This blog is a backup for American Indian Adopteesblog
There might be some duplicate posts prior to 2020.
If you need support
Support Info: If you are a Survivor and need emotional support, a national crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: Residential School Survivor Support Line: 1-866-925-4419. Additional Health Support Information: Emotional, cultural, and professional support services are also available to Survivors and their families through the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program. Services can be accessed on an individual, family, or group basis.” These & regional support phone numbers are found at https://nctr.ca/contact/survivors/ .
MY EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
Came across this short note in Indian Talk, a 1973 newsletter by and about Michigan Indians and a precursor to the original Turtle Talk, referencing a federal lawsuit filed to have Michigan public law 750.160 declared unconstitutional. That law prohibited Dr. Frankenstein and others from digging up graves, but granted an exception to Indiana Jones in case he found some Indian bones:
Shay Elbaum at the Michigan law library found a 1974 law repealing the part about “aboriginal inhabitants.”
Can’t find a record of the lawsuit, however. It probably went away when the state legislature repealed the exception.
A major new report
released on Tuesday, September 27 by the Canadian Museums Association
(CMA) calls for greater support and funding for Indigenous organizations
and museums as they pursue Indigenous “self-determination” at all
levels of governance.
The CMA estimates that 6.7 million Indigenous objects and human
remains continue to be held in Canadian museums, with approximately 94%
of them held in eight institutions. The report finds that few museums
have formal repatriation policies and that even fewer of them are
publicly accessible. Currently, only one province, Alberta, has
repatriation legislation. The report also finds that although many
museums showcase Indigenous-related programming and say they value
Indigenous engagement, Indigenous curators and staff members are
underrepresented, suggesting that Indigenous professionals are often
slotted into advisory roles.
“We were already aware of the colonial legacy of museums,” Rebecca
Mackenzie, co-author of the report, said in an interview with
Hyperallergic. “This presented an opportunity to really determine to
what level Indigenous communities have been allowed to have
self-determination in [museum] spaces.”
Research for the report has been ongoing for over three years and has
involved almost a dozen engagement sessions and interviews with
Indigenous heritage professionals and community leaders, a survey of
over 300 museums, and a key performance indicator study of 84 Canadian
The report, entitled “Moved to Action: Activating UNDRIP in Canadian
Museums,” was commissioned as part of the nation’s response to Call to
Action 67, one of 94 calls to action issued in 2015
by the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC was
established to reckon with Canada’s history of Indian residential
schools, which forcibly separated Indigenous children from their
communities for purposes of assimilation.
In 2015, the TRC’s report
indicated that approximately 150,000 children were removed to
residential schools and concluded that the educational system
constituted cultural genocide. Since the conclusion of the TRC’s work,
researchers have discovered thousands of unmarked graves at residential school sites.
Call to Action 67 petitioned the federal government to supply the CMA
with funding “to undertake, from collaboration with Aboriginal peoples,
a national review of museum policies and best practices” to assess
compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Adopted by the General Assembly in 2007, the declaration was only
formally adopted by Canada in 2021, and emphasizes Indigenous rights to
self-determination and to the maintenance of their cultural practices.
One article specifically delineates that nations must provide redress
for cultural and spiritual property taken without consent.
Of the report’s 10 recommendations, one urges the federal government
to pass legislation mandating and funding repatriation efforts. Unlike
the United States, Mackenzie explains, Canada does not have comparable
legislation that requires federally funded institutions to return Native
cultural items to Indigenous tribes and organizations.The
report also recommends certain best practices for museums, such as
hiring Indigenous professionals into permanent positions and consulting
Indigenous rights holders to determine how to care for repatriated
“Reconciliation is a gift for museums,” the report stresses.
“Together, we have an opportunity to be moved to enact and support
“Indigenous communities have a story to say over what happened, how
these objects are cared for, where they are, and how they’re presented,”
Mackenzie says. “It’s going to take a cross-sector approach:
governments, provinces, heritage organizations, coming together. The
premise of this entire report is that implementing and supporting
Indigenous self-determination is everybody’s job.”
Tribes wait for Supreme Court decision in ICWA case
Rosa Soto Alvarez, of Tucson,, holds a flag of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe as she and other Native Americans stand outside the federal appeals court in New Orleans Jan. 22, 2020. Parts of a federal law giving Native American families preference in the adoption of Native American children were effectively struck down April 6, 2021 by a sharply divided federal appeals court, a defeat for Tribal leaders who said the 1978 law was important to protecting their families and culture. (AP Photo/Kevin McGill)
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — When the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments Nov. 9, 2022 on an Indian Child Welfare Act case, Brackeen versus Haaland, its decision will decide the constitutionality of the act, which has been in place since 1978.
