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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Is It Time for Truth and Reconciliation in the U.S.? #BadHistory

Canada and South Africa both used similar commissions to grapple with their histories of racism and genocide. The U.S. could benefit from following suit.

GOOD READ: Is It Time for Truth and Reconciliation in the U.S.? by Yasmeen Wafai — YES! Magazine

YES, it is time for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the USA... We are still dealing with bad history...Trace 
 
The Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners in 2016. Left to right Sandy White Hawk, Gail Werrbach, gkisedtanamoogk, Matthew Dunlap, and Carol Wishcamper. Photo from TRC.

Is It Time for Truth and Reconciliation in the U.S.?

For more than 100 years leading up to the late 1970s, Native children in the Wabanaki group of tribes of Maine were removed from their homes by state authorities and placed with White families in an attempt to erase their indigenous identity. To try to heal from this trauma, state and tribal child welfare workers collaborated to create the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission. “We were led by a real desire to make a difference in the child welfare system and native families, because playing nice wasn’t doing it,” said Esther Anne, a board member of the nonprofit Maine Wabanaki REACH. REACH, which stands for Restoration Engagement Advocacy Change Healing, is a cross-cultural collaborative organization with both Wabanaki people and non-Natives focused on restorative justice, education, and healing and wellness work, said Barbara Kates, a community organizer for the group. This system has been effective in other places. Canada completed a truth and reconciliation commission in 2015 to address the suffering of First Nations children in the residential school system. The report the Canadian commission produced detailed the abuse and subsequent trauma the children and families suffered. But every year since then, organizers in the village of Fort Langley, British Columbia, host a Walk in the Spirit of Reconciliation to honor the report’s release and to show solidarity with survivors.
The Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners in 2016. Left to right Sandy White Hawk Gail Werrbach gkisedtanamoogk Matthew Dunlap and Carol Wishcamper. Photo from TRC.
Maine Wabanaki REACH conducted a 27-month investigation, which ended in 2015, into the family separations. Today, the group is continuing to stay focused on the self-determination of the Wabanaki people, said Anne, who is a member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, one of the five in Maine and Quebec that make up the Wabanaki Confederacy. The commission’s work was the subject of the 2018 documentary, Dawnland. Kates also played a part in the commission, of which Anne was a co-founder. Kates worked in the Maine child welfare system and reached out to colleagues there to ask if they would be interested in coming forward and telling about their experience working with Native children who had been taken from their families. The truth and reconciliation commission was a grassroots effort, she said. “This came from the bottom up,” Kates said. This echoes a statement from Joshua Inwood, a geography professor at Pennsylvania State University, who said that truth and reconciliation commissions in the U.S. have typically taken a bottom-up approach. “Commissions that are successful in the United States are really grassroots driven,” he said. Inwood said how such commissions are run varies from case to case. For example, in an effort to heal from the 1979 attack on a unionization protest by members of the KKK in Greensboro, North Carolina, in which five demonstrators were killed, there was a public call for commissioners who researched archives, held a series of events to collect public testimony, and wrote a report that was then unveiled in a public ceremony. He also said several public meetings were held after the commission ran its course to keep that conversation going.
Tissues used by people who gave statements to the commission being burned in a sacred fire. Photo from TRC.
This is similar to the approach taken by the Maine-Wabanaki commission, which was modeled on the Greensboro commission, Anne said. Along with revealing the truth about family separations and promoting healing between Native and non-Native people, one of the goals for the commission was fostering change. The commission outlined 14 recommendations near the end of the report, released in 2015, that reflect the change it hoped to see, including some that touch on tribal sovereignty. Among the proposed changes for this are committing to state and tribal jurisdictions, supporting the healing and cultural resurgence of the Wabanaki people, and building cultural awareness. The commission also made recommendations pertaining to the U.S. Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which was created to protect Indian children and promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families. The commission recommended funding the renewal of an ICWA work group and the regular monitoring of compliance with ICWA. There were also care-focused recommendations. One called for better and more consistent support for non-Native foster and adoptive families, while another recommended exploring the creation of more Native foster homes.
A still from Dawnland a documentary that focuses on the work of the TRC. Georgina Sappier-Richardson who was placed in foster care as a child sharing her story at a TRC community visit. Photo by Ben Pender-Cudlip/Upstander Project.
Different people had different experiences with the commission, but powerful change has been occurring in Indigenous and non-Native communities in Maine, Kates said. She explained that, because of the complicated nature of the issue, drawing absolute conclusions about what happened during the period of child separation is difficult, and as a non-Native, she said, she can’t make assumptions. But she has heard from others that people are connecting over their newfound understanding of the intergenerational trauma that occurred to the families and children. This included abuse and neglect, and suppressing the use of their Native language, according to the commissions’ report. Anne said one of the biggest changes she saw in tribal communities was that, after a long time of asking, “What is wrong with us?” they were talking about their trauma and trying to heal and understand, asking, “What happened to us?” However, not all truth commissions include a reconciliation portion. Bonny Ibhawoh, a professor of history and global human rights at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said South Africa’s commission after the apartheid ended was the first example of an emphasis on reconciliation. For Ibhawoh, the attraction of a truth and reconciliation commission is the opportunity it provides to address human rights violations on a mass scale. It allows victims to speak their truths, something you cannot always get from a trial, he said.
Nelson Mandela left receives a five volumes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report from Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Pretoria on October 29 1998. The report reveals human rights abuse by various political parties during the Nationalist Party rule. Photo by Walter Dhaladhla/AFP/Getty Images.
A general debate runs within transitional justice circles as to whether or not there should be a reconciliation portion to truth commissions established by the state, Ibhawoh said. Some people argue that the state has no business trying to impose reconciliation, and that some people are just not ready to reconcile with or even confront their abusers, which risks further victimization, he said. The Truth Commission of Ecuador established by the government to investigate human rights violations committed by the government over many years serves as an example of a truth commission influenced by this view, Ibhawoh said. In other cases, as in South Africa, leaders like Nelson Mandela thought the country could be healed through a reconciliation process. In the context of the commission in Maine, Anne said she thinks the word “reconciliation” can be problematic in how people understand it and what their perspective is. During the commission’s work, White people wanted to get right to the healing, but the tribes needed to tell their truth, she said. Ibahawoh said he thinks the U.S. should seriously consider a truth and reconciliation commission as a model to try to heal from injustices like slavery and persistent racism.
The final meeting between staff and advisors from REACH and the TRC. Photo from TRC.
However, for a truth and reconciliation commission to be successful anywhere, he said, the victims and the government must communicate to find the best way to go about healing, whether it be through reconciliation or reparations. “The government wants to put (out) a reconciliation narrative at the expense of victims,” Ibhawoh said. Anne said commissions are just one way of approaching truth. Depending on the goals, restorative practices and informed knowledge in communities can happen anywhere. There is value in different ways of truth-telling and healing that do not need to be formal or institutionalized, she said. It would take a lot of time and resources, but if people were invested, she said, she thinks a commission could work nationwide. “The truth-telling that happened since the commission has been impactful,” Anne said. Editor’s note: An earlier version referred to Esther Anne with the surname Attean. 

