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Monday, April 29, 2024

Sindy Ruperthouse disappeared 10 years ago. Her family is still waiting for answers #MMIWG

'We just want to know,' says father of missing Algonquin woman

A picture of a woman, smiling at the camera
Sindy Ruperthouse was last seen on April 23, 2014, in the Val-d’Or hospital in northwestern Quebec. (Submitted by Johnny Wylde)

In 10 years, Johnny Wylde has never changed his phone number.

He says he never will.

It's the same one he had on April 23, 2014, the day his daughter, Sindy Ruperthouse, went missing.

Even though a decade has passed, he still keeps the ringer on, the phone glued to his hip.

"She knows what my number is if she's still alive," said Wylde, taking a pause. "I don't know what to think."

All Wylde wants to hear is Ruperthouse's voice on the other end of the line — a woman his family remembers as a caring big sister who loved life and made her parents proud.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Boy With Two Names

 


THE BOY WITH TWO NAMES

Three Indigenous children separated during the Sixties Scoop struggle to find their own identities, their other siblings and each other. They finally reconnect with their brother, whose two names reflect the family’s divide and his own fragile role as a bridge between two sides, only to lose him to the opioid crisis and the justice system. READ IT HERE

In a photo of Mary Ellen and three children, she looks like a girl herself. Her eyes don’t quite catch the lens. Apparently lost in thought, her tough guard is down. Or maybe she’s just exhausted.

Mary Ellen Bissonnette, 22, holds her baby Danny. On the right, her son Stan, and in the middle is the boys’ cousin Bobby.
Mary Ellen Bissonnette, 22, holds her baby Danny. On the right, her son Stan, and in the middle is the boys’ cousin Bobby.
 

The Boy With Two Names, a London Free Press story about an Indigenous family’s journey through the Sixties Scoop, is nominated for a national Digital Publishing Award.
 
AMAZING READ: https://lfpress.com/feature/the-boy-with-two-names-a-scattered-family-a-nations-shame-a-death-in-jail

 

NEW and EXPANDED "Almost Dead Indians: Atrocity"


Yikes!

I uploaded a new and expanded edition of the Kindle ebook (2.99) and paperback on Amazon.  The paperback is available now. (I had one correction to make about SCALPS and added even more history.)

The new size will allow this book to be sold on Bookshop and purchased by libraries.

NEW ISBN: 979-821838400-5

(With a lower price for the paperback: $15.00)

I also redesigned the paperback book cover... it's been a wacky crazy day. 

Want to read the pdf?  Shoot me an email: tracelara@pm.me

XOX

Trace 

p.s. - the first edition, if you have one, is now a collector item! 😁


Thank you for reading this blog, too.  YOU ROCK!

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Friday, April 26, 2024

Why Are Indigenous Women Disappearing Across Canada?

Dream Teachings

👉PLEASE READ:  In a previous story for Windspeaker titled Reincarnation and the interconnectedness of past lives, Giihlgiigaa (60s Scoop adoptee) explained that after death we return to ‘that village back there.’


Dream teachings: Connecting with Spirit

 
A man in a black flat top cap is looking towards the camera.

By Odette Auger, Windspeaker Buffalo Spirit Reporter

Haida storyteller and cedar weaver Giihlgiigaa, Todd DeVries, is Tsiij Git'anne (Eagle) clan, Old Massett.  Along with cedar weaving, he teaches how people can use dreams as a powerful tool, both sleeping dreams and waking dreams.

In a previous story for Windspeaker titled Reincarnation and the interconnectedness of past lives, Giihlgiigaa explained that after death we return to ‘that village back there.’

“That ‘village back there,’ or void, is that space between everything, between the molecules, between atoms, between universes,” he tells Windspeaker.

“That's what scientists are trying to call dark matter or dark energy. Scientists say there's something there, but in our view, there's nothing there,” explained Giihlgiigaa. “But scientists still can't believe it. There's got to be something there, right?”

March was Full Crow Moon

“But recall that the void, the darkness, from darkness comes light,” he said. “So we [Haida] call that Raven. Raven is everywhere, but nowhere, yet brought everything into being.”

That void is referred to as the fourth dimension, said Giihlgiigaa.

“When you go into the fourth dimension, there's no need, no relevance to distance anymore. Time is irrelevant because time is a factor of distance and space. That's a formula, so it's not really a dimension in our view,” he explained.