In February 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear a challenge to ICWA.
Texas, Indiana, Louisiana and other plaintiffs argued that ICWA is unconstitutional saying the act violates provisions of the Fifth Amendment that deal with equal protection and the Tenth Amendment’s prohibitions on issuing direct orders to states. The act says that Tribes are given the authority to decide adoption placement of Native children and states must comply.
While the appeals court ruled in April 2021 that Congress had authority to enact the law and that ICWA did not violate equal protections because it is not a race-based calculation, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that provisions of the act violate the 10th amendment because it “imposes” duties on the states, according to Scotusblog, a blog devoted to covering the U.S. Supreme Court comprehensively.
The U.S. government originally enacted ICWA in 1978 because of the large number of Native American children public and private agencies removed from their homes.
The act was designed to preserve Native American culture and heritage by giving Native American children and tribes a say in what happens to those children by establishing minimum standards for the removal of Native American children from their families. The act established a preference that Native children who are removed from their homes be placed with extended family members or in Native foster homes.
“Some who fiercely assert the evils of ICWA contend that all children should be treated equally and, therefore, ICWA should be dismantled,” said Terry Cross, former executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), in 2013. “This argument sounds reasonable to those unfamiliar with the long history that led to ICWA’s passage. At that time 20-30 percent of all American Indian children were removed from their homes…80 percent were placed, often permanently, in white homes.”
On Aug. 19, the National Council of Urban Indian Health, and five urban Indian organizations signed on to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center’s amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of the constitutionality of the act, according to Indian Country Today.
An amicus brief, commonly known as ‘friend of the court’ is filed on behalf of an entity who is not one of the main parties in a case.
In the lower court, 486 Tribal Nations, 59 Native organizations, 31 child welfare organizations, 26 states and Washington D.C. and 77 members of Congress offered support for ICWA.
“These supporters recognize that ICWA is firmly in the best interests of Native children,” said a NICWA press release. “In keeping them connected to their extended family and cultural identity, the positive outcomes are far-reaching and include higher self-esteem and academic achievement. Further, they recognize that collaboration between sovereign Tribal nations and state child welfare systems is effective and just governance.”
University of Kansas professor Sarah Deer, filed an amicus brief with the court, with attorneys Mary Kathryn Nagle and Shoney Blake on behalf of two women who were adopted by white families, pre-ICWA, and struggled throughout their lives to reconnect with their tribal nations.
Deer works at the University of Kansas in the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and the Public Affairs and Administration. She is also a MacArthur fellow and an inductee into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and is credited for her role in the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
Deer said Brackeen is the first Supreme Court case to address ICWA since Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl in 2013.
In that case, a Cherokee father was ultimately ordered by the Supreme Court to turn over his biological daughter to a couple who sought to adopt her after the court decided that ICWA played no role in the case.
“There is more at stake in this case, however, because one of the questions to be resolved is whether ICWA is constitutional at all,” Deer said. “In other words, the Supreme Court could overturn ICWA.”
While people assume the purpose of ICWA is to take Native children away from white foster or adoptive parents, Deer said that typically happens only if ICWA is not followed from the beginning and/or is deliberately ignored.
“Native children in state court deserve to have their Nation involved in any long-term decisions about custody arrangements,” she said. “And ICWA is considered ‘gold-standard’ by numerous child advocacy groups, who appreciate the value of connecting Native children with their heritage and citizenship.”
Deer said the current numbers and make-up of the court make her worry what the outcome of the ruling may be.
“I’m trying to stay optimistic, but this particular court seems somewhat hostile to tribal nations,” Deer said. “In addition, Justice Roberts and Justice Coney Barrett are adoptive parents [of non-Native children]. As such, they may bristle at any argument that questions the value of adopting children outside the tribal nation. [Justice] Clarence Thomas also has a history of suggesting — in dissents — that all Indian law is potentially unconstitutional.”
Oral arguments are to take place Nov. 9. The Supreme Court will issue a decision by June 30, 2023.
(EAGAN, Minn., September 26, 2022) — During Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, StrongHearts Native Helpline once again is raising awareness about domestic violence and supporting and honoring survivors and victims. As in past years, StrongHearts asks that domestic violence advocates, tribal leaders, reservation and urban Indigenous community members, service providers and Indigenous organizations come together to support and strengthen the movement to prevent and end domestic violence once and for all.
