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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Burial sites found at 53 Native American boarding schools | More Headlines


May 11 (Reuters) - A U.S. government investigation into the dark history of Native American boarding schools has found "marked or unmarked burial sites" at 53 of them, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.


Researchers examined government records and spoke to Native Americans to prepare the report. The results detail a history dating to at least 1801, when the first such schools opened, and one in which education was used as a weapon.

Native American affairs, including education, were a War Department responsibility until 1849 and the military remained involved even after civilians took over, the report noted.

The schools were described as resembling military academies in their regimentation and strictness and emphasizing vocational skills. Police were called on to force families to send their children to the schools. Food was denied to families as another way to force them to surrender their children.

"These conditions included militarized and identity alteration methodologies - on kids!" said Bryan Newland, the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs at the Interior Department, who heads the investigation.

Conditions at former Indian boarding schools gained global attention last year when tribal leaders in Canada announced the discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children at the site of the former Kamloops residential school for indigenous children, as such institutions are known in Canada.

Unlike the United States, Canada carried out a full investigation into its schools via a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The U.S. government has never acknowledged how many children attended such schools, how many children died or went missing from them or even how many schools existed.

The report released on Wednesday included recommendations for funding programs to preserve the Native American languages the schools tried to stamp out, and establishing a federal memorial.




'Our children deserve to be found': Federal report examines Native lives, cultures lost at Indian ...

At least 500 Native American children died while being forced to attend federal ... He said this means protecting the Indian Child Welfare Act, ...


Report: Christians May Have Helped Run Half of Native American Boarding Schools

... times more than the number of schools documented in Canada's residential school system by that country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Travelling exhibit shows legacy of 'Sixties Scoop' - Cranbrook Daily Townsman
Exhibit telling the history of the “Sixties Scoop” and its survivors was on display at the Cranbrook History Centre May 11.


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Exposing and Repairing the Devastation Caused by the Indian Adoption Project

repost from December 2011

St. John, snatched from his family when he was 4, says he was raised without his culture.

I’m an angry Indian,” Roger St. John, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, told the First Nations Repatriation Institute’s second annual adult adoptees summit. The elite panel included child-welfare specialists, judges, lawyers, community activists and scholars. The most important experts, according to the organization’s founder/director, Sandra White Hawk, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, were adult adoptees—such as St. John—who related their experiences at the three-day meeting at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in St. Paul in 2011.