“In most Indigenous views, time is irrelevant in the fourth dimension, and that's where we go when we dream. That's where we go when we die.”

“When we dream and when we die, both can be used to connect with ancestors and receive guidance,” Giihlgiigaa said.

There are four stages of sleeping and they are very similar to the four stages of dying, said Giihlgiigaa.

“First your body goes a little stiff or it gets heavy.” Then “your breathing slows down. It gets harder to breathe through your nose, so you breathe through your mouth.”

“So you got the dissolution of air, the dissolution of fire, dissolution of water, dissolution of earth,” explained Giihlgiigaa. Your body temperature “begins to drop a couple of degrees. And that's why we have a blanket. Then your breathing drops and you're slowing down for the night.” “It's exactly the same stages when you're going—when you're dying. So that's how we dream and how we go through the Spirit World,” he explained.

Reconnecting with Haida dreaming

Giihlgiigaa was one of the Sixties Scoop children, and it wasn’t until he was an adult that he reconnected with his Haida mom, family, and culture.

When he met his mom, he began to dream.

“I started having these wild dreams when I found my mom, all very prophetic. Everything I dreamt about those first two weeks after meeting my mom has been happening for the last 25 years.”

“Everything's aligned right up, just like a prophecy, almost déja vu dreaming,” he said.

While some cultures use psychedelic plant medicines to access visions or guidance, the Haida have other tools, said Giihlgiigaa.

“We don't have any psychedelics up in Haida,” Giihlgiigaa said. “We have mushrooms, but they were never used in ceremony. There's no stories of them being used in ceremony.”

“We have a different way of attaining that dream state,” he said.

“For one, everyone knew it was very common to have dreams, but not everyone dreamt every day because people had to get work done.”

So it was usually the Spirit man that did all the dreaming, Giihlgiigaa said. “You would have visions and he would see things that might happen before they happen and be able to warn the people and make proper decisions to change course.”

Plant medicine, dream aids

Some plant medicines are a cleansing tool, and Giihlgiigaa says one of the most common was Devil's Club, “because it acts like an herbal cleanse. It washes out all the toxins in your body.”

“You do a herbal cleanse once every other month, or four times a year, whatever, twice a year,” he said. Once a body doesn't have all these toxins “inhibiting all your spiritual senses, then you'll have better dreams and you'll be remembering your dreams every night.”

Dreaming is a very powerful tool to guide us, said Giihlgiigaa.

“Every night, even though you may not remember your dreams, you're dreaming and you're planning your next nine months of life. What you're going to do every day.”

“So one night you'd be planning on two weeks. ‘I'll do this next night. Oh, three months down the road, I got to do this’,” he explained. “Before you know it, you're doing those things that you dream about. You have to dream it before you manifest it.”

“Western culture doesn't give dreams a lot of credit,” he said. “It's been pounded out of us.”

There are plant medicines that can be used as dream aids, ”so we can go talk to the Ancestors ‘in the village back there’.”

Giihlgiigaa explained we can ask the Ancestors “if they can guide us through the twists and turns of the pathways to our goals.”

While Devil's Club is the tried and true one, Giihlgiigaa said there is another medicine found all across the country in swamps.

“The swampy, marshy, boggy areas. The name of this plant, ts'áhla, is a word that we use for sinker. The sinker you put on the hook,” said Giihlgiigaa.

“So when you put the bait on the hook, the sinker will take the bait down to the depths of the water where you can't see,” he said.

Ts'áhla is also the word for pillow. “So why would all those three things have the same name? What's the concept here? Haida is a very conceptual language. We try to use one concept to describe many things,” he said.

“That sinker takes the bait to another dimension. We can't see it down there. We know there's fish down there somewhere. And then when your head hits the pillow, your mind goes to another dimension. It dreams, right?”

“So when you make a medicine from that plant, it takes your mind to another dimension so your body can heal,” Giihlgiigaa said.

In English, he says, the plant is called Sweet Gale “and it's a dream key that will help you remember your dreams,” to help impact the length and strength of dreams, so they can be remembered more frequently, he said.

“Dreams are your Spirit talking to you in the dream world, and most people are separated from the Spirit. They call that their inner child because they haven't really given it any attention and haven't really guided it and worked on their spiritual powers. So it's kind of like a child yet not grown up,” he explained.