According to the National Institute of Justice, domestic violence disproportionately impacts Native Americans and Alaska Natives, with more than 1.5 million Native women and 1.4 million Native men experiencing violence during their lifetime, often by non-Native perpetrators. Domestic violence has many faces: physical, sexual, emotional, cultural, financial and digital. Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate; and anyone can experience domestic violence, including children, women, men, elders and LGBTQ2S+ individuals. There is also a strong connection between domestic violence and thousands of Missing and Murdered Relatives.
Native nations in the Lower 48 and Alaska Native Villages continually go underfunded for life-saving domestic violence services. Now in its fifth year of operation, StrongHearts has received more than 25,000 calls from relatives requesting critically needed support to deal with intimate partner violence.
During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, StrongHearts Native Helpline is dedicated to eradicating domestic and sexual violence by utilizing a core message of healing. “As traditional people, it is customary to put our loved ones before ourselves; we do this because we love them and want to take care of them,” says StrongHearts Chief Executive Officer Lori Jump (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians). “When it comes to healing, we must make the fundamental decision to take care of ourselves and to teach our children that whatever it takes, it’s okay to love ourselves enough to heal from the trauma of domestic and sexual violence.”
“With tenacity, StrongHearts Native Helpline will continue our mission to restore power to our relatives impacted by domestic violence by providing a system of safety, sovereignty, support and healing,” says Jump. “During October and, indeed, throughout the year, we envision the restoration of our traditional lifeways where everyone is safe, domestic violence is eradicated, and sacredness is restored.”
About StrongHearts Native Helpline
StrongHearts Native Helpline is a 24/7 culturally-appropriate domestic, dating and sexual violence helpline for Native Americans and Alaska Natives, available by calling or texting 1-844-762-8483 or clicking on the chat icon at strongheartshelpline.org. Advocates offer peer support, crisis intervention, safety planning and referrals to Native-centered services. StrongHearts Native Helpline is a proud partner of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.
Today, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued a proclamation that designates Friday, September 30, 2022, as a “Day of Remembrance for U.S. Indian Boarding Schools.” The proclamation states that the United States pursued, embraced, or permitted a policy of forced assimilation of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian people for nearly 200 years. The proclamation comes at a crucial moment when Tribal leaders, elected officials, and boarding school survivors around the country are calling on Congress to pass the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act (S.2907 / HR 5444).
‘Bones of Crows’ is an emotional account of the intergenerational trauma caused by the Canadian residential school system.
The Canadian history taught in school is a whitewashed version of the truth, omitting much of the country’s sordid relations with its Indigenous populations, which have continued to have negative effects to this day. The last few years have brought appalling revelations that had been covered up and ignored for so long. After years of silence and denial, the government formed The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, providing an avenue for those directly and indirectly affected by the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools system to share their stories and experiences. Bones of Crows is a fictional account of one woman’s life before, during and after being forcibly placed in the system.
Born in the 1920s to a large and happy family, Aline Spears (Grace Dove) and her three siblings were taken from their parents under threat of prison and sent to residential schools. There, they were subjected to horrific physical, emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of the priests and nuns who oversaw their education. As a teen, Aline enlists in the military, where she meets her husband, Adam (Phillip Lewitski), and is eventually recruited for a special operation that uses Cree to transmit secret messages during World War II. After the war, they return to Canada to raise their children. But she is haunted by the years of cruelty she endured, only finally able to confront her abusers in her ‘80s.
There are news stories, a day of reflection and professional sensitivity training, but they don’t capture the impact and scars of this institution of abuse as well as a film is able. The narrative does an exceptional job interweaving so many experiences, traumas and repercussions into a single movie. It highlights the anguish of families forcibly separated, in many cases permanently; the degradation spewed by the clergy who view their charges as less than human; the punishment for any miniscule attempt to maintain the culture and language the schools were meant to eradicate; the widespread abuse and intentional neglect as superiors boast about keeping the children in a state of malnutrition during their own feasts; the countless deaths due to disease and mistreatment; the sexual assaults that steal their innocence and fill their nightmares; the substance abuse to hide from the pain of their memories; the suicides when the hurt becomes too much; and so much more. It also touches upon the numerous unsolved deaths and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
Nevertheless, it’s also a story of joy, strength and triumph, both fleeting and lifelong. As a child, Aline enjoyed sing-alongs and family meals. She and Adam shared a lot of love, which produced equally loved children who grow up to have successful careers and their own children. Aline engages her love of music by playing the piano and passes the skill on to her granddaughter. One must savour the good through the bad and the movie strives to capture both, revelling in the joys and not cowering from the sorrows. This is the story of one family, but it represents the tale of thousands of Indigenous people across the country, giving voice and audience to their lived experiences.
