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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Keep Calm and Decolonize: 5 short films

Watch all five films, curated by Jesse Wente, now:

A young woman, guided by Spider Woman, must overcome colonial history and education to find herself. Michif director and animator Amanda Strong combines puppets and stop motion in this arrestingly beautiful short.

Keep Calm and Decolonize: Flood

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Two Worlds: new and updated!

For Immediate Release

GREENFIELD, MA (2017) Tragic, true, heartbreaking, astonishing... those words have been used to describe the anthology Two Worlds, the first book to expose in first-person detail the adoption practices that have been going on for years under the guise of caring for destitute Indigenous children in North America.

What really happened and where are these Native children now? 

The new updated Second Edition of TWO WORLDS (Vol. 1), with narratives from Native American and First Nations adoptees, covers the history of Indian child removals in North America, the adoption projects, their impact on Indian Country, the 60s Scoop in Canada and how it impacts the adoptee and their families.

"This book changed history," say editor Trace Hentz. "There is no doubt in my mind the adoption projects were buried and hidden... we adoptees are the living proof."

The Lost Children Book Series includes: Two Worlds, Called Home: The Roadmap, Stolen Generations, and In The Veins: Poetry. The book series is an important contribution to American Indian history.

Trace Hentz (formerly DeMeyer) located other Native adult survivors of adoption and asked them to write a narrative for the first anthology. The adoptees share their unique experience of living in Two Worlds, surviving assimilation via adoption, opening sealed adoption records, and in most cases, a reunion with their tribal relatives. Indigenous identity and historical trauma takes on a whole new meaning in this adoption book series.

Since 2004, award winning journalist Hentz was writing her historical biography “One Small Sacrifice: A Memoir.” She was contacted by many adoptees after stories were published about her work. More adoptees were found after “One Small Sacrifice” had its own Facebook page and the American Indian Adoptees blog started in 2009. In 2011, Trace was introduced to Patricia Busbee and asked her to co-edit the first edition of Two Worlds.

As Hentz writes in the Preface, "The only way we change history is to write it ourselves." This book is a must read for all that want the truth, since very little is known or published on this history.

"I was asked to update this book by one adoptee contributor and I added a new narrative by Levi Eagle Feather, and more information on the 60s Scoop. Please tell your friends and other adoptees," Trace Hentz says. "One day in America, we Lost Children will have our day in court."

Patricia Busbee is writing a new chapter on her adoptee reunion in the anthology CALLED Home in 2018.


On Amazon, Kindle, Kobo... For links and more information, to order copies, bulk orders, etc:

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Permission? #TRC

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

This Reconciliation is for the Colonizer

Indigenous Motherhood
June 13, 2017
By Andrea Landry

“Indigenous based child-rearing in today’s generation resides in watching the restoration of unfaltering kinship in our Indigenous family systems unfold and allowing that to reside in the raising of our children with the knowing of who they are, and where they come from, wildly and unapologetically.”

Artwork by: Votan Henriquez


This reconciliation is for the colonizers.
This is a time of pseudo-reconciliation for continued colonization.
This reconciliation is colonization, disguised with dollar signs and white-skinned handshakes.
This reconciliation is not our reconciliation.
The only reconciliation that exists for us, as Indigenous nations, is the reconciliation we need to find within ourselves and our communities, for agreeing and complying to this madness for so long.
The only reconciliation that exists for us, is the reconciliation needed to forgive our families, our loved ones, for acting like the colonizer.
The only reconciliation we need. Is a reconciliation that doesn’t involve white skinned handshakes and five dollar handouts for our lands.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

We were not supposed to ‘be’ Indian

Adoptee Susan Harness with her younger brother James Allen in 2012.

An anthropological search for belonging and identity

At eighteen months old, Susan Harness (M.A. cultural anthropology ’06, M.A. creative nonfiction ’16) was removed from her home because of neglect. Notes from the social worker document a hungry infant with infected and bleeding mosquito bites and a diaper that hadn’t been changed in days. Harness and two of her siblings had been left in the care of their six-year-old sister by a mother who regularly disappeared for extended periods of time.

Family and community members on Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana were unable to help since they did not have the economic resources. As a result, in 1960, like over 30 percent of American Indian children in that time period, Harness was adopted into a non-American Indian home.

