Part Four: Historical Context: Walking in Two Worlds

Photo Credit: Circles of Care – samhsa.gov

By Lara/Trace

Part Four: My extended interview with Anishinabe (Mole Lake Ojibwe) Elder-Scholar Carol Hand

(continued)

This quote from the Mic Check post really hit me. “When you try to be a bridge between two cultures, you should expect to get walked over by some people from both sides.” This speaks to oppression and a mixed race ethnicity, something we both have lived. How are you handling this today?

CAROL HAND: The only way I can do justice to this question is to explain a little bit about how my experiences changed in response to different times and settings (last post) and the strategies I used to blend cultures in my work and life (this post).

Historical Context

As you explain in your memoire, Trace, so few Americans actually know much about the real history of Indigenous peoples. This reality was one of the key challenges I needed to address during my life. As someone who walked in two worlds, I felt a responsibility to bridge differences. I felt my mother’s suffering deeply and knew the conditions on some reservations, and I had lived and worked in settings where most non-Natives knew nothing about “real” U.S. history or contemporary Native issues.  These realities were important for me to understand on both an intellectual level (my white culture?) and on a heart level (Ojibwe culture?).  Learning to understand different cultures and history through different lenses was a way for me to make sense of living in between, sometimes feeling at home for a moment in both cultures, but more often feeling not really part of either.  The more I learned, the more responsibility I felt for building inter-cultural understanding and collaboration. The wounds that keep people divided are deep and not easily overcome.

Merely lecturing people about history tended to raise resistance, sometimes strengthening people’s prejudicial views. In order to bridge cultures in my work, I experimented with different approaches for presenting information in ways that were less threatening. Finally, I discovered social “sculpting.”  There are two sculpted exercises that proved to be effective for both Native American and non-Native audiences. Both illustrate the magnitude of suffering caused by centuries of domination without assigning blame on the current generation of Euro-Americans. The first exercise illustrates the ongoing and intensifying assaults on First Nations’ sovereignty over their lands and people. The second illustrates what happened to communities when children were forcibly removed from their parents and communities.

The growing weight of historical trauma that has been passed on from generation to generation is a direct consequence of unrelenting assaults on tribal sovereignty. When audiences participate in the sculpted exercise (described in the post “Go Fish” on my blog https://carolahand.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/go-fish/), past and present problems and potential solutions become clear. In my experience, Native people gained a clearer overview of the devastation wrought by colonial domination over every aspect of tribal life, and better understood how the trauma was passed from generation to generation. Non-Natives were also better able to see the history of domination without feeling that they were being personally blamed for a situation they did not cause. The following except briefly describes the exercise for anyone who is interested.

We “sculpted” the weight of oppression for each succeeding generation, as illustrated in the following figure. For each historical era, the audience was asked to shout out the historical events that occurred for their tribe. The volunteers lined up, all facing the same side wall, each representing one historical era.

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five generations

Contact Era: massive death mostly due to disease, displacement, land loss, massacres, missionary efforts to “civilize” Native Americans

Conflict/Domination Era: massive death due to disease, warfare deaths, removal of children to boarding schools, displacement, land loss, customs outlawed

Assimilation Era: land loss, tribes placed on reservations, U.S. Congress assumed plenary power over tribes, removal of children to boarding schools, more customs outlawed

Integration Era: Corporate form imposed on tribal governments, children forced to attend off-reservation public schools, termination of some tribes, relocation of families from reservations to urban areas, states granted jurisdictional powers over civil issues (e.g., child welfare)

Self-Determination/Self-Governance Era: limited sovereignty returned for tribal administration, justice systems, health and social services, child welfare

(The Five Generations Exercise, Recovery Foundation, 1999, High Risk Kids Workshop Manual, p. 27.)

