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View Diary: Indian Child Removal: Racism, "Perverse Financial Incentives," and Willful Violation of the ICWA (156 comments)

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  •  Many, like me, have had birth records (16+ / 0-)

    obscured so they can't track their ancestry. Along with taking Native children from Native families and adopting them into white families, this is another way peoples' heritage is taken away.

    I would imagine that there are many thousands of children raised without knowledge of their heritage, especially if that heritage includes an outlier element like minority or Native blood. Such actions steal these individuals' birthrights and identities.

    For children who were first part of NA families then taken away, the culture shock must have been and must be profound. This is an evil practice that must be stopped. We also need laws that permit people like myself to access their birth records to learn their heritage.

    You can't go back and rewrite your past, but you can use your past to create your future. ~ Ray Lewis

    by 4Freedom on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 10:35:15 AM PST

    •  Yes . . . and no. (14+ / 0-)

      There has been a great deal of obfuscation, undeniably.  Often much of it to ensure families' personal safety.  other times, purely for convenience.  And other times, for overtly racist purposes.

      But good as it sounds, there is no way to enforce production of records that do not exist - and for our generation's ancestors, they often do not.  When there are no records (or the records have been destroyed, which becomes effectively the same thing), there is no law that can change that.  

      And I cannot and will never support any law that attempts to do so - because it will be used, as surely as the sun rises in the east, to strip the tribes of sovereignty and to dilute their membership until it accomplishes genocide by other means.  For some of us, those opportunities were lost long before anyone ever knew that an opportunity would someday exist - certainly long before we were ever born.  And just as I've had to make my uneasy, reluctant piece with the fact that my mixed ancestry means that I will never fit in anywhere, that I will never be Red enough, or Black enough, or white enough for anyone, so, too, have I had to make peace with the fact that much of my culture remains at arm's length (or more) from me.  There's nothing to be done about that.

      But what I can do, and will do as long as I live, is work to make sure that no Indian child born today or in the future needs to know that sort of isolation.  And perhaps that's the role my ancestors would have intended for me, had they been able to see what was in store for our peoples:  to serve as a bridge that helps keep our cultures alive, and keeps our future generations immersed in and connected to them in a way that will ensure that we survive too many centuries of attempts at genocide.

      Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

      by Aji on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 11:41:51 AM PST

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      •  the records are closed (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        4Freedom, chimene, navajo, Avilyn

        for almost everyone

        if the public knew what was in those records, the backlash against the industry would be horrific.

        that's why the records are closed.

        there have been activists trying to open the adoption records since 1985

        see  bastard nation
        for details

      •  I support anyone's right to know their heritage, (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aji, Eric Nelson, chimene, navajo, Avilyn

        not simply for ethnological reasons, but for reasons of health. As the inheritor of some interesting and challenging neurology, it would be medically helpful for me and my son to have access to more information about the paternal side of my birth family. And I know the information exists, because it is in a sealed record.

        There must be some way to permit those already alive to access such records without endangering something like tribal sovereignty. Hopefully access could be permitted that protects the rights of all citizens, without harming the rights of the First Nations.

        You can't go back and rewrite your past, but you can use your past to create your future. ~ Ray Lewis

        by 4Freedom on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 02:28:19 PM PST

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        •  Not likely. Look at the history. (6+ / 0-)

          But, again, what records?  I'm not sure they're there, certainly not for our generation's ancestors.  If you're talking about birth records of, say grandparents, well, there likely aren't any, on the NDN side.  Home births were the norm, and often not recorded - or once they were, they were recorded incorrectly.  Hell, we found out just a few years ago that Wings's own birth certificate, filed with the state, transposed his first and middle names.  It took weeks of battling all the way up to the state MVD director himself just to get his license renewed.

          My point is that, for a lot of people, there are no records - which means there's nothing to find.  And when there's nothing to find, making new laws that will inevitably be used to infringe on tribes' sovereignty and autonomy, that will do nothing to solve the problem of nonexistent records, can only do harm.

          Unless, of course, you're talking about known but sealed adoption records, which is another matter entirely.  But that's not an Indian issue; it's a family law issue that crosses all ethnic lines.

          Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

          by Aji on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 02:37:52 PM PST

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      •  But don't tribes already control membership? (0+ / 0-)

        I have some experience with ICWA, although it's not extensive, and I thought that the law gave tribes absolute authority to determine who is and who isn't a member.  I'm not sure that a law that allowed adopted children access to records would affect that.

        Obviously, where no records exist, then there would be nothing to access.  But while I may be missing something, I don't think giving adopted children access to such records as do exist would necessarily affect a tribe's right to determine membership

        "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

        by FogCityJohn on Sat Feb 02, 2013 at 04:34:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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