Do American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving?

please share

Kevin Gover at the National Museum of the American Indian asked that we share this widely…so here it is!

Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers


The Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers, 2011. Salt Pond, Cape Cod National Seashore. Courtesy of the Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers.

This essay by Dennis Zotigh was widely commented on when he wrote it for Thanksgiving 2011. This year, we’re including additional readers’ thoughts on Thanksgiving, the first lesson about American Indian history most non-Native children receive.
In thinking about my earliest memories of elementary school, I remember being asked to bring a brown paper sack to class so that it could be decorated and worn as part of the Indian costume used to celebrate Thanksgiving. I was also instructed to make a less-than-authentic headband with Indian designs and feathers to complete this outfit. Looking back, I now know this was wrong.

The Thanksgiving Indian costume that all the other children and I made in my elementary classroom trivialized and degraded the descendants of the proud Wampanoags, whose ancestors attended the first Thanksgiving popularized in American culture. The costumes we wore bore no resemblance to Wampanoag clothing of that time period. Among the Wampanoag, and other American Indians, the wearing of feathers has significance. The feathers we wore were simply mockery, an educator’s interpretation of what an American Indian is supposed to look like.

The Thanksgiving myth has done so much damage and harm to the cultural self-esteem of generations of Indian people, including myself, by perpetuating negative and harmful images to both young Indian and non-Indian minds. There are so many things wrong with the happy celebration that takes place in elementary schools and its association to American Indian culture; compromised integrity, stereotyping, and cultural misappropriation are three examples.

Thanksgiving-Brownscombe


Jennie A. Brownscombe (1850–1936), The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth (1914). Oil paint on canvas. Courtesy of Pilgrim Hall Museum. (Amazing how they have massacred the truth, even in paintings.)

When children are young, they are often exposed to antiquated images of American Indians through cartoons, books, and movies. But Thanksgiving re-enactments may be their most active personal encounter with Indian America, however poorly imagined, and many American children associate Thanksgiving actions and images with Indian culture for the rest of their lives. These cultural misunderstandings and stereotypical images perpetuate historical inaccuracy.

Tolerance of mockery by teachers is a great concern to Native parents. Much harm has been done to generations of Indian people by perpetuating negative and harmful images in young minds. Presenting Thanksgiving to children as primarily a happy time trivializes our shared history and teaches a half-truth. And while I agree that elementary-school children who celebrate the first Thanksgiving in their classrooms are too young to hear the truth, educators need to share Thanksgiving facts in all American schools sometime before high school graduation.

Let’s begin with Squanto (aka Tisquantum), a Patuxet, one of more than 50 tribes who formed the Wampanoag Confederacy. Around 1614, when he was perhaps 30, Squanto was kidnapped along with others of his people and taken across the Atlantic Ocean to Malaga, Spain, where they were sold into slavery. Monks in Spain bought Squanto, shared their faith with him, and made it possible for him to find his way to England in 1615. In England he worked for shipbuilder John Slany and became proficient in English. In 1619 Squanto returned to his homeland by joining an exploring expedition along the New England coast. When he arrived at the village where he has been raised, all his family and the rest of his tribe had been exterminated by a devastating plague.

What about the Pilgrims? Separatists who fled from England to Holland seeking to escape religious persecution by English authorities, and who later booked passage to North America, are now called “Pilgrims,” though Americans did not widely use the term until the 1870s. In November, 1620, the Mayflower dropped anchor in present-day Provincetown Harbor. After exploring the coast for a few weeks, the Pilgrims landed and began building a permanent settlement on the ruins of Squanto’s Patuxet village, now renamed New Plymouth. Within the first year, half of the 102 Pilgrims who set out from Europe on the Mayflower had perished. In desperation the Pilgrims initially survived by eating corn from abandoned fields, raiding villages for stored food and seed, and robbing graves at Corn Hill.

Squanto was introduced to the Pilgrims in the spring of 1621, became friends with them, and taught them how to hunt and fish in order to survive in New England. He taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn by using fish as fertilizer and how to plant gourds around the corn so that the vines could climb the cornstalks. Due to his knowledge of English, the Pilgrims made Squanto an interpreter and emissary between the English and Wampanoag Confederacy.

What really happened at the first Thanksgiving in 1621? The Pilgrims did not introduce the concept of thanksgiving; the New England tribes already had autumn harvest feasts of thanksgiving. To the original people of this continent, each day is a day of thanksgiving to the Creator.  In the fall of 1621, William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth Colony, decided to have a Plymouth harvest feast of thanksgiving and invited Massasoit, the Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag Federation, to join the Pilgrims. Massasoit came with approximately 90 warriors and brought food to add to the feast, including venison, lobster, fish, wild fowl, clams, oysters, eel, corn, squash and maple syrup. Massasoit and the ninety warriors stayed in Plymouth for three days. These original Thanksgiving foods are far different from the meals prepared in modern Thanksgiving celebrations.