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For the first era, the time of early contact (1500s-1770s), many spoke of massive death, massacres, and land loss. When it was time to move on, the representative of the first era leaned forward and placed her hands on the shoulders of the next generation, symbolizing the weight of unresolved grief from so many losses that would be carried on the shoulders of the next generation. Again, the audience called out the events for tribes during the era of conflict and colonial domination. As each era was covered, the generational representative would lean on the shoulders of the next in line. By the time we reached the present day representative, he was struggling to stand with the weight of the past on his shoulders. Then, it was time for a change. The present day representative was asked to turn around and face the history. The weight was still there, resting on his shoulders, but our physical bodies are better able to deal with the weight if we are facing it, and so are our emotions. By acknowledging our history, we can bear it. We can understand how the legacy of loss and unresolved grief has affected our families and communities and begin the process of healing…

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One of the most effective colonial strategies for destroying tribal cultures is something that you have written about, Trace, the removal of children from their families and cultures. As you describe so compellingly in your work, the forced removal of children had profound consequences not only for the children who were removed but also for those who were left behind to grieve. The sculpted exercise described in “Indian Child Removal and the Ga-ga” (https://carolahand.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/indian-child-removal-and-the-ga-ga/) demonstrates the consequences of losing children for families and communities as a whole. Again, I’ve included a brief excerpt to describe the sculpting exercise.

… Culture matters a great deal. Being part of a community with which one identifies matters as well. An exercise designed by Vera Manuel link, First Nations author and teacher from British Columbia, demonstrates the profound difference between the Euro-American concept of “permanence” and an Indigenous sense of belonging to a community and culture. She engaged participants in sculpting the organization of a pre-contact tribal community. She placed a small pouch on a chair in the center of the room, explaining that it contained things that were sacred to her. The sacred pouch represented the spiritual beliefs that were the center and foundation of the community. She then asked for volunteers to act out the role of children. She asked them to form a circle facing the sacred bundle. Next, she asked for volunteers to role-play parents and form a circle around all of the children. The next volunteers, encircling parents, were aunties and uncles and other adults in the community. Elders formed the final circle of those community members who were facing toward the children and the sacred center. Around the periphery, facing outward, were the volunteers who agreed to represent leaders and warriors who were responsible for protecting the community from harmful outside forces. Next, a few brave volunteers agreed to play the role of “child stealers,” the ga-ga.

In early times, the ga-ga were federal BIA agents or missionaries. In later times, they were state and county child welfare workers. These agents of churches, the federal government, counties, and states broke through the protective circles to forcibly remove the children. Despite resistance by the leaders, warriors, elders, aunties and uncles, and parents, children were removed from their place at the center of the community and taken away by strangers using threats and force. Participants in the sculpted exercise were asked to act out their reactions to losing their children. Without their children, parents, adults, and elders cast their eyes down and turned inward, wrapped their arms over their heart, turned their backs to the center, or left the circle. Warriors and leaders were deeply shamed by their defeat and also turned inward or left. Their meaning in life was lost. When some of the children returned as adults, the community was often disorganized and unrecognizable. Without a purpose, the circles of care that had surrounded them as children were in disarray.

Cumulatively, child removal and deliberate colonial policies intended to destroy tribal cultures, euphemistically referred to as assimilation, have had profound effects for tribal communities, leaving a legacy of inter and intra-tribal divisions and conflict and deep divides between Native and non-Native people. As a child welfare agency director once told me, the challenge we face if we wish to improve the situation for tribal families and children is not only providing historical facts to both Native and non-Native people. It’s more important to inspire people to care enough to find culturally appropriate solutions.

My focus as a professional, a responsibility I felt I carried as someone who walked in two worlds, was to find ways to build common ground within and across tribes, and between tribal and non-Native communities. Yet finding the path to this focus was not always easy. And now, in retirement, I have the luxury to simply be myself. I don’t need to worry about shifting cultures to be an effective teacher or advocate. As a writer, I still ask myself about my motivation for the writing I decide to share. Is it true? Is it constructive? And I still ask myself if it will help build common ground to improve people’s lives. Is it something that will lead to anger or compassionate understanding? Will it leave people feeling hopeless or inspire them to find solutions to the many problems that confront us these days? In many ways, retirement has freed me to live my life more simply – to write and garden, to spend time with my family and play with my grandchildren, to learn how to play the piano (maybe) and read the pile of books I saved for “someday when I have time.” Retirement has also given me the glorious opportunity to learn how to find beauty in each person regardless of culture, age, or status and in each new day – not always an easy task, but something that will keep me busy for a long time to come. Perhaps this is the ultimate lesson of walking in two worlds. Underneath the superficial differences, we really are all related and dependent upon each other for the future of the earth we all share.