“I’m more than glad to tell you I’m pissed off,” continued St. John, a 49-year-old truck driver with dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. “I was the youngest of 16 children, grabbed at the age of 4, along with three older brothers—no paperwork, nothing. The other kids in the family escaped because they took off.”  Soon, St. John and his siblings ended up in New York City at Thanksgiving time. The year was 1966: “We were on the front page of the newspaper, along with lots of good talk about the holiday and adoption. We were brought up without our culture, which took a terrible toll on our lives. I grew up angry and miserable.”
St. John’s experience was replicated all over Indian country in the mid-to-late 20th century. The boarding-school era that had begun in the late 1800s was winding down and the abusive residential schools set up to isolate and assimilate Native children were being closed down or turned over to the tribes, a process that was largely completed by the 1970s. Meanwhile, another means of separating Native children from their communities was gathering steam.
The Indian Adoption Project was a federal program that acquired Indian children from 1958 to 1967 with the help of the prestigious Child Welfare League of America; a successor organization, the Adoption Resource Exchange of North America, functioned from 1966 until the early 1970s. Churches were also involved. In the Southwest, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints took thousands of Navajo children to live in Mormon homes and work on Mormon farms, and the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations swept many more Indian youngsters into residential institutions they ran nationwide, from which some children were then fostered or adopted out. As many as one third of Indian children were separated from their families between 1941 and 1967, according to a 1976 report by the Association on American Indian Affairs.
“People have heard of the boarding-school era and know it was bad, but they don’t know our adoption era even exists,” said White Hawk, who was taken from her family on the Rosebud reservation as a toddler in the mid-1950s. “A few small studies of adult adoptees have been done, and we’re just learning how to talk about what happened. We need think tanks and conferences and scientific research to explore what occurred and how it affected us.”
Then, White Hawk said, that information can inform current Indian child-welfare cases. “When experts take the stand to testify in a child-welfare hearing [about placement of a child or termination of parental rights, for example], they need academic backup to explain the relationship between, for example, suicide and being disconnected from your culture,” she explained. “The courts want Ph.D.-level research to back up what we tell them.”
A paper by Carol Locust, Cherokee, describes Native adoptees suffering from what she calls Split Feather Syndrome—the damage caused by loss of tribal identity and growing up “different” in an inhospitable world. Lost Bird is another term researchers have used to refer to the group, recalling one of the earliest Indian adoptees. A Lakota infant who survived the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee sheltered by the frozen corpse of her mother was claimed as a war trophy by a general who named her Lost Bird, according to her biographer, Renée Sansome Flood in Lost Bird of Wounded Knee.
Thanks to copious newspaper coverage of the massacre and its aftermath, Lost Bird became her generation’s celebrity adoptee, but fame did not save her from a fate that was a harbinger for too many Native children. She endured intolerance and isolation, and when she rebelled as a teenager, was shipped back to her birth family, where she no longer fit in. After a stint in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the loss of three children—two died and she gave away the third, according to Flood—Lost Bird was felled by influenza in 1920, at the age of 30. “Throughout her life of prejudice, exploitation, poverty, misunderstanding and disease, she never gave up hope that one day she would find out where she really belonged,” Flood wrote.
At the summits and other events White Hawk has organized or spoken at since 2003, modern-day adoptees have recounted their dramatic life journeys, sometimes for the first time. “The stories vary from the most abusive to the most beautiful, but that’s not the point,” she said. “Even in loving families, Native adoptees live without a sense of who they are. Love doesn’t provide identity.”
“I never felt sorry for myself,” said St. John, “but if I ever got hurt, it wounded me to my soul, because I felt no one was there for me.” In recent years, he has found his birth mother and connected emotionally with his adoptive parents. “They were so young, in their 20s, when a priest convinced them to adopt four Sioux boys from South Dakota. It was too much—for all of us.”
During the adoption era almost any issue—from minor to serious—could precipitate the loss of an Indian child. Two Native people interviewed prior to the summit said they were separated from their families after hospital stays as young children, one for a rash, the other for tuberculosis. A third was seized at his baby-sitter’s home; when his mother tried to rescue him, she was jailed, he said. A fourth recalled that he was taken after his father died, though his mother did not want to give him up. A fifth described being snatched, along with siblings, because his grandfather was a medicine man who wouldn’t give up his traditional ways. As in St. John’s case, no home studies or comparable investigations appear to have been done to support the removals. “Indians had no way to stop white people from taking their kids,” said yet another interviewee. “We had no rights.”
Eighty-five percent of the Native children removed from their families from 1941 to 1967 were placed in non-Indian homes or institutions, said the Association on American Indian Affairs report. The aim, said White Hawk, was assimilation and extinction of the tribes as entities, as their younger generations were removed, year after year—just as it had been with the boarding schools.
“We can’t be afraid to use words like genocide,” said summit participant Anita Fineday, White Earth Band of Ojibwe, managing director of Casey Family Programs’ Indian child-welfare programs and a former chief judge at White Earth Tribal Nation. “The endgame, the official federal policy, was that the tribes wouldn’t exist.”
As Native adoptees struggle to recover their identities, some have trouble accessing their original birth certificates. Many states seal adoption records to protect the confidentiality of the process. “In a state that does this, you have to be a detective to find out where you’re from,” said White Hawk.
