This week I’ve invited Trace A. DeMeyer to write as my guest blogger. Trace is co-author of ‘Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects’. If you remember, this was the book where I wrote and contributed a chapter about my adoption story.
Trace found me on Twitter after I had twittered, “If you want to know more about me, read this” with a link to a feature article of an interview I gave, in the best selling monthly magazine ‘Spirit & Destiny’. So the book is a product of social media. It’s amazing how social media brought together 17 adopted Native Americans to write their stories in their own words in this very informative and sad book. I say sad because after reading it, one is left wondering why non-Native Americans even bothered to adopt the children, who somehow felt that as a white race that they were more superior than the Native Americans, to treat them the way some of the stories are told. Unfortunately, a theme throughout history not only in North America but also in Africa, Australia and India etc.
By Trace A. DeMeyer, author of One Small Sacrifice and Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects
For many years, Indigenous people were subjected to inhumane conquest while the tribes were referred to as murdering hostile savages. That mindset was deeply embedded in many people, shown in movies and it’s hard to erase that damaging image in history or books slanted nicely to the conqueror.
One missed lesson in this history: the most crucial goal of the nation builders in North America was to gain complete control of the land, and to achieve that goal, these governments targeted removing children from their tribal lands and First Nation families. For a few centuries, this method went on (using residential boarding schools and adoptions). In Canada it was called the Sixties Scoop. Few people are aware tribal children were targets for assimilation by using non-Indian parents who adopted them. Thousands of children were lost to adoption in North America. Parents also succumbed to pressure by non-Indian social workers to let other people adopt and raise their children.
Indigenous people knew what was happening with the dismantling of tribes and tried for seven years to have the United States Congress hear their testimony and in 1974 tribal leaders finally shared their stories of lost children which lead to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. That federal act was good news for Indian Country. With this law, Indian parents would place the child in their own family so a family member in the tribe would adopt them and if that was not possible, another tribe would adopt the baby. Kinship adoption was thought to be the best option for baby and family. Why? Tribes rely on future generations to carry on tradition and culture and language.
How we heal from this history is to know this happened to children. We can find ways to repatriate these children back to their tribes and help them to reconnect. We can unseal their adoption records and enroll these children as members of their tribes. Sharing the truth about the Indian Adoption Projects will assure these governments never attempt this again. That is how we heal.