(PART 5 will run on Dec. 25. Thank you for reading and thank you to Carol for her time and wisdom…XOX Trace)

Part Three: Personal Experiences: Walking in Two Worlds

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Carol Hand

By Lara Trace  (author of ONE SMALL SACRIFICE: A Memoir)

Welcome to Part 3 of my extended interview with Anishinabe Elder Carol Hand.

 

QUESTION: Carol, this quote from the Mic Check post really hit me. “When you try to be a bridge between two cultures, you should expect to get walked over by some people from both sides.” This speaks to oppression and a mixed race ethnicity, something we both have lived. How are you handling this today?

 

Carol Hand: This is such an important but complex question, Trace. In my silver-haired retirement I face different challenges than I did when I was a child, student and professional. The only way I can do justice to this question is to explain a little bit about how my experiences changed in response to different times and settings (in this post) and the strategies I used to blend cultures in my work and life (NEXT POST).

Responding to this question, Trace, brings to mind the important discussion you shared in your memoire about the way adopted children are socialized. They are expected to be grateful for their traumatic separation from birth parents and sometimes made to feel as though they were initially abandoned because they were unwanted or unloved. These messages are then internalized and often result in the need to hide or anesthetize one’s deeply hidden shame and insecurity. I think it’s very similar to the identity development challenges faced by children in any socially devalued group. I know my mother internalized the messages that she was inferior to whites because of her Ojibwe heritage. She became fastidious about cleanliness because she still felt others saw her as a “dirty Indian.” (This is something she said to me when I was little, so I trust that it’s true.)

Unlike my mother, I grew up in New Jersey, in a small community twenty miles away from New York City. It was a small homogeneous (white) community in a mid-Atlantic state with an exceptional school system. I escaped the prejudice and discrimination my mother encountered in the Catholic Indian boarding school she was forced to attend. I also was spared the treatment Native American children typically experienced (and still do) in reservation border towns or segregated urban settings. Because Indigenous tribes had disappeared from mid-Atlantic communities centuries before, the predominant view of Natives for those few who ever gave it a thought was that of the noble savages who once lived in harmony with nature (rather than the other predominant view of Natives as blood-thirsty heathens). Although this absence of prejudice toward Native people in my childhood community indicated absolutely no awareness that Native Americans still existed in contemporary times, it also meant there was an opportunity to educate the community. So as a child, I learned to see my Ojibwe identity as one that was unique and a source of pride despite my mother’s shame. I also internalized the need to prove to my mother that as Native people, we were just as good as anyone else – we could do anything they could do. Yet this doesn’t mean that I saw anyone else as inferior because of ancestry or ability. It just made me feel that we were all uniquely and equally human.

Because I learned to see ethnic differences as positive and fascinating, I really didn’t realize that other people didn’t share this view. It wasn’t until my twelfth summer when I became aware of anti-Indian prejudice and discrimination. It was the summer I spent with my grandmother on the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe reservation. Although my grandmother was a gifted hairstylist with a busy beauty salon every day, she spent most of what she earned at the local bars and taverns almost every evening. Of course, she dragged me along everywhere. Sometimes I sat in the bar next to her and drank sodas for hours, and other times I was told to wait in the car. I would often hear men referring to her in loud whispers as “Black Agnes.” At first I thought it was because of the black dye she used on her hair that reminded me of shoe polish. But I gradually became aware of the other ways she was treated with disrespect and it made me sad, even though she wasn’t someone who could ever be mistaken for a kind and nurturing grandmother. When I spent time with my aunties and cousins, I also noticed something I had never encountered before. Some of my cousins were much darker because their fathers and mothers were both Ojibwe. Others, like me, were lighter-skinned because their fathers were white. The cousins who were darker-skinned were treated much more harshly by everyone, not just their mothers. Again, it made me sad to see this differential treatment.

I mention these childhood experiences and observations because they relate to your question in a fundamental way. I could see the way internalized racism affected Indian people, and in turn, how it influenced the way they viewed and treated others as a result. When you grow up being told you are inferior because you are _____ (fill in the blank), it’s hard to feel a sense of pride and confidence. It’s hard to see yourself as someone worthy of respect, and so the world becomes a place of fear, struggle and conflict. I could also see the consequences for Euro-Americans who lacked not only an understanding of history, but were also unaware of deeper wounds. I question if those whose ancestral homelands were on other continents could ever really feel this land was their rightful home. Could they ever really face the fact that their inherited privileges in the US were won because of the disinheritance and oppression of other peoples, both Indigenous and those who were kidnapped from their nations to serve as slaves? Would they ever be willing to acknowledge and do what is necessary to redress past injustices in fundamental ways?