Transracial adoption

The Indian Adoption Project was a small study interested in understanding the impact of transracial adoption on American Indian children. From 1958 through 1967, researchers spoke with a small subset of American Indian children who were adopted by white families. Proponents of this practice argued that this was an improvement over previous policies which resulted in difficulties placing American Indian children into homes. Harness’ experience and later academic research document a unique perspective on this subject – that of the child adoptee.

“The primary purpose of placing over a third of American Indian children with white families was assimilation,” said Harness. “My adoption, like nearly every other transracial adoption, was a closed adoption. This means our names were changed; our families, our tribes and nation, erased. Our entire identity was kept locked away in files that could be opened only by court order, trusting you could find a sympathetic judge. Therefore, finding our way home would be almost impossible. That’s how it was meant to be. We were not supposed to ‘be’ Indian, we were supposed to become members of the dominant society, with full and complete access to the American Dream.”

"We were not supposed to ‘be’ Indian, we were supposed to become members of the dominant society, with full and complete access to the American Dream."
– Susan Harness (upcoming book Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption, out fall 2018 from University of Nebraska Press.)
keep reading


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Ontario Adoption Records | Tips to Search


Adoption records opened for adoptees and natural parents
Ontario on June 1st, 2009.

Records Prior to Adoption Act 1921

See Guardianship and Adoption Records – Ontario Archives

Once you have obtained the names of your natural parents or the child you lost to adoption, some useful tools for your search include:
  • Searching for names using Google or Facebook
  • Looking in online phone directories including and
  • Your original birth record indicates where your natural mother and father were born. You can use the phone directory for that city to contact them or other family members to find out where they might currently be living.
  • Henderson Directories (“City Directories”) for the city you were born in, or in which your natural parent was born, and for occupations.  They can also provide relevant older information on names, addresses, and occupations dating back to 1905. Many cities across Canada had these directories in addition to phone-books. Check local libraries and online sources (e.g., University of Alberta) for copies.
  • Check adoption notices in the newspaper after date of completion of adoption.  Also check birth notices that do not mention the time of birth or doctors involved, these are sometimes disguised adoption notices.
  • Check birthday wishes in the paper
  • Peruse highschool and yearbooks for appropriate years
  • Check Obituaries
Many use Facebook and other social media to locate relatives also... Trace

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

What do you call THIS?

By Trace Hentz  (adoptee and editor of the book series Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects)

What do you call it when a woman has a baby and a social worker/ judge/ government has pre-judged her, then decides to take that baby, then it happens again and again… each and every time she gets pregnant. What if this happened 5 times, or 9 times? What do you call that?

Debby, Mitzi, Elizabeth (and countless other Native adoptees) your mothers lost you and other children.  What do you call this?  How do you tell people or explain to people a history like this?   
What did they call your mother? Did they demean her, label her crazy, to justify this?

How does anyone define genocide?  What is Human Trafficking?  Choosing one segment of the population for this treatment? Placing American Indian First Nations Indigenous babies with a non-Indian family? This had a purpose. The government paid for this. And until the Indian Child Welfare Act, this decimated tribes to near extinction.

We know with slaves, children were sold. Families separated. Rebellions quashed. Resistors hung from trees. Millions of dollars were made selling human life, with fortunes created, mansions built, and enough wealth for generations.

Who in their right mind would find this acceptable?

What do you call taking babies from their own mothers? Do you give this a name, like adoption. Do you market it as something else? How do you sell people on this? Why did people accept this? 

How did mothers survive losing their children? How do children survive without them?

If this feels like slavery and heinous and insanity and genocide and cruelty, that’s because it is. It is all this.

I will be publishing a new updated second edition of TWO WORLDS this month!  Please tell your friends and other adoptees.  We'll post more on this blog when it comes out.  Please get in touch if you are an adoptee and still searching. Pray for mothers across the planet that they can keep and raise their children.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Latest Development in Florida #OBC Access

We are writing to update you on legislative developments in Florida, specifically around HB357/SB576, which we have all joined in opposing.

