Louise Erdrich on ‘LaRose,’ and the Psychic Territory of Native Americans | In The Veins @BlueHandBooks #NoDAPL

By Lara Trace Hentz  (poet-writer) (founder of Blue Hand Books)

I am remiss in mentioning I’m in the new poetry anthology IN THE VEINS (released 2-1-2017) and last year I did mention the poetry book TENDING THE FIRE by Chris Felver that is coming out in 2017.   Louise and I are both that book.  NICE!

Louise’s bookstore BIRCHBARK BOOKS (top photo) in Minnesota carries some of our Blue Hand Book titles. I am very grateful to her for this. Supporting me as a small press and publisher helps me publish new Native authors.

click logo to visit them

I founded Blue Hand Books in 2011 to give back to my community, right after I did my memoir One Small Sacrifice.  Since then we have published 18 books, with four volumes in the Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects book series. (TWO WORLDS was the first anthology.)  In the Veins is Volume 4.  A portion of the proceeds from this poetry book edited by Patricia Busbee will be sent to the Standing Rock Water Protectors Camps (#NoDAPL).

Here is one of my poems from IN THE VEINS

…When People of the First Light saw ships and strangers disembark

…When the conqueror ran out of the woods firing loaded guns

…When they loaded some of us onto slave boats in shackles

Then a trickle becomes a river then a flood

…When an Indigenous mother loses her child at gun point

…When her child is punished by a nun, kicked in the neck

…When her child dies in residential school, buried in an unmarked grave

Then a trickle becomes a river then a flood

…When a black sedan enters the rez and children run and hide, afraid

…When a Cheyenne adoptee is a small boy, watching westerns on TV, he is told he is Indian

…When a Navajo adoptee is taken at the hospital and disappears, raised by Mormons

Then a trickle becomes a river, then a flood ….. of tears.

The people who chained, who murdered, who hacked, who raped, who hated their way across North America… they are still here, too.

ebook-cover-vein

Read an IN THE VEINS excerpt HERE.  My Ojibwe scholar friend blogger Dr. Carol A. Hand (who I interviewed on this blog) and my dear friend and Unravelling anthology co-editor MariJo Moore and many many other Native American and First Nations poets (some of them famous or soon-to-be) contributed prose and poems for this beautiful new book. If you love poetry, you will love this… LINK to BUY from BHB.

COMING SOON! Blue Hand Books is publishing a brand new novella by Barbara Robidoux, author of Sweetgrass Burning.

SOLITARY: An Observation from Within by adoptee Jesse Neubert

Tamms SuperMax in Illinois was closed in 2013 – more prisons need to close

By Lara Trace Hentz  (Third Mom)

The following essay was written by my nephew Jesse Fasthorse Neubert. I’ve adopted him into my family. He first wrote to me when my article “Generation after Generation We are Coming Home” was published in 2005 about adoptees called Lost Birds.  Since then we have been in constant contact by phone and letter. Jesse calls me his “third Mom” and I am proud of that.  Jesse is incarcerated in Arizona, found guilty of armed robbery when he belonged to a gang.  He is an adoptee like me. He’s Lakota (Cheyenne River) and Dakota (Rosebud). He’s a good writer and contributed to the two anthologies Two Worlds and Called Home (excerpt.)

Until last month Jesse was held in solitary confinement.  He ate two meals a day, not three. He was very underweight. He was not allowed outside for sunlight and fresh air. I asked him to write about it so all of us would know what it feels like…  His words: An Observation from Within was written on Feb. 24, 2015.

“The use of solitary confinement contributes to untreated serious mental illness and high rates of suicide.”

By Jessup Fasthorse Neubert

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” -Dostoyevsky

I know why the caged man screams.

So that you may also come to know why he screams, take a few moments and imagine a windowless concrete room about the size of an average household bathroom. Like any other bathroom, this room has a sink and a toilet. However, in place of a bathtub or shower, there is instead a small bed and perhaps a tiny desk bolted to one of the walls. All of the walls are blank and gray and there is no mirror. The only view beyond this room is through slits or perforations in a steel door that faces nothing but another gray stark wall in an empty corridor. An oppressive white light constantly emanates from a ceiling fixture that can’t be controlled. It dims only slightly for a few hours each night. Natural sunlight or fresh air will never reach into this room. For all intents and purposes this room is nothing more than a box, a human cage. Can you imagine a room like this?

Now for a few moments longer, can you imagine being indefinitely confined to this room for months or even years on end? Imagine only being allowed out of this room of yours maybe three times each week for a limited recreation period and a brief shower. Basically only 8-10 hours of the 168 hours in each week might be spent beyond your room. Even your two daily meals will always be eaten alone at your tiny desk. An abrupt search of your room, a medical appointment or an emergency, or a two-hour visit from your loved ones once a week (typically separated by plexi-glass) might be the only other reasons that you will temporarily escape your soul-stifling room for the foreseeable future. Your desire and need to attend church or school won’t even be reason enough to leave your room since such services will almost entirely be denied to you during your confinement here. Essentially the vast majority of your daily existence has been reduced to this one room – this cage – of yours – for years, possibly decades to come. Imagine that for just a moment longer.