This article originally appeared in Yes! Magazine at https://www.yesmagazine.org/social-justice/2019/06/19/reparations-truth-and-reconciliation-united-states.

Yes! Magazine is a nonprofit, independent media organization dedicated to telling stories of ... . Learn more at Yes! Magazine

Follow up NY Times Article on ICWA

Follow up NY Times Article on ICWA

Here.
“I think it means a lot to our foster kids that we’re Cherokee,” said Carney Duncan, a gentle, soft-spoken man whose hair falls below his shoulders. “My mom and dad always helped people and took them in. I have an ‘Uncle Joe’ who is no kin but we took him in. And a ‘brother’ who lived with us who is no blood kin. We help our own. It’s a Cherokee value.”

Given the daily racism that Native people endure, Schon said, he thought it was important for Native children to grow up in Native families, to ground themselves.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Sad News: Frank LaMere Walks On

siouxcityjournal.com photo

Sad News: Frank LaMere Walks On

by Kate Fort
 
Few of yesterday's articles about his life mention just how much work he did on behalf of Native children, including the March for Lost Children. In this interview, he speaks about making people uncomfortable--"Nothing changes until someone feels uncomfortable."
If you worked on ICWA in any capacity, you knew Frank LaMere. Keep making people uncomfortable.

**
Winnebago activist Frank LaMere, far right, speaks to the family of Zachary Bear Heels outside the bus station in Omaha, Nebraska, where the Native man first arrived on June 5, 2017. He later died after being beaten by police officers. A prayer walk took place in his honor on December 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Abourezk
excerpt

‘We’re going to keep it going’

Matt Ohman, executive director of Siouxland Human Investment Partnership, a nonprofit in Sioux City, Iowa, that LaMere had worked with for nearly a decade, said LaMere was pivotal in bringing together leaders from many nonprofit and government agencies to help improve the lives of Native people in Sioux City.
Among those he built relationships with were Iowa Department of Human Services leaders, whom LaMere had heavily criticized following the deaths of several Native children in non-Native foster homes over 16 years ago.
“There was a lot of anger,” Ohman said about the deaths of the Native children. “It’s a testament to Frank because he used that to really develop a relationship with the Department of Human Services here, and now they are some of the biggest allies to the Native people.”
LaMere’s latest effort involved seeking Indian Health Service funds to build a detox center or halfway house for Native men in Sioux City. He and Ohman had traveled several times to Washington, D.C., to try to convince Congressional leaders, including Rep. Steve King of Iowa, to support efforts to fund the project.
Ohman said language has been included in the Interior appropriations bill now being considered by Congress to provide funding for treatment programs for Native people in Sioux City.
Last Tuesday, Ohman and other representatives from his organization visited with LaMere in his hospital room in Omaha.“His body had been through so much, but he was in good spirits,” he said.
“His biggest concern was, ‘I’ve got so many things going on right now, there’s so much work to do and here I am.’”
“I just assured him, ‘Hey, we’re not going to let the momentum die on any of these things while you’re recuperating. We’re going to keep it going and make sure all of this stuff keeps moving forward.’”