Or lucky. According to Sharon Whiterabbit, Ho-Chunk Nation, a business consultant and internationally known rights advocate, the son she’d given up as a teen mother found her because he lost his social security number. To get a new one, he had to petition the courts for his original birth certificate and, using the information he found there, tracked her down.
Could something be done on a tribal level to keep adoption records open and available for those who want them? Whiterabbit asked the group. This summit was about solutions, as well as problems, and Fineday had an answer: “Tribes have a right to know their members, so we can demand the records. We’re not requesting, though. We’re demanding. At White Earth, we were successful with this tack in a couple of cases. When the [adoption] documents arrived, I got goose bumps.”
Carrie Imus, director of social services for and former chairwoman of the Hualapai Tribal Nation, suggested that tribes do pre-enrollment of children who are being adopted out, to ease their return.
According to Terry Cross, Seneca Nation of Indians and founder and executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, nontribal child-welfare workers usually did not recognize the large support network that Native children enjoy: “In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, children were removed from Indian families because auntie was taking care of them, and the system called that neglect. But it was simply a different cultural way of meeting the child’s needs. To this day, social workers who remove Native children don’t know what an Indian family is and what supports are available
in the extended family and tribe.”
Decades of stolen children caused unresolved personal and community-wide grief and high rates of alcoholism, suicide and other social ills that stalk individuals and tribes to this day. “It took me years to realize nothing was wrong with me and the response I had to the trauma I’d experienced as an adoptee,” said Sandra Davidson, White Earth Band of Ojibwe and a program manager for Praxis International, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating violence toward women and children.
Often referred to as “historical trauma,” the pain can’t be cured with quick-fix programs, said Cross. “In Canada, we looked at places where suicide is the highest, and it’s where the culture is most broken down,” he said. “In such cases, do you start suicide-prevention programs, or do you restore balance in the community through more self-governance? I have found that unless you change a community systemically, you can’t affect the symptoms of imbalance, such as suicide.”
Linear thinking—see a problem, apply a solution—is ineffective, he added. “Mainstream society’s services are so fractured. Medical doctors get the body, psychologists get the mind, judges get the social context, and clergy get the spirit. But, in fact, we are all whole people, and real solutions have to address that.”
Cross pointed to the sweat lodge as a way of caring for the whole person. “It’s done in groups and includes teachers, stories and protocols for how to conduct oneself, which relate to the social context,” he said. “You sweat, and you experience aromatic herbs, which heal the body; you participate in prayers and songs, which are in the realm of spirit; and when you come out, you feel better and have moments of clarity that are aspects of mind.”
That type of healing is required for entire communities, as well as for individuals, and is a part of what Cross called the “remembering” of indigenous cultures. Colonization has pulled indigenous cultures apart worldwide, as colonizers have taken land and resources. “They also usurp sovereignty and attack spirituality,” he said. “The last item is removal of children to educate them in the language and worldview of the colonizer. Now, though, we Native people are remembering our traditions and remembering our communities. We’re healing from within.”
The adoptees’ stories must be articulated so they can heal, so their communities can be restored, and so the experiences can help remedy Indian country’s ongoing child-welfare crisis, said White Hawk. The percentage of Native children cared for outside the home remains disproportionately high across the nation, despite the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a 1978 law that sought to ameliorate the situation—but has yet to do so.  In Alaska, Native children make up 18 percent of the child population but 55 percent of the children in foster care; in South Dakota, Indian kids are 15 percent of the state’s youngsters, but 53 percent of those in foster care. Other states topping the list for skewed numbers include Minnesota—where the overrepresentation of Native kids in foster care increased substantially from 2004 to 2009—Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota.
Another summit attendee, Gina Jackson, Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians, is educating judges through a model-court program of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, in Nevada. The program helps jurists understand ICWA and relevant best practices. “We’ve signed up 66 jurisdictions and will help them work for compliance,” she said.
Education of the judiciary is crucial, said Arizona state judge Kathleen Quigley: “ICWA cases are not the bulk of a judge’s work, so many are not familiar with the law.” And the concept of the “active efforts” needed under ICWA to find and notify a child’s tribe of a possible removal from the family is not dealt with sufficiently in case law, she said.
“At this meeting, it has been critical for me to hear from folks who’ve been in the system and to understand how being taken from their families and communities affected their lives,” Jackson said. “I want everyone who works with kids and families to hear these voices.” Michael Petoskey, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and chief judge of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, agreed. “Thank you for sharing your stories,” he told the survivors of the adoption era. “We judges may underestimate the impact on people’s lives when we terminate parental rights.”
“Your saying that is medicine for those of us who’ve been through this,” White Hawk responded. Going forward, the repatriation institute will work to affect policy and will organize a day of prayer and healing for Friday, November 2, 2012. “We’re hoping to have events at state capitols nationwide,” said George McCauley, Omaha, head of the Institute’s board of directors.
Jerry Dearly, the renowned Oglala Lakota storyteller and educator who serves as White Hawk’s advisor, informed the group that healing is about identity, understood on a profound level. “You have to find out who you really are, who you really were,” he said. “Go to a quiet place where it’s just you and the Creator. All of us are beautiful, but you have to believe in yourself.”
“Now I have cancer and am waiting for an operation,” St. John told the summit. “But I believe in myself, and I can survive anything.”