Imagine how being caged alone like this, for any prolonged amount of time might affect you? Could this perpetual mental, physical and spiritual separation make you scream too?

If you can imagine these dehumanizing conditions, then now you have an idea of what solitary confinement in prison is like – and now you know why a caged man screams out from within in such a place. Regrettably, solitary confinement is not some imaginary place, it’s real for those who have languished there before, or currently still are. For them solitary confinement isn’t something abstract or easily ignored – it is a suffocating reality that exists, albeit hidden, deep within the walls of variously-named isolation or control units throughout this nation’s prison system.

I am one of those unfortunate enough to know the reality of solitary confinement. Since July 2009, I’ve been indefinitely locked-down under such conditions here in Arizona’s Special Management Units (S.M.U.). (First at Eyman and now at Lewis). Whether known as an S.M.U., S.H.U., Ad.Seg. or by any other Max-Custody designation – these dark prisons within a prison all share similar or parallel details as the one I described for you.

Some may find themselves trapped in these modern dungeons for clear and easily articulated reasons – such as having committed a serious disciplinary infraction; while others may find themselves in here for less valid or speculative reasons – such as being classified as “a potential threat to security” based on groundless conjecture. Either way, both rationales will often perpetuate a prolonged or indefinite term of confinement to these units. With no serious disciplinary convictions since 2009, I remain caged in here according to the latter reasoning (speculation) by the prison administration.

During my time in this place I’ve experienced how mind-numbing and soul-wrenching it can be. I’ve observed the many forms of deterioration and madness that this place can drive men into, after years without meaningful social interaction or human contact. I’ve seen men, with and without documented Mental Health issues, decline and fall into pieces. It’s often discomforting to hear an otherwise rational man begin to mutter or talk to himself – but the screams of a man who has gone completely stir-crazy or insane in the SMU are always the most jarring. Worse still is when a man can no longer cope with this harsh reality and attempts suicide – sometimes even succeeding. Maybe the sorrow of losing a loved one while in here was too much to bear, or maybe he just could no longer endure the forced solitude – and so, feeling anguished and forsaken, he sought some desperately needed attention or an immediate end to his caged misery.

Sadly I’ve observed enough tragedy in here to know that most of it must be ascribed to solitary confinement itself. These tragedies are ongoing testament to the detrimental effects that this place will have on those subjected to these conditions. Although this crushing depravation won’t necessarily break everyone who enters it – none will emerge from it completely unaffected or unscathed. A dysfunctional behavior, a personality disorder, or a mental illness may develop or become exacerbated after years of isolation and being treated like a caged animal.

If prison is a microcosm of the problems with our society – a reflection of our degree of civilization – then the institution of solitary confinement should remind us of our most poignant failures. When institutions fail us, we as a civilized society have a moral obligation to abolish or reform those institutions. Experience compels me to argue for the former in regard to solving the problem posed by solitary confinement. We must stop living in a state of denial or ignorance about its existence, widespread use and the nature of solitary confinement. We must dispel our collective apathy or complacency towards this uncomfortable reality and instead confront this dilemma in order to address it. This is because a neglected problem will never just disappear or spontaneously solve itself – in fact, it will usually only worsen when ignored. Hence, we can no longer morally or fiscally afford the high cost of ignoring the discrepancies between the ideals we espouse and the actual practices we exhibit when it comes to the conditions in our prison systems. We must recognize that no good will ever come from the inhumane treatment of any member of our society.

For although we prisoners are currently the pariahs of society – most of us, including myself in 2016, will eventually reenter society for better or for worse.

Solitary confinement ensures the likelihood that a man will exit prison worse than when he went in because being caged alone hinders rehabilitation. As a society that claims to be civilized with a high standard of moral decency, we must then be guided by the moral discipline expressed by Goethe:

“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”

Let’s finally put an end to solitary confinement. We need to imagine a better way.

Jessup is incarcerated in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis in Arizona until 2016.  Please write him: Jesse F. Neubert, #186050, ASPC LEWIS, Buckley Unit, PO Box 3400, Buckeye, AZ 85326. He is now in general population and continuing his college degree.
Jesse and his sister Tashea were adopted together
Jesse and his sister Tashea were adopted together (All six children were adopted by Mormons)

UPDATE: Mississippi has proven that it is possible to dramatically curb the use of solitary confinement and still put safety first. Prison officials there reduced the solitary-confinement population by 90 percent. Doing so resulted in a 70 percent decrease in violence and $8 million annual savings. There are already 2,000 maximum security inmates in solitary confinement in Arizona’s prisons in 2013. Arizona Gov. Brewer was still finalizing plans in 2013 to construct 500 new maximum-security prison beds and 1,000 new privately contracted prison beds, adding to the already bloated $1 billion annual corrections spending. (Source: “More max-security prison beds make no sense” www.azcentral.com/opinions/articles/20130314)