Squanto died in 1622, but Massasoit outlived the era of relative peace in colonial New England. On May 26, 1637, near the present-day Mystic River in Connecticut, while their warriors were away, an estimated 400 to 700 Pequot women, children, and old men were massacred and burned by combined forces of the Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, and Saybrook (Connecticut) colonies and Narragansett and Mohegan allies. Colonial authorities found justification to kill most of the Pequot men and enslave the captured women and their children. Pequot slaves were sent to Bermuda and the West Indies. In 1975 the official number of Pequot people living in Connecticut was 21. Similar declines in Native population took place throughout New England as an estimated three hundred thousand Indians died by violence, and even more were displaced, in New England over the next few decades.

Looking at this history raises a question: Why should Native peoples celebrate Thanksgiving? Many Natives particularly in the New England area remember this attempted genocide as a factual part of their history and are reminded each year during the modern Thanksgiving. I turned to the Internet to find out what Native people think of Thanksgiving. Here are some of the responses I received [in 2011; unfortunately, I didn’t include where people were writing from in the original essay]:

I was infuriated when my daughter’s school had a mock feast complete with paper mache headdresses and Pilgrim hats!

When they did that to my kids in elementary, I TORE those items up and signed my kids out of school for that day.

For Thanksgiving I was the Indian. Umm Go figure . . . .

Someone took a picture of me in front of the class, and to this day . . . it bothers me. Don’t get the whole making a fest in school.   

Tonight I have to lead a children’s Bible class, and they want me to theme it around Thanksgiving. I will, but it’s not going to be about the happy pilgrims and all that stuff. Thankfulness to God is one thing, but elevating pilgrims to hero status is out of the question.  

When my daughter Victoria was in grade school she had a teacher give them the assignment to write a report on Thanksgiving dinner, and Victoria wrote hers as to why our family doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Victoria got an F on the paper, and I threatened to go to the school board if the principal didn’t get it changed. Victoria got an A, and the class got a lesson on Native American heritage. 

Ignorance and not near enough education in the school systems! It is very sad that a majority of what is taught is very superficial and the dark aspects of our history are neatly tucked away.Very sad!

Considered a day of mourning in our house.

For skins [American Indians], Thanksgiving should be The Last Supper.

And here are a few people’s thoughts in 2013:

Aylett, Virginia: It is good to celebrate the concept of gratitude and thankfulness. When the holiday story is based on a lie that covers up the national moral atrocity of genocide, the statement about the people who celebrate is not good. Shining light on the truth will always bring about healing. 

Montville, Connecticut: Thanksgiving was celebrated for murder and slavery rather than friendship and harvest. 

Greenbelt, Maryland: I don’t necessarily look at the holiday as pilgrims-meet-Indians-and-chow-down. I celebrate it as the time the cycle of alcoholism was broken in our family, and we have a feast to celebrate that. 

Norman, Oklahoma: It’s pretty much a family reunion for me, and there is eating, visiting, being thankful, and having a good time. Because of that, there is no reason to worry about the history. Similar to the idea that our dances fall on the 4th of July and instead of celebrating independence, it is more like a homecoming to our Kiowa people. 

California: When I went to school there was two Indians in our class me and a hopi girl neither one of us had to endure any of this because her mother and my mother both raised hell with the principal no fake headbands or feathers for us. 

Pala, California: When my kids were in pre-school is when I decided I needed to represent our people at this time of year more than any other. I would be damned if my kids were gonna wear paper bags like the other students. I wasn’t having that. I learned to get the story across at their age level and show them the beauty and generosity of our people. I remember growing up and my mom getn upset with me because on Thanksgiving day I would come to the dinner table in my PJs and hair unbrushed, knowing the day was not a celebration. But now that I’m a mother of 3 and a grandmother of 1, I understand as Native people we give thanks to the Creator every day. On Thanksgiving Day I’m just grateful our people are still here and still stand strong. 

Salt Lake City, Utah: Thanksgiving, to me, is to be grateful for all the good blessings that came my way. Good health. Gift of family. Regardless of history, there are still many Natives in the land, and that shows how resilient we are. To honor those who went before us, let us share our culture and stories, teach the youth to learn from the past and to make our lives so our ancestors are proud of us. Example is a great educator. 

Alberta, Canada: It is an opportunity for those who do take note . . . . There will be those who roll their eyes, and others who may gain deeper appreciation, to honor (maybe even emulate) a more giving nature . . . , that of their Creator. 

Crow Agency, Montana: My Dad used to say, “We give thanks everyday, so if they want to give us a holiday to give thanks, I’ll take it.” 
The United American Indians of New England meet each year at Plymouth Rock on Cole’s Hill for a Day of Mourning. They gather at the feet of a statue of Grand Sachem Massasoit of the Wampanoag to remember and reflect in the hope that America will never forget.

Do I celebrate Thanksgiving? No, I don’t celebrate. But I do take advantage of the holiday and get together with family and friends to share a large meal without once thinking of the Thanksgiving in 1621. I think it is the same in many Native households. It is ironic that Thanksgiving takes place during American Indian and Alaskan Native Heritage Month. An even greater irony is that more Americans today identify the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday than as National American Indian Heritage Day.

—Dennis W. Zotigh (Kiowa/San Juan Pueblo/Santee Dakota Indian) is a member of the Kiowa Gourd Clan and San Juan Pueblo Winter Clan and a descendant of Sitting Bear and No Retreat, both principal war chiefs of the Kiowas. Dennis works as a writer and cultural specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

The original version of this essay was published on November 23, 2011.