Throughout my education and career, I gradually learned to embrace the need to work in two worlds. Although I worked from a foundation of respect, I shared my perspectives as gently and honestly as possible. Sometimes I was seen as an “angry Indian” by Euro-Americans who felt threatened by truth spoken without deference to their socially-constructed position of power, or “not Indian enough” or “assimilated/colonial” by other Native people who felt they should be the only spokespeople for Indian issues. It helped me to remember each time I advocated on an issue that I needed to be very clear in my own heart about my motivation for speaking. This was something I learned to do during my short career as a singer, described in one of my old posts, A Darkened Auditorium. https://carolahand.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/a-darkened-auditorium/

“… every time I teach a class or speak in public, and every time I post a new essay on a blog or send out a manuscript for editing and peer review .. I ask myself “Is this true? Does it come from my heart or my ego?” As a singer, I both did and did not sing for people. I sang because there was a song in my heart that needed to be given voice, and I hoped for people and hearts that would listen and sing back their songs. It’s the same with writing. I write because there is a story that won’t let me rest until it is spoken. Once written, it only comes to life if others read it and join me in dialogue. Dialogue is like the voices of a choir adding harmony and counterpoint, depth and breadth, dissonance and resolution, to the stories that unite us in our shared humanity. Yet even if dialogue doesn’t come immediately, I know that I have contributed what I can to touch the hearts of others.”

Photo Credit: Carol Hand, Carlos, José, and children, 1973, photographer unknown

Walking between two worlds effectively also meant “switching cultures.” I think it may have been something I learned to do as a child, but I didn’t realize it was something I automatically did until one day when I didn’t have time to make the transition – but that’s another story. Realizing that I did this, however, helped me see the differences. In tribal settings, I encouraged others to take the lead. In settings where the people in power were non-Natives, I often had to take a lead and speak in academic, analytic terms to increase the chances that the voices of other Native people would be respected. It was at these times that I knew criticism was likely to be leveled from both Native and non-Native people. Taking the time to know my heart before I engaged in these negotiations gave me both the courage to speak honestly and as forcefully as necessary and the strength to withstand any criticism that came as a result.

(to be continued)

Part Two: Carol Hand interview: River Teeth

By Lara Trace Hentz

(Part 2) My extended interview with Carol Hand (Anishinabe Elder Scholar)

The Prophet, a book that changed minds and lives

One book you mentioned in the article “Living in the Space Between Cultures” was The Prophet. How did that one book affect you and change your life view? I know it changed me when I read it.

CAROL HAND: Trace, let me begin answering your question by citing a brief passage from the essay I wrote for Jeff Nguyen’s blog, Deconstructing Myths (http://deconstructingmyths.com/2014/01/11/mic-check-carol-a-hand/). (NOTE: PLEASE READ THIS)

“Because I grew up between two cultures, I never felt that I really belonged to either. There were no family members or classmates or teachers to serve as guides to teach me how to walk in two worlds. But I quickly learned that the liminal space between cultures is often a lonely place to live.”

How does a child, teenager, or young adult come to terms with the feeling that one never quite belongs anywhere? I suspect from reading your memoire, One Small Sacrifice, that you understand this feeling all too well.

Gibran’s eloquence and depth helped me realize that others shared this experience. While other authors spoke of this existential sense of aloneness (e.g., Camus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Camus , Sartre http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Camus , Dostoyevsky http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fyodor_Dostoyevsky , and Flaubert http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustave_Flaubert ), The Prophet touched my heart and helped me realize that this sense of aloneness was shared by many others in different times and different cultures.

Now as I look back on some of the “river teeth” experiences that made me feel different I am amused (http://carolahand.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/the-fools-prayer/ ), although other experiences were excruciatingly painful at the time (https://carolahand.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/reflections-on-river-teeth/ ). In retrospect I am grateful for the lessons I learned and grateful that I found Gibran’s work. His writing offers wisdom and hope.