MUST READ:

AEON / Twilight in the Box by Shruti Ravindran

“In 2005, there were an estimated 81,600 prisoners in solitary in the US; this month’s Senate Subcommittee Hearing puts the numbers at about the same. That’s 3.6 per cent of the 2.2 million presently incarcerated, many of whom, like King, were put in there for random acts of non-violent rule-breaking. Some, like him, shuttle in and out of solitary; others remain locked up for decades. Prison authorities in every state are running a massive uncontrolled experiment on all of them. And every day, the products of these trials trickle out on to the streets, with their prospects of rehabilitation professionally, socially, even physiologically diminished.”

Jesse wrote in great detail about his adoption experience and being raised by Mormons in my book Two Worlds [read more https://laratracehentz.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/ebook-two-worlds/.]

Think boatloads of immigrants on Turkey Day

I took this photo on Manitoulin Island in Ontario
I took this photo on Manitoulin Island in Ontario

By Lara/Trace

After the speech on immigration by Obama, I decided it’s time you and I confess some of us are descendents of immigrants!

So I decided to google: My (adopted) grandmother Romaine Baert immigrated from Belgium as a child. She and her brother Emil arrived at Ellis Island in New York City (circa 1900). How did she become a US citizen?

One google answer was from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

My great-grandmother emigrated from Italy to the USA and married an American. Do I have a right to Italian citizenship? LINK

By Italian law a woman could not pass on the right to citizenship until January 1st 1948. You would have to verify whether your grandmother maintained her Italian citizenship – and therefore did not become an American citizen – at least until the birth of her son/daughter, which had to have taken place after January 1st 1948.

Hmmm, a bit confusing, right? I didn’t find an answer. I had to think about that and the boatloads of people who arrived on these shores not that long ago and in the past centuries; some of these immigrants I do share blood with.

My adopted family name DeMeyer (BAERT) is from Belgium, not my blood, and they are recent immigrants.  My family name KILDUFF is the name of one maternal great-grandpa who immigrated from Ottawa to Wisconsin. One of my cousins Peter (in Ontario) sent me our history about the Kilduff migration from Eire (Ireland) to Quebec to Ottawa. There lies some of my immigrant roots.

My other cousin Charles helped me to trace my BLAND ancestry (The Northern Neck Blands of Virginia) (the bad ones, the dark ones) (our inside joke) dating back to Virginia and Kentucky. (They settled here 300+ years ago.) They came here on boats too.

In my adopted family, my maternal adopted grandma Kathryn was from Great Britain. I knew her. She never lost her British accent! Since she came on a boat and married an American, she became American (circa WWI)… (I seriously doubt they did a background check on Kath or any of my immigrant grandparents.)

All of these ancestors were immigrants – callously unaware or ignorant of the fact they were INVADING a continent filled with people. This land was occupied by Indigenous People who were hunted, murdered and removed to reservations to make way for THEM, boatloads of immigrants.

One People

We are a hemisphere of immigrants. So remember that this Thanksgiving Day Nov. 27.  Think about who we should be thanking for this land, this bounty, this country we call America.  Remember this modern holocaust is still going on, still being felt, still being lived by my other relatives who are Indigenous. (Indian Country is a poverty-stricken Third World still surrounded by America.)

At your Thanksgiving feast, ask your own family, how did your grandparents (or great-grandparents) become citizens?

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In the News

TWO WORLDS: Helping Scholars Understand Indian Adoptions

Book Review by Author Margaret D. Jacobs: (Excerpt) Though not scholarly, this book Two Worlds is of great significance to scholars of Native American Studies…

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Number of Aboriginal children in care a ‘national disaster’ : APTN Report on Number of Native Kids in Care in Canada

Over 5,000 Aboriginal children are in care of the province of Alberta. They represent nearly 70 percent of kids.
The number grows to 5,600 Aboriginal children in Saskatchewan or 83 percent of all kids in care.
But it’s Manitoba that has the highest numbers.
More than 10,000 Aboriginal children, 87 percent, are under the care of the province.