The United States has a long history of removing Native American children from their families and communities, stripping their cultural identities. Now that a 44-year-old protection is at risk, the threat of regression is ever present.
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 is a federal law that was passed to give tribal governments some say in where Native children would be placed in adoption cases. It’s meant to keep Native children connected to their familial and cultural roots.
ICWA applies only to state family court in cases in which Native children meet the definition of an “Indian child” — meaning they are members of, or eligible for membership in, a federally recognized tribe, according to the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA). In these cases, the child’s tribe has a right to intervene.
Now, ICWA is being challenged at the Supreme Court of the United States level, which could lead to the law being overturned. SCOTUS agreed on Feb. 28 to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of ICWA, Brackeen v. Haaland, and arguments are set for Nov. 9.
“To find after all of these years that it’s unconstitutional would require a pretty major explanation. But it’s an alarming case,” said Sarah Deer, Citizen of Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
“We try to be optimistic in this work, but it’s very concerning that the court decided to hear this case.”
Deer, who is a legal scholar, tribal law expert and University of Kansas distinguished professor, has co-authored an amicus brief in the case in which she will help represent two Native adoptees. An amicus brief, meaning “friend of the court,” is an opportunity to present to the court additional sides to consider.
“One of the real catalysts for even getting ICWA passed in 1978 were the testimonies of people who had been ripped from their community and from their culture. They testified in front of Congress and told their stories, and parents who’ve lost children through those social welfare practices of the state also did.
“Those testimonies have always been very, very important.”
Three local Native adults who were adopted into white families as children shared their stories about the effects that cultural erasure through adoption has had on their self identities and senses of community.
‘A tremendous sense of loss’
Jason Swartley, 53, was always told he was Native American but had nothing tangible to prove it to himself and others.
Because he was born in 1969 and then adopted before ICWA was passed, he did not reap the benefits of those protections. It was not until seven years ago that he was finally able to connect with his biological family.
“A lot of things that would happen today did not happen with me. Normally a Native child would have been enrolled in their tribe automatically and then given a lot of information. That was not the case for me,” Swartley said.
“I was not enrolled, I had no documentation of that [and] I had no idea what tribe. So it was ‘allegedly’ a part of who I was, but I had no validation of that. It’s this feeling — a tremendous sense of loss.”
Swartley said his mother relinquished him at birth and he was adopted into a white family at around 3 months old. Because he was just a baby, ICWA had not yet been passed and some open record laws were not yet passed in Colorado, he was never connected with his biological family.
When he was able to find his biological family in early 2015, he said he was “hungry to keep learning more.”
Though he was never able to meet his birth mother and biological grandmother before they died, he connected with his two biological brothers and aunt.
“It’s been an incredible journey, I mean, so many powerful emotions linked to that over the past few years,” he said. “At the same time, it’s given me a sense of peace and belonging that I don’t know I’ve had before. All my life I’ve struggled with not being sure who I am, I think, so to speak, and I think a lot of that at high tide is from quite literally not knowing who I am.”
Swartley, who’s an enrolled member of the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska, now volunteers as the pantry director of the Kansas City Indian Center in Kansas City, Missouri as well as individually helps to nurture Indigenous culture in his community. Giving his three grown children, four grandchildren and community the connection he was not given the opportunity to have is important, he said.
In order to move forward, he said, America must reconcile with its history — both good and egregious. ICWA was passed in response to the alarming rate of Native children being removed from their homes en masse, first through residential schools and then individually through adoption or foster care systems. Swartley said efforts to overturn ICWA disregard the initial reason the law was created.
A study during the year ICWA was being passed found that 25-35% of all Native children were being removed by state child welfare and private adoption agencies, and of those, 85% were placed outside of their families and communities.
“We need to teach even those difficult parts of history. We see a movement today to get away from that — people want to not teach all these things because they might make someone feel bad. I see parallels with what’s going on with ICWA. There are so many people who don’t know the history, or if they do know the history, they want to bury it,” he said.
“From everything we’ve gone through and everything we’ve suffered, just having our children removed from us, removed from our culture [and] removed from their way of life and their traditional values, ICWA is something that’s needed,” Swartley said.
‘We belonged to the wrong culture, almost’
Given the chance, Jerome Staab would have liked to connect on a deeper level with his biological mother before she recently became ill.
His mother has struggled with alcoholism her whole life, and he and his siblings never knew who their father was, he said. Staab said he’s been able to piece more moments and information together from his oldest biological brother, who remembers the most out of all of them.
Growing up, Staab recalls his biological mother always being referred to in a negative way, but that’s not necessarily how he felt about her.
