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Thursday, December 8, 2022

One Choinumni man's adoption horror story

Emerson Gorman (R), who is a Navajo elder, poses at his property with his (L-R) daughter Naiyahnikai, wife Beverly and grandchild Nizhoni near the Navajo Nation town of Steamboat in Arizona on May 23, 2020. - Emerson Gorman knows what it's like to face the destruction of his culture: when he was five-years-old he was among thousands of Navajo children taken from their families and sent to Christian schools that tried to erase their belief systems.
Emerson Gorman (right) was one of the thousands of Navajo children taken from their families and sent to Christian schools to erase their beliefs. His daughter Naiyahnikai, wife Beverly, and grandchild Nizhoni are pictured (left to right) on his Arizona property May 23, 2020.

“But honoring tribal sovereignty isn’t about discrimination or race. That’s a fundamental misunderstanding of Indigenous rights,” Ciesemier said in an episode meant to draw attention to what’s at stake for Native children.

Jaimie Nelson, a Choinumni Yokuts man from Fresno, California, was once one of those children. He detailed on the podcast abuse he encountered at the hands of a white family who adopted him. For Nelson, legal experts, and activists, the Supreme Court challenge is an outgrowth of an intentional and systematic effort to whitewash Native Americans.

"I am not a victim of some odd set of circumstances where I lost my sister and my brother," Nelson said. "It was an intentional act built around ‘Kill the Indian, Save the Man.’"

Nelson referenced words uttered in 1892 by racist American Army Capt. Richard Henry Pratt. He tried, along with the federal government, to strip Native Americans of their beliefs, cultural histories, and traditions. And though Pratt made the speech 130 years ago, the sentiment he championed is far from extinguished.

Nelson said eliminating the very constitutional right that attempts to protect Native children from such cultural atrocities is “a genocidal act.” And he would know exactly what that feels like, because it was attempted on him. 

Nelson told the ACLU of his adoption:

There’s a lot of muddy water in there. I know that it happened at a very young age in the late seventies. My biological parents, they were, my mom was either addicted to drugs, my dad was a pretty bad dude. But it didn’t mean that they had to take us away from our native family. Our native family wanted to keep us, but the courts indicated, essentially that there’s nothing you can do about it. They specifically told my grandmother that there’s nothing that you can do about it. And from what I understand, from what I was told, it destroyed her that she was not able to keep us in the home. I don’t have very many memories of my of my time in the foster care system or any of the sort of lead up to the adoption. What I do have, I have physical reminders of my introduction into the system. I have a tracheotomy scar on my neck and on my sides from apparently when I was abused, like immediately after being taken from my Native family.

Nelson said when he learned of the case that will be before the Supreme Court, he knew he had to do something "because there cannot be another Jamie."

"There cannot be another child that is taken away because of some archaic, just genocidal, bigoted ideas," he said. "It’s unbelievable. It’s unconscionable to me that we still have to go through these hurdles, but we do."

Dr. Twyla Baker, president of the Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, tweeted about the case five days before Native American Heritage Month began today. "The thing I can’t get off my mind—it’s about to be Native American Heritage Month, as SCOTUS is about to hear a case that has the potential to knock down the Indian Child Welfare Act," Baker said in the tweet. "This kind of existential dichotomy pops up way too often for Native people here."

She later added:

My bad, actually this didn’t ‘pop up’—it was a situation crafted, intentionally, over years with much larger implications and intentions to follow. Superficial acknowledgments of our humanity as other structures work to dismantle our Native Nationhood is really pretty standard.”

Stephanie Amiotte, a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe and legal director for the ACLU of South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wyoming, said when the Indian Child Welfare Act was proposed, 25 to 35% of American Indian children were being raised in adoptive or foster homes or other institutions.  About 90% of Indigenous children were being raised by people who were not Indigenous, Amiotte said.

She explained that, historically, the federal government’s position and policy has been “to remove Indian children from their families in an attempt to assimilate” them “to white dominant culture.”

“It is something that actually threatens the very existence of future tribes and Indigenous peoples as a population,” Amiotte said.

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Canada's Residential Schools

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.

no arrests?

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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.

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Did you know?
lakota.cc/16I9p4D

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.

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Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines
click to read and listen about Trace, Diane, Julie and Suzie

ADOPTION TRUTH

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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