LINK: Canada’s National Disaster #flipthescript #adoption

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Bernie Buzz:

Immigration
On major issue after major issue, including immigration reform, where the Senate passed a comprehensive bill last year, the Republican-controlled House has refused to act. On Thursday, in response to a broken immigration system, the president acted on his own to protect millions of families. Bernie applauded the president but found it truly amazing that the major broadcast TV networks refused to air Obama’s prime-time address. “People can be for immigration reform or against it, but clearly we need an intelligent, informed debate.” SOURCE
Immigration Speech

Adoption Experiment: Breaking the Spirit

The modern process of breaking the spirit of an expectant mother for the purpose of stealing her infant, reminds me of that old film taken by Hitler’s doctors of their own medical experiments, whereby they left a parent locked alone in a room with their baby, but without food or drink. They watched and filmed through a one-way mirror as the adult victim unraveled. It only took a couple of days for the adults to crack completely. In the same way a vulnerable expectant woman is easy pickings for the public and its press. The North American press behaves just like Hitler’s doctors, carrying out goulash experiments on defenseless victim mothers, who are unable to fight back or protect themselves. The North American press appears to be in love with adoption. Or maybe in love with the wash of money always associated with slavery?  -Joss Shawyer, Death by Adoption

3eee0-nurse-ocalBy Lara/Trace

I just watched a movie THE KILLING ROOM about human experimentation (torture) and how MK Ultra was a top-secret government program that manipulated and murdered unsuspecting men and women civilians who thought they’d earn a few easy bucks by being a lab rat for a few hours. Their psychological destruction reminded me of what Hitler did, mentioned above by adoption activist and author Joss Shawyer.

If governments in the world can conduct this kind of experiment, breaking the spirit of innocent unsuspecting people, they can literally do anything and get away with it. They will deny the experiment as they are trained to be cunning manipulators. Their programs are kept sealed and secret.

For me, I imagined I was so courageous to write my memoir, only to find out that something is still burning in me, so much that I needed to take a break from writing to just sit and think a spell, etc.  Ten years ago writing my memoir I actually wrote the words: “Adoption is an experiment (referring to torture).” How? Adoptees like me are forced to live an illusion our entire life and accept our new identity as truth. The Stockholm Syndrome happens when we accept our adoption (abductions) and defend the adopters and what they did.   Adoption was a cunning way to break our spirit and split us into pieces, aka Split Feathers.

It’s disturbing to read how adoptive parents are still counting on Stockholm Syndrome to keep adoptees a grateful bunch by defending adoption, even defending adoptive parents.  I cringe at the slick propaganda of the happy “well-adjusted” adoptee in the mainstream press, on adoptive parents blogs and in too many movies.  Apparently the Adoption Police silenced adoptees successfully, forcing us into that gratitude attitude and complacency expected of us, having been “saved” by adoption.

I just returned from Ontario where my co-editor and author Patricia Busbee met two contributor-adoptees who wrote in Two Worlds and we gave a panel presentation on the effects of adoption. We told our stories.  We cried openly.  Earlier in the day, we spoke to college students who read the anthology Two Worlds and heard their reactions: they had no idea this happened to First Nations and American Indian adoptees and were not taught anything about this in any school or in any history class.

One of the adoptees Michael who spoke on our panel, looked around the room, and said “I know where 5 percent of adoptees are…where are the other 95%?”  Canada’s 60s Scoop is said to have removed 20,000+ babies and children from their First Nations families.  I know that many adoptees felt alone, isolated, tortured, and some even committed suicide.

It was a secret that the US and Canadian governments used adoption as a tool of cultural genocide, to manipulate our minds as adoptees, to erase our ancestry, to ultimately destroy our connection to our tribes and relatives and remove us from tribal rolls. They sealed our files, that way we’d never know.

Researching Stockholm Syndrome, I found the website by adoption activist Joss Shawyer. She is so articulate, and passionate, I want to share some of her writing here from 2004:

We are mothers who lost our babies to the adoption industry in both closed adoptions and “open” adoptions. We were exiled from our babies NOT because we were proven unfit, but because we were vulnerable (young, single, sick, or poor), and lied-to and coerced by social workers, doctors, lawyers, maternity homes, and churches: brokers that made money from selling our babies to a market driven by “consumer” demand.  Silenced for decades by shame and guilt, we suffered alone with our grief, believing we were the only ones. Now we find we are not alone – there are many others of us who did not surrender by choice. And if there is only one option, there is not a choice. Reunited with our children, we now see first-hand the pain that adoption caused them.  They told us we’d forget. They told us to “get over it,” “put it behind us,” and “get on with our lives.” They tell our children we “gave them away.


On Amazon: REVIEW OF DEATH BY ADOPTION

The Truth A Customer [2004]

Finally — finally after years of seeing this book referenced I own a copy. And it was worth the search. Shawyer’s honest and compassionate look at adoption through the eyes of an astute, woman-friendly observer, is a stunner.
Social workers and doctors made a mistake when they targeted Shawyer and her twin babies for adoption fodder.  She was not frightened by these “adoption police” who have destroyed millions and millions of perfectly good real families in the last 50+ years.  Shawyer resisted their date-rape style abuse.  She describes vividly how the mother targeted for adoption keeps saying “no” to the suggestion of adoption for her child yet the social workers and doctors who have singled her out as fair game keep saying “yes.”  Ultimately, they simply whisk away the newborn for baby-crazed infertiles and tell the mother who complains that it is her fault that she didn’t stop them.  When this trickery was tried on Shawyer, she found the shaming and cult-like brainwashing tactics ludicrous, was able to fight off the attacks, and walked out of the hospital with her babies as God intended.
Ever since, she has stood up for mothers and their precious babies.  She documents well the terrible suffering of adoption’s victims, the unresolvable grief and post-truamatic stress disorder–ruined lives.  After writing Death by Adoption, Shawyer was instrumental in the dismantling of the mean and shameful practice in New Zealand.
I was shocked to look in the front of Death By Adoption and see it was written 25 years ago. One suspects that Shawyer must be dismayed that after all these years with the horrors of adoption well-documented, it seems to be business as usual in the US for these appalling human rights violations.

