Closed Adoption: TRIBE UNKNOWN

016By Trace A. DeMeyer

This week I was contacted by a young woman whose mother Amy is an adoptee, born in 1965. They believe Amy is full-blood Hopi and we hope to prove it.
Another adoptee Michael and I are trying to figure out what language he spoke as a child to give us some clue as to which tribe is his family. We believe he’s Lakota but we are not sure.
Another adoptee Tom contacted me in 2011 and asked me to help he and his sister find their tribal relatives in Washington state since they were brought to Connecticut and placed in a closed adoption as young children. Tom and his sister believe they might be Colville. I haven’t been able to connect them to relatives even though I wrote a few tribal newspaper editors in Washington and asked for their help.
I’m not giving up on any adoptee.
All of these adoptees come from the time period of the Indian Adoption Programs and Projects – when the US government and the Child Welfare League of America were funding ARENA (Adoption Resource Exchange of North America) and paying churches and agencies to remove Indian children; they purposefully placed babies and children with non-Indian parents in closed adoptions. (Read chapter 39, Indian Placement Program in my anthology TWO WORLDS.)
Since the late 1800s, adoptions happened before, during and after residential boarding schools (in the US and Canada). It’s no surprise that the numbers of adopted Indian children are calculated in percentages, not actual statistics, and left purposefully vague. (Ontario has a class action for adoptees in the works now. We know First Nations children were also brought from Canada to the USA as part of ARENA.)
These two governments decided assimilation was a very good idea and adoptions far from the reservation would erase the Indian blood and a child’s memories of home.
Every email I receive and every phone call I make, I want to give adoptees something concrete, something helpful, something that will work.
In truth, I can’t because it doesn’t exist, not with sealed adoption records, no paperwork or proof, and current laws that prevent adoptees from knowing their tribal identities.
There are things I want to happen and my list grows after each email and phone call…
First, I want adoptees and birthfamilies to write their legislators and tell them, “This is wrong,” and we finally get someone in the government to hear us and offer their help.
I want an American government agency to help repatriate adoptees to their tribes. (Canada has three repatriation programs for adoptees.)
I want more people to see this history for what it was: a form of mind control using assimilation to kill culture in children, what could be called genocide of the mind.
Our loss was the government’s gain.
When I get requests from adoptees, I email ideas. If a state (like Kansas or Oregon for example) has open records, I can guide them to the state agency or registry and then tell them about search angels who will help for free or small fees. I can explain how to order their adoption files and get a court order, etc. I can give examples of how adoptees (like me) got around the laws and what worked for us.
For Amy, Arizona sealed her adoption file.
For Michael, New York and New Mexico sealed his adoption file. I want to be able to tell Michael he is ___, what band and connect him to his relatives.
For Tom and his sister, I want to locate their parents so we can find out why they were taken as children but Washington has sealed their adoption.
For all of them, truth is a mystery.
I want to be able to tell them, “This is what we’ll do and it will work and in about a week you will get a phone call from the tribe and they will help you.” But that would be a lie.
Now I can only offer them hope and my two books on this history and this issue.
Finally, I want tribes to do something!
Tribes could hire lawyers and legally demand the states and agencies who took children to release their names and adoption files. Tribes could create a list of birthdates of children who disappeared so adoptees could match their birthdate on a database. Tribes could also create some form of welcome ceremony or reunion powwow or something to help the adoptee meet relatives and hear their family stories.
Right now, adoptees have mountains to climb and laws to conquer and no one to turn to… and knowing which tribe can be a huge obstacle when there are 560+ federally recognized tribes. For them it’s still TRIBE UNKNOWN.
What adoption did was conquer and uproot children and hurt generations in tribal nations.  Being adopted ultimately disrupted our rights as sovereign citizens in North America.

Wonderful reviews on Amazon!