[And each story like this one will finally change this devastating history... Megwetch everyone...Trace]

What is Doctrine of Discovery?

 The Doctrine of Discovery: Its effects are still being felt, but only the Pope can rescind it

Truth and Reconciliation commissioner says it's 'a matter of time' before doctrine dies 

Indigenous leaders and residential school survivors in Saskatchewan called on Pope Francis to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery. The Archbishop of Canterbury, one of the highest officials in the Church of England, also recently promised to see what he could do about the doctrine. (Gregorio Borgia/The Associated Press)

When the Archbishop of Canterbury visited Saskatchewan earlier this month, those who spoke with him made him aware of the damage caused by the Doctrine of Discovery.

Many survivors tie its existence to the creation and presence of residential schools, and a commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recently said its ripple effect is still being felt in schools today.

The commission's findings, as survivors told the archbishop during his visit, show residential school policy could be traced back to the doctrine and the papal bulls.

Chiefs and leaders who attended the archbishop's visits in James Smith Cree Nation and Prince Albert commended the promise to discuss the doctrine with the Roman Catholic Church. 

"How can we dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery in a way so it can never be  used again?" Rev. Justin Welby asked the crowd who gathered to meet him in James Smith Cree Nation.

Rev. Justin Welby visited the James Smith Cree Nation to listen to residential school survivors earlier this month. He promised to aid in dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery by engaging with local officials and with the Roman Catholic Church. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

The doctrine and its powers

The Doctrine of Discovery's supposed power came from the Roman Catholic Church. 

Papal bulls, edicts from the pope guiding colonial powers on the treatment of Indigenous people, were issued in the 15th century. 

The bulls, which empowered Christian colonial expansion, said any land "discovered" by colonial powers could be claimed as their own.

They also stated Indigeneous people who inhabited those lands were not Christian and could be subjugated and converted to Christianity. 

Sol Sanderson, a Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations senator and former chief, says colonial powers and nations eventually formed via the doctrine would create their own policies designed to terminate the rights of Indigenous people. 

Only Pope Francis can rescind the papal bulls issued in the 15th century that gave colonial nations the power to ignore the rights of Indigenous people. (Vatican Media/Reuters)

In Canada, the termination of Indigenous rights came through the Indian Act, and policies within the act led to the creation of residential schools in Canada — a system, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission says, was designed to destroy Indigenous people's sense of cultural identity. 

Sanderson says as he sees it, historically, the Canadian government has made numerous attempts to diminish Indigenous rights, based on the ideas passed through the generations that colonial powers are better suited to govern Indigenous people, thanks to the doctrine.

But Sanderson says Indigenous people's inherent rights aren't and weren't ever superseded by the doctrine, just ignored by it.

"People don't know nothing about inherent rights … they supersede everything, but what are they, where do they come from?" Sanderson said.

"When you look at the inherent rights we have, the inherent sovereignty of our nations and inherent rights to self-determination, the inherent right to education, health, social development, lands, resources, economics, justice … that's the inherent rights we have."

Sanderson says he hoped the Archbishop of Canterbury would come to an agreement with the pope to implement a plan and put teeth into a strategy resulting in the rescinding of the doctrine.