READ
Republished with permission from Indianz.com.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Intercept Article on ICWA and the Brackeen Case #ProudtoProtectICWA

Veronica Brown protest
“Babies don’t get born and run down to the citizenship office and file a petition,” said Matthew Fletcher, director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University. When his own child was born, he and his partner took a year to register him as a tribal member, in part because he was eligible for more than one tribal nation. “To say that somehow this kid hasn’t been enrolled yet and therefore doesn’t have a political relationship is really quite disingenuous.”

***

Reflecting on the rhetoric used by ICWA opponents like Sandefur, Nicole Adams, a spokesperson for Partnership for Native Children, pointed to the institutions that pushed for the use of boarding schools and adoption for decades before ICWA’s passage. “They were led by very well-intentioned Christian coalitions purporting that Indian children needed to be saved, and they were just the ones to do it. If you look at the rhetoric being put out by some of ICWA’s most staunch opponents, it is eerily and frighteningly similar.”

Intercept Article on ICWA and the Brackeen Case

by Kate Fort

Let’s tell the true story of the founding of America #TRC


Many believe that “the past is past,” and it’s time to move on. Such thinking ignores the traumatic impact of genocide on future generations and the continued oppression of indigenous Americans. I recently watched the film “Dawnland” at Amherst Cinema, which highlights the first U.S. truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the government of Maine’s removal of generations of indigenous American children from their families. In the 19th and 20th centuries, tens of thousands of children on reservations were severed from their families and sent to residential schools and foster homes in order to eradicate indigenous Americans through forcibly acculturating their children — another form of genocide.
The Indian Child Welfare Act was established in 1978 to end this century-long practice and to instead “... protect the best interests of Indian Children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children and placement of such children in homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture.”
Critics of the ICWA argue that the law is race-based, ignoring the sovereignty of tribal nations. A Federal Appeals Court judge will soon be deciding the fate of this 41-year-old law based on a case heard in March. The consequences of overturning the ICWA would once again threaten the welfare of Indigenous American families. Today, indigenous American children are three times more likely to be removed from their homes than white children, according to “Dawnland.”

READ: Columnist Sara Weinberger: Let’s tell the true story of the founding of America

Monday, June 10, 2019

Readers on Adoption That Crosses Cultural Lines


[embed]https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/07/reader-center/adoption-cross-cultural.html[/embed]


The New York Times
In the more than 700 comments posted on our site, we heard from adoptive parents and adoptees, Native Americans, foster parents, child welfare experts ...
Comments:
Alan Berkowitz
Mount Shasta, CA
The stories from adoptive parents and children are touching and raise many important issues. Many (both adoptive parents and children) point out the advantages of being raised in a loving home that is safe and secure in which they are also able to pursue and celebrate their tribal/cultural identity. This is a strong argument which however does not apply to the case in question, in which the adoptive parents show no interest in affirming or celebrating their children's native ancestry and culture AND there is a healthy and loving family of relatives that wants to adopt the two siblings in a home with other biological siblings. Therefore, as much as the arguments provided in the NYT article may merit discussion, they do NOT apply to this case, which represents a modern form of the legalized kidnapping that the dominant culture has perpetuated on Native peoples, notwithstanding the the adoptive parents claims of 'love' and 'religiosity.


linda diane
vancouver, bc
I was born in Canada to a Metis woman whose husband died just before the birth. I was adopted during the "Sixties Scoop" where thousands of indigenous children were taken from their home communities. An adoption to a white middle class family with an engineer father was seen as a big step up from the working class environment I came from. I had very conscientious adoptive parents, who were loving and did their best to help me be a part of a family of 6. They never lied to me. Unfortunately, that was not enough. I was taken from my mother. And my indigenous roots. Trauma. Period. This was never addressed, I muddled through life with an underlying sense of not being ok, faked alot and used various means of escaping. When I eventually found my birth mother, she had died two years previous. I have connected with cousins, but I have siblings i have not been able to locate. This kind of trauma and it's lifelong impact needs to be accounted for. It's a systemic issue. Not all, but many adoptive parents are entitled, short sighted, and will be dealing with the fallout when the children grow up and reject them outright for their hubris and folly. Children are not accessories to complete your magazine lifestyle. The cousins I have spoken to who knew my biological mother speak fondly of her; I think she must have hidden alot of pain, as she never spoke of children.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A Place Between – The Story of an Adoption #60sScoop

By Trace Hentz (blog editor)

I run across comments by adoptive parents and PAPS (potential adoptive parents) all the time on why is it wrong for non-Natives to adopt Native kids? Volumes have been written about this, on this blog, and in medical studies and published reports but we STILL have people who don't understand.