As someone who was rejected by my mother when I attempted reunion, I believe my mother must have suffered the same Stockholm Syndrome I had. We were supposed to forget and move forward as if nothing happened…. Adoption broke her spirit too.  Adoption really was an experiment… Lara/Trace

The other side of adoption with Patricia Busbee and Trace DeMeyer

Check Out Politics Progressive Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Fire Talk Production on BlogTalkRadio with Fire Talk on BlogTalkRadio

9781479318285_COVERThis interview is about Patricia’s and my book: Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects (which had been called Split Feathers originally)

We’ll be speaking together at Brock University in St. Catharines, ON, on March 25, 2014. If you want to attend, please email me: tracedemeyer@yahoo.com

Meet the Authors/Editors of Two Worlds

Book Talk on March 25
Book Talk on March 25

Patricia and I will be giving a book talk in Ontario – very exciting! Come join us – open to the public! Our anthology is being offered to the entire community as part of a Summer Reads Program! Click link to read more: Two Worlds

State Sanctioned Kidnapping: Actor-Adoptee Eric Schweig

One of Eric's masks
One of Eric’s adoption masks

A speech was given by actor-adoptee Eric Schweig on February 19, 1999 at the Vancouver Inner City Foster Care Conference. Invited to the conference to share his own experiences and perspectives, Eric was pleased to have the opportunity to speak on a topic close to his heart. The ramifications and issues surrounding interracial/cultural adoption are, for him, much more than a topic. They are the legacy he has been given; they are what has made him who he is … and who he is not. It is very much the spirit behind his art; certainly the tragic inspiration for his Adoption Masks. To fully appreciate the Inuit Masks, the Adoption Masks, and all else that Eric carves, one must first appreciate the heart & motivation that creates them.  His participation in the conference was a chance to encourage more involvement on the part of the native community, be they extended family or neighbors, in the plight and care of children who desperately need someone to intervene and protect. It was also meant as a plea to replace governmental paternalism with community assistance.

These words are, according to Eric Schweig, his “mission statement.”

“We can never go home because the concept of home is lost on us.”

Adoption of aboriginal children by Caucasian couples is to me, for lack of a better term ‘State Sanctioned Kidnapping.’ Too often Euro-American couples are preoccupied with the romantic notion of having a “real live Indian baby” or a “real live Inuit baby” which instantly transforms the child into an object rather than a person. For decades our communities’ babies have been unceremoniously wrenched from the hands of their biological parents and subjected to a plethora of abuses. Physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse and a host of others.

I have first-hand knowledge of this because I was one of those children. For years my adoptive parents beat me bloody on a regular basis. I’ve been trapped in rooms naked and beaten with belt buckles, hockey sticks, extension cords, and once with a horsewhip.

I’m not saying this to shock you or to gain pity; I’m just stating fact. I eventually grew tired of living in a prison without walls and ran away when I was 16. What transpired between then and now has been a roller coaster of alcohol, drugs, violence, failed relationships, despair and confusion. Who am I? Where do I come from? Where is my family? Where do I belong? When life’s mystery has been shattered by strangers watching over you, a lot of these questions are lost.

There has been some good times as well, regardless, but for reasons that I’ve just started to understand, there has always been an impending sense of doom that controlled my actions and behavior, but now that I’ve been clean and sober for 8 months and actually started working on myself I’m beginning to step out of my father’s shadow and into the light of day where life isn’t so murky or such a struggle.

There are many of us who have been raised in this manner and not just aboriginal people. A myriad of different ethnic groups have suffered the pain and humiliation of being brought up by certain morally bankrupt individuals who seem to get their kicks out of abusing children.

I shouldn’t neglect to say that there are some, not many, but some Euro-American parents who have raised their adopted aboriginal children in a stable and loving environment. But for the majority of us, living as a young aboriginal person growing up in an environment with that much hostility and disregard is an all too early lesson in pain and loneliness.

I haven’t even begun to speak about the cultural devastation that occurs when an adopted teenage aboriginal person wakes up one day and realizes just how different they are from the world around them. How differently they are regarded at school, in the mall, on the street, and at home. The racial slurs in public, the condescending looks from strangers that sometimes turns into outright violence, depending on the situation.

And what about the aboriginal mothers and fathers who will probably never forget the new baby smell that babies always seem to have, and who will never be able to see them again? Can you imagine the profound longing in their hearts that they feel every day their child is gone?