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From Lara/Trace: A dentists office sent me this email! Really!

They are in Amherst Massachusetts! I could not believe they sent this and the next day they apologized!

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

US Senate Votes Not to Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline

Lara/Trace:

whew – but its not over

Originally posted on Warrior Publications:

Members of American Indian Movement (AIM) in Colorado protest Keystone XL pipeline and tar sands.

Members of American Indian Movement (AIM) in Colorado protest Keystone XL pipeline and tar sands.

A controversial bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline failed in the US Senate Tuesday evening. It received 59 “aye” votes, just shy of the 60 needed to send the bill to President Obama’s desk. The fight isn’t over yet; Republicans have said they plan to prioritize approving the pipeline once they take control of the Senate next year.

Below the headlines last week about President Obama’s major climate agreement with China, another environmental story was gaining steam: a vote in Congress to force approval of Keystone XL, a controversial pipeline that would carry crude oil from Canada down to refineries on the Gulf Coast. On Friday, the House voted overwhelmingly in favor of the pipeline, as it has done numerous times…

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Outer Search Inner Journey: An interview with author-adoptee Peter Dodds #flipthescript

Young Peter

By Lara/Trace

When Peter was three-years-old, he was adopted from a German orphanage by American parents, one of 10,000 German children adopted by United States’ citizens during the Cold War. His new American parents didn’t speak German; Peter didn’t speak English. Outer Search Inner Journey is his memoir and the first book written on international adoption by a foreign-born adoptee. His website: http://www.peterfdodds.com.

Peter, you and I recently contributed to the amazing anthology Adoptionland. Did you ever imagine that we adoptees would unite in this way, together, as writers-researchers?

Peter: My book Outer Search Inner Journey was first published in 1997 at a time when information from the adoptee point of view was scarce. What we’ve seen since then, paralleling the growth of the Internet, are large numbers of adoptees expressing themselves through literature, art and social media avenues. The book Adoptionland and the YouTube video Adoptees Flip the Script are two examples where adoptees share their perspectives and speak to the need to reform the adoption system.

This surge of adoptee expression will help the general public understand that adoption is enormously complex, has multiple stakeholders, creates winners as well as losers and certainly includes an adoption agency profit motive.

What have you learned about your natural parents and did you meet relatives?

Peter: I returned to Germany in 1979 to search for my natural mother and reclaim my ethnic identity. For me searching was instinctive, like a salmon that returns to the stream where it was born. In Germany I got an unexpected break and found a great aunt and uncle who warmly welcomed me home. They linked me to my natural mother. My German father died before I could find him.

I grew up in the U.S. school system and learned the American version of history; another example of how international adoption takes away foreign adoptees’ native cultures. My relatives taught me much about German history and how my natural family was caught in the cataclysms of the 20th Century. A decade after WW II, when my mother birthed me, Germany didn’t have a social welfare system established. My German mother, ostracized for being a single mother and lacking resources to raise a child had no choice but to relinquish me to an orphanage. Another case study of a woman in duress, without options, forced to abandon her child.

 

You wrote, “My purpose in writing Outer Search Inner Journey was to show adversity offers an opportunity for transformation and enlightenment.” How has this journey affected your writing and you?

Peter: Growing up I never felt I belonged. As an adult people never seemed to understand the impact of being adopted. So I wrote as a means of expression. The writing process was cathartic with many aha! moments as I reflected on my life. Insights into my adoptee behaviors and emotions came with putting words on paper. I understood why I had an exacerbated fear of rejection. And writing has certainly been a part of the healing process

Peter’s Memoir

Tell us about the film you are working on?

Peter: On Amazon.com a reader titled her review of Outer Search Inner Journey, “This book could be a movie.” The seed was planted. This was one of those experiences where you try to ignore a thought in your head only to hear it grow louder and louder.

I’ve written the screenplay adaptation of the book. The screenplay mirrors the Outer Search Inner Journey and the movie genre is drama. It is not a documentary.

Now I’m searching for people in the film industry who would be interested in reading the screenplay. The movie Philomena, where an Irish woman travels to the U.S. to search for the son she relinquished, has been a terrific success. That gives me great hope that Outer Search Inner Journey will also be put to film.

“Thanks for having me as a guest. I’ve admired your work for many years, Trace.”

[My thanks to Peter for this interview and an update on his work in adoption reform…Lara/Trace]

Joseph Smith had 40 wives? Really?

I don’t know if any of you saw the Vanity Fair story about the Mormon founder Joseph Smith having up to 40 wives. I’m still wrapping my mind around that. If I were a comic, I’d say: he had himself a town full of women-wives ready to do his bidding and make him a baby; or maybe that’s why ancestry.com is such a big hit for Mormons with that many Smith offspring (descendents) out there — you’d certainly not want them marrying each other.  (I’m thinking Smith was a sex fiend.)

The fact he had a wife just 14 years-old kinda killed it for me. That makes him a pedophile. A 14-year-old is not old enough to consent to be married, emotionally or physically-ready – but I don’t think the 14 year-old had a say… she was “sealed” to him, whatever that means… which makes me disgusted!

