a sovereign nation and cannot be sued without its express consent - and to my knowledge the Cherokee Nation is not in the habit of waiving their immunity. Second, this is a domestic case, one in which both the Capobiancos and Dusten Brown were represented pro bono, which was widely understood by everyone on both sides. To come after the fact asking for fees that the adoptive couple would not have had to pay had they lost, it then becomes a 'contingency' case. Contingency fees are never awarded in domestic relations, so that's a null.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Indians still suffering ill-effects of adoption

“I am 72 years old. I was adopted into a white family at age one-and-a-half when my mother died. I realized I was different before I ever went to school. When I asked, my foster parents told me I was Indian, and from that day I identified with Indians, because that was what I was. I didn’t know who I was, and that heartache and anguish has been with me for nearly 70 years. I hope your study can help me find out who I am before I die. I don’t want to die not knowing my true identity. They sealed my birth certificate so I could never find my identity and never see my blood relatives. The pain of this is never ending.” – Participant in Split Feather Study by Carol Locust (Cherokee), 1998

By Trace A. DeMeyer

November may be the month to promote more adoptions, but for North American Indians, adoption is and was a weapon of mass destruction which came in the form of the Indian Adoption Projects (IAP), developed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a division of the federal government and the Child Welfare League of America.

The Indian Adoption Program was not a war, not a signed treaty, but their idea. This idea was highly effective since adopting out Indian children would be as destructive as war but it would last longer; it’d last a lifetime.  IAP was not officially signed like other treaties made in Indian Country.  IAP records were sealed and not made public. Adoptions would be permanent. Native children adopted by non-Indians parents would be Americans. Thousands of Indian children were placed in closed adoptions and wiped off tribal rolls. No one knows exactly how many children were affected.
A big black government sedan was reported in many abduction stories and it was not against the law or illegal.  Social workers took some children to residential boarding schools.  Others were placed in orphanages and foster homes, and others would be adopted.

William Byler testified before the Senate in 1974 to ask for what became the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.

Here is some of his testimony:

Senator ABOUREZK. Can you describe how removal of Indian children in adoption situation is accomplished?

Mr. BYLER. I can cite certain kinds of experiences that we have had. One case, not too long ago in North Dakota, Indian children were living with their grandparents. Their grandmother was off doing the shopping. The grandfather was 3 miles away with a bucket getting water. While they were away, the social worker happened by at that time and found the children scrapping. When grandfather returned, the children were gone, and I don't know whether, in that case, he was ever successful in finding where the children were. I think they were placed for adoption somewhere.  When that happens, Indian parents or grandparents are told this is confidential information. We cannot disclose to you where your children are. This makes is seem impossible for them to even try to do anything about it.

Senator ABOUREZK. You mean the children were taken from the home and the grandparents never were allowed to see them again or to try to fight the actions?

Mr. BYLER. That is correct, and as far as they knew, they never received any notice that there were proceedings against them or against the parents. This is very often the case, there is no notice given, or if notice is given, it is in such a form that the people who get the notice don't understand it; It does not constitute a real notice.


In the case of Adoption Awareness Month, those who interpret its value to society do so to protect and promote their myths, touting numerous benefits for the adoptee.  Indian adoptees are called the Stolen Generations and Lost Children for a reason.  It is undeniable our assimilation was America’s answer to Manifest Destiny, to make adoptees non-Indian and prototypes of American citizens, to destroy our future as tribal members.  

Very few tribes have found success with economic development such as casino gaming; most suffer devastating cycles of poverty, the result of America's neglect and misguided programs.  

After the wars, Indian reservations were isolated for a reason - out of sight, out of mind; this is one reason why Indian Country has such severe epidemics and no one in America seems to know.

After National Public Radio’s three part investigation, their evidence proves the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 is not working as it was intended and enacted! Social services in 32 states are violating federal law and still taking Indian children.

No, adoption in America is not something we celebrate in Indian Country.

Trace A. DeMeyer and Suzie Fedorko will be guests on Jay Winter Night Wolf show Friday, Nov. 22 at 1 PM EST -

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of Ronnie Brown

This commentary from Haskell News from July is worth sharing. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of Ronnie Brown. Not a day goes by that I don't imagine her confusion at her circumstances.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about other Native American parents who had their child (or children) ripped from them. We can see that we have not moved forward in our thinking but seem to headed backwards to those heinous days of Indian Child removals. Yes, the Indian Child Welfare Act didn't have enough teeth to stop the Capobiancos or their lawyers or the courts who threw Ronnie under the bus and removed her from her own father. This blog is about education and history. This blog is about CHANGE. I thank you all for reading... Trace


The Indian Child Welfare act of 1978 was meant to stop what is now happening to Dusten and Veronica Brown.

The Veronica Brown custody case should make all Native Americans take a pause and wonder if The Indian Child Welfare Act is indeed worth it's weight in salt or is it slipping through the hands of the ones it is meant to protect: Native American children.

As with anything in the law it is only valid if it is being obeyed and understood and applied, it appears the courts are struggling with all of those issues. The Indian Child Welfare act of 1978 was meant to stop what is now happening to Dusten and Veronica (Ronnie) Brown.

In a nutshell Veronica is now living with her biological father, Dustin, and has been for almost two years now, she would have been living with him longer had the attorneys for the adoptive couple (Matt and Melanie Capobianco ) and Veronica's biological mother not lied about Dusten's personal information in order to keep the courts from knowing that Dusten and his daughter are both registered members of The Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, OK.

The pre-adoptive couple Matt and Melanie Capobianco, a white couple who raised Veronica for 27 months before The South Carolina courts ruled in favor of Mr. Brown. The child, now nearly 4, has been living with Mr. Brown in Oklahoma for almost two years. The state courts found that both the Capobianco family and Mr. Brown had provided the girl with safe, loving homes.

The problem is that Veronica was returned to her biological father, yet, the Capobianco's who have not had Veronica in their custody for almost two years and are in no way related to her are still fighting to regain custody of her.

If The Indian Child Welfare Act is not going to protect this child and it appears it is not, one has to wonder if the Capobianco's really love Veronica , or are they just out to win a case that has went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court ? It seems that if they truly love her they would walk away and leave her with her biological family. There are many other children needing good adoptive homes probably some right there in South Carolina who are not Native American.

The long and short of this is NOW is the time for Native American tribes, parents and other supportive groups to stand up and say no more, no more will Native American child be lost in a system taken from their parents and given to white folks.

All tribes need to come together now and help Dusten Brown, by doing so they will be helping their own tribal children and The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 needs to become stronger and obeyed in every court room in this United States.

Keep up your fight Mr. Brown our prayers go with you. 
haskellnews commentary 7/31/2013

As my blogger friend Von wrote here: "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."

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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.

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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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