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Monday, October 31, 2022

It is never too late to do the right thing

Photo and more background via


Wounded Knee Repatriation Ceremony
November 5th in Barre, MA
11:00am - 5:00pm

When: Saturday, November 5, 2022; 1:00 – 3:00 PM Eastern
Where: Ruggles Lane Elementary 105 Ruggles Ln
Barre, MA
What: Native Organizers Alliance is organizing Harvard students and faculty to participate in a ceremony to commemorate the return of remains and artifacts stolen from the Wounded Knee massacre site. In the early 19th century, a traveling shoe salesman stole items from a gravesite at Wounded Knee in South Dakota. At the event, more than 131 items including moccasins, weapons, arrows, and clothing, will be returned to representatives of the Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes.
Speakers will include
Kevin Killer, Oglala Lakota Tribe President
Nipmuc Chief Cheryll Toney Holley;
Chair of the Massachusetts Commission On Indian Affairs
Ann Meilus, Barre Museum Association Board President
Please sign up for transportation provided by the HKS Institute of Politics from Harvard to Barre, MA. On Saturday, November 5, we will leave at 11 am and return by 5 pm to Cambridge. The event is from 1 pm - 3 pm in Barre, MA.


 Mass Grave

Burial after the massacre of Wounded Knee. U.S. Soldiers putting Native Americans in mass grave. Photograph from creative commons


Saturday, October 29, 2022

Why ICWA Matters

Various indigenous groups march and dance during a parade Saturday, June 9, 2018, in downtown Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Tripp J Crouse/KTOO)
Jennifer Quinto marches with various indigenous groups during a parade at Celebration 2018 on Saturday, June 9, 2018, in downtown Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Tripp J Crouse/KTOO)

To Quinto, ICWA helps adoptees like her to stay connected to their identities and communities.

“Who could ever believe that [ICWA] would be taken away?” she said. “That’s one of the last things keeping our community together in the way that it has, so imagining a world where that doesn’t exist is just too, too painful.”



Friday, October 28, 2022



Rapid City, SD – NDN Collective’s LANDBACK Campaign has officially launched pre-sales of the limited edition LANDBACK Magazine, He Sapa: The Heart of Everything That Is, which pivots on the cornerstone work of the LANDBACK Campaign to reignite and continue the ongoing struggle to return the He Sapa (Black Hills) to the Oceti Sakowin (Lakota/ Dakota/Nakota) Nation. LANDBACK organizing has a powerful lineage. Nellie Red Owl (1907-1992) is intentionally featured on the cover as an acknowledgment of that lineage, her courageous actions, and her commitment to reclaiming the He Sapa. 

The LANDBACK Magazine contains over 100 pages of content from movement elders, youth organizers, the frontlines of LGBTQ2S+ justice, climate justice, and joint-struggle movements against White Supremacy and colonialism and is intentionally Indigenous-powered project, created in partnership with Indígena, Primate, Red Media Press, and Red Planet Books and Comics.

“The LANDBACK Magazine is a culmination of stories and experiences shared across generations of front line struggles, courageous mass mobilization, and teachings to guide us into the future,” said Nadya Tannous, LANDBACK Campaign Organizer. “We’re bringing old school, punk vibes and a loud voice, connecting local LANDBACK efforts to domestic and international struggles for justice.”

“What started as just a wild idea shared with a few brilliant minds is now a work of art that represents the past, present, and future of LANDBACK as a global movement,” Krystal Two Bulls, LANDBACK Campaign Director. “We focus locally on the He Sapa: The Heart of Everything That Is. My hope is that it activates a whole new generation of organizers to step into the centuries-long mission that our Ancestors sacrificed their lives for. It has always been about our relationship to the land, and it always will be.”

“It is a true honor to be able to compile stories, poems, photos, and interviews with movement elders and young people who call He Sapa home,” said Demetrius Johnson, LANDBACK Campaign Organizer. “The care and love that went into the creation of this magazine can be felt and seen on every single page. The struggle to reclaim He Sapa is ongoing, and the hope is that this magazine supplements this long and powerful history of reclaiming that sacred site.”