Earlier this week, Rep. Barry Russell, a Democrat from Broward County, filed a clean OBC access bill with a genuine contact preference form (HB821). We are obviously supportive of clean bills. We are, however, cautiously moving forward with support of HB821 at this time. It appears certain that the new bill was filed at the request or direction of Representative Richard Stark, the sponsor of the bill that we currently oppose. With the recent history of two widely different New York OBC access bills being simultaneously introduced and sponsored by the same legislator---with disastrous results for adoptees---we are concerned that the new bill in Florida is not genuine and is instead being used solely to obtain a hearing on Representative Stark’s bill. Representative Stark has represented that at least one committee assigned to his bill will not approve it without adding redaction provisions.

For this reason, we have expressed guarded support for the new bill. At the same time, we are working with Florida constituents to determine whether the current sponsor of the clean bill is committed to the bill and to adoptee rights generally. We will specifically ask him if he is willing to work with supporters in assuring passage of HB821 without discriminatory amendments.

The new bill, which does not have a required senate sponsor, can be found here. We will let you know more details once we talk with Representative Russell.

As always, thanks for your support!

Gregory Luce • Marley Greiner • Susan Friel-Williams + all 26 organizations in unity

Adoptee Rights Law Center
Adoptee Rights Campaign
Adoption Rights Alliance (Ireland)/The Philomena Project
ALARM Network
American Adoption Congress
Banished Babies of Ireland
Bastard Nation: The Adoptee Rights Organization
Concerned United Birthparents
The Donaldson Adoption Institute
National Center on Adoption and Permanency
The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
Saving Our Sisters
Trace L. Hentz, author, Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects series
Access Rhode Island
California Open
Canada Open
Equal Access Oklahoma
Equality4Adoptees (Texas)
Florida Adoption Initiative for Reform
Indiana Open
Michigan Open
Minnesota Coalition for Adoption Reform
Missouri Open
Nevada Open
New York State Adoptee Equality
Post-Adoption Center for Education and Resources (PACER)

Gregory D. Luce
Adoptee Rights Law Center PLLC
Twitter: @adopteelaw

Thursday, November 30, 2017

How did you feel? Can you imagine this?

This is the last post for #NAAM, or National Adoption Awareness Month, and it's something I wrote a few years back:

How did you feel…

16Sep 2017 | By TAO

I’m trying something new.  New is scary for me, but, it’s something I thought of doing for a while on many different topics.  I decided to start with adoptee rights which means that there are two different questions for adoptees, and a third question for other voices.  Hopefully, hearing feelings of others may convince people to change their mind and support upcoming legislation.

1.  When you are denied the right to your factual original birth certificate, how does it make you feel?
2.  For those who’ve finally gained the right to the original birth certificate, tell me how it felt when you held your original birth certificate in your hands. 
3.  Other voices in adoption, how does it makes you feel knowing your child either has the right to their original birth certificate upon request, just like non-adopted do, or doesn’t have the same right.
(If you want to answer on Tao’s post, here is the link)

My Answer:

I will answer number one. I can answer number one.

When I was 22, I called Catholic Charities in Minnesota who said to me, “Sorry we can’t help you. All our adoption records are sealed.” They had my adoption file since 1956 and they had my name. They had me in their system somewhere – this church who had sold me into this adoption, and a life of lies and fake documents. These social workers/nuns/priests had my identity locked up in a drawer somewhere and they weren’t going to tell me anything? Exactly. (I felt very angry and very desperate. What could I do?)

Have you imagined what it would be like to not know your own family? How you might meet someone and wonder “could we be cousins or siblings?” I was 22. I had questions about my health, my medical history, and nothing to write on the doctor’s office forms. Can you imagine this? People who are not adopted, can you?

At age 22, I was hurt. I was. After calling them, I was so hurt. Actually devastated. And to make matters worse, my adoptive parents would never be helpful. (They probably had my adoption file hidden away – they never showed it to me or offered me any help.) At that point I was a college graduate and living on my own. This phone call to Catholic Charities was my decision and I didn’t need anyone’s permission to search for my own adoption records. AND I wasn’t sharing anything important about my search since my adoptive parents had very little contact with me.
WOW – I do recall how I felt anger. How in the world can I live this way? I might be dating my own brother! I might be working with a cousin or my own parent? Fuming hostile anger!