Joseph Smith’s Many Wives
Congrats on surviving Monday. The Mormon Church, formally known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, has quietly posted a series of essays on church history and practices on its Web site, and in so doing, admitted that Joseph Smith had up to 40 wives. One of Smith’s wives was 14 when she was “sealed” to him. The revelation is a cosmic shift from the church’s earlier teachings, which position Smith as a devoted husband to Emma. READ MORE

I was talking to my cousin last night, spitting fire about the Mormons and their founder. I’m sure we could find plenty of religions with nefarious practices just like this. Yeah, there was a time we didn’t live much past 40, so marrying young would’ve happened.

I joked, “I wonder if any of the Mormon women had 40 husbands?” I didn’t think so, since it was a male-made religion, and I’m pretty sure they have rules keeping woman in their place (at home) and off their leadership rolls. And that tithing thing bothers me, too, where you have to give 10% of your income every year to the Mormon church coffers, which makes them one of the richest in the world (along with the Roman Catholics.)

If you want to dig in: their websites: https://www.lds.orgYou can also go here http://www.mormon.org/faq/plural-marriage and  http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/topic/polygamy.

And this comment on the VF story was defending it:  An angel of the Lord appeared to the reluctant Joseph Smith and demanded that he marry these girls and women. And they were instructed of the Lord that they should marry Joseph or else their salvation would be in danger.

So, I’m betting once this gets out to their faithful flock, some might jump ship…

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In the News

Report: To lift kids out of poverty, you have to help their parents too |A new KIDS COUNT urges agencies to connect help to parents and children

By

In order to help its many low-income families, Mississippi must focus on aiding the family as a whole and take a “two-generation approach” to ending poverty, a new report says.

More than half the state’s children are members of low-income families, a status that has far-reaching consequences beyond poor housing and poor schools. It traps whole families in a cycle of poverty, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT report released today.

“Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach,” examines the economic and educational barriers facing people living in poverty. It encourages a wide coordination of services that could help both parents and children receive support.

“It’s particularly stressful for families who live in poverty to find quality housing, child care and transportation,” Linda Southward, director of Mississippi KIDS COUNT said. “In order for us to address the needs of child, we must understand the fact that we need to help the families. By helping families, we’re also helping children.”

In Mississippi, 58 percent of children live in low-income families while the national average is 45 percent. According to the report, families that live in poverty are less likely to have access to high performing schools and have much higher stress levels in the home.

The report also details consequences for adults in low-income families in the state where nearly 80 percent don’t have a college degree. Without some higher education, parents are stuck in low-paying jobs. These jobs often make it difficult to afford or schedule child care. For parents with children under 8 years old, 17 percent said child care is a major issue. Many “say child care problems led to changing, quitting or simply not taking a job, ” the report found.

Nationally, 31 percent of low-income children five or under are at risk of serious learning delays due to lack of exposure to child care or early education programs. In Mississippi the number is even higher, at 38 percent.

Suzan Harjo To Be Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Lara/Trace:

Fantastic NEWS!

Originally posted on Turtle Talk:

Here.

Here is her bio:

Suzan Harjo
Suzan Harjo is a writer, curator, and activist who has advocated for improving the lives of Native peoples throughout her career. As a member of the Carter Administration and as current president of the Morning Star Institute, she has been a key figure in many important Indian legislative battles, including the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Dr. Harjo is Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee, and a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.

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An Exclusive Interview with Angela Tucker #Closure #flipthescript #NAAM2014

Angela!

CLOSURE

Starring: Angela Tucker

Genre: Documentary

Directed By: Bryan Tucker

http://closuredocumentary.com/

An interview with the fabulous Angela Tucker

By Lara/Trace
November is Adoption Awareness Month and a movement has begun to broaden the adoptee voice with #FLIP THE SCRIPT (on Twitter).
I thank you Angela Tucker for this opportunity to talk about your journey in the documentary CLOSURE and your journey to find your first family. [TV: http://www.aspire.tv/movies/closure]. For those who are interested, please visit: CLOSURE: The Film (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/closuredocumentary?pnref=story)
Angela, you recently had national exposure to your film, when it aired on November 5th! What kind of responses and comments are you getting from the viewing audience who may not be aware of the complicated nature of closed adoptions and your personal story?
Angela: Closure aired on ASPIRE network, which is a station owned by Magic Johnson, and their mission is to bring positive black television to their viewers. We were curious about the response seeing as the primary focus of the film is not the racial aspects of my adoption. So far the feedback from the cable premiere has centered around the filmmakers decision not to address race more strongly. One viewer felt irked by the fact that my voice doesn’t come in to the movie in a prominent way until about a half hour in to the film. They interpreted this to be another way that White’s control the racial conversations. While I understand her sentiment, I sometimes wish that the film began with a disclaimer that Closure does not seek to be a rulebook on adoption, or provide an educational guide to those within transracial adoptions. What began as a simple request for some home video footage, turned in to a film that has gripped a wide variety of people, and has provided a springboard for conversations – whether around race, openness or even just the greater concept of what it means to be family. In that sense, we’ve succeeded!
In the movie, one of the most moving moments for me was when your first mom, Deborah found out that your adoptive mom, Teresa had sent a letter and photo of you every year, but your mom never received them. This is revealed at the adoption agency with your two moms sitting with you there. How did that discovery feel for you – knowing the adoption agency dropped the ball?
 