“Once we start giving it more and more attention, it'll merge with our waking brain and we'll be one again,” said Giihlgiigaa. “It might look like you’re looking back at yourself, but you’re not exiting yourself.”

“Spirit just gets bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Giihlgiigaa. “You are Spirit.”

 

👉Editor’s Note: It’s important to be well informed about any plant medicine that you choose to use and how it will affect your own body. Do your own research.

Our plant guide Carrie Armstrong shared some plant picking tips in a previous column:

When picking plants for your own use, please pick with care, ensuring you correctly identify the plant prior to use. Take only what you need. Break leaves, flowers, stems off gently as opposed to pulling out by roots.

Please be aware that you pick in a safe, chemical-free area and know that some plants can be toxic at certain times of year. Do not gather any endangered species of plants.

In some Indigenous cultures, tobacco is offered to Mother Earth as a way of showing gratitude for the medicines.

SOURCE: https://windspeaker.com/buffalo-spirit/dream-teachings-connecting-spirit

 

Saturday, April 20, 2024

He died in a police chase. Then the police vanished.

A high-speed police chase. A 17-year-old Crow boy, dead. The police report? Nowhere to be found. The entire police department? Vanished. The excruciating question that emerged: What happened to Braven Glenn?

The hunt for answers is at the heart of our searing new short film After the Crash, by reporter Samantha Michaels and filmmaker Mark Helenowski.

Blossom Old Bull was raising her son Braven, a diligent student and passionate basketballer, in the Crow Nation in Montana. On a dark, chilly night in November 2020, a police pursuit began while Braven was driving to meet his girlfriend. Blossom was told her son was speeding and collided with a train, but she had few other details. Despite his cries for help, witnesses say they didn’t see law enforcement offer him medical assistance. He didn’t survive.

Within days, the police department that pursued Braven shuttered, leaving behind no answers, only taped-up windows and locked doors. The force was formed to increase law enforcement presence on the reservation, but by the time of Braven’s death, after just five months in operation, it was still under-resourced. Its sudden disappearance soon after a deadly chase left Braven’s family and community desperately searching for answers—a familiar agony, since official silence after deaths and disappearances on Native reservations is painfully routine. And it speaks to the federal government’s more than century-long practice of grossly underfunding public safety and law enforcement on reservations, while also under-investing in tribal health care, education, housing, and infrastructure.

Read the full investigation—the cover story of our March+April 2024 print magazine—here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

PLAIN INDIAN LEDGER ART: historical accounts from our people, should be kept by our people

 Imprisoned for what exactly, you might ask... Being Indian was enough of a reason... TLH

Contested Native Artworks Resurface at Art Fair, Drawing Scrutiny

The drawings, taken from ledger books made by Native people imprisoned in the 19th century, were sold at auction in 2022 against tribal members’ wishes.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

#60sScoop | Understand The Suffering | #Reunion

👆Brothers meet half century after being separated by 60s Scoop

 

 

ARE YOU IN REUNION? WANT TO SHARE YOUR STORY?

EMAIL: tracelara@pm.me

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

#60sScoop - How did he end up in Connecticut?


CT man taken from First Nation family as child finds purpose in sharing story: ‘I’m not the only one’

WILTON,  CONNECTICUT — Ripped from his sister’s arms and taken to a new country over a half-century ago, Canada native Taber Gregory said he’s still reconciling with how and why he wound up in Wilton.

About 20 years ago, the longtime Wiltonian and owner of Gregory’s Sawmill on Pimpewaug Road said he learned he was one of thousands of survivors of what’s known as the Sixties Scoop.

The Sixties Scoop refers to a decades-long period in Canadian history, from about 1951 and until as late as the 1990s, marked by the mass removal of Aboriginal children from their homes — in most cases without the consent of their families — into the child welfare system.

Many of the children were placed in non-Indigenous households in Canada, while others — including Taber Gregory, who was born Henry Desjarlais in the Canadian province of Alberta in 1968 — were relocated and adopted out to families outside the country. 

Gregory, now 55, said he always knew he was adopted but didn’t know about the early years of his life until connecting with biological family members in his early- to mid-30s.

“I started getting some random calls saying somebody wanted to talk to me, and the person claimed he was my father,” Gregory said. “I was a little confused and didn’t accept the phone call because I didn’t know what to think about it.”

The calls kept coming, and Gregory said he kept refusing. 