There was nowhere to put this anger. I didn’t have a counselor to guide me. I had no one. (Yet I never felt sorry for myself.)

Then finally I had an idea. Go to the courthouse. I did. The rest is in my memoir (in greater detail.)
I found out my name. I had my mother’s name. I had a physical description of my father and his age.
I was 22 and NAIVE so this adoption file was a thick legal file. I had no idea what I was reading but this court proceeding was about ME. I took notes. I kept two scraps of paper like they were my most important possession. (In 2010 I petitioned the state of Wisconsin where I was adopted and paid for my own adoption file, not the same thick file I read in the courthouse at age 22.)

I wanted and still want my REAL birth certificate. Many times, many letters I mailed to the state of Minnesota. I asked them for a copy of my original birth certificate (OBC). They always refuse. I talk to a judge friend and she made inquiries for me – nothing. I asked again last year and nothing.
A simple piece of paper – a copy of my own birth certificate – is not mine to have? Apparently not in Minnesota. If I lived in Alaska or Maine, I’d have it by now.

How do I feel about this, my fake birth certificate that lists two people as my biological parents when they are not? I am much older now… Now I feel this is an grave injustice, a human rights violation, a travesty. I didn’t agree to these conditions. I didn’t ask to be adopted. I DID find my biological family after I read my adoption file but I still want that simple piece of paper. I deserve it.

Anger is one thing. Feeling outrage is another.

I wrote a letter (in 2015) to the ACLU in Minnesota and asked for their help. I wanted their help to sue Catholic Charities for stealing my identity and holding my adoption file and identity hostage. (ACLU turned me down.)

This is war. I am still fighting.

(A few years back, a member of CUB (Concerned United Birthparents) sent me a file. It’s a copy of my original baptismal record from Catholic Charities in Minnesota. On a single piece of paper is my mothers name and my name Laura Jean Thrall crossed out and replaced with new parents and my new name.)

How would you feel?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

What came after the Indian Adoption Projects? Adoption Resource Exchange of North America

Source: U.S. Children's Bureau, Child-Welfare Exhibits:  Types and Preparation, Miscellaneous Series, No. 4, Bureau Publication No. 14 (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1915).
Beginning in 1916, the U.S. Children's Bureau brought its baby-week campaign to thousands of cities, towns, and rural communities across the United States. The photograph above was taken during a baby-week celebration on an Indian reservation.
Child Welfare League of America published Standards of Adoption Service (revised in 1968, 1973, 1978, 1988, 2000); Indian Adoption Project began.
The Adoption Resource Exchange of North America (ARENA), founded in 1966, was the immediate successor to the Indian Adoption Project. ARENA was the first national adoption resource exchange devoted to finding homes for hard-to-place children. It continued the practice of placing Native American children with white adoptive parents for a number of years in the early 1970s. (It's estimated some 20,000 children were removed from their First Nations families and sent to non-Native parents in the US.)
1966 The National Adoption Resource Exchange, later renamed the Adoption Resource Exchange of North America (ARENA), was established as an outgrowth of the Indian Adoption Project.
Indian children have certain rights which are theirs by birthright. That is, they have rights of tribal enrollment if they meet the requirements for enrollment set up by the tribe. As tribal members they have the right to share in all the assets of the tribe which are distributed on a per capita basis. The actual as well as anticipated benefits of an Indian child adopted through our Project are furnished by the Secretary of Interior. The Secretary of Interior, through the superintendent of the Indian agency where the child is enrolled, has the right to approve or disapprove of any plan made for the distribution of funds belonging to an Indian child.
Editor Note:  Even though Lyslo said we have rights, we are still taken from our tribes and placed in non-Indian families - which is part and parcel of a genocide program. And maybe those non-Indian parents adopted us for the money we could earn as tribal members...Poverty was often cited as the reason for removal - so who caused the poverty?? - we know the answer...