“She’s an alcoholic, and everyone has their issues, but we were never given the chance to be connected with her. It wasn’t that she didn’t want anything to do with us; it was just that my adoptive parents never built that bridge,” Staab said.
Staab, 37, was adopted into a white family when he was 5 or 6 years old, along with four half siblings, all with the same mother, and one cousin. The only memory he has from being adopted was all of them hiding in the basement or in a closet and the state workers having to physically remove them from the home.
Staab and the rest of the kids then grew up in Iowa with their adoptive father, who was a second-generation German farmer, and mother, who was a school teacher. Their parents had two biological children, who became the oldest of eight total children.
Though he had a happy childhood filled with sports and playing outside, Staab said his parents made “zero attempt” to expose him to Native identity as he was raised going to a Roman Catholic church every Sunday and Wednesday and attended predominantly white private schools.
“It was a difficult journey because in a private school it was all white people, so you kind of see yourself that way. You don’t see color, but not in the way that people use the term now,” Staab explained. “It’s like, you’re just so deeply integrated with all the kids who are around who look the same that you just kind of assume that you look the same way, and it’s not until somebody says ‘Hey, you look different’ that you stop and think ‘Oh, I guess I do look different.’
“We always felt like we belonged, but again, we belonged to the wrong culture, almost.”
Staab, who’s of the Santee Sioux Tribe of Sioux City, Iowa, said it wasn’t until he attended Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence in 2007 that he learned “what it meant to be Indigenous.”
He now lives in Overland Park with his girlfriend and their 6-year-old daughter. Though he remains close with his adopted family, specifically his father, Staab said he feels at times he has two separated identities.
“The only issue is it’s night and day. I have essentially my white family, and they’re totally, completely disconnected from my Native side,” Staab said. “They don’t know anything about it. They don’t understand the culture. A lot of my Native side … it’s poverty-driven, all the issues that go with that, and frankly a bunch of kids without fathers. There’s a lot of aunties and grandmas raising kids.”
Nonetheless, Staab said he holds mostly positive regards toward his life’s course.
“Everybody’s story is unique, and I’m grateful for my different perspective. I’ve been afforded opportunities to be successful. But also, I was disconnected from my family, so I lost a lot of my Native culture, which I had to go back and relearn myself,” Staab said.
“I think ultimately ICWA is a good thing. It’s of course good to keep Natives with Native families, but it doesn’t always turn out bad [if they are not].”
‘It was just a lot of displacement’
For the entirety of her life up until about 12 years ago, Lupe Krehbiel was told she was “Mexican.” That wasn’t true, but she wouldn’t truly know that until she was well into adulthood.
“It was just a lot of displacement,” Krehbiel said. “Sometimes I didn’t know where I fit. I’ve never lived on a reservation, I’ve always lived in a white family. But you can’t prove it because it’s like ‘Well, where is your card? What tribe?’ You don’t really know your identity.”
Krehbiel, 54, was born in Texas and adopted into a white family when she was 3 1/2 years old. Her adoptive mother and father were white, and she lived with seven adopted siblings. She said her adoptive parents were able to move her to Kansas and officially adopt her there in the early ’70s. She moved to California in fourth or fifth grade, where she grew up, and then moved back to Kansas in her 20s.
Her biological father died when she was a baby; her mother would leave the older children in charge of caring for the younger kids for long periods of time; and her grandparents were deemed unfit to care for them because their grandfather was sick with tuberculosis, she was told.
Krehbiel’s two biological, older sisters, who were adopted into a different white family in South Dakota, shared with her about their lives.
When she was in fourth or fifth grade, Krehbiel said, she would write letters to one of them before losing contact for a while. She recalls one sister telling her stories of traveling with their parents, who were missionaries or preachers, indicating her other biological siblings were said to be Mexican, too.
“They would go to the reservation and people would ask them why they had Native kids and they would say ‘They’re not Native, they’re Mexican.’ They said they would be stared at and questioned when they were little.”
She remembers around 12 years ago on New Year’s Eve when her biological sister, Mary, called her house phone looking for “Lupita” — Krehbiel’s full name. By the end of the night, she’d spoken to all of her biological brothers and sisters.
After reconnecting with them, Krehbiel learned her biological father and grandfather were Apache. She then dug further into her heritage on Ancestry.com and found most of her family roots are in Texas, she said.
Krehbiel is now involved with supporting Native American communities and educating folks about issues such as cultural appropriation through the Kansas City Indian Center, where she serves as the office manager.