Review: my new anthology with Patricia Cotter-Busbee: Two Worlds – Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects

If you thought that ethnic cleansing was something for the history books, think again. This work tells the stories of Native American Indian adoptees “The Lost Birds” who continue to suffer the effects of successive US and Canadian government policies on adoption; policies that were in force as recently as the 1970’s. Many of the contributors still bear the scars of their separation from their ancestral roots. What becomes apparent to the reader is the reality of a racial memory that lives in the DNA of adoptees and calls to them from the past. The editors have let the contributors tell their own stories of their childhood and search for their blood relatives, allowing the reader to gain a true impression of their personalities. What becomes apparent is that nothing is straightforward; re-assimilation brings its own cultural and emotional problems.
Not all of the stories are harrowing or sad; there are a number of heart-warming successes, and not all placements amongst white families had negative consequences. But with whom should the ultimate decision of adoption reside? Government authorities or the Indian people themselves? Read Two Worlds and decide for yourself.  (on Amazon UK)


FIVE STAR review of One Small Sacrifice

Paula Benoit wrote:
One Small Sacrifice is a must read for anyone touched by adoption. I couldn’t put this book down from the moment I started reading it. Trace DeMeyer has captured the heart and soul of life as an adoptee brought into a culture not originally her own. The importance of adoptees knowing who they are and where they come from is paramount to their mental, physical and spiritual wellness. She points out many reasons why people feel complete when they have their original identity, not just the identity given to them by their adopted parents. Millions of adult adoptees across the United States are without their original identity because of sealed birth certificates and Trace takes the readers along her journey to understanding who she is and where it all began for her.
(Paula Benoit, former State Senator in Maine, helped Maine unseal their adoption records) (see more great reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!)
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Taino Puerto Ricans came to North America before Columbus?

taino houseMarch 12, 2013

BY Richard Thornton

Taino Indians from Puerto Rico lived at least as far north as the Smoky Mountains.

¿Como? ¿Puertorriqueños en América del Norte antes de que Cristóbal Colón? ¡Por seguro!

Forensic geologists and Native American scholars are opening the flood gates of new knowledge about North America’s past.  What they are discovering is that what is now the Southeastern United States was a melting pot for at least 1000 years. Much of the proof has also been available for a long time . . . 16th century archives left by French and Spanish explorers, plus a stone tablet discovered over century ago near Atlanta, GA.  The Taino ethnic and place names were in these old texts.  Some of them are still in use today.  Until recently, though, no one ever stopped to investigate the origins of such words that were within what was thought to be the original territory of the Creek Indians, but not Creek Indian words.

The first breakthrough occurred in 2011.  This column was running a series on the enigmatic petroglyphs of eastern North America.  Dr. Stephen C, Jett, a geology professor at the University of California-Davis was intrigued because several of the petroglyphs from northern Georgia did not resemble those he was familiar with in the Southwestern United States. Most were on larger boulders and were very similar to Bronze Age petroglyphs on the Atlantic coasts of Ireland and Spain. One was entirely different.  It was inscribed on a four feet (1.33 m) tall stone tablet, called a stela by archaeologists. It had been found over a century ago near the Chattahoochee River in an area that is now part of Metropolitan Atlanta.  Jett thought it looked “very Caribbean.”

The Sweetwater Creek stela, as it is now known, was discovered by a hunter, face down on the crest of a hilltop shrine.  Earthen and stone steps led up the steep hill from the creek’s confluence with the Chattahoochee River. The hillside was littered with Native American artifacts. For many years the stela was on display at the offices of the Georgia Division of Archives and History.  It is now displayed at a museum in Sweetwater State Park.

Dr. Jett provided names of several fellow members of the American Petroglyphic Society, who were experts on Taino and Carib art.  They were sent photos of the Sweetwater Creek stela.  The response was instantaneous.  The stela portrayed a Taino guardian deity.  In fact, the semi-human figure was virtually identical to art found in caves near Arecibo, Puerto Rico.  That region was the Toa Province, prior to conquest of Puerto Rico by the Spanish.  It was a 100% match.