The LANDBACK Magazine will hit the shelves of many Indigenous-owned and Movement bookstores in the so-called continental US, so-called Canada, and the Hawaiian Kingdom in November for Native American Heritage Month, including Goodminds, Libélula Books and Co, Birchbark Books, Red Planet Books and Comics, and Native Books Hawai’i. It will also be intentionally distributed to highschools, Tribal Colleges and Universities, University Libraries and to our incarcerated Relatives. 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Smudging helped David Fineday deal with trauma from #60sScoop

 'Smudge On': Saskatoon man working to fill Indigenous cultural, spiritual gap in city

David Fineday, middle, in a small circle of people who stopped by Friday for Smudge On, a program that allows people to engage in the Indigenous cultural and spiritual practice of smudging. (Dayne Patterson/CBC)

A Saskatoon man is trying to bring the Indigenous spiritual and cultural practice of smudging to those in the city, where he says it is lacking.

David Fineday, 66, said he was taken from his home at about five years old, then didn't see his mother until he returned home more than a decade later at 16. 

He said his mother and elders then taught him how to smudge. Smudging is a spiritual practice meant to purify oneself by washing the smoke from burning certain herbs, like sweetgrass and sage, over your face and body.

Fineday said he doesn't see smudging often in the city — so he treks from his home in Saskatoon to a small, treed area near the corner of 20th Street West and Avenue K South, and does it there.

Fineday leads "Smudge On," a program backed by the Pleasant Hill Community Association that invites people to smudge every Saturday. Last week he also held a smudge on Friday for those who wanted to participate on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

"Smudge On is a spiritual thing that I am trying to bring back to our people," he said. 

"When you say your prayers that smoke takes your prayers up and that's how you're heard."

Two men stand in a park with a banner between them reading '60s Scoop' in large, colourful lettering, with many names written on it.
David Fineday, left, and Dennis Kissling, right, carried a banner on July 1 with names of people they said were taken from their homes during the Sixties Scoop. On the back it said 'Smudge-On,' a reference to the practice of smudging, which Fineday said has been a way to heal from the traumatic past. (Dayne Patterson/CBC)

Smudge On started in June 2020, but has become more consistent through 2021 and 2022, operating almost every Saturday through the late winter months into the late fall, Fineday said.

"People can come here if they're having problems, they can have a smudge and have a prayer and if they want to talk, they can talk," he said, calling it a no-judgment zone.

"Everybody deserves a prayer, especially these people on the street with their mental illnesses and addictions. They're chased out of every other place."

Fineday said smudging helped him to know he wasn't alone and to heal from the trauma associated with being taken during the Sixties Scoop, a period from the 1960s to 1980s when Canadian child welfare authorities took thousands of Indigenous children from their homes and placed them with non-Indigenous foster parents.

David Fineday, right, hosts the Smudge On program almost every Saturday to provide those in search of the traditional Indigenous practice an opportunity to do it. (Dayne Patterson/CBC)

While Fineday didn't attend residential schools, he said he moved from foster home to foster home from November 1961 until June 1973.

Saskatoon Ward 2 Coun. Hilary Gough stopped by Smudge On's Friday ceremony with a case of coffee and Timbits for the attendees, who sat on blue tarps that circled a metal firepit in the grassed area. 

She said she stops by occasionally.

"This is something that is happening today, for [National Day for Truth and Reconciliation], but it's also something that happens every week," Gough said. 

"It is intended to meet people where they're at."

Gough said she thinks much of the work done on the national day needs to be done year-round, not just on a designated date.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Surviving Genocide: Native Boarding School Archives Reveal Defiance, Loss & Love

It is a desperate plea from a father seeking information about his missing son.

Morris Jenis Jr.’s father knew only his son, a Native American student at the Genoa Indian School in Nebraska 100 years ago, had not been seen in a year.

Morris ran away from the school in 1921 — “deserted,” according to the militaristic language school officials used — like hundreds of other young Indigenous children who resisted the boarding school policies that forcibly stripped them of language and identity, often hundreds of miles from home.

“The father…is very anxious to see where his son has gone,” a school clerk wrote the superintendent on the father’s behalf. “He recently heard that a student from Genoa was killed in Montana by a horse and he fears that this may be his son.”

Public archives do not provide any answers about Morris, nor his age and tribal affiliation. The school told his father that they could not find “any trace of him,” and reportedly returned the $26 — worth about $450 today — his family previously paid to send him home.

The plea is among thousands of stories made public by the Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project, one of many efforts to digitize elusive school, state and federal records, to bring the stories of Indigenous survivors and those who never made it home back to their families and tribes.

Last summer, the discovery of more than 900 child graves at former Canadian residential schools tore through international media and reignited investigations of U.S. boarding schools; reports focused on brutal abuse and quantifying death.