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/k/khalilgibr386848.html)

Overall, I have learned to accept this existential sense of difference with humor and humility, knowing that much of the pain and suffering in the world comes from trying to escape the reality that we are all ultimately alone. We are all unique. Each one of us has unique gifts to offer if we are willing to take the risk to express who we really are and care enough to face the possibility of rejection and ridicule.

Gibran’s work continues to be an important source of guidance in my life.

“We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way, begin no day where we have ended another day; and no sunrise finds us where the sunset left us.

Even while the earth sleeps we travel.

We are the seeds of the tenacious plant, and it is in our ripeness and our fullness of heart that we are given to the wind and scattered.” (Kahlil Gibran, pp. 82-83).

Chi Miigwetch for asking this important question, Trace. I hope my answer does it justice and conveys my gratitude that as wonderers, our paths have brought us together.

 

Note: River teeth are the hard resinous knots that are all that remain after the softer wooden fibers of pine trees have been dissolved by the river waters into which they have fallen. (David James Duncan, 2006). Applied to life, they are the memories that remain decades later as transformative experiences and epiphanies.

Works Cited:

Duncan, J. D. (2006). River Teeth: Stories and writings. New York, NY: Dial Press Trade Paperbacks.

Kahlil Gibran (2002). The Prophet. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

(to be continued) NEXT POST will be Dec. 20 (4 parts)

Part One: Interview with Anishinabe Scholar Elder Carol A. Hand

By Lara Trace Hentz

Hi everyone. The following interview with Anishinabe/Ojibwe Elder Carol A. Hand (Voices from the Margins blog) (Professor in Social Work and Sociology, Author, Guest Lecturer) will run over the next few weeks on this blog. Carol and I have roots in Wisconsin. I’ve been admiring her work and scholarship for quite some time. Please follow this important interview by this extraordinary woman. I am truly humbled and grateful that Carol has agreed to answer some questions. Our Elders are to be respected, listened to, and honored, so with that note, let’s read on….

Photo Credit: Carol Hand – Lake Superior - Duluth, MN – 2010 (Photographer – Jnana Hand)

Photo Credit: Carol Hand – Lake Superior – Duluth, MN – 2010 (Photographer – Jnana Hand)

 

Carol, please tell us, when did you begin blogging? [LINK]

Honestly, I don’t see myself as a writer, Trace, although I do write and sometimes say I am a writer when people ask me what I do.

In the past, writing was something I only did in the context of school or jobs that required concrete results – state policies, grants to address specific issues, or program evaluation reports (e.g., elder abuse, infant mortality, access to health services). I only started writing in my own voice as a means of surviving in the brutal context of academia, a new career for me when I was in my early 50s. The essays I wrote weren’t shared with others. Instead, they were a way for me to understand the senseless oppression I witnessed in institutions that I had formerly romanticized as the bastion of innovation and liberation. I wrote to save my life, to find my foundation. Through writing, I began to discover the roots of my differences with the competitive, oppressive paradigms that governed academia. The values and skills I learned from my (Ojibwe) mother were profoundly different and influenced how I understood the world, how I worked with students, and how I approached research. Based on the belief that all people were born in a state of original sanctity, an idea I found words for through Rupert Ross’s (1992) work Dancing with a Ghost, the ethics that guided me were always at odds in institutions that were based on the taken-for-granted assumption that education should be founded on saving people from their nature as beings born into a state of original sin.

Although my academic research and writing gained some national attention, my focus on Indian child welfare was not viewed as important by my Euro-American colleagues. At the same time, my critical stance on Indian child welfare policies, practices, and paradigms was also threatening to many people whose jobs and positions depended on preserving the existing policies and structures despite serious needs for greater tribal innovations and sovereignty. Rather than compete, I shifted research topics to Indian health, and again realized that the forces defending “business as usual” were too well established to yield before the modest work of a small number of researchers.

So for a while, I put my writing on hold and simply tried to teach and model how to apply Freire’s (2000) liberatory praxis ideas in the classroom. Rather than seeing my students as “empty vessels” who needed to memorize and accept whatever “experts” said as truth, I worked from a dialogic framework, asking students to consider issues from a variety of different perspectives and come to their own conclusions after critical reflection. But how can one transform a system that is controlled by insecure people who need to be “right” (and I use that word in both of its connotations) and whose socially-constructed hierarchical positions of power perpetuate “expert” knowledge, individualism and self-interested competition? After one too many battles defending vulnerable students and colleagues from destructive oppression, I left academia earlier than I planned. Writing then became a way for me to heal, and then a way to share stories that I hoped could touch people’s hearts and open their eyes to new possibilities. Journals were not interested in publishing these hybrid essays that often interwove stories and critical analyses.