He says such an agreement should recognize the sovereignty of Indigneous people, their natural power to govern, their natural power to make treaties and their natural power to legislate internally and externally both at home and abroad — terms he says need to be dictated by Indigenous people.

Old history, modern effects

The doctrine itself might seem like a relic of the past but retired Senator Murray Sinclair, a commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, says its effects are still very much being felt today.

There's no doubt the doctrine contributed to the creation of residential schools, Sinclair says. 

But the doctrine also allowed for and created the thinking that colonial powers could occupy Indigenous lands and territories — and in turn the thinking that Indigenous people are inferior to non-Indigenous people, particularly European settlers.

Thinking that colonial powers are superior to Indigenous people is something he says permeated the education system even beyond residential schools and is still being felt today, even if schools have taken a "softer, more gentle approach" to Canada's history.\

"They still talk about the beauty of colonialism, the beauty of European growth, the wisdom and intelligence of the leaders of Confederation, the wisdom and intelligence of the people who've been in charge of government over the years," Sinclair said. 

"It's Indigenous people who are made to look bad in the history books in this country and that not only has a negative effect on the Indigenous children, it also has a negative effect on non-Indigenous children."

He says non-Indigenous children taught in school early on to believe they're superior are potentially jeopardizing their relationship with Indigenous people. 

Sinclair says that factor is something that affected him and other Indigenous people as children and caused a deep distrust of all levels of non-Indigenous society — churches, educational systems, government and many others.

'A matter of time'

The Archbishop of Canterbury himself can't rescind the papal bulls making up the Doctrine of Discovery. 

His promise to survivors gathered in James Smith Cree Nation and Prince Albert earlier this month was to engage in discussions with the Pope about the harms he learned about the doctrine while in Saskatchewan. 

Rescinding of the document would come down to the Pope.

Murray Sinclair says he expects the Doctrine of Discovery will be rescinded in the near future. (Darin Morash/CBC)

Sinclair says that's something this generation could see in its lifetime — and it's something that needs to be done now for survivors' sake. 

"I think it's a matter of time before the Doctrine of Discovery is ruled as being an irrelevant doctrine," Sinclair said. 

He says the question of what legal basis the Crown has to justify its legal title over Indigenous people has appeared in the Supreme Court of Canada a number of times, but hasn't been properly answered. 

In reading through legal decisions, he says, he's seen justices point out the major act of reconciliation that needs to happen in Canada is reconciling Crown sovereignty and Indigenous sovereignty.

 "We're hoping that the parties can do that, but if they leave it to the courts to do that, then they may not be happy with the result," Sinclair said. 


 Residential school survivor hopes Pope Francis brings more than an apology to Canada

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

US Boarding School Report

US boarding school investigative report released

By Kalle Benallie
The findings show the federal Indian boarding school system consisted of at least 408 federal schools across 37 states and roughly 53 different schools had been identified with marked or unmarked burial sites ... continue reading


The Assistant Secretary Releases the Boarding School Report



Assistant Secretary Newland makes eight recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior to fulfill the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, including producing a list of marked and unmarked burial sites at Federal Indian boarding schools and an approximation of the total amount of Federal funding used to support the Federal Indian boarding school system, including any monies that may have come from Tribal and individual Indian trust accounts held in trust by the United States. Assistant Secretary Newland ultimately concludes that further investigation is required to determine the legacy impacts of the Federal Indian boarding school system on American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians today.


Tuesday, May 10, 2022

‘Remembering the Children’ memorial gets $2 million grant



Community members stand in prayer at a hillside in South Dakota that is believed to the the site of unmarked graves of children who died at the long-shuttered Rapid City Indian Boarding School. Plans to build a first-in-the-nation memorial to children who died at the school are moving forward with a recent $2 million donation. (Photo courtesy of Rapid City Indian Boarding School Memorial Project)

Stewart Huntington
Special to Indian Country Today

RAPID CITY, South Dakota — A memorial planned to honor children who died at an Indian boarding school has received a $2 million grant that pushes the project beyond its initial fundraising targets.