Then one day, he finally accepted and learned that the person calling was, in fact, his biological father, Louis Desjarlais. Gregory said his biological father has since died, but he has stayed in touch with one of his biological siblings in Canada.

Through telephone conversations, Gregory said he learned he was the youngest of seven children and had been taken from his family’s home in Canada when he was about one-and-a-half years old. He said his adopted parents had been unaware that he had been forcibly removed from his biological family. 

“My sister walked me through everything, and it kind of snowballed from there,” he said.

Gregory showed Hearst Connecticut Media an August 2001 letter from the Cold Lake First Nations, verifying his Cold Lake First Nation Registry List membership and identifying his biological parents, as well as their own membership. The letter said that since his biological parents were “of 100% North American Indian Blood Quantum,” Gregory “has at least a 100% North American Indian Blood Quantum” himself.

One of Gregory’s four biological sisters, Alicia Minoose, claimed to have been holding him when social service workers came into the house, took him out of her arms, put him in a vehicle and left.

“She told me she ran out the door, chasing after me, and that was the last time she ever saw me,” Gregory said. “She was the last one to hold me.”

According to Tony Merchant — a Canadian attorney whose law firm was involved in a Sixties Scoop survivors class-action lawsuit several years ago that Gregory benefited from — government-funded social services agencies involved in the removal of Indigenous children from their homes were not closely supervised and “intensified their search for likely candidates/victims for adoption” over time. 

“Grabbing children became a need-for-supply phenomenon, and this was particularly true for boys,” he said, noting that they were “significantly more popular for adoption than girls.”

According to Gregory’s sister, two of their siblings were taken as well. She said they were placed with foster parents and eventually brought home — but the family couldn’t find Gregory, whom she still refers to by his birth name of Henry.

“Somehow, mom found David and Margaret ... but they couldn’t find you,” she said over the phone during Gregory’s interview. “They didn’t know what happened to you. We were searching and searching, but there was no information.”

Gregory said he was told that his biological mother, Bella Desjarlais, “cried and cried” after he was taken and he believes stress and heartbreak from what happened may have contributed to her death — which he said occurred before he reconnected with his biological family.

Later learning what he and his family in Canada went through, Gregory said he “went into survival mode.”

“I went through some depression, but I was able to get help and kind of turn that around and stay motivated and positive,” he said. “I did have to take a step back and kind of digest everything.”

Adoption and life in Wilton

Wilton has been the only home he knows — or at least remembers. 

Gregory said he has no recollection of his time in the Canadian foster care system, traveling to the U.S. or when his name was changed from Henry to Taber — but he knows he ended up at an adoption agency in Pennsylvania. 

From there, Gregory said he was adopted by Steve and Judy Meier when he was around 3 years old, moved to Wilton and had two brothers — both of whom were also adopted, but from different places. One was born in Vietnam, and the other was born in Bridgeport, he said.

Gregory said his adoptive parents didn’t know he had been forcibly taken from his home.

“The Welcome House in Pennsylvania was like the first stop, and they just adopted me from there,” he said. “They had no idea how I got there, so I can’t blame them for anything like that. They had no idea what happened.”

According to the website of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation — the parent organization of Welcome House — the adoption program “matched more than 7,000 orphans and children from around the globe with adoptive families in the United States,” and was phased out in June 2014 “because of changes in international adoption regulations.”

Samantha Freis, a curator with the foundation, said the organization does not know what the adoption process was like during that period.

After his adoptive parents divorced, Gregory said his mother Judy Meier ended up working at Gregory’s Sawmill and meeting John Gregory. 

“They made a connection, and we ended up here with Mr. Gregory and kind of became a family,” he said. “We grew up on the Gregory farm (where) we had draft horses, oxen, pigs and chickens.”

After their adoptive mother died in 1985, Taber Gregory said he and his brothers stayed with John Gregory, whom he considered a father figure and legally changed his last name from Meier to Gregory at his request.

When John Gregory retired in the mid- to late-1990s and moved to Ohio, where he later died in 2006, Taber Gregory said he took over the sawmill business — which has been in the Gregory family since the 1850s — and has been keeping the family legacy alive ever since.

“I became a Gregory and have been continuing the family business,” he said.