Angela: It’s frustrating knowing that just down the street from where Deborah lived were the answers that she was asking for years; “Where is my daughter?” “Who has her?” “Is she being cared for?” These questions tormented her, while we (my adoptive parents) were excitedly providing her these answers, but the adoption agency didn’t make a concerted effort to do their part to give these letters to their rightful owner. This feels criminal.
Did you ever find your lost sister?
Angela: Not yet. But I will not give up. I think she lives in Pennsylvania.
What is your occupation/job today?
Angela: I currently work at a University in Seattle, accommodating students with disabilities and providing de-stigmatizing counsel around disabilities and ableism.
 
You blog at THE ADOPTED LIFE [link]. Has blogging and writing and your public speaking affected your relationship to your a-parents and siblings?
Angela:

I sure hope not! My family reads my blog, and I’m sure they don’t agree with every single thing I write, but they don’t take offense as they respect my viewpoint. Many of my blogs are prompted by conversations with them about current events, or comments that we’ve received about the film. My {adoptive} mom will be attending my next speaking engagement with me next week!

Your husband Bryan recently made a short film “Flip The Script” with contributors from Lost Daughters, including yourself. (readers, please watch)
Since you have been doing activism, awareness raising, what is one thing that could shift people’s perception? The Adoptee Voice?
Angela: Of course adoptee voices have a lot to offer the discourse, and would undoubtedly shift public perception. I’m working to learn why there is such resistance to hearing adult adoptees speak in the first place. From my work thus far, I think the answer lies within adoptive parents’ reasonings for adopting in the first place. Only when people are able to be honest with themselves with this question will they be able to accept adoptee’s viewpoints without the fear of being hurt, ousted or challenged. I think the answer to this question would also help those adoptive parents who aren’t able or willing to journey with their children when they seek to find answers about their roots and their past.
[Thank you Angela! We know you are one busy woman. You are brave. I thank you for your time….Lara/Trace]

THE FILM CLOSURE ON HULU

RCMP reveals details of its $92-million plan to erect a 700-kilometre surveillance fence along the Canada-U.S. border

Lara/Trace:

Some Mohawks have already condemned the RCMP plan for “high-tech weaponry” as an attack on their sovereignty and the economy of the Akwesanse reserve between Cornwall, Ont., and Hogansburg, N.Y.

Originally posted on Warrior Publications:

RCMP cougar attack 1Ian MacLeod, Postmedia News, Nov 4, 2014

OTTAWA — A massive intelligence-gathering network of RCMP video cameras, radar, ground sensors, thermal radiation detectors and more will be erected along the U.S.-Canada border in Ontario and Quebec by 2018, the Mounties said Tuesday.

The $92-million surveillance web, formally known as the Border Integrity Technology Enhancement Project, will be concentrated in more than 100 “high-risk” cross-border crime zones spanning 700 kilometres of eastern Canada, said Assistant Commissioner Joe Oliver, the RCMP’s head of technical operations.

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What a crazy world, right? #flipthescript #adoption

exactly

exactly

By Lara Trace

After Ben left us recently, a new baby arrived. Yup, we have a new bundle of joy, our second grandgirl. (Note: that’s all I will share on a public blog.)

An endless cycle we humans are in, someone leaves, another soul arrives.

When I held her, I could not believe how tiny and fragile and fresh she was. Then it hit me that I was fragile and tiny myself, a very long time ago. I cannot imagine losing her. I cannot fathom how I felt when my own mother disappeared. That sadness didn’t escape me.

There are miracles in being human. I try not to miss anything. I try to be grateful every minute of every day.

A new grandchild’s smile does that to you.

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all month long

Now more serious stuff…. It’s National Adoption Awareness Month. I call it Be-Wareness Month. Why? The adoption industry tries its best to recruit new people to adopt. Few want to adopt a child(ren) from foster care. Why? They are too old, come with baggage, or already talk. Foster care kids are the ones who truly are in need of good parents, definitely.

Over at American Indian Adoptees, I’m posting lots of adoption news. Visit: www.splitfeathers.blogspot.com.

Warning: Adoption propaganda is not pretty.

It is a crazy world out there as more people are waking up to the reality of adoption myths (like “babies are blank slates”). As an adoptee I am in favor of legal guardianships for children who cannot be raised by their b-families, their kin. Children need their own name, ancestry, medical history and names of both parents, never erased but part of their legal records. No more fake amended birth certificates that follow us our entire lives. I’ll be back soon with more thoughts…

In the News

Descendants of slave Solomon Northup visit Cenla

By Melinda Martinez | The Town Talk | November 2, 2014

It was a day of reflection for descendants of Solomon Northup, a freed black man from upstate New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Northup’s narrative, “Twelve Years a Slave,” recounts his time in Central Louisiana. The book was made into a movie which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2013.