Though she’s found joy in years of submerging herself in community activism, Krehbiel said she still feels she has to explain herself because many family members and close friends don’t understand her Native identity. When sharing about the violence perpetrated against Native people, she has faced opposition from family members because much of that history isn’t included in school textbooks, which has been another reminder of whitewashed history.
She emphasized the importance of continuously expanding one’s mind, saying, “I’m always learning. If I don’t know, I try to find out.”
What’s to come?
As part of her co-authored amicus brief in Brackeen v. Haaland, Deer is working alongside two other Native attorneys and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center to tie together the “crisis of chid welfare in Indian Country to violence against women,” she said. Deer explained her hope that the Supreme Court will grasp concepts beyond what is simply in front of them.
“The pessimist potential is pretty bleak, but that would be that the court declares that Indian citizens are really a race of people and not political. That could have huge ramifications for tribal sovereignty because special treatment of Native people, if we’re a race, would violate race discrimination laws,” she said.
“So we really need the court to understand that tribal citizens come in all different races and colors — that it’s a political identity, it’s not a racial category and that is something I don’t know that all the members of the court will be able to get their heads wrapped around.”
Staab said the attempt to overturn ICWA contributes to the U.S. government’s destruction of Indigenous culture, which is why Native people “have an innate distrust with the government.”
Through repeated violence against Indigenous populations, Swartley said he must rely on inter-community healing.
“That’s just kind of the Native mentality about our songs, our stories, our dances, our culture — it’s all healing,” Swartley said.
Read more about local leaders and activists who have discussed Indigenous erasure through residential schools at this link; forced sterilization at this link; land/people acknowledgements at this link; Missing and Murdered Indigenous People at this link; and abortion bans at this link and this link. More information about ICWA can be found at this link.
Note: This post has been corrected from a previous version.
Northern Arapaho business council member Lee Spoonhunter has one request of the Wyoming legislature.
“Let's get started on working on legislation to protect the children of the state of Wyoming,” Spoonhunter asked
An upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case looking at the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), first passed in 1978. A law that keeps tribes of Indigenous children in the loop of family court proceedings to maintain families and communities. Spoonhunter is asking the state-tribal relations committee on behalf of the Northern Arapaho tribe to enact a state law protecting the tenets of ICWA.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on Brackeen v. Haaland before summer of next year, and some fear that ICWA will be repealed.
“We're going to lose our children to the system. We're not going to find them until they've been adopted out,” said Spoonhunter. “And that's just the reality of what's going to happen if this law is struck down.”
An ICWA case requires two things: One, a child who is enrolled or could be enrolled in a tribe and one of their parents needs to be enrolled and two: the child’s case needs to be going through some kind of child custody proceedings. This includes foster care, adoption, or a termination of parental rights.
Clare Johnson, the Northern Arapaho tribe attorney, said she is currently working on 62 ICWA cases, about half within the state of Wyoming and the other half Northern Arapaho children in other states. They are all unique in what the individual child requires to be compliant with ICWA. But all have one thing in common.
“The Northern Arapaho tribe strongly believes in bringing these cases back to tribal court to attempt to reunify the child with their family. And if that's not possible to place them with other members of their family or their tribe,” said Johnson.
Being adopted outside of the community might lead a child to feel disconnected from their culture. And the U.S. has a long history of actively taking away Indigenous children from their families in boarding schools. This was a policy that removed Indigenous children from their homes in order to break cultural traditions.
ICWA has allowed children to stay in their communities.
“The tribe likes to have the children within the tribal system so we can look at alternative solutions,” said Johnson. “So, that maybe we place with grandma, and parents have a chance to work the system and get into a place where they can one day have their children back.”
The proposed options could include drafting a trigger protection legislation. What that means is if the federal government does strike down ICWA, Wyoming could say ‘no, we will still follow the tenets of ICWA’. Or use the federal law as a template to draft a state law.
But Senator Affie Ellis said it might be prudent to wait and see what the federal government does before drafting legislation. Since tribes are political entities, they have a special status under the law that describes them as sovereign, unlike other racial categories. This gives them political power and protections under the tribes that they are enrolled in.
Ellis said if the law was repealed, this unique political distinction afforded to tribes would be called into question.
“So, that's what's at stake here, is if the Supreme Court somehow finds that that political classification no longer applies, and it's just race-based, then we can't just mimic the federal law, because then it really just takes it all away,” she said.
So, Ellis said waiting might be the better move.
Kate Fort, director of the Indian Law Clinic at Michigan State University, is an expert on ICWA. She said ICWA brings state and tribal governments together in a unique way.
“State ICWA laws are going to protect and ensure that the protections that exist now continue,” she said. “It provides guidance to your state agencies. I think one thing that is really hard to explain to the Supreme Court is sort of how much work has been built up around ICWA.”