This post is about the government sanctioned Indian Adoption Project when adoptive parents were questioned over a period of years. It was a study. Who did they ask? Not the adoptee. But there were many projects and many churches who ran adoption programs... More than just this Indian Adoption Project... Trace

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Canadian Prime Minister Residential Schools Apology: “Saying that We are Sorry today is not Enough”

Levi Rickert
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomes residential survivor Toby Obed to the stage after delivering an apology on behalf of the Government of Canada to former students of the Newfoundland and Labrador residential schools. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)
Published November 25, 2017
HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, LABRADOR - CANADA — On Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally apologized to former students of Newfoundland and Labrador residential schools before hundreds of residents of Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Labrador.
In his apology, Trudeau admits in residential schools that "many former students were sorely neglected, while others were subjected to tragic physical and sexual abuse."
Residential schools in Canada were counterpart to Indian boarding schools in the United States, where indigenous children were taken from the familial homes to places in schools to "Kill the Indian, save the man" concept that sought to strip Native people of their culture and "civilize" them.
Trudeau's apology in Labrador seeks to rectify former Prime Minister Stehpen Harper's failure to include the Innu, Inuit and NunatuKavut people of Newfoundland and Labrador in his 2008 apology. The Harper administration said the Native people there were not acknowledged then because the residential schools were already in operation prior to the Newfoundland and Labrador became part of Canada.
The full transcipt of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's apology can be read below:
“The treatment of Indigenous children in residential schools is a dark and shameful chapter in our country’s history. By acknowledging the past and educating Canadians about the experiences of Indigenous children in these schools, we can ensure that this history is never forgotten.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Moravian Mission and the International Grenfell Association established schools with dormitory residences for Indigenous children with the support of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Their stated purpose was to educate Innu, Inuit, and NunatuKavut children from the communities of Black Tickle, Cartwright, Davis Inlet, Goose Bay, Hebron, Hopedale, Makkovik, Nain, Northwest River, Nutak, Postville, Rigolet, Sheshatshiu and other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador. We now know, however, that Indigenous children in these schools were isolated from their communities, families, traditions and cultures. These residential schools were operated from 1949 until the last school closed in 1980, with the support of the Canadian government.
To move forward with reconciliation, we must understand the role of residential schools in our history. We must recognize the colonial way of thinking that fueled these practices. It’s important because it was there, in these residential schools, that many former students were sorely neglected, while others were subjected to tragic physical and sexual abuse. Many experienced a profound void at the loss of their languages and cultural practices, while others were not properly fed, clothed or housed. Ultimately, every single child was deprived of the love and care of their parents, families and communities.
Children who returned from traumatic experiences in these schools looked to their families and communities for support but, in many cases, found that their own practices, cultures and traditions had been eroded by colonialism. It was in this climate that some experienced individual and family dysfunction, leaving a legacy that took many forms. Afterwards, some experienced grief, poverty, family violence, substance abuse, family and community breakdown, and mental and physical health issues. Unfortunately, many of these intergenerational effects of colonialism on Indigenous people continue today.
On September 28, 2016, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador approved the negotiated settlement agreed to by the parties to provide compensation to those who attended the residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador and those who may have suffered abuse. The agreement also includes provisions for healing and commemoration activities identified by former students. This settlement was made possible because of the exceptional courage and strength of representative plaintiffs and other former students who came forward and spoke about their experiences. Sadly, not all are here with us today, having passed away without being able to hear this apology. We honour their spirits – and we cherish their memories.
We heard you when you said that the exclusion of Newfoundland and Labrador from Canada’s 2008 Apology to Former Students of Indian Residential Schools and the absence of an apology recognizing your experiences have impeded healing and reconciliation. We acknowledge the hurt and pain this has caused you – and we assure former students that you have not been forgotten.
Today, I stand humbly before you, as Prime Minister of Canada, to offer a long overdue apology to former students of the five residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador on behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians. I also offer an apology to the families, loved ones and communities impacted by these schools for the painful and sometimes tragic legacy these schools left behind.
For all of you – we are sincerely sorry – pijâgingilagut – apu ushtutatat.
To the survivors who experienced the indignity of this abuse, neglect, hardship and discrimination by the individuals, institutions and system entrusted with your care, we are truly sorry for what you have endured.
We are sorry for the lack of understanding of Indigenous societies and cultures that led to Indigenous children being sent away from their homes, families and communities and placed into residential schools. We are sorry for the misguided belief that Indigenous children could only be properly provided for, cared for, or educated if they were separated from the influence of their families, traditions and cultures. This is a shameful part of Canada’s history – stemming from a legacy of colonialism, when Indigenous people were treated with a profound lack of equality and respect – a time in our country when we undervalued Indigenous cultures and traditions and it was wrongly believed Indigenous languages, spiritual beliefs and ways of life were inferior and irrelevant.
Saying that we are sorry today is not enough. It will not undo the harm that was done to you. It will not bring back the languages and traditions you lost. It will not take away the isolation and vulnerability you felt when separated from your families, communities and cultures. And it will not repair the hardships you endured in the years that followed as you struggled to recover from what you experienced in the schools and move forward with your lives.
But today we want to tell you that what happened in those five schools – at the Lockwood School in Cartwright, the Makkovik Boarding School, the Nain Boarding School, the St. Anthony Orphanage and Boarding School and the Yale School in Northwest River – is not a burden you have to carry alone anymore. It is my hope that today you can begin to heal – that you can finally put your inner child to rest. We share this burden with you by fully accepting our responsibilities – and our failings – as a government and as a country.
All Canadians possess the ability to learn from the past and shape the future. This is the path to reconciliation. This is the way to heal the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. Today’s apology follows on the heels of a historic new approach to reconciliation between Canada and Indigenous peoples.
And this year, as we reflect on 150 years of Confederation across Canada, we have an opportunity to pause – to think about the future we want to create, that we must create, that we will create, together, in the coming decades and centuries.
We have an opportunity to rebuild our relationship, based on the recognition of your rights, respect, cooperation, partnership and trust. The Newfoundland and Labrador residential schools settlement is an example of reconciliation in action, a settlement with healing and commemoration at its core.
We understand that reconciliation between the Government of Canada and Indigenous peoples can be a difficult process and is ongoing – and we know it doesn’t happen overnight. But it is my hope that in apologizing today, acknowledging the past and asking for your forgiveness, that as a country, we will continue to advance the journey of reconciliation and healing together.
Former students, families and communities that were impacted by the Newfoundland and Labrador residential schools continue to display incredible strength in the face of adversity. Your resilience and your perseverance are evident through your actions every day. By telling the story of Newfoundland and Labrador residential schools, we ensure that this history will never be forgotten. All Canadians have much to learn from this story and we hope to hear you tell your stories – in your own way and in your own words – as this healing and commemoration process unfolds.
While we cannot forget the history that created these residential schools, we must not allow it to define the future. We call on all Canadians to take part in the next chapter – a time when Indigenous and non-Indigenous people build the future we want together.”
November 24, 2017
On behalf of the Government of Canada
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau,
Prime Minister of Canada