And then I discovered blogging, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2013.

After my first retirement in June of 2011, I reconnected with a group of people that I had known in my early 20s when I experimented with living on a commune. (In case anyone is interested, the following link describes my commune years and insights: https://carolahand.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/in-search-of-community/.) One of the friends I reconnected with was a writer and editor. When I mentioned the challenges I was having finding some place to publish what I was writing, she suggested that we start a blog together. I had no idea what that meant. I had never even seen a blog before.

Given her background with technical writing and publishing, she did the initial research on blogging platforms and suggested WordPress. I drafted a title and purpose statement and she figured out the technical aspects of actually creating the blog. We agreed that neither of us would publish anything on the blog unless we both agreed it was appropriate – a promise I would later regret. My first post (June 18, 2013) was a story I wrote about an issue of particular interest to my blogging partner. Gradually my topics and style shifted. I had so many backlogged stories that were waiting to be told that some days when I sat down at the computer it felt like the words were literally pouring out of my heart and my mind through my fingertips. My partner was a gifted writer, but rarely posted. Because of our agreement, I was constantly emailing drafts and pestering her for feedback. I know I was annoying.

My writing style was (and still is) eclectic, a blend of storytelling and academic analysis. Long ago, I learned to make up some of my own grammatical rules while other stylistic conventions were deeply ingrained habits from years in academia. As an editor for technical and literary venues, my partner didn’t approve of some of my punctuation – too many commas. (When I write, I hear the flow of language and try to show it on the page.) She did not like my failure to use contractions because it made me sound too academic, as did my use of citations – an absolute no-no from her perspective. And my long poetic titles had to be shortened. Many of her suggestions helped me improve immeasurably as a writer, but some were not negotiable. I listened to her suggestions thoughtfully but after reflection, I decided that citations – giving people credit for their words and innovations – were absolutely essential and non-negotiable. Eventually, we did agree that it was time to dissolve the partnership and I removed all my posts from her blog and created a new one in February of 2014, Voices from the Margins. My first post on the new blog was one my soon-to-be new partner liked: https://carolahand.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/in-honor-of-caregivers/. My new blogging partner (Cheryl Bates) and I have a different agreement. We agreed that each of us has the right to post whatever we choose, although we often read each other’s drafts and give whatever level of editorial assistance is requested.

In retrospect, I can’t imagine what my life in retirement would have been like without blogging. I have met so many fascinating people like you, Trace – gifted, kind-hearted, committed to social justice. They have opened up new worlds for me and enriched my life immeasurably. In my effort to give something back to them in return, I have been willing to address new topics and experiment with new ways of writing. I have learned a lot about myself through writing, and I am so grateful for all of the wonderful people who are now part of my life. I hope readers will visit Voices from the Margins and consider being guest authors. Cheryl and I welcome dialogue and guest submissions.

Works Cited:

Paulo Freire (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed (30th Anniversary Edition). New York, NY: Continuum.

Rupert Ross (1992). Dancing with a ghost: Exploring Indian reality. Markham, Ontario, CA: Octopus Publishing Group.

 

About Carol:  About my enrollment, “My mother was initially enrolled in Mole Lake – the “Sokaogon Chippewa Community – Mole Lake Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa,” and it’s where my brother and I were enrolled as children. As you write in your book, One Small Sacrifice, tribes do have some authority over determining their enrollment policies. At the time my mother was enrolled, Lac du Flambeau (LdF) only allowed reservation residents to be counted as members, while Mole Lake allowed non-resident descendants of those on the original tribal roll to be recognized as members and enrolled. Although LdF later changed their residency requirement and my mother and brother shifted their enrollment, I decided to remain on Mole Lake’s roll for a number of reasons. Mostly, it’s a tribute to the grandfather, Ray Ackley, whom I never had an opportunity to meet. It’s a lost opportunity I have always grieved. The stories elders and relatives have shared about him paint a picture of a kind and gentle man who took other children “under his wing” when he realized he would never be able to be part of his own daughter’s life. (Here’s an older post about my mother’s relationship with her family: https://carolahand.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/a-life-lived-as-a-song-for-her-people-an-ojibwe-womans-story-part-two/ ).”