Fort said it's hard to say if the federal government is prepared to upend decades of federal Indian law, but being prepared isn’t a bad thing. While the tribes are essential to getting a state ICWA law going, the state should get involved.
“ICWA is the state's responsibility, it was, frankly, a remedial law to ensure that states aren't acting agencies and courts aren't acting wrong when they get native children in front of them,” she said.
Ten states currently have state ICWA laws including Iowa, Nebraska, and New Mexico.
The ACLU of Wyoming is weighing in on a U.S. Supreme Court case that could overturn the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law that protects Indigenous children from forced removal from their families and tribes.
The court will start reviewing the act in November, and the Wyoming ACLU branch recently sent the justices a brief, along with 13 other states, urging them to uphold the act.
"It basically ensures that all efforts are made to maintain those ties and connections between Indian children and their heritage," said Stephanie Amiotte, legal director of the Wyoming ACLU, and an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe in South Dakota.
The University of Kansas has remains of Native American people in its museum collections, according to a statement from administrators.
The remains are being stored in the annex of Lippincott Hall, which is the building that currently houses offices of staff members in KU’s Indigenous Studies program. Offices were closed Tuesday, and they will be moved to a different location on campus.
KU Chancellor Douglas Girod; Barbara Bichelmeyer, provost and executive vice chancellor; Nicole Hodges Persley, interim vice provost for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging; and Melissa Peterson (Diné), director of tribal relations, sent out a joint statement Tuesday morning.
“While some efforts have been made in the past to repatriate items, the process was never completed,” the statement says. “The continued possession of these human remains causes great pain for many in the Native community and beyond.”
“As a university, we have a responsibility to follow the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), a federal law enacted by Congress in 1990, which sets criteria for tribal nations to reclaim human remains (ancestors) and funerary objects held by museums,” according to the statement. “The University has a responsibility to tribal nations and the Native American community to continue a relationship built on dignity, respect, and enduring support.”
An online federal database shows that KU is in possession of remains belonging to a minimum of 380 individuals, as well as 554 associated funerary objects. However, Peterson said that 380 number was probably from a complete inventory that KU did back in the 90s.
The current number of individuals may be closer to 200 — “That is early kind of numbers that we received. We don’t know lots of details, but that’s what we’re working on so that we’re able to … identify those that will need to consult with tribes and kind of go through the NAGPRA process and then just to understand the issue” of why KU has these remains, Peterson said.
She said the discovery came about recently because “We’ve had new people start at KU, and I think someone from the museum was getting to know the collections and realized these were in there and that’s when it was brought forward.”
KU’s Indigenous Studies Program tweeted on Tuesday, “It’s been a heavy, heavy week. There are no words. Please keep our Native students, faculty, staff, alums and community in your thoughts as we try to process this and work for all ancestors to find their way home.”
KU is still gathering information, according to the administrators’ statement.
“We are fully committed to the work of creating meaningful institutional memory by properly repatriating the ancestors and funerary objects,” the statement continues. “We are working with members in our Native American community and outside consultants specializing in repatriation.”
Peterson said the university is planning to make a website that will have updates on the NAGPRA process.
Spokespeople for KU’s Natural History Museum and Spencer Museum of Art forwarded our requests for information to Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, a spokesperson for the university.
“We are working to (communicate) more fully with our Native American students, staff and faculty and address their immediate needs at this time,” Barcomb-Peterson said. “We are still gathering information and will share more details in the future.”
Geographic origins listed for the remains and artifacts attributed to KU in the online database include Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York and several counties in Kansas. Remains of at least 73 individuals are listed as coming from an unknown geographic origin.
Rep. Christina Haswood, a Lawrence Democrat and Diné, tweeted late Tuesday, “My heart is heavy with this news and how we have ancestors who have not completed the journey home. Native students of Lawrence, I’m here if you need my support.”
Indigenous population is on the rise, housing still an issue.
A Winnipeg mother says she was scarred for life when her first child was taken away at birth by social workers, who told her she was unfit to parent her newborn daughter because she was just 17 at the time.
“I don’t know how one could fully heal from that trauma,” said the woman, now 41, whom The Canadian Press has agreed not to identify because of her family’s involvement in the child welfare system. “Having a baby taken away from birth the bond is broken.”
Statistics Canada says 2021 census data shows Indigenous children accounted for 53.8 per cent of all children in foster care.
This has gone up slightly from the 2016 census, which found 52.2 per cent of children in care under the age of 14 were Indigenous.
At the time, only about eight per cent of kids that age in Canada were Indigenous.