Gregory said he never knew, nor suspected, that his separation from his biological family and subsequent adoption were forced — but he’s grateful to have learned the truth about his past, “survived the ordeal” and reconnect with his family in Canada, who he said he has not yet visited in person but hopes to see in the near future.

In the meantime, he said his sister keeps him informed about what’s going on with family members in Canada — many of whom Gregory said still reside on a First Nations reservation and speak Chipewyan. 

Class-action settlement 

Several years ago, the Canadian government reached an $800 million class-action agreement with Sixties Scoop survivors — $750 million of which was set aside for individual compensation — the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported in 2017.

The settlement, through which all First Nations and Inuit children who “were removed from their homes — and lost their cultural identities as a result — between 1951 and 1991 (were) entitled to compensation,” was less than the $1.3 billion sought on behalf of about 16,000 Indigenous children in Canada’s Ontario province, according to the CBC article.

The settlement agreement followed an Ontario Superior Court judge’s February 2017 ruling that the Canadian government not only “breached its ‘duty of care’ to the children and ignored the damaging effect” of the child welfare program, but also “breached part of the agreement that required consultation with First Nations” about it, the CBC reported.

The judge approved the distribution of $25,000 to $50,000 in payouts to about 22,000 Sixties Scoop survivors the following year as part of the settlement agreement, through which the Canadian government also agreed to establish a foundation designed to “enable change and reconciliation.”

According to a class-action claims process website set up for the settlement, 21,208 of the 34,816 claims received by the December 2019 late claim deadline had been approved as of January 2024.

Gregory — who showed Hearst a questionnaire he filled out for Merchant Law Group LLP, one of the law firms involved in the class action — said his claim was among the ones approved.  He wouldn’t disclose the exact payout amount he received — saying only that it was over $10,000. 

“Everything I know is consistent with him being a (Sixties) Scoop survivor who received compensation,” Merchant said.

He said Gregory did not become a client “because obtaining compensation was something done directly with the claims service providers,” but said his firm did provide assistance to Gregory.

Gregory, who feels the Sixties Scoop settlement payout isn’t enough to compensate for the harm caused to those taken from their biological families, said he shares his story not for pity, but for purpose — to raise awareness about what he and thousands of other Indigenous children went through and help prevent something like it from ever happening again.

“I know I’m not the only one, and I don’t want anybody going through what I did,” he said.

SOURCE: https://www.newstimes.com/news/article/taber-gregory-wilton-sixties-scoop-canada-18672082.php

 

Friday, April 5, 2024

Eclipses have special ties to Indigenous peoples

 

During eclipses Navajo people must stay indoors, with closed windows and doors, and not look outside, limit consumption of food by fasting, not drink water, not sleep, not bathe, brush hair or groom themselves, no intimacy with families or partners, exception between mothers and children. Arts and crafts during solar eclipses are not allowed. Lightly cleaning or remote work at home is allowed. 

GREAT READ:  https://ictnews.org/news/eclipses-have-special-ties-to-indigenous-peoples

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Healing the Children of Horse Nations | Season 3: Elders


Healing the Children of Horse Nations

A new multimedia package produced by The Imprint and Voices of Monterey Bay takes readers, viewers and listeners deep inside rural Oregon’s Indian Country, where elders are Indigenizing social work through equine therapy for young people who have experienced foster care and youth justice systems.

“Horses take us all the way back to our history before our land was taken away,” explains John Doug Spence, who leads equine therapy sessions across Oregon. “It’s a way of taking back our power.” 

The project, Healing the Children of Horse Nations, is a collaboration between The Imprint’s Indigenous Children and Families Reporter Nancy Marie Spears, an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma; podcast producers Julie and Mara Reynolds; and visual storyteller Josué Rivas, who is Mexica and Otomi.

This season, we’re hearing from elder survivors of systemic injustice and historical trauma. They’re showing newer generations what they’ve learned about how to address and prevent those kinds of harm. 
 
Our first episode for this season is titled Uncle John, and it was co-produced by Julie Reynolds, Mara J. Reynolds, and Nancy Marie Spears in partnership with The Imprint, as part of the multimedia project Healing the Children of Horse Nations.

LISTEN NOW: Episode 1 | Uncle John
READ: Healing the Children of Horse Nations at The Imprint
VIEW: The photographs of Josué Rivas


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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

GO HERE: https://www.gluckstein.com/sixties-scoop-survivors

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

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.

NEW MEMOIR

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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