The Toa Provinces . . . in Puerto Rico, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee

During the early spring of 1540 the Hernando de Soto Expedition was traveling northward through present day southern Georgia.  Approximately 80 miles (130 km) south of Macon, GA the expedition entered a Native town on the Ocmulgee River called Toa. It was in a province called Toasi, which in the Itsate Creek language means “offspring of Toa.”  De Soto’s chroniclers remarked that the town of Toa was cleaner, better planned and more sophisticated than the native villages they had visited in FloridaToa is also the Taino name for a special stone griddle used to bake cassava bread.

The fact that a Native town in Georgia and a province in Puerto Rico had the same name might be thought to be a coincidence, but the Toasi moved westward into central Alabama in the 1700s as European colonists occupied the Atlantic Coastal Plain.  When white settlers reached Alabama, they were called the Tawassee.  It is still a place name near Loundesboro, Alabama.  One of the Tawassee men happened to be traveling in the Carolinas, looking for work.  Some local scholars took an interest in the native language he spoke.  Toasi (or Tawasee) turned out to be a mixture of Taino Arawak and Creek Indian words.

Some of the Toa’s also settled in the mountains of Georgia, probably to have access to the region’s natural resources.  In the mountains, the Toa maintained their Arawak identity more completely. They called themselves the Toa-coa (Toa People.)  Their name survives today as two rivers named Toccoa in the mountainous part of the state.  They also had a village on the Little Tennessee River.  That village eventually joined the Cherokee Indians.  It was known to the Cherokees as Tocqua.

Were Arawaks all over the Southeast?

Anthropologists have long believed that the group of Native provinces that the Spanish called Timucua, were Arawaks. The Timucua lived in southeast Georgia and northeastern Florida.  The name comes from one ethnic group in the region which called itself the Tamacoa.  That is a hybrid word that mixes the Totonac (Gulf Coast of Mexico) word for “trade” with the Arawak word for people, “coa.”   They were probably a hybrid ethnic group that was drawn from several distinct peoples in the Caribbean Basin and northern South America.

Conventional anthropological maps only place the Arawaks in Florida and the extreme southeastern tip of Georgia. However, the linguistic evidence suggests that Arawak provinces were once scattered over a broad expanse of territory.  A good example is the Thamagoa (Tamacoa) tribe that lived near the coastal French colony of Fort Caroline in the 1560s.  That name appears as a “Creek Indian town” in 18th century maps at the headwaters of the Oconee River in northeastern Georgia, north of Athens. It was the original name of the county seat of Jackson County, GA until changed to Jefferson, GA.

There was another hybrid group that lived in central Georgia near the Toa and also in the southern tip of Florida.  According to 16th century French explorers, they called themselves the Mayacoa.  That means Maya People in Arawak. Apparently, they were a mixture of Maya Indian and Arawak ancestors. Other Arawak tribes in Georgia mentioned by the French included the Potano, Ustacoa, Panicoa, Anatecoa, Maticoa, Omiticoa and Enlicoa.  These tribes were Arawaks, but allied with Itsate-Creek Indians, who spoke another language with many Maya words.

In the same general region that stretched to the southern tip of South Carolina were also peoples originally from South America.  They worshiped the South American sun god, Toyah.  Apparently, these provinces spoke dialects of the Tupi-Guarani language.  Dialects of Tupi-Guarani are spoken in many parts of South America today, east of the Andes Mountains.  One of the provinces in southeastern Georgia was actually named Tupi.

Arawaks, originally from the Caribbean Basin, may have lived as far north as the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.  When European settlers arrived in the Shenandoah Valley it was uninhabited. Either a plague or Rickohocken Indian slave raiders had erased an advanced indigenous culture.  This extinct nation left behind many mounds and the ruins of numerous villages.  While tilling the fields around these abandoned villages, the newly arrived German and Dutch settlers found numerous stone griddles with legs that were unlike anything utilized by Algonquin Indians in Virginia.  The descriptions of these griddles sound identical to the toas used by Arawak Indians to bake cassava bread.