Here is an example on Adoption.com:


I'm watching this documentary right now on demand. Its about these two Native American boys (now adults) who were adopted from foster (care) in Canada to an American (CC) family in Redding, PA. They were adopted as young boys so they remembered being with the bmom and now one of the boys is making a film about being between both families. I thing that bothers me is the younger brother has basically at 18 yrs old left his adoptive family and went back to Canada to bio family and he hasn't talked to his AP's in 8 years. His issues are growing up without his NA identity and racism he dealt with being NA in a all CC environment. Actually both boys are living in Canada now. The older brother still has a relationship with his AP's. As an AP I would take it as a slap in the face if my kid just left and wouldn't talking to me for 8 yrs. Its like these boys bio mom was an alcoholic who had her kids taken away because she was neglecting them. She said herself she would be drunk for 6 weeks straight and have no idea what day or month it is. Also leaving these babies at home by themselves while she's out partying and they have to change each diapers etc... So you have this family come in and give you a stable home and love and yet because they are CC you just leave?? Im wondering if this something that happens more often with older kids adoption from foster care? Like I said earlier it really annoys me but a great watch anyways. LINK



 WATCH   


A Place Between – The Story of an Adoption is a 2007 documentary film dealing with cross-cultural adoption and aboriginal life in Canada. It was directed by First Nations adoptee Curtis Kaltenbaugh and produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

Curtis and Ashok Kaltenbaugh were born in Manitoba and are of First Nations ancestry. After the 1980 death of their younger brother, at ages of 7 and 4 respectively, they were removed from the custody of their birth mother and placed for adoption with a middle-class white family living in Pennsylvania.

The film chronicles their search for identity and the meeting of their adoptive and birth families.
The film won Best Public Service Award at the Annual American Indian Film Festival, held in San Francisco during November 2007.[wiki]



Tuesday, June 4, 2019

"This is genocide": Full statement on MMIWG report

MMIWG inquiry's final report and its 'calls for justice' | CBC Power & Politics

Inquiry into MMIWG issues final report, sweeping calls for change

Canada Blamed for ‘Genocide’ Against Indigenous Women


An inquiry concluded that high rates of violence against indigenous women in Canada amount to a genocide fueled by government abuses

 

WALL STREET JOURNAL

Mr. Trudeau has said the relationship between the Canadian government and indigenous people needs to be rebuilt and the process will likely take decades.

Monday’s report isn’t the first time Canada’s treatment of indigenous people has been labeled a genocide. A separate inquiry released in 2015 found Canada’s centurylong practice of forcibly removing indigenous children from their homes and educating them at government-funded residential schools was a “cultural genocide.” (We call this the 60s Scoop but it was before and after the 1960s)

Matthew Fletcher, who directs the indigenous law and policy center at Michigan State University, said Native Americans have faced similar wrongs in the U.S., including the forced removal of children from Native American families. He said Canada has done more in recent years to recognize the problem publicly.


READ: Canada Blamed for ‘Genocide’ Against Indigenous Women - WSJ

Democracy Now on 6-4-19

Monday, June 3, 2019

The New Genocide #MMIWG #AMINext

National Inquiry Deems Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women Canadian Genocide; Leaked Report

by Red Power Media, Staff

The final report from the national inquiry into cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across Canada has deemed the situation a genocide.

WHAT IS HAPPENING in North America: I wrote an article in May HERE
PAGE #MMIWG 2019 (click on this)
When will tribes determine this to be urgent enough and assign bodyguards for these young women who are being hunted and murdered? 

Approximately 1,200 indigenous Canadian women have been murdered or gone missing since 1980. Holly Jarrett began the hashtag #AMINext to put more pressure on the Canadian government to investigate the high murder rate of First Nations women after her cousin, Loretta Saunders was found killed. 

The Truth Sharing Podcasts (Partage des vérités)





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I added a page MMIWG in the reference section(above)...Trace

Wilfred Buck Tells The Story Of Mista Muskwa

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You are not alone

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.

Diane Tells His Name


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60s Scoop Survivors Legal Support

GO HERE: https://www.gluckstein.com/sixties-scoop-survivors

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines
click to read and listen about Trace, Diane, Julie and Suzie

ADOPTION TRUTH

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.

NEW MEMOIR

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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