A lot of us are discarded, lost, and wander into self imposed exile only to be devoured by the system because we have no idea where it is that we belong. We end up being “nowhere people” with absolutely nothing to hang on to; nothing to keep us grounded and safe. We can never go home because the concept of home is lost on us.

So my hat goes off to those of us who have survived the ordeal with our souls intact and still above ground, and my prayers go out to those who haven’t.

Many of us are dead. Many of our biological mothers and fathers are dead because the absence of their children forced them to give up, and lose themselves in alcohol or drugs and eventually die from broken hearts.

I have an urgent appeal to the Canadian government, or any government that advocates the adoption of aboriginal children to Euro-American parents. If you insist upon taking our children away from us, or if they have to be removed for their safety or well being, let aboriginal people handle it. Your paternalism is insulting, and to coin a phrase, “it’s getting old.” Let “us” find a safe environment for them, that is either within or in reasonable proximity of their respective communities, and assist us in doing so.

We are not all 100% healed, but healing takes time, and we’ve waited 500 years already, I don’t see how a month or two of decision and law making by you will matter much.

In the meantime, I hope other adopted adult or teenage aboriginal children of these so called parents are listening and remember that no matter how lost you feel, how lonely it is, or how scared you feel, reach out by any means within your power, because somewhere there might be a man and a woman who look just like you and who are bound to you by blood, who never forgot about you, and are still waiting to meet you and invite you back to a place that is your RIGHT to belong in. Your community, your family, and your home.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak about an issue that is scarcely recognized. It means the world to me.

Eric Schweig

 

Stolen Generations: Adoption as a Weapon

 

 top photo
available now on Amazon and in all ebook stores

By Peter d’Errico  January 02, 2013 (Indian Country Today Media)

Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects is a new book about the campaign to break indigenous social structures by removing the children: “Governments…paid agencies and churches to remove and Christianize children… and raise them to be non-Indian.”

Edited by Trace A. DeMeyer and Patricia Cotter-Busbee, themselves adoptees, the history is told through chronicles by those who lived through it. Ethnic cleansing by child removal is a counterpart to the boarding school system, aimed to “kill the Indian and save the man.” Boarding schools take children away from home for months and years at a time, returning them as “civilized.” Adoption projects take children away permanently, to assimilate them into non-Indian society via non-Indian families. A common element of the stories is painful curiosity, children trying to figure out who they are, and why their biological parents gave them away. Answers are sometimes never discovered. What is learned may compound the pain, when the child’s displacement turns out to be a subchapter in the parent’s (or parents’) own survival struggle. In many cases, the birth parents’ generation was already victimized by the Dawes Act and the Indian wars: one wore the face of “friends of the Indian,” the other the face of outright hatred. The “stolen generations” is only part of the trajectory of Indian genocide. Two Worlds shows that the pain of the non-Indian adoptive families often compounds the pain of displacement. For whatever reasons—many are discussed in the multitude of stories—adoptive parents may be trying to escape from their own pain when they take an Indian child into their homes. Those who try a to fill a void or carry out a messianic belief by adopting an Indian child cause pain that multiplies pain; everyone is scarred. Given the fact that thousands of Indian children are adopted out of Indian communities, it is possible—as some adoptee stories show—that a displaced life is not pain-filled. But even in those cases where adoptees live a comfortable life with loving parents, the stories point to an inchoate pain shared by adopted children of any culture: the pain of not knowing one’s origins. Adoption agencies exacerbate this by policies of secrecy, as if self-knowledge were a bad thing. As if all this pain were not enough, the stories tell of a whole new world of pain that may open up at the end of the genealogical quest, when the search for the past has led to the present: the pain of re-assimilation; or worse, the pain of not being able to re-assimilate into one’s origin community. Sometimes the pain at the end of the quest is caused by absence: the birth parents have passed on. Sometimes it’s caused by rejection: the birth parents don’t want to revisit their long-ago decision to give away a child, or believe that the reasons for their previous actions are still viable today. Sometimes, it’s a mixed bag: one or more biological relatives welcome the returning child, while others spurn the reunion. The variations and permutations are many. They don’t fit into neat pigeonholes, though they do show certain patterns. One pattern is the difficulty of re-assimilating not simply to a birth family, but to a birth culture, where language is crucial. As anyone who has learned a foreign language knows, it is easy enough to learn how to make small talk, and much more difficult to learn enough to talk about life (or politics, or spirituality, or anything truly intimate). In these instances, the past remains past, no reunion is possible, and the lost way of life is water under the bridge. At a hearing in 1974, the Congressional Subcommittee on Indian Affairs learned that in states with large Indian populations, about 25 percent of all American Indian children are taken away from their families by adoption, in addition to the thousands removed into boarding schools. About 85 percent of Indian adoptees were placed in non-Indian homes. By 1978, Congress felt sufficiently concerned to enact the Indian Child Welfare Act. Unfortunately, this legislative response to the genocidal policies of the adoption projects is more honored in the breach than the observance. A 2011 investigation by National Public Radio found that “32 states are failing to abide by the act in one way or another.” Each of the storytellers in this collection has survived displacement, battles with adoption agencies, the reflected pain of their adoptive and birth parents, and the confusion of not knowing their origins. Many suffered through abuse, self-abuse, and substance abuse, as they struggled through doubts and difficulties of genealogical discovery. The path to discover the past is not easy. The storytellers display courage, commitment, and compassion. The fact that their stories are being replicated today by more stories we have not yet heard is testimony to the ongoing assault on indigenous peoples.
Peter d’Errico graduated from Yale Law School in 1968. Staff attorney in Dinebeiina Nahiilna Be Agaditahe Navajo Legal Services, 1968-1970. Taught Legal Studies at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1970-2002. Consulting attorney on indigenous issues.Source: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/opinion/stolen-generations-adoption-weapon-146683
Another 5 STAR review of Trace’s memoir HERE

