By: Evelyn Red Lodge
Since the excellent year-long investigation from the mainstream media publication by National Public Radio (http://www.npr.org/2011/10/25/141662357/incentives-and-cultural-bias-fuel-foster-system) on the Indian Child Welfare Act- I have to believe Indian children still face a one frying pan or the other situation.
I have had many Lakota friends tell me how hard it was to grow up Indian on their respective Indian reservations.
Many cite reservation alcoholic parents or caretakers or poverty as primary hardships for them. But, did they still have people around them who looked like them?
What of those of us who were adopted out to non-Indian families and mostly far from our respective reservations?
The answer is likely no we did not have people around us who looked like us.
Did we as adoptees even have one Native song to carry us closer to Creator? Most times, no.
Did we as adoptees far from our relatives have anything that brought us closer to our relatives (family, ancestors, traditions, prayers)?
The answer is likely, no.
Were many of us abused in non-Indian adoptive families? Was it spiritual, sexual, physical, or verbal abuses?
Pick one, and it was mine to survive (http://188.8.131.52/News/2011/003731.asp.).
Surviving just one of these abuses is hard enough.
Did some of us adoptees have a great adoptive family who loved and cared for us? Yes.
Yet, was there many things missing in our respective souls? We have a saying in South Dakota tribes which says, They all come home.
I was taught in Grammar School that the Indians massacred many pioneers. I was taught that Indians were savage and pagan.
In a Christian upbringing I was taught that pagans went to hell.
What pride should I have felt for myself, even without such heinous abuse?
I was adopted during South Dakotas Indian Adoption Project in the mid-1960s. At the time, it was either I was adopted or went to Indian Boarding School. It was a choice of one frying pan or another.
I know. A boarding School sounds like some sort of finishing school- but, I have read and heard about the horrors committed in these federal institutions by Christians.
So, today, we have American Indian adoptees going to non-Indian homes at a very similar rate as when the Indian Child Welfare Acted was passed in 1978- and it was enacted to protect tribes and Native children from such practices.
Psychologists have proven that mere presence in a non-Indian family who does not involve an adoptive Indian child in his/her original culture will cause at the very least, an identity crisis for adolescent Indian child adoptees. Sorry, going to a powwow just does not cut it.
The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed, because Congress recognized that we as sovereign people and indigenous people need a connection to our relatives. Relatives in the Native way may mean hundreds of extended or Hunka family members (http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/pla/sdo/sdo34.htm).
I interpret this to mean that the Caucasian history of the United States is not ours, as Indigenous peoples history. It is truth to me.
So, why would an American Indian child be confused?
Well, there is the history the entire U.S. chooses to hide. It is the genocide and subjugation of indigenous natives here in the U.S (http://www.gtb.nsn.us/pdf_files/newsletters/oct_08_sec_3.pdf).
This quote says much:
The last chapter in any successful genocide is the one in which the oppressor can remove their hands and say, My God, what are these people doing to themselves? Theyre killing each other. Theyre killing themselves while we watch them die. This is how we came to own these United States. This is the legacy of manifest destiny. (Aaron Huey).
Our children are not safe, even today.