Gary Daniels is the founder of  He was featured on the premier of the History Channel’s American Unearthed on December 21, 2012.  Gary lives on the coast of Georgia and has been researching the Arawaks of the Southeastern United States for several years.   He has identified a pre-European trade network, operated by the Arawaks that transported products from the coast like salt to the highlands, then returned to the coast with products from the mountains.

Gary often pondered what caused a sudden ethnic change around 1000 AD, when many new towns appeared within the interior of the Southeast, while parts of the Atlantic Coast seemed to have been temporarily abandoned by Muskogean mound builders. The coast was  reoccupied by Arawak and Tupi-Guarani peoples some time later. They paddled as far as 2,000 miles (3200 km) to settle in Georgia.

The answer came from two British geologists. Simon K. Haslett and Edward A. Bryant discovered that a massive tsunami struck the coasts of Ireland, Wales and southern England in 1014 AD.  As many as 30,000 people drowned.  The scientists studied the sediments in the Atlantic Ocean for several years before determining that an extremely large meteor had broken up in the atmosphere then caused multiple, catastrophic tidal waves to strike the shores of both sides of the North Atlantic.  Undoubtedly, many thousands of people were also killed on the American side.  The survivors headed for the mountains and foothills of the Southeast, where no wave could engulf them.  They passed down to future generations stories of great serpents with a flaming tails that almost destroyed the world.



Back to the Future: Hopi Farming

Back to the Future: Restoring Traditional Hopi Farm Plots and Helping Elders

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) wants to eliminate food insecurity among senior citizens in Native American communities, and we are joined in that effort by AARP Foundation.  With foundation funding, we were able to award four grants to Native American communities this past summer in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma that will help address the issue. It’s part of our Native American Food Security project which, in turn, is part of our larger Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI).

One of those grant recipients is Sipaulovi Development Corporation in Arizona. Sipaulovi is a self-governing Hopi village founded in the early 1700s on Second Mesa. Of the 900 village residents, 28% are elders over 55, while 40% are youth up to age 18.

With its $25,000 grant, Sipaulovi is working to ensure elder food security by reclaiming locally controlled food systems based on traditional knowledge, contemporary practices, and coming together for the common good. Activities focus on restoring seed and water sources, reviving community farming and gardening, and growing, processing and sharing food in the traditional manner.

The gardens will be a reliable source of healthy food for elders, who have restored and revived traditional farm plots and are working to engage community members in farming and reviving traditional farming practices while providing foods for families and individuals.

Besides the grant funding, First Nations has also provided technical assistance to Sipaulovi.  In July 2012, we provided training on program evaluation, food policy and food assessment.  We did this in association with other NAFSI grantees so Sipaulovi and the others could benefit by networking with each other.

Other $25,000 food-security grants went to Santo Domingo Pueblo and Pueblo of Nambé, both in New Mexico, and to the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma.

The Native American Food Security project assists Native American tribes or organizations working to eliminate food insecurity among senior populations. National statistics document that Native Americans continue to experience high rates of poverty, contributing to significant food insecurity in many Native American communities. According to the most recent American Community Survey, about 26% of American Indians live at or below the poverty line. The same survey indicates that roughly 12% of all Native Americans living in poverty are age 55 and older. Other studies conducted by the National Resource Center on Native American Aging note that Native American seniors suffer from higher rates of obesity, diabetes and other negative health indicators when compared to other senior groups in the United States.

First Nations’ work in food systems is at the intersection between food systems/food security and economic development. We support tribes and Native communities as they strengthen food systems in their communities, improve health and nutrition and build food security. First Nations increases the control over Native agriculture and food systems by providing financial and technical support, including training materials, to projects that address the agriculture and food sectors in Native communities.