The Remembering the Children memorial — envisioned as a place of prayer, gathering, and remembrance on a hillside near the site of the former Rapid City Indian Boarding School — received the grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

It is the largest single donation to date for the project, which has received numerous contributions from the Rapid City community and a $100,000 donation from the Monument Lab, a nonprofit working to cultivate critical conversations around past, present and future public art.

A private funder is also underwriting South Dakota Artist Laureate Dale Lampher’s work on sculptures that will be included in the project.

Keep Reading 

Related stories:
— Historic settlement inches closer in SD land dispute
— 'They are not forgotten'
— Rapid City puts up $9M for Native center


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Land Back in the 2020s #LandBack

There is no blueprint for how to return stolen land, but with thousands of acres returned to Indigenous care over the past two years alone, we know it can be done. 


Friday, May 6, 2022

Meet the Makers #ChildrenBack #MMIW


America ReFramed

Daughter of a Lost Bird

Season 10  Episode 4

Kendra, a Native adoptee, is a thriving woman who grew up in a loving, upper middle-class white family, and feels no significant loss with the absence of Indigenous culture or family in her life. And yet, as a Blackfeet/Salish woman, director Brooke Swaney could not imagine that Kendra could be content or complete without understanding her heritage. Together, they embark on a seven-year journey featured in the film.

During this journey, Kendra finds her biological mother April Kowalski after being apart for 34 years. April, also an adoptee, is a survivor of abuse, addiction, homelessness, and sex trafficking. Kendra and April must navigate what it means to be native and to belong to a tribe from the outside looking in. DAUGHTER OF A LOST BIRD documents the complex process of finding oneself in the context of a history filled with both trauma and resiliency.



Listen to an in-depth conversation with 'Daughter of a Lost Bird' filmmaker Brooke Swaney and other thought leaders about the generational effects of adoption on Native American families and how communities are advocating for justice and tribal sovereignty. Georgiana Lee-Ausen and Cynthia M. Ruiz also take time to recognize National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Awareness Day, a time when the Indigenous communities and allies gather to remember, honor and raise voices of women who have been silenced. Listen now!

Daughter of a Lost Bird


America ReFramed

Daughter of a Lost Bird | Trailer | Season 10 Episode 4


Here are some of the other resources I suggest to learn more about Native American adoption in the U.S.: 