Northup’s descendants, as well those of the people recounted in his narrative, came together Sunday to follow the Solomon Northup Trail. The trail follows sites in Central Louisiana that are noted in the book.

“This is a dream come true for me,” said Evelyn Jackson of Altadena, Calif., one of Northup’s descendants. “I always wanted to walk in his footsteps.”

Read more: http://www.thetowntalk.com/story/news/local/2014/11/02/descendants-slave-solomon-northup-visit-cenla/18382607/

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These Stark Reminders of Slavery Will Be Rebuilt on U.S. President’s Estate

Nov. 1, 2014 | The Blaze |  Dave Urbanski

WASHINGTON (AP) — Homes of slaves who served President James Madison at his Montpelier estate in Virginia will be rebuilt for the first time over the next five years, along with other refurbishments to the home of one of the nation’s Founding Fathers, thanks to a $10 million gift announced Saturday.

David Rubenstein, a leading Washington philanthropist and history buff, pledged the $3.5 million needed to rebuild the slave quarters next to the mansion in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Another $6.5 million will be devoted to refurnishing parts of the home where Madison drafted ideas that would become the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Read more: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/11/01/these-stark-reminders-of-slavery-will-be-rebuilt-on-u-s-presidents-estate/

#FliptheScript I was not an orphan

Lifting our Voice

 

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I’ll be posting more tomorrow! XOX Lara

Children’s Rights to Privacy after Adoption

Why haven’t the courts helped protect a minor adoptee’s right to privacy?

By Lara Trace

I am an adoptee, well past the age of majority, and because of my closed adoption, I had to climb a mountain and claw my way up to discover any details about who my natural family was. Records were sealed in Wisconsin. Growing up, I had no medical history. I did not share my adoptive parents blood or ancestry. Mine, on paper, didn’t exist. Even recently I told a surgeon I am not sure about most of my birthmom’s medical history, though I do know she died from complications of diabetes.

I have not stopped thinking about the post I wrote that APs need to stop blogging about adoptees. This is a looming hot issue concerning “privacy” for minor adoptees. At the MIT adoption conference, I heard it loud and clear. I’m sure many adoptive parents had not considered the ramifications of blogging about their children’s lives, especially when adoptees are still minors. The dangers of sharing on social media and blogs are REAL yet being ignored. APs are, in my opinion, in essence creating an “unsafe environment” for their child.***  A toddler cannot consent to having his or her life experiences documented on public spaces. (I predict someday some clever lawyer will take this on and attempt to sue an adoptive parent for publicizing and publishing an adoptee’s early private experiences, albeit from the APs perspective.) (There might already be stalkings and kidnappings due to the increased use of social media. You can find anyone with the click of a mouse.) (There was already one lawyer in CA suing adoption agencies for damaged goods – when an adoptee is ungrateful or not what the APs expected. This is what lawyers do!)

If someone must blog, then private password-protected blogs, shared between family members, is the only way to protect any child. Parenting blogs are one thing; blogging about the children you adopt is another.

Many adoptees have told me and related on social media, much needs to be changed about “adoption” – ending the lack of access to our own adoption files, having a copy of our real birth certificate, knowing our ancestry, our medical history and so much more….including an understanding of birth trauma, anxiety and stress disorders in adoptees.

My goal as a writer/adoption author/adoptee is to advocate for adoptees too young to advocate for themselves. I will do whatever it takes to make this issue understood from the adoptee perspective. (Add to this I teach blogging and a course on social media.)

In my foster care training in Oregon back in the 1990s, there was no mention of protecting a minor child’s privacy but people were not blogging and tweeting and Facebooking back then!

Yet there was plenty to read about confidentiality for birthmoms – if they chose not to tell anyone and gave a baby up for adoption – adoption agencies like Catholic Charities assured them no one would ever have to find out. The child (like me) would have a new identity and the records were sealed permanently.

This created a fantasy I had to deal with and live with as an adult. Until I met my dad Earl, I had no medical history or ancestry.

So much needs to change about adoption. It’s a complicated mess. For 10+ years, I’ve done research on adoption as a topic. I am not a lawyer. More and more is coming to light that “adoption” is not at all what we thought. Much of what we read is/was created by the billion dollar adoption industry so it’s their sale pitch, aka propaganda for adoptive parents (APs) and potential APs.

I am old enough now to advocate for those adoptees who can’t.  And I will.

If I run into APs and lawyers who get upset with me (or my blog) for voicing my opinion, get in line.

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Here is a very revealing post from Jason on his blog concerning failed adoptions and the practice of advertising adopted children you no longer want: REHOMING:

Children For Sale: Get ‘Em While They’re Hot

His post

Hi Anonymous, Thanks for taking the time to comment. You’ve raised an important issue: every child should have a safe and supportive home. Do you advocate that only adoptive children who are in homes with parents unable or unprepared to raise a child be taken away? Should parents of biological children who are unprepared, unwilling, or unable to raise their children be allowed to offer up their children to better homes?

As we consider posting pictures or information about the lives of children on the internet, we must also consider the impact on the children (you are considering only the needs of potential adoptive parents). Does the internet have a right or need to know any information about these children? How might the children be impacted in the future with their personal and private information being shared with any stranger that comes across it?