Read more:



English: Bing Crosby's star on the Hollywood W...
English: Bing Crosby’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Post By  J. Glenn Evans

For an adventure in reading I highly recommend that you get acquainted with Vance Trimble.  Google Vance H. Trimble: Books, Biography, Blog …
What does a Pulitzer Prize winning author do at the age of 99 to top off an incredible career? Does he sit back and bask in the laurels coming his way?
Vance Trimble is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and former senior news editor of the Scripps-Howard bureau in Washington DC.  He worked 47 years as newspaper reporter or editor in Oklahoma, Texas, Kentucky, and Washington DC.  In 1960 he won the Pulitzer Prize (plus two others) for national reporting for his exposé of Congressional nepotism and payroll abuse.
He has authored 13 hardcover books, including biographies of Sam Walton, FedEx‘s Fred Smith, baseball commissioner “Happy” Chandler, and the publisher, E.W. Scripps.

In 2011 he began converting many of his books to Kindle and Nook.
I first met Vance Trimble, now a dear personal friend, some years ago when I visited my hometown, Wewoka, Oklahoma for a high school reunion and was immediately impressed with his integrity, intelligence and broad scope of interests.  He once delivered the same local paper, the Wewoka Times that I did as a youth, though some years earlier.

Now at age 99, he has come out with two new fiction books, Will Rogers and His Daredevil Movie and To Kidnap Bing Crosby‘s Bride, as trade editions and now available on the Kindle.
With the major publishers in the hands of conglomerates and our once free press now corporate media whose main concern is the bottom line.  Their main attention goes to celebrities, politicians, perverts and crooks.  Poor fare for readers and little exposure for many good authors so it takes an alternate press and people to people networking to get the word out on good stuff from the small presses and independent authors.
If we want a wise and educated world of people around us, it behooves us as individuals to become aware of good writers and quality small presses.  By networking we can spread the word and help make people aware of what is really going on in the world.  If you like what you see please join the network and forward this on to your contacts.

Vance Trimble’s new soft cover print editions available on

To Kidnap Bing Crosby’s Bride (279 pp.) Texas beauty Kathryn Grandstaff went to Paramount as a starlet and caught Bing Crosby’s amorous quick eye. She was 20, he 51. With wife Dixie Lee dead two years, Bing nailed Grace Kelly and other co-stars, but looked for more young conquests. He set a date to marry Kathryn. That triggered kidnap plotting by Houston’s underworld, which would strike when Kathryn came to show homefolks her big catch. But Bing dwadled two years, jilting Kathryn four times! That killed Houston kidnap schemes. But two dangerous felons prowled Hollywood streets to snatch the starlet Bing had finally married (with a $6 ring). They were trying to grab and chain her—now pregnant–in a filthy slum bathroom and ask $100,000 ransom. The book is built around the intimate details of the Bing-Kathryn love story, and the explosion of the one real kidnap attempt—those parts all brutally true. $14.95

Will Rogers and His Daredevil Movie  (273 pp.) From the flimsy wing of a World War Jenny biplane, Will Rogers is supposed to lasso Mary Pickford on the top of a small town water tower to rescue her from kidnappers who are about to throw her off. It happens in Oklahoma in 1922. This is the try-out for a silent movie stunt that meets rampant disaster. On hand also are Mary’s husband Douglas Fairbanks, W.C. Fields, one-eyed Wiley Post, daredevil aviator. Everything goes hay-wire. Dangerous . . . and sometimes a nail-biter! Find out later about the five-dollar lawyer, and his dust devil Cupid. Stage center are a pretty Indian redhead and her 40 acres of baby sweet potatoes. A fresh, comedic celebrity tale.  $14.95

Vance Trimble’s E-Books available on Kindle and Nook:

How & Why Sam Walton Invented Wal-Mart  $4.99

Choctaw Kisses, Bullets & Blood, War and Romance on Oklahoma’s Wild Indian Frontier $4.99

Inventing FedEx: The Cruel Ordeal, Outrageous and Courageous Fred Smith  $4.99

True Detective Mysteries $2.99

Will Rogers and His Daredevil Movie  $3.99

To Kidnap Bing Crosby’s Bride  $3.99

Poetry With My Love (Vance Trimble, ed.) $2.99

Major contribution to Native American history published!


