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Support Info: If you are a Survivor and need emotional support, a national crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: Residential School Survivor Support Line: 1-866-925-4419. Additional Health Support Information: Emotional, cultural, and professional support services are also available to Survivors and their families through the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program. Services can be accessed on an individual, family, or group basis.” These & regional support phone numbers are found at https://nctr.ca/contact/survivors/ .
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Tuesday, October 25, 2022
BAD OUTCOMES: Brackeen Case | New York Times and #ICWA
reblog from 2019
Trace Hentz (blog editor)
UP: The New York Times headline June 5, 2019:
Who Can Adopt a
Native American Child? A Texas Couple vs. 573 Tribes
am an adoptee and journalist who has documented the history and narratives of
Native adoptees in three Lost Children anthologies. If the Brackeens had done
any research prior, they would know the outcomes for Native adoptees are not
good. Adoption gets pretty ugly when it doesn't work. Once kids are out of
diapers, they start noticing and feel the isolation without kin. There are
medical terms for our damage. The adoption industry will not advertise that
most patients in psychiatric care are adoptees. They don’t warn adoptive
parents their new child will suffer from “Severe Narcissistic Injury” or
“Reactive Attachment Disorder.” This news would not be welcome. LINK
course some readers slam me for using the word "kin" ...or ask how do
I know about the damage we suffer... No shock... I get it: they don't get
it and they don't know the history or the Native adoptees I know
personally... (There were 775 comments before they shut it off today and many
are amazingly correct!)
earlier comment from Ellen gets it:
country has a long brutal history of removing Native children from their
families with the intent of culture genocide. There is nothing different about
this case. I am sure that the Brackeens are lovely (wealthy) people who care
for Zachary, and the new baby they selfishly wrested from her family. Still, it
does not undo the damage done to the Navajo nation, in losing 2 precious
children, not to mention the damage done to the children in growing up apart
from their culture...while being quite different in appearance from the rest of
this family. But skin color is not the issue - the erasure of culture and sense
of self is.
reading the NYT story I am not surprised that the Navajo tribe and the
Brackeens will share custody, as Judge Kim declared, but the Brackeens would
have primary possession. Taking Indian children off the rez and
changing their identity to white and ending their sovereignty and treaty rights
and a connection to tribal lands: the old playbook is the new
is always about possession.
have covered this case on this blog for the past few years. (please look at Goldwater Institute (34+ posts) for more insight
on this case.)
of tribal nations vehemently oppose the lawsuit Brackeen v. Bernhardt
that splits Texas, Indiana, Louisiana and a coalition of conservative legal
groups, including the Goldwater Institute, against the federal government,
hundreds of tribal nations, 21 state attorneys general, Native American civil
rights groups and child welfare organizations, including the Annie E. Casey
Foundation and the Children’s Defense Fund.
Navajo are appealing Judge Kim’s custody order.
about the BRACKEENS:
Adoptive Parents (PAPS) Chad and Jennifer Brackeen might want to learn Navajo
history during this lengthy court battle in Texas. (Try this one in 2011: Illegal aliens? Deported adoptees?)
total population of the Navajo people residing in their land is
approximately 180,462 having a median age of 24 years old. Navajo Nation is situated over a 27,000 square
miles of large land within the vicinity of the state of Arizona, Utah and New
Mexico. It is considered to be the largest land that is primarily covered by
the jurisdiction of the Native American within the territory of the United
most people don't know: The Navajo are survivors of a barely-known Mormon
assimilation program from 1947 to the mid-1990s.
after year, missionaries of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints
approached Navajo families and invited children into Mormon foster
homes. As part of the Mormon Indian Student Placement Program,
children would live with Mormon families during the school year to “provide
educational, spiritual, social, and cultural opportunities in non-Indian
community life,” according to the Church.
the Mormon foster families were white and financially stable. Native
American children who weren’t already Mormon were baptized. Although the
LDS Church reached out to dozens of Indian tribes, most participants’ families
lived within the Navajo Nation.
50,000 children participated in the Mormon Indian Student Placement Program,
according to Matthew Garrett, a professor at Bakersfield College.
than improving conditions on the Navajo reservation, the LDS Church asked that
children assimilate to the way its white members lived.