MMIP webcast DOI | Not Invisible Act Commission

 WEBCAST: Missing and Murdered (MMIP) WATCH

National Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day Event


Deb: I'm Secretary Deb Haaland at I'm honored to join you from the ancestral homelands of the Anacostia and Piscataway people on what President Biden has proclaimed as National Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day. I wish we didn't need to be here. I wish that this day was obsolete, that we didn't have to keep fighting year after year for our people to be honored and respected. But we are here. And I want to use today to shine a light on the national crisis of missing and murdered indigenous peoples and give space to others to share the work they are doing on this issue. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their communities, but the MMIP crisis is one that communities have faced since the dawn of colonization. For too long, this issue has been swept under the rug by our government with a lack of urgency, attention, or funding. The rates of missing persons cases and violence against American Indian, Alaska native, and native Hawaiian communities are disproportionate, alarming, and unacceptable. It is heartbreaking to know that our loved ones are at an increased risk of disappearing without warning, leaving families and communities devastated. I want to extend my gratitude to the organizers, advocates, native women who have been shedding light on MMIP crisis for decades. People who have had an empty chair at their kitchen tables, loved ones who tirelessly searched or their relatives, service providers who hear the heartbreaking stories of family members of the missing. I want you to know that I see you and I stand with you. In our first year, there is much the Biden-Harris administration has done to take this issue seriously. As many of you know, last year, I announce the formation of a new missing and murdered unit within the Bureau of Indian affairs office of Justice services to provide leadership and direction across departmental and interagency work involving missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska natives. The MMU is marshaling resources across agencies and throughout Indian country to focus on this crisis. Since the launch ofMMU, the department has built up personnel and increased infrastructure capacity by launching new offices. Today, 17 BIA offices located throughout the nation have at least one agent dedicated to solving missing and murder cases for American Indians and Alaska natives. In December, the BIA announced on lots of its new website dedicated to solving missing and murder cases in Indian country. The website is The site is an important tool to help law enforcement, families, and communities to share critical information about missing and murdered individuals that can help the MMU solve cases and give closure to families. The website showcases individual missing and murdered case profiles that can be quickly shared via social media and other digital media to raise visibility of victims. It also provides multiple pathways to submit important tips and other case information that may help investigators with detection or investigation of an offense committed in Indian country. The MMU has enabled the Department to expand its collaborative efforts with other agencies such as working to enhance the DOJ's national missing and unidentified persons system. Staff are also developing strategic partnerships with additional stakeholders such as the FBI, behavioral analysis units, FBI forensic laboratories , U.S. marshals missing child unit, and the National Center for missing and exploited children. This unit and interior will continue to engage in collaborative efforts with tribal, federal, and state stakeholders to ensure accurate data and enhance community outreach. The MMU is a critical tool in our work to address this crisis, and today, we announce steps for another. In Congress, the Not Invisible Act now in partnership with the Justice Department and with extensive engagement with tribes and other stakeholders, we are putting that law into action. Today, our agencies announce the membership of the new Not Invisible Act Commission which we formed the last year. For the first time, the interior and Justice Department will be guided by an advisory committee composed of law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal partners, service providers, family members of missing and murdered individuals, and most importantly, survivors. This commission will ensure that we hear the voices of those who are most impacted by this issue. It includes diverse experience, backgrounds, and geographies to provide balance once of use. The commission will hold hearings, take estimate, and -- testimonies, and receive evidence to develop recommendations for the federal government to combat violent crimes against indigenous people. The missing and murdered indigenous peoples crisis is centuries in the making, and it will take a focused effort and time to unravel the many threads that contribute to the alarming rates. I'm grateful to those of you who rang the alarm and gave a voice to the missing. My heart goes out to the families of loved ones who were impacted by violence. We will keep working to address this issue and together, I believe we will provide justice for survivors and families. And that I will turn the floor over to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, who will share recorded remarks for today's event. 

keep reading👇

Deported, Not Forgotten Panel, Nov 16 2021

At the Adoption Initiative Conference in 2022, this discussion came full circle. Daniel was a panel speaker for a discussion on Adoptees as Immigrants [link ➤]


Thursday, May 5, 2022

Indigenous Abolitionists Are Organizing for Healing and Survival

“This really is a time of action,” says Indigenous organizer Morning Star Gali. 

By Kelly Hayes, Truthout | April 28, 2022


Activists march for missing and murdered Indigenous women at the Women's March California 2019 on January 19, 2019, in Los Angeles, California. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Cheyenne River's First-of-its-Kind Village for Native American children

From Simply Smiles: Receiving Tribal Council Approval: The vote was unanimous to adopt a formal resolution of support that authorized the creation of the Simply Smiles Children's Village.

Pictured above: Simply Smiles Village Director Marcella Gilbert and Simply Smiles President and Founder Bryan Nurnberger, formerly of Naugatuck, seen here with activist and Village advisor Madonna Thunder Hawk, member of the Waśagiya Najin Standing Strong Grandmothers' Group of Native elders, after securing a formal resolution of tribal support, including from Tribal Chairman Harold C. Frazier.

As Simply Smiles nears completion of our Children's Village of foster homes on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, this features the challenges encountered and milestones reached in creating this first-of-its-kind endeavor for Native American children.

The Tribal Council of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe voted unanimously to adopt a formal resolution of support that authorized the creation of the Simply Smiles Children's Village.

The trust and partnerships Simply Smiles built over our first decade working on the Reservation made this vital step possible. Our pro-bono Native attorneys at Kilpatrick & Townsend drafted the detailed resolution and the Waśagiya Najin Standing Strong Grandmothers' Group of Native elders, led by the legendary activist Madonna Thunder Hawk, guided the resolution of support through the tribal government to unanimous approval and adoption.