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We are still here

9781479318285_COVERI wrote the following preface for my anthology TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects:

EXCERPT:

All of our lives the adoptees in this book have lived under an “adoptee stigma” of assimilation. We are often called transracial adoptees because we were raised outside our culture and by non-Indian parents. With a book, our sense of self-worth would rise, knowing many of us shared this (sometimes difficult) journey. Our success in finding our tribes could make big waves in the adoption world.

Most who read history are aware it is interpretation, told by the same conquerors who declared victory and Manifest Destiny. Indians cannot and do not rely on stories told by non-Indians isolated in their institutions. Some published scholars never visited a reservation or even know an Indian. It is their interpretation of who they think we are and that is very dangerous because we are not dead. We are still here.

Even the Smithsonian Museum, an institution called America’s national treasure, kill us again with vulgar displays of our bones and skulls, our medicine bundles, our sacred pipes, our masks and our drums. This treatment and disregard for what is sacred to our values and us can hardly be called understanding of tribal cultures. We are not relics. We are not the past. We are still here.

What about adoptions? Those who interpret its value to society protect their agenda and myths, spouting benefits for the adoptee. But we are called the Stolen Generations for a reason. Children did not ask to be removed. It is undeniable our assimilation was the government’s answer to Manifest Destiny, to make us non-Indian prototypes of American citizens.

Adopting out Indian children would be as destructive as a war but it would last longer: it’d last a lifetime. The adoption program idea was not officially signed like other treaties made in Indian Country. These unique adoption program records were sealed and not made public. (It was acknowledged in an apology I heard in 2001. Read the Ultimate Indignity in this book.) The goal was adoptions would be permanent and closed, therefore adoption was used as the ultimate weapon. Native children adopted by non-Indians would be Americans and unable to open their records; and our tribal parents and grandparents were victims since they would never see us again, or be able to find us.

My close friend Adrian Grey Buffalo, a wise adoptee elder who has returned to his Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (People) calls us adoptees the lost drums and pipes who were locked away from culture, and stored in Americans homes. We are the people who need to be repatriated back to our nations. Adrian believes now is the time. Our People need us back.

With the creation of Indian Adoption Projects and Programs, this grand scheme didn’t make headlines. Their plan was not a war, not a signed treaty, but an idea they hoped would catch on and spread. Selling Americans and others on adopting Indian kids would be quite effortless. Essentially all social workers had to imply to parents was, “you’ll save these poor Indians kid’s lives.”

Judgments fell on First Nations and Indian Country in a very big way. This heavy-handed treatment and their adoption idea blanketed North America in every direction. In Canada it’s called the 60s Scoop. It was the same idea for single women who had an illegitimate baby. Women were told to forget they had the baby. Indians were not told anything. Indian children simply disappeared at the playground or from their backyard or babies were taken from hospitals. Some of our mothers were too poor and were pressured not to keep us. A big black government sedan was reported in many abduction stories and it was not against the law or illegal. Some Native children were removed to residential boarding schools. Others were placed in orphanages and foster homes, and others would be adopted.

But by the grace of Great Spirit, it failed. Indians who were adopted do find their way home. The writers in this book are living proof. We are still here and with these new stories, we make new history.

Many folks living in America and Canada still see Indian Country as a foreign land, alien like some other planet. In some non-Indian families, racism and ignorance about tribes is/was very strong. Opinions about Indians was never great to begin with and gets even more damaged and complicated with Indian reservations ravaged by poverty, alcohol and North America’s neglect.

For the past century, parents living on reservations could not prevent children from being stolen for boarding schools and adoption. Governments made rules and paid agencies and churches to remove and Christianize children, to civilize and train children, and raise them to be non-Indian. This truth is not widely acknowledged in history: the government’s plan was to ethnically cleanse an entire population of Indian children. Removing culture of Native children would not only destroy future generations of Indians but adopted children would not have treaty rights. Adopted children would disappear.