TWO WORLDS, Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects offers astounding narratives that challenge views on adoption

After generations of Native children were forcibly removed from their Tribes and placed in residential boarding schools, children were also being placed in closed adoptions with non-Indian families in North America.

Finding those children became a mission for award-winning Native American journalist-adoptee Trace A. DeMeyer who started research in 2004 which culminated in her memoir “One Small Sacrifice” in 2010.  DeMeyer was introduced to Cherokee adoptee Patricia Cotter-Busbee, and the collaborated on their new anthology, “TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects.”  The book hits Amazon and Kindle in September. (ISBN: 978-1479318285, Price: $19.95 (PAPERBACK), $6.99 (EBOOK).

“Readers will be astonished since these narratives document a page of North American history that few even know happened,” DeMeyer said. “Today tribal families hope to reconnect with adoptees but we know closed adoptions were planned to assimilate children, to erase their culture and end contact with their tribe. I started this project in 2008 after my memoir, then adoptees wrote to me.  When I met Patricia in 2010, she shared her own amazing story and I knew she had to be part of this book.”

A recent MFA graduate of Goddard in writing, Patricia Cotter-Busbee welcomed the chance to contribute and help edit. “I could not resist helping with this important book. I felt that this was the project I had been waiting for. I kept thinking where are all these adult adoptees? I am an adoptee and know how badly I wanted to reconnect with my first families. If 1/4 of all Indian children were removed and placed in non-Indian adoptive homes, these adoptees must be looking for help, trying to open records and find clues to their identity. One study even found in sixteen states in 1969, 85 percentof the Indian children were placed in non-Indian homes. This book will help lost adoptees reconnect.”

The Lost Children in Two Worlds share details of their personal lives, their search for identity and their feelings about what happened to them.

“The history of the Indian Adoption Projects is troubling since it was unofficially ethnic cleansing by the US and Canadian governments, and this practice went on for years without public knowledge, but I am happy to report it failed because we are still here and still Indians; and this book explains how we adoptees did it,” DeMeyer said.

DeMeyer and Busbee agreed that “TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects” is an important contribution to American Indian history.

“Indigenous identity takes on a whole new meaning in this anthology,” Busbee said, “both for the adoptee and those who adopted them.  Adoptees definitely live in two worlds and we show you how.”

The book covers the history of Indian child removals in North America, the adoption projects, their impact on Indian Country and how it impacts the adoptee and their families, Congressional testimony, quotes, news and several narratives from adoptees in the US and Canada in the 375-page anthology.

“Two Worlds is really the first book to debunk the billion dollar adoption industry that operated for years under the guise of caring for destitute Indigenous children,” DeMeyer said. “Readers will be astonished since very little is known or published on this history.”

DeMeyer lives in western Massachusetts and Busbee lives in Washington state.


For a copy of this press release online: visit Blue Hand Books at

Photos available upon request.

Adoptees in this book are available for interviews.


Early reader comments included:

“…sometimes shocking, often an emotional read…this book is for individuals interested in the culture and history of the Native American Indian, but also on the reading lists of universities offering ethnic/culture/Native studies.”

“Well-researched and obviously a subject close to the heart of the authors/compilers, I found the extent of what can only be described as ‘child-snatching’ from the Native Americans quite staggering. It’s not something I was aware of before…”

“The individual pieces are open and honest and give a good insight into the turmoil of dislocation from family and tribe… I think it does have value and a story to tell. I was affected by the stories I read, and amazed by the facts presented…. because it is saying something new, interesting and often astonishing.”

Standing Silent Nation (HEMP documentary)