What baffles me–and endangers children–is when adults think of their needs and fail to reflect on what children need. In this case their is an enormous impact that you are failing to consider.

and:  Hi Anonymous, you’ve raised some important concerns about the foster care system, which is a different issue than what this post is about. I’m deeply concerned about what happens when the private and personal information about children is shared publicly. Children can have safe, secure, and supportive homes without their backgrounds being put up on the internet and shared with the world

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*How to Help With Children’s Rights

By Bailey Richert, eHow Contributor

Children’s rights cover issues of health, education, labor, sexual exploitation and social justice.

The category of rights extended to children by such international laws including the United Nations’ “Convention on the Rights of the Child” treaties cover matters of health, social justice, sexual exploitation, education, disabilities and more. The rights of a child were virtually non-existant in the early 1900s, but they have grown significantly with the help of concerned advocates that have formed philanthropic organizations on the behalf of children the world over. Speaking for those who cannot defend themselves, these organizations strive to increase children’s rights through law, increase public knowledge of these rights and put the promised protection into action.

Instructions

1

Educate yourself about what laws, both nationally and internationally, are currently in place to protect the varied rights of children. Read summaries of treaties ratified by various countries on child labor protection, anti-sex trafficking movements and heath care issues (see Resources). Give this information to friends, family and others who themselves are unaware of children’s rights issues.
2

Research organizations involved in children’s rights movements to gain an understanding of which ones cover which major issues (see Resources). Learn about their values and mission statements as an organization, and choose one or more which aligns with your own interest in children’s rights. Some of these organizations may include UNICEF (the United Nation’s Children’s Fund), Love146 (anti-sex trafficking) and ChildHopeUK (defending the rights of homeless children) among others (see Resources).
3

Donate to organizations you researched in step 2. Donations may be monetary. Children’s rights organizations need funds from members to perform administration operations, rescue operations, set up child relief programs to offer food and advertise their work to other potential volunteers. Donations may also be given in time. Volunteer with one of your chosen organizations to help work a promotional or educational event they are hosting in your area.
4

Volunteer to be an aid for a child with special needs. The right to services for special needs children is often overlooked, and there are opportunities both abroad and locally to help in this area. Find volunteer opportunities through Feed the Children, which focuses on education for children.
5

Volunteer your services as a working professional to children in need. Attorneys, doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers and other professionals all have skill sets that may benefit a child.
6

Organize a public event, such as a concert, games night or potluck dinner, that will help raise money and awareness for the children’s rights needs in your area. Ask businesses to get involved in your awareness efforts. They may choose to donate funds or support you with office materials. Donate the event funds to your chosen organization, or give that money directly to a child’s home in need.
7

Write to your local government representatives about the importance of children’s rights. Ask specific questions about what their office is doing to further protect children from exploitation, unfair wages, malnutrition and unsafe home situations.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_7330555_children_s-rights.html

I will end with Von’s comment on Adoptive Parents blogging about adoptees: The full exposure some adopters give to adoptees is seriously wrong and abusive. Some of you might remember the ‘Potty Wars’ and the ‘Slant Eyes Fiasco’ when adoptive mothers were adamant that their right to write whatever they wanted trumped the rights of children. Many claim they are not racist or abusive and that adult adoptees are over-sensitive and need to get a life, be prayed for or learn to be grateful. They pretend to pity us for our sad lives and state that their adoptees do not suffer and will not as we have. They know so little of the trauma of adoption and do so little to protect those they have adopted from further trauma. Anything posted is forever available and will undoubtedly be used by someone somewhere to bully, castigate, abuse etc because that sadly is the down side of our social media. Anyone who overlooks this is either naïve, stupid or deliberately abusive.

Lost Daughters: Why Adoptive Parents need to stop blogging about adoptees

TracesBookFINAL.inddBy Lara/Trace

On occasion I write a post on the Lost Daughters blog. In the past week, I had more than one friend send me a blog that was created by an adoptive parent that showed photos and personal details about young adoptees.  So I asked some of the Lost Daughters, who are adult adoptees, to send me links to posts that refer to APs who blog about their adopted children.

Here is the link to my post on Friday:  http://www.thelostdaughters.com/2014/10/why-adoptive-parents-need-to-stop.html

I added a few comments this morning like this:

I am reading these comments Kristi and others. Thank you everyone.
First and foremost, there isn’t a BLOG POLICE. This post is my opinion. In 2010, I was very surprised to hear this discussion from adoption professionals on blogging about adoptees in particular. I had not considered this myself.
Since 2009, I read blogs every day because I blog myself. When I was doing research back in 2004, the adoption industry had, hands down, controlled the adoption industry with books on how to adopt. There were 5,000+ books on adoption on Amazon and the majority were written by and for the adoption industry.
Then blogs and websites kicked off. Again, the majority of blogs were written by APs and adoption professionals. They dominated the discourse until blogs like Lost Daughters and Lost Mothers arrived.
Obviously propaganda is about managing public information, as adoption is a billion dollar industry and looks to recruit more parents to adopt, steering people to believe in the benevolence of adoption, to keep their income stream. I still find blogs about APs who just adopted and are fundraising again. It’s growing – not slowing – as a phenomena.
What deeply concerns me, as an adoptee, is you can find a blog by a blog address and date, years later. If you have adopted a child, these posts can be read by their peers and strangers. What APs do in offering personal details and their opinions, these are available for anyone to read, not just adults.
A blog post is a pulpit, a one-way conversation (until comments). APs may quote their children but that is not the same as consent.
Further expansion of blogs, especially by parents, is a deep concern to me and many others.
Should any child be exposed to public scrutiny?

