SHAWNEE, KS (KCTV) -- There is a terrible secret about what happened 50+ years ago. Most of us have never heard about it.
It’s referred to in history as “The 60s Scoop.” It involves “scooping” Native American babies from their tribes in Canada for adoption to mostly white families.
Although it sounds long ago and far away, it’s become the defining fact in the life of a Shawnee, Ks, man.
“Being kidnapped at birth and human trafficked to an American couple it just floored me,” said Tim Tizya. “I can’t believe it happened.”
Tizya is a 60s Scoop survivor—a tragic story just coming to light. Tens of thousands Indigenous babies and children were advertised and adopted out to mostly white families.
Although the name references the 1960s, the practice started in the 1950s and continued well into the 1980s. Canada is now acknowledging the truth and offering reparations to survivors.
But to Tim Tizya, the money doesn’t make up for he’s lost.
“It's very insulting,” Tizya said. “I think it's a slap in the face, really.”
Growing up in White America
Tizya’s adoption story is told through tears, and years-old documents. Tim’s adoptive parents struggled with fertility. His dad was a firefighter in the Air Force and was stationed at a military base in Canada, but Tizya has spent most of his life in Shawnee, KS.
He grew up as Timothy Alan Vandruff and he says his parents were the best.
“My parents didn't know, and they always wanted to bring me back up to find out what happened,” said Tizya. “They wanted me to meet my mom, they wanted to be part of it. And if that's not love. I don’t know what is.”
But his life was full of questions.
“What had I done that my mom would want to give me up?” he asked. “I lived with that all my life.”
About ten years ago, he finally got answers. He learned he was born “Baby Boy Tizya.” Paperwork claims he was surrendered but Tizya now doubts that is true.
The search for family
With help from his daughter, he found other Tizyas. They were stunned to learn he was alive. Turns out his aunt had tried to track him down.
‘The government told her that I got killed in a car wreck in 1976. So that's when the search stopped when they got that phone call,” said Tizya.
Tim was the first born. He had a brother, Dane, who was also scooped and went to a family in Vancouver. A third brother, Mark, remained with the tribe. Tim’s mother took in her nephew, Justin.
So Tizya now has some information and papers he considers full of lies. He never had that important conversation with his birth mother to find the truth, because she died of brain cancer shortly after their meeting.
“I cry about every day,” said Tizya. “Yeah, we do that to people. I didn't do anything to anybody.”
Canada offering reparations
In 2017, Canada signed a class action settlement to compensate those children taken during the 60s scoop. They can apply for compensation from between $25,000 and $50,000. Reports in the Canadian Press reveal the range depends on what a person when through. The government concedes some children in foster homes faced physical, sexual and mental abuse, forced labor, starvation and neglect.
A graphic from the official website reveals just how widespread the 60s scoop really was.
So far, more than 34,000 people have applied for reparations, and about 16,000 claims have been approved.
Tizya’s claim was approved, but he has not yet received a payment. It’s clear he doesn’t feel reparations can adequately compensate him for his splintered soul. Part of him is with his tribe in Canada, part here in Kansas with his children.
“You don’t know where you belong,” said Tizya. “You belong to both, but it’s twisted.”
But he knows how the Scoop affected is people.
‘It's like we're lost.” He said. “A lost culture right in front of your face."