This agreement allowed us to begin building and developing the Simply Smiles Children's Village and solidified our shared commitment to provide a child placement option that fulfills the spirit of the Indian Child Welfare Act by ensuring that Native children who have been removed from their homes can remain with kin and community.

Simply Smiles Village Director Marcella Gilbert and Simply Smiles President and Founder Bryan Nurnberger seen here with activist and Village advisor Madonna Thunder Hawk, member of the Waśagiya Najin Standing Strong Grandmothers' Group of Native elders, after securing a formal resolution of tribal support, including from Tribal Chairman Harold C. Frazier.

Stay tuned for the next email in the Creating the Reservation Village series: Becoming A Licensed Foster Care Agency & Professionalizing Foster Care


‘60s Scoop survivor Leah Ballantyne grew up thinking she was the only one


‘Growing up I kind of thought, why am I this lone person…”

Leah Ballantyne was just 11 days old when she was adopted out to a Scottish family in Winnipeg – by the time she was 13, she was already searching for her birth parents.

Riding the bus to school through Winnipeg’s downtown core, she would see Indigenous people and wondered if they were relatives.

“Growing up, I kind of thought, why am I this lone person and adopted into a family? Why didn’t my family want me and what were the circumstances? And as I learned that the ‘60s Scoop was actually a part of a process that started with reservations, and the Indian Act, and residential schools, and day schools,” she says on the latest episode of Face to Face.

“Then I realized that I was part of something that was a separation that was going on through government policy.”

The push to finally find out where she came from came after an event in Vancouver.

She says she was inspired by speeches by former Assembly of First Nations national chief Ovide Mercredi and Mohawk Council of Kahnawake grand chief Joe Tokwiro Norton

After, she went digging into her past.

Ballantyne’s birth mother had registered her for a status number at birth so she knew she was from Mathias Colomb Cree Nation. She wrote the chief at the time, the late Pascal Bighetty, asking for help.

Not long after, Ballantyne received a call from Bighetty, who, as it would turn out, was her uncle, telling her he knew who she was and to come home.

Advocating for her community

Ballantyne says the rally and reunification with her community, a “light went on” and she decided she would push for positive changes in law and policy by becoming a lawyer.

To this day, Ballantyne remains the only member of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation to become a lawyer. She is currently working with her nation on child welfare laws and bringing children home, whether they were part of the 60s Scoop, aged out of the care, or still in care.

Ballantyne is vocal about representation and believes those who falsely claim Indigenous identity, should face criminal charges.

“There is a couple of sections in the Criminal Code of Canada for identity and identity fraud and so Indigenous identity fraud is very much a charge that could be laid by any institution that has addressed this kind of issue and people that are claiming false Indigenous identity,” she says.

“And there is no statute of limitation on this type of identity fraud within the Criminal Code.”


How a Court Challenge Could Put Indigenous Kids at Risk (In The Loop) #ICWA

More than 200 boxes of records under scrutiny by Ottawa, courts for residential school connections

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller says talks ongoing on disclosing of Justice Canada records

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Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller said his department continues to search for documents related to residential schools in Canada. (David Kawai/The Canadian Press)

More than 200 boxes of records are currently under separate court and internal federal reviews to determine their connection to residential schools after they were found in storage facilities within the last year, CBC News has learned.

The records were discovered in Yellowknife and Vancouver storage lockers, according to information provided to CBC News by a Crown-Indigenous Relations (CIRNA) official. 

As a court-appointed firm and federal officials sift through the records, CIRNA Minister Marc Miller said searches continue within his and other departments to find any documents related to the residential school era.

"The state they were found in is entirely unacceptable," Miller said in an interview with CBC News. 

"It is part of this process that I continue as the minister … That work isn't complete and is still ongoing — knowing any piece of information related to that time period can help in closure and getting an understanding of the truth."

The first batch of documents, 125 bankers boxes, was found in June 2021 by the owner of a storage facility in Yellowknife who was clearing out a unit once owned by a now-defunct survivor healing group called the Healing Drum. 

The owner contacted the territory's information commissioner, which then alerted the regional CIRNA office, said Andrew Fox, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for the Northwest Territories.


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You are not alone

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


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


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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