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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Inviting Tribal Leaders from All the Tribes with Children Buried at Carlisle

Boarding School Healing Coalition to Host Tribal Roundtable on Carlisle Repatriation

by Native News Online Staff
 
Carlisle: The Icon of an Era In 1879 the first American Indian children arrived at Carlisle Boarding School.
Inviting Tribal Leaders from All the Tribes with Children Buried at Carlisle 
MINNEAPOLIS — The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition
will be facilitating a Tribal Roundtable Discussion for Carlisle Repatriations on November 30, 2017 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
On August 9, 2017 a group of Northern Arapaho began exhumation of their children’s remains from the Army War College Cemetery in Carlisle, PA to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. The tribal members were there to repatriate three of their children: Little Chief, Horse, and Little Plume. Tragically, Little Plume’s grave contained two sets of remains, neither of which were his.
The number of unknown graves has now gone from 12 to 14 at the Carlisle cemetery—14 “unknown” children buried at a federal school that they were forced to attend. A statistic that shouldn’t exist and one that speaks to the ongoing impacts and historical trauma caused by the disastrous U.S. Indian Boarding School experiment.
“It’s extremely sad and disappointing for the family who is already grieving a loss that never should have taken place,” said Christine Diindiisi McCleave, executive officer of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. “It’s showing that there’s more that needs to be looked into about the boarding schools—the treatment and care and responsibility that they had to our children, in life and in death.”
The Northern Arapaho were the first tribe to repatriate their children from the Carlisle Cemetery. Othe tribes who had express interest in the Army War College repatriating their children’s remains have been watching these events unfold with many questions about how the Army will proceed now that they can’t find Little Plume.
Yufna Soldier Wolf was the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Northern Arapaho throughout the process of repatriation at Carlisle this past summer. She is also related to Little Chief. While she celebrates the return of Horse and Little Chief who laid buried far from home for 134 years and now rest with their War Chief Families, she is committed to helping find Little Plume and helping other tribes navigate the repatriation process.
In September, Soldier Wolf came on board as a consultant to the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition to share information with other tribes about the repatriation process. She plans to share a report at the November Tribal Roundtable. “The Boarding School Healing Coalition acknowledges the efforts of Mrs. Soldier Wolf in the repatriation of the Northern Arapaho children,” said McCleave. “We are eager for her to share her knowledge for others going through the repatriation process at Carlisle and we are excited about welcoming her onto our team.”
Matthew L. Campbell, Staff Attorney at the Native American Rights Fund, will also speak at the Tribal Roundtable. Campbell is an enrolled member of the Native Village of Gambell on the Saint Lawrence Island in Alaska and has worked on repatriation issues in the past.
The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition is sponsoring the Tribal Roundtable discussion in support of the other tribes requesting their children’s remains as well as in support of the tribes who have requested that their children not be disturbed. All Tribal Leaders whose tribes have children buried at Carlisle Indian School Cemetery are invited or to designate a representative to attend. Tribes can apply for scholarship funds to assist with travel costs.
“Our goal is to reach all the 59 tribes who have children buried in the cemetery to present how the process went for the Arapaho and start a dialogue for other tribes who may want to repatriate or who would like for their children to stay in the Army’s cemetery,” said Soldier Wolf. “We need people to know what’s going on at Carlisle.”
If you would like more information about the Tribal Roundtable, please visit The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition at http://www.boardingschoolhealing.