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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

“I’ll Take That One” #NAAM2019


So how does this work? 

By Trace L Hentz (excerpt from One Small Sacrifice)

Was I like a lost-and-found item in a department store then put out on display? Did strangers come in, spot me and point, “I’ll take that one.” How did they know it was me they wanted? Why me in particular? It’s not like an interview if I can’t talk yet.

Actually, my parents didn’t choose me. I was available and the Catholic Charities people brought me to them and sold them on me. After this transaction, I became invisible, unidentifiable and perfectly suited to blend in with all the other children. I was in a real sense legal property, given a new name and identity and supposedly matched to look like my adoptive parents.

How strange, really. Then I’m supposed to thank them and love them for buying me and giving me a home.  Of course I did.

There must be a rule book on this somewhere, right?

My birthmother Helen was Catholic. Marriage was an institution, central to many religions. Had this religion instructed everyone to judge a woman with an illegitimate child? Make this baby a sacrificial lamb? Did they say to her, “You get a do-over if you abandon your baby…No one will ever know they existed….You’ll never find a husband with a bastard kid.”

It was different in Indian Country. Native women would choose a father for her children and if he didn’t work, she’d choose another one. For many Native mothers, the rule book changed when organized religions took over. Native mothers had many things working against them, like poverty and oppression, and the wrong ideas about savage Indians.

I finally saw the myths created for me. Gratitude is easy when you’re young. Impossible when you’re an adult. My gratitude silenced me, almost permanently.

When I reached adulthood, the words “this was done in your best interest” felt like pure nonsense. 

Clearly that wasn’t enough information to build a life on.

I was not their legal property but a human being.

[I am working on my memoir again... adding more history]

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Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

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where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?