Lara/Trace, I had an opportunity to read your book – I have learned so much from your experiences and insights. Your work helped me see new dimensions of harm caused by the colonialism that continues to underlie child welfare policies and practice paradigms in the US. It also touched my heart to read about you and glimpse your incredible tenacity and resilience.

(to be continued)

 

WANTED: Writers

THE MIX

CLICK: FYI: Writers.

 

THE MIX launch is January 1, 2015 – what are you waiting for? Start writing!

In the News: THE MIX emag, Mary Beard, Storyteller Irving Howe, Richmond Slavery, Redneck Racism

Mary Beard, an intellectual genius

By Lara/Trace

If it wasn’t for the doctor’s office who had a recent issue of the New Yorker, (I borrowed it) I never would have fallen head-over-heels for (a reported intellectual genius) British Professor Mary Beard, her site TLS and her blog A DON’S LIFE (http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/), and twitter account, which lead me to this: http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1474017.ece about starting a magazine.

See? Sometimes we are lead by visionaries and great thinkers, by the New Yorker, by chance, by synchronicity, by WAKAN TANKA (GOD).

This January, it’s time to start something fresh, new. THE MIX (web-blog – emagazine – whatever you want to call a digital magazine/blog) is that fresh egg, that mind-hatching idea for me.  We (Patricia and I and friends who blog) plan to invite writers to write about ancestry in a new way, in their own way, with a look at how “mixed” we are as humans. None better than the other.

[My opinion: Race doesn’t exist. It’s constructed by people who oppress others deliberately and subtly. We are all people of color.]

Once we see how related we are to everyone else, we have a fighting chance as humans to refresh/change/reboot the planetary awareness and change our/your/their views as humans – how we are ALL related. (The Lakota phrase MITAKUYE OYASIN speaks to this – and it is a great honor/compliment to be told “we are all related.”)

So, my friends-relatives-readers, please share this post with your circle of writer friends and let’s kick this off in a good way. Here’s to JANUARY! THE MIX!  Start writing! Email me: larahentz@yahoo.com and let me know if you are interested in contributing. It’s open to EVERY HUMAN who can type and email!  [Future site: http://mixemag.wordpress.com%5D

In December an extended interview with Anishinabe Scholar Professor Carol Hand will run over several weeks.

I will be back in January with more about THE MIX…

Thanks for a great year, all you wonderful subscriber-readers! THANK YOU ALL!

**********

Irving Howe, 1962 Photograph: Photo by Jose Mercado/Stanford News Service © Stanford University

Irving Howe, 1962 Photograph: Photo by Jose Mercado/Stanford News Service © Stanford University

Irving Howe, storyteller of ideas

ADAM KIRSCH

Nina Howe, editor
A VOICE STILL HEARD
Selected essays of Irving Howe
416pp. Yale University Press. £28 (US $40).
978 0 300 20366 0 |  Published: 22 October 2014

When intellectuals can do nothing else, they start a magazine”, Irving Howe quipped when explaining why he founded Dissent, the independent leftist quarterly, in 1954. The Eisenhower era was not hospitable to left-wing politics, and Howe’s phrase is often repeated at the intellectuals’ expense, as if it were a confession of their irrelevance. But that is not what Howe meant. He went on to write: “But starting a magazine is also doing something; at the very least it is thinking in common. And thinking in common can have unforeseen results”.

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IN THE NEWS

History Replays Today: Slavery in Richmond

Richmond.com | November 11, 2014 

Shockoe Bottom was a center of some of the most egregious atrocities of American history, if not world history. However, the story is not discussed enough perhaps because it is not an easy topic to talk about.

Generally, the details get glossed over especially in the form of sound bites in the debates over the proposed Shockoe Stadium.

The new episode of History Replays Today, the Richmond History Podcast discusses Richmond’s slave trade with Gregg Kimball and Maurie McInnis.