Some Church leaders interpreted the Book of Mormon literally and expected that
Native American children’s skin would turn lighter as they grew closer to
The Church now admits that not all Native Americans are descendants of the
Israelites, or Lamanites, as described in the Book of Mormon. (Oh
addition to the claims of damage done by sexual abuse, the lawsuits involving
the Indian Student Placement Program assert that the culture of the Navajo
Nation was “irreparably harmed” by the LDS Church’s “continuous and systematic
assimilation efforts.” Although the last student in the Indian Student
Placement Program graduated in 2000, plaintiffs are asking the Church to do all
it can to enhance and restore Navajo culture and create a taskforce for that
Participants in the Church-sponsored Indian Student Placement Program have filed at least three sexual-abuse lawsuits. Lilly Fowler
of adopting Native American children directly followed the residential/boarding
schools. Such adoption practices, which came into fruition through forms
such as the forced removal of Native American children during Canada’s 60s
Scoop and its parallel in the United States, the Indian Adoption Projects,
exemplify the adaption of adoption as a settler colonial tool for dispossession
author John C Hopkins wrote about his Navajo mother in law on his blog:
Chilocco Indian School opened in 1884 with 123 students. Its
first graduating class was comprised of six boys and nine girls. The school
finally closed its doors in 1980. The name Chilooco comes from the Choctaw word
“chiluki” and the Cherokee word “tsalagi,” which means “cave people” in both
A long, hard-used tarred road turns off Route 166 and ends
where the abandoned, ivy-covered stone buildings stand in disrepair haunted by
the ghosts from memories past.
Bernice Austin-Begay, a Navajo, recalled the long ride down
the road when she was a child returning to school after a rare family visit.
“I’d be sad because I knew it would be a long before I would
see them again,” Austin-Begay, Class of 1965, said. “I’d be thinking about my
family, thinking about my sheep.”
Austin-Begay was 10 when she was first taken to Chilocco.
More than 50 years later she still recalls the day the government agents came
to Black Mesa, Ariz. and took her away.
“I was captured,” she said.
Many Indian families resented how the government swooped in
and took the children away from their families and did all they could to thwart
the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Austin-Begay’s family was one of those. Whenever
her mother saw a car coming up the road she would send Bernice running, to hide
in the hills until the “biliganas” left. (Biligana is the Navajo
word for white man)
But one day the car arrived unexpectedly and young Bernice
never reached the woods.
“I was too slow,” Austin-Begay said.
'CATASTROPHIC AND UNFORGIVABLE'
Starting in 1958, the Indian Adoption Project placed Native American children
in non-Native homes, in what it said was an effort to assimilate them into
mainstream culture and offer them better lives outside impoverished
The project was run by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, a federal government
agency, and the nonprofit Child Welfare League of America, in partnership with
There was a reason Indian leaders went to the Senate
in the 1970s and demanded an inquiry into the staggering number of children
disappearing in Indian Country. It was not just boarding schools creating this
mass exodus of children. Adoption programs in 16 states removed 85% of
Native children. Programs like the Adoption
Resource Exchange of North America (ARENA), established by the Child Welfare
League of America in 1967, funded in part by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, paid
states to remove children and place them with non-Indian adoptive families and
religious groups like the Mormon Church.ARENA expanded to include
all Canadian and United States adoption agencies and offered them financial
ICWA (the Indian Child
Welfare Act) prioritizes placing Native children into Native homes or
with kin or with families that are willing to keep them within a certain proximity to their
Associate Attorney General Tony West
Delivers Remarks at the National Indian Child Welfare Association’s 32nd Annual
Protecting Our Children Conference ~ Monday, April 14, 2014
"...There's more work to do because
every time an Indian child is removed in violation of ICWA, it can mean a loss
of all connection with family, with tribe, with culture. And with that
loss, studies show, comes an increased risk for mental health challenges,
homelessness in later life, and, tragically, suicide."
The religious organizations that operated the schools — the Anglican Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Jesuits of English Canada and some Catholic groups — in 2015 expressed regret for the “well-documented” abuses. The Catholic Church has never offered an official apology, something that Trudeau and others have repeatedly called for.
Almost 7000 bodies found and not one member of the church has been arrested. The names are out there. The church must be held accountable. #NeverForget#EveryChildMatters
The Justice Department is protecting the names of many perpetrators of abuse of Indigenous children. We need a special independent prosecutor who can force the government and church to turn over the documents. There can be no reconciliation without justice.@MumilaaqQaqqaqpic.twitter.com/5TL6OxKM5O
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.
Did you know?
Did you know?
New York’s 40-year battle for OBC access ended when on January 15 2020, OBCs were opened to ALL New York adoptees upon request without restriction. In only three days, over 3,600 adoptees filed for their record of birth. The bill that unsealed records was passed 196-12.
According to the 2020 Census, 3.6% of Colorado's population is American Indian or Alaska Native, at least in part, with the descendants of at least 200 tribal nations living in the Denver metro area.
Diane Tells His Name
Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines
click to read and listen about Trace, Diane, Julie and Suzie
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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