It’s probably a fact that our adoptive parents had no idea as to the motive or why there were so many Indian kids put up for adoption, or why governments ran these programs with public and private adoption agencies who could supply infants and children to non-Indian families.

By the 1970s, Indian leaders took these serious concerns to the U.S. Senate, leading to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. First Nations in Canada enacted their own law. In this book, we share what one Indian leader said in his congressional testimony.

I know I was stunned to hear it was government policy to run these various adoption programs. Many adoptees claim their adoptive parents never knew anything about this. Mine surely didn’t and would have scoffed at the idea.

When an adoptee becomes an adult, some question whether their family or their tribe will accept them back. Some were unsure which tribe or if it’s more than one tribe. Some did not know they had been enrolled in their sovereign tribal nations, filed earlier by relatives. Some learned their parents and tribal relatives were assimilated too, in boarding schools or in relocation programs, severely scarring them. It’s a painful cycle of loss in this past century.

The “adoptee stigma” of assimilation does leave adoptees lodged between two worlds. Can we be Indian enough when raised by non-Indians? Can we return to learn tribal culture and customs? Can we take back our identity? Can we be reverse-assimilated? Can we attend ceremony and get our Indian name? I tell them, “Yes.”

But neither adoptee or Indian parent will find government help in reconciliation or repatriation in America. It’s up to the adoptee and parents. It’s up to tribal communities to spread the truth of the Indian Adoption Projects and begin to look for their lost children.

Victims of these adoption programs have not received a formal apology in the United States. Few politician’s know or acknowledge it happened. With sealed adoption and closed birth records (in 2012), this will prevent full disclosure, which is why this book was planned and written. Politicians and lawmakers need to know our birth certificates were amended and falsified. Judges must abide by the Indian Child Welfare Act and not allow non-Indians to adopt Indian children.

The adoptees I know are some of the strongest-willed humans on the planet. They got around laws and sealed records, and as you will read in Two Worlds, many built their own bridge between the two worlds.

Gathering these stories changed me, enlightened me, haunted me and astonished me. I only ask that you share these stories with your children so these governments never attempt this idea again. The adoptees in this book are my friends and relatives now. They are warriors though they may not call themselves that. Their courage and spirit shines through their words. I knew these stories would make us our own tribe, a unique band of survivors and warriors.

“A nation that does not know its own history has no future,” is a quote I read recently by activist Russell Means, Oglala Lakota.

So how do we write the story of North American Indian and First Nation adoptees when so many people know nothing about this history?

We gather round the adoptees and listen as they share their story, in their own words, in their own voice.

The only way we can change history is to write it ourselves….. and our truth shall finally set us free.

–Trace A. DeMeyer (Shawnee-Cherokee-Euro)
Author of One Small Sacrifice: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects

The Real Criminals: Adoption Mafia

Please read this post THE REAL CRIMINALS on my other blog: http://splitfeathers.blogspot.com/

Jay Winter Nightwolf’s
American Indians’ Truths … the Most Dangerous and Enlightening Show on Radio”
WPFW 89.3 FM (Pacifica) – Friday Evenings – 7-8 PM
Online Live Stream … www.wpfw.org
Friday, November 30th, 2012
Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects and Some of the Many Re-Connections”
Author and Award-Winning Native Journalist Trace A. DeMeyer (Shawnee/Cherokee) and Her Second Book (Co-Edited with Patricia Cotter-Busbee)
From the preface of “Two Worlds:  Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects”
“It’s a big world.  With the invention of miraculous worldwide web, connecting is fast and free.  Humans can interact at the touch of a key.  Because of the internet, it connects me to a new people every day, new friends who are also adopted.
In this big world, where do adoptees go to find information?  How do we reconnect with our tribes after adoption?  How do we learn about culture?  Do we find adoptees to get advice?  Do we devour and search books, newspapers, or the web for clues?  Or do we hear someone, an ancient voice, a soul who lives with us, inside us, who guides us, even inspire us, after adoption.
Reading this book, you’ll know the answers.
In their words, adoptees were destined to live in two worlds, and each has a spirit uniquely their own.  We adoptees are like birds who migrate by memory and feed our hunger for culture by instinct and blood memory.  Our spirit was not killed by adoption, even if we lived far away from our families and our tribal lands.  We knew to be brave.  We hoped away loneliness.  We felt this was a test.  We knew it is not good to be isolated and went to look for other Indian people and relatives when we could.  Even as children we were aware we’d need to find answers to find our relatives.  More than one adoptee told me they heard the drum pounding inside them and calling them.”

(I will be on Jay Winter Night Wolf’s Radio Program on Nov. 30, at 7 pm (Eastern
Time). Listen in at http://www.wpfwfm.org)

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 North Carolina.

Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Two-Worlds-Children-Adoption-Projects/dp/1479318280/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349706960&sr=8-1&keywords=Two+Worlds%2C+DeMeyer