Read more: http://www.richmond.com/discover-richmond/article_53629e50-66a0-11e4-bf29-0017a43b2370.html

Redneck Racism: agenda to close down communities

15 Nov 14: “The Western Australian Government’s move to close down up to 150 of 274 remote communities has been labelled redneck racism. It is the ugliest act of racism to be seen in this nation in 70 years, with many fearing that it will pale the ugly racism of the Northern Territory ‘Intervention’. Elders, advocates and former politicians are warning the State Government to not close down the communities of First Peoples, that to do so will lead to a further spiral of suicides, despair, homelessness, to irreparable trust issues between First People and Governments but also to hate.” By Gerry Georgatos, a life-long human rights and social justice campaigner, a multi-award winning investigative journalist

http://thestringer.com.au/redneck-agenda-to-close-down-communities-9063

Remember that slavery was woven into Connecticut’s fabric

Randall Beach New Haven Register 11/22/14

Ten years ago, Hartford Courant reporter Anne Farrow, acting on a tip from a friend, sat down at the Connecticut State Library and began reading three logbooks from ships that sailed out of New London in the mid-1700s.

The first ship was called the Africa. It was aptly named.

The crew was bound for West Africa to buy slaves and then sell them on England’s colonial islands in the Caribbean. Some of the “human cargo” probably stayed on board to be brought to Connecticut, where they were sold and owned by residents here.

Read more: http://www.nhregister.com/opinion/20141122/randall-beach-remember-that-slavery-was-woven-into-connecticuts-fabric

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Museum on slave trade planned for Episcopal cathedral in Providence

Paul Davis Providence Journal November 16, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A shuttered church could soon shine a light on Rhode Island’s dark role in the slave trade.

Church leaders hope it will also help heal a divided state and nation.

The Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island wants to use part of the Cathedral of St. John for a museum that will look at those who made money in the slave trade — and those who opposed it. Churchgoers and clergymen filled both camps.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, Rhode Islanders backed 1,000 trips between Africa and the Americas. Newport, Bristol and Providence were among the busiest slave trade ports in North America.

Read more: http://www.providencejournal.com/news/ri-life/20141116-museum-on-slave-trade-planned-for-former-episcopal-cathedral-in-providence.ece

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“Policing Sexuality”: The Mann Act And White Slavery

 By David Martin Davies | November 26, 2014 | Texas Public Radio

 Charles Manson, Charlie Chaplin, Frank Lloyd Wright and Chuck Berry: what do these men have in common?They were all charged with violating the Mann Act, also known at the White Slavery law. The progressive era law has been on the books for over one hundred years – and was used to build the FBI – enforce a moral code against sexual deviancy and promote gender roles for women. The Mann Act was America’s first anti–sex trafficking law. It made it illegal to transport women over state lines for prostitution “or any other immoral purpose.” It was meant to protect women and girls from being seduced or sold into sexual slavery. But, as Jessica Pliley illustrates, its enforcement resulted more often in the policing of women’s sexual behavior, reflecting conservative attitudes toward women’s roles at home and their movements in public.

Listen to the program: http://tpr.org/post/policing-sexuality-mann-act-and-white-slavery

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 Slaves Waiting for Sale

November 1, 2014 |Withgoodreasonradio.org

 In 1853, Eyre Crowe, a British artist, visited a slave auction in Richmond, Virginia. His painting of the scene was later exhibited at the Royal Gallery in London in 1861. In her new book Slaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade, Maurie McInnis (University of Virginia) describes the impact this pivotal painting had on the British Public at the outbreak of the American Civil War. Gregg Kimball (Library of Virginia) talks about a new exhibition of art dealing with the American slave trade. Also: Jonathan White (Christopher Newport University) says many Union soldiers were not for re-election of Abraham Lincoln in 1864, and were in fact pressured to vote for him.

Listen to the program: http://withgoodreasonradio.org/2014/11/slaves-waiting-for-sale/

***** BONUS

FUCK Colonization by Frank Waln HERE

My family getting together to eat and celebrate our lives on a day that represents the genocide of our ancestors and culture is, in its own way, a “fuck you” to colonialisation. America’s colonial project failed. We’re still here, and we’re keeping our ceremonies and traditions alive. We’re still speaking our languages. We’re living our culture. I’m alive and I know what it means to be Lakota. For that, I give thanks every day.

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…

View original 575 more words

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.

View original 482 more words

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.

*********

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/