"Healing" History: Native America

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Kindness of Strangers

Welcome to 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days, hosted by Portrait of an Adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying adoption experiences and perspectives.

By Suzanne Gilbert


...Years later I would learn that his son, my half-brother, applied to and attended Princeton University as a native American, drawing on our Cherokee paternal great grandmother having grown up on the reservation in Oklahoma. We are also of slight Iroquois descent.
Among other provisions, the ICWA returns to Indian adoptees access to their original birth certificates with their first parents’ names on them. Despite that, I was imperiously scolded by someone who answered the phone at the Indian Museum in Manhattan that I had no right to search because I, apparently as an infant, had “legally agreed to protect” my first mother’s confidentiality.
After that, another adoptee, adoption reform activist Barbara Cohen, put me in touch with the attorney who helped draft the ICWA. He in turn put me in touch with a tribal historian on the Iroquois reservation in upstate New York.

keep reading

Monday, November 20, 2017

On overcoming hardships

Submitted Photo
Dr. Don Bartlette visited Minot State Nov. 1, to begin the Native American Cultural Celebration month. Bartlette spoke on the one person in his community who helped him overcome hardships through love, acceptance and compassion.

Dr. Don Bartlette (in pohoto) visited Minot State Nov. 1, to begin the Native American Cultural Celebration month. Bartlette spoke on the one person in his community who helped him overcome hardships through love, acceptance and compassion.

Bartlette, author of “Macaroni at Midnight,” spoke in his autobiography about his childhood being a Native American living off the reservation in poverty. Bartlette suffered from school and family violence, racism, child abuse and living in an environment of alcoholism.