More than three per cent of Indigenous children living in private households in 2021 were in foster care compared to the 0.2 per cent of non-Indigenous children. Nationally, Indigenous children accounted for 7.7 per cent of all children 14 years of age and younger.
Statistics Canada says because of difficulties in collecting census data on First Nations and other Indigenous communities, some caution should be exercised in comparing census years.
In recent years there has been a significant push from Indigenous leaders and child welfare advocates across the country to address the myriad systemic issues contributing to the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care.
But experts say factors like colonialism, chronic underfunding of child welfare systems, discriminatory practices and poverty remain.
The irony was that I am a survivor of the ’60s Scoop. I’d been taken away from my native family at birth (no, my mother didn’t drink or do drugs) and was what I call “The Flavour of the Month,” the feature brown baby in the Regina Leader-Post. (Yes, they actually did that, it was a thing.) I felt like I was in the adopt-a-pet section of the paper: “Here, everybody, you can adopt this pooch or tabby, or even this brown kid!” and was adopted by a lovely white family (That’s why I’m an Indian named Kuster — place punchlines here) and at that particular time, I’d just found my true biological family (no thanks to Saskatchewan Social Services, the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs in Ottawa, but THAT’S a whole other tale). I was lucky, I have two amazing families; one white, the other Aboriginal, and I fit in both worlds.
Indigenous people in Canada and the U.S. are recognizing September 30 as “Orange Shirt Day”, or “Every Child Matters Day” to raise awareness and educate about the harms of Indian schools in North America.
Orange Shirt Day 2022 at Camosun
September 27, 2022
Orange Shirt Day will be commemorated at Camosun on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 with a ceremony at Na’tsa’maht. The open-sided structure inspired by Coast Salish designs, and designed by lək̓ʷəŋən artist Butch Dick, will host this year’s event.
Camosun encourages students to wear an orange shirt on Sept. 29 and 30, and to take the time to learn and reflect as an act of reconciliation.
“Orange Shirt Day is an important day to honour Indian residential school survivors, as well as those who didn’t survive or died, often, young and tragically as a result of the horrors they experienced in these schools,” says Ruth Lyall, Chair of Indigenous programs at Eye? Sqa’lewen: The Centre for Indigenous Education & Community Connections (IECC) and Orange Shirt Day spokesperson.
Elder Dr. Barney Williams, Nuu-chah-nulth Nation from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, will be emceeing the gathering. Hosted by Eye? Sqa’lewen, the event will include invited guests from Quilts for Survivors, a poetry reading by Beth Mills, as well as drumming and music.
Early in September, a purple haze of smoke ascended over the colonial cross on top of tekanontak (Mount-Royal), at the heart of Tiotiake (Montreal). Kanien’kehà:ka oral tradition says that smoke signals sent by their ancestors on tekanontak used to be picked up in the Adirondaks, making its way down the East Coast with surprising rapidity. Our signal today calls on people across Turtle Island to “open their minds and think how to help” so that these issues do not become white noise.
Tekanontak is at the heart of a colonial dispute. In their press conference of July 27th the Mohawk Mothers detailed their legal struggle to stop the construction of McGill University's New Vic project. The risks are damaging multiple archeological sites of Rotinonshionni presence on the island of Montreal and throughout onowarekeh, turtle island, and destroying evidence of unmarked graves from the Mk-ultra experiments on indigenous children, orphans and innocent children classed as juvenile delinquents.
Contrary to colonial history's cover ups, the smoke signaled that it is time to make things right! Mainly to do away with the religious symbols of the atrocities committed on Indigenous peoples ever since the Europeans grabbed Turtle Island. *** To stand firm with the Mohawk Mothers, we call on all solidarity groups to join in action to end the cycle of unquestioned ways of doing.
The Mohawk Mothers have filed an interlocutory injunction to "stop excavation of unmarked graves of children and disturbance of archeological remains of kahnienkehaka/Mohawks on tekanontak [Mount Royal Montreal]". Regardless of the upcoming hearing on 26th October to address the unmarked graves on the grounds of the Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill and the Société Québécoise des Infrastructures announced that they will start excavating work in early October.
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The Justice Department is protecting the names of many perpetrators of abuse of Indigenous children. We need a special independent prosecutor who can force the government and church to turn over the documents. There can be no reconciliation without justice.@MumilaaqQaqqaqpic.twitter.com/5TL6OxKM5O
I could on for an hour about this but I won't. Fathers have rights and this time, a father got his daughter back after a...
OUR HISTORY: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects
back-up blog (just in case) (updated 10-3-2022)
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.