AFN national chief says there has to be truth before reconciliation

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

BAD OUTCOMES: Brackeen Case | New York Times and #ICWA

 reblog from 2019

By Trace Hentz (blog editor)

FIRST UP:  The New York Times headline June 5, 2019 
Who Can Adopt a Native American Child? A Texas Couple vs. 573 Tribes
I posted my comment which became a NYT Pick:

I 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

Of 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!)

An earlier comment from Ellen gets it:

This 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.

After 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 playbook.  

It is always about possession.

We 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.)
Hundreds 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.

The NYT story reports:

So much remains suspended.
The decision about the act’s fate from the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is imminent.
The Navajo are appealing Judge Kim’s custody order. 

What about the BRACKEENS:

Potential 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?)

The 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 States.

What most people don't know:  The Navajo are survivors of a barely-known Mormon assimilation program from 1947 to the mid-1990s. 

Year 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.  

Typically, 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.

Roughly 50,000 children participated in the Mormon Indian Student Placement Program, according to Matthew Garrett, a professor at Bakersfield College.

Rather 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 God.  

The Church now admits that not all Native Americans are descendants of the Israelites, or Lamanites, as described in the Book of Mormon.   (Oh really, thanks)

In 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 purpose.

Why Several Native Americans Are Suing the Mormon Church

Participants in the Church-sponsored Indian Student Placement Program have filed at least three sexual-abuse lawsuits. Lilly Fowler


Practices 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 and disenfranchisement. 


Narragansett 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 languages.
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.

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 reservations.
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 private agencies.
 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 assistance.  
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 cultures.
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."

MMIWG: Cover Stories


One night in Hinton, Alta., 16-year-old Shelley-Anne Bacsu decided to walk home along Highway 16 from her boyfriend's house.

She was never heard from again.

But 40 years later, her story is part of a new project aiming to honour the thousands of Indigenous women and girls who have been murdered or gone missing in Canada: a newspaper of “cover stories,” which organizers plan to hand deliver to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

On Monday, one day before the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, those walking by the Ontario legislature at Queen's Park in Toronto came face to face with these women.

More than 100 “missing” posters set up in front of the building showcased those whose stories are rarely amplified.

In the middle of the posters is a newsstand carrying the “4,000 Cover Stories” newspaper compiled by the Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto (NWRCT).

“It's really to demonstrate the impact of how many women have been missing that we know of,” Pamela Hart, NWRCT executive director, told “So instead of a small section of a 40-page newspaper, you have a 2,000 (page), double-sided newspaper of cover stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women.”

She said that the massive size of the newspaper was to show “how large a newspaper would be if you covered all of these stories with the amount of attention that they deserve.”

Each one of these women's disappearances could be a cover story, she said.

The project is aiming to spur action to protect Indigenous women and girls in Canada. A national inquiry that ran between 2015 and 2019 called the issue a “genocide,” finding that governments and law enforcement have often failed to collect proper data or follow up on cases of missing Indigenous women.

More than 1,000 Indigenous women and girls were killed or went missing between 1980 and 2012, according to the RCMP, but experts believe the true number is closer to 4,000, according to the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC).

And this violence is ongoing — between 2015 and 2020, the most recent year for this data, Indigenous women accounted for 24 per cent of all female homicide victims in Canada, NWAC reports, despite making up just five per cent of the female population nationally.

Advocates say little has been done to tackle this crisis in the three years since the release of the national inquiry's final report, something that the NWRCT is hoping this project will challenge.

Each page and story within the newspaper will be accompanied by a QR code that, when scanned, will draft a letter to the MP of that specific missing or murdered woman's local riding, calling for action.

“My hope is that folks will learn and that they will follow through with the letter … so that we are slamming MPs and Trudeau with letters that force us to remember that this issue has never gone away,” Hart said.

“The other (goal) is that we honour and show that these women existed and that they deserved a cover page and that they deserve to be spoken about, and that there should have been outrage, there should have been more storytelling, there should have been more coverage.”

Following the demonstration in Queen's Park, the newspaper will be part of activities on Tuesday, which is National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).

It will be present at the annual Sisters in Spirit Vigil at Allan Gardens in Toronto, where community members gather to honour those who are no longer with them and celebrate their lives, Hart explained.

Afterwards, organizers are planning to deliver the newspaper to Trudeau's doorstep in Ottawa.

“So everybody knows that it's been done and that he has one of the largest levels of responsibility to respond,” Hart said.



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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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