He was able to overcome his disadvantages with the help of someone in his community who showed him unconditional love, acceptance and compassion to become a success in life.

“These events will provide opportunities to learn about our indigenous people, their lives and how they got to where they are today – successful,” Annette Mennem, MSU’s Native American Center director, said.

When asked why November, Mennem said that in the 1990s, then President George H. W. Bush declared the month of November the National American Indian Heritage month, which Minot State now calls the Native American Celebration.

“I celebrate daily being indigenous and being Ojibway or Anishnaabe (the original people),” Mennem said.

While November isn’t exactly symbolic to Native American culture, Mennem said the Ojibway call the month “gashkadino-giizis” or “Ice is Forming Moon.”  November is also a time where they say “Happy Harvest” and give thanks for blessings from Mother Earth, Sister and Brother Moon, and Father Sky.  These are Ojibway tradition and may differ for other tribes, according to Mennem.
Keep reading

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Major grant to help reunify Native American families: Melanie Sage will study states’ compliance

Melanie Sage will study states’ compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act and develop materials to improve communication among all stakeholders

By Bert Gambini | November 14, 2017

Melanie Sage, assistant professor of social work
Melanie Sage
“There are no measures to ensure the courts and child welfare systems abide by the law, which says that we should take extra steps to make sure indigenous children remain with their families because of a history of government interventions that have broken up Native families.”
Melanie Sage, assistant professor of social work, University at Buffalo in New York

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A University at Buffalo social work researcher will use a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to gather evidence and produce resources to improve the services state agencies offer to Native American families involved in child welfare cases.

The HHS’s Administration for Children and Families originally awarded the funding to Melanie Sage, an assistant professor in UB’s School of Social Work, when she was a faculty member at the University of North Dakota. She has received permission to formally transfer the grant to UB.

“This continues to be a close collaboration with University of North Dakota, but I’ll be supervising the project from UB,” she says.

As principal investigator of the five-year project, she says the goal of her team’s work is to increase how well states comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), legislation enacted in 1978 that set federal guidelines for child custody proceedings involving Native American children.

“This law [ICWA] has been around for nearly 40 years and it isn’t upheld well,” says Sage, one of the few social workers in the country studying ICWA implementation and compliance.

“There are no measures to ensure the courts and child welfare systems abide by the law, which says that we should take extra steps to make sure indigenous children remain with their families because of a history of government interventions that have broken up Native families.”

ICWA is a controversial law that private adoption attorneys have challenged, arguing that the legislation is race-based. But Sage clarifies that it’s a child’s membership in a tribal nation that determines protection in ICWA cases, similar to procedures used when U.S. families adopt children from countries.

But unlike working relationships with other countries, a history of mistrust and the strain of poor communication weakens dealings between social service agencies and tribal governments.

“It’s states and court systems that have not done well in this area,” says Sage. “We’ve identified many of the roadblocks to successful implementation of ICWA, things like child welfare workers who don’t understand what must be done on a case in order to abide by the law. Or courts that don’t know who to notify within tribes to help reunify families.”

When Sage originally moved to North Dakota it was clear that one of the state’s top child welfare concerns was that Native American children represented 40 percent of the children in foster care, while comprising only 10 percent of the population.

Those alarming statistics led the North Dakota Supreme Court to issue a call for proposals to help the justices understand what might be responsible for the disproportionality and the associated poor compliance with ICWA.

That experience improving internal court processes, a three-year undertaking from 2011 to 2014, is the foundation for the current grant. But the previous North Dakota research involved a single system, in this instance, the court’s interest in how it might be falling short of its own requirements.

When federal funding became available, Sage saw the chance to work toward full ICWA compliance by pulling many parties together and taking an interdisciplinary approach to improving communication between systems.

“We have Tribal government partners; Tribal social service partners; state-level child welfare partners; and partners in North Dakota at the child welfare training center,” says Sage. “We’re all working to try to improve relationships among those entities because we recognize that policy and practice fall apart because people are not talking to one another about what they’re doing.”
A curriculum to better educate case workers is ready for testing in North Dakota and is will be shared with other states by the end of next year, according to Sage.

Bert Gambini
News Content Manager
Arts and Humanities, Economics, Social Sciences, Social Work
Tel: 716-645-5334

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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.


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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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