Then the APs started to unleash on Facebook: (this is one thread)

https://www.facebook.com/AdopteeRestoration/posts/659035624211824  Post by Adoptee Restoration.

I am not hurt that adoptive parents are calling me names — then telling me they have every right to post whatever they want about whomever they want whenever they want. That is their prerogative.  But as an adoptee, as I wrote in the post, I would have blown my lid if I had found personal information about my childhood on a blog.

I would have felt more betrayed and violated than hurt. I would have felt owned.

becoming

In the News: Slavery in Maryland, Islam, my new book Becoming

Hey EVERYONE!

We had one heck of a week last week with Ben’s funeral in NYC on Tuesday. Suffice it to say, Ben had a wonderful send-off and is safely on the other side knowing he was loved and appreciated by many many people.

Here is a press release about my new book:  Becoming hits bookstores, #ReadFree on Pressbooks. (I’m designing the Blue Hand Books blog/website)

I will be back with an interview with a wonderful scholar-Ojibwe friend Carol Hand in the near future.

Here are some stories that interested me that might interest you! …XOX… Lara

 

In the News

 

Volunteers work Tuesday night in the Wiley H. Bates Legacy Center to complete the Maryland Emancipation Quilt. The finished quilt will be on display in the State House on Nov. 1. (By Ryan Hunter, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Annapolis celebrates 150 years of freedom

By Ryan Hunter | Baltimore Sun Media Group | October 17, 2014

When President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that took effect Jan. 1, 1863, the document didn’t apply to Maryland.

That’s because Lincoln “did not want to turn off or anger those border states with slaves that had remained faithful to the Union — like Missouri, Maryland, Kentucky and Delaware,” said Chris Haley, director of the Study of the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland in the research department of the Maryland State Archives.

In fact, it was nearly two years later, on Nov. 1, 1864, that Maryland’s third Constitution actually freed slaves in the Free State.

To mark the 150th anniversary of Maryland emancipation, the Annapolis Commission on Maryland’s 3rd Constitution and the Abolishment of Slavery — also known as Annapolis 1864 — is hosting a series of events reflecting on the state’s antebellum past.

Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/ph-ac-cn-annapolis-1864-sun-1015-20141017-story.html

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The Islamic State Tries and Fails to Justify Slavery

By Lizabeth Paulat | October 18, 2014 Care2.com

 The Islamic State has released the 4th issue of their magazine, Dabiq, where they attempt to rationalize slavery markets and their rampant sexual abuse of Yazidi women.

 The magazine is a sleek and glossy creation, filled with propaganda and news about the ‘good’ IS has been doing in the region. The latest issue, emblazoned with the headline ‘The Failed Crusade’ has an article called “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour.”

 In the article they question why Yazidis have been allowed to exist amongst Muslims as they worship the fallen god Iblis. The Islamic State says that because they are not considered Muslims it is absolutely justified by Islam to enslave and ‘use’ (read: rape) them.

 However, that’s not actually how Islamic theology works and to understand this, we need to take a good hard look at these religious passages in the context of the time.

 Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/the-islamic-state-tries-and-fails-to-justify-slavery.html#ixzz3Ggz34V1z

Former AIM member pleads guilty to accessory in Anna Mae Aquash (Mi’kmaq) 1975 murder – given suspended sentence

Lara/Trace:

important update

Originally posted on Turtle Talk:

Rapid City Journal – November 8, 2010

Thelma Rios pleaded guilty Monday to being an accessory to the 1975 kidnapping of American Indian Movement activist Annie Mae Aquash, three weeks before she was scheduled to go on trial on charges related to Aquash’s murder.

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NYTs: No Prison for Theft of Indian Artifacts

Lara/Trace:

grave-robbing as a past-time, REALLY?

Originally posted on Turtle Talk:

“Culturally accepted pastime”?!?!

From the NYTs:

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A defendant in the sweeping federal prosecution of theft and illegal trafficking of American Indian artifacts received leniency Wednesday when a judge rejected the government’s request for imprisonment.

Prosecutors sought a minimum 18 months in prison for the defendant, Jeanne Redd, who instead got three years of probation and a $2,000 fine for her conviction on seven felony counts of plundering artifacts from tribal and federal lands. Ms. Redd, 59, pleaded guilty in July and surrendered 812 boxes of artifacts.

The judge, Clark Waddoups of Federal District Court here, also sentenced Ms. Redd’s 37-year-old daughter, Jericca Redd, to two years of probation on three similar felony counts. She was not fined.

The women, of Blanding, Utah, were the first to plead guilty among more than two dozen defendants caught up in a two-and-a-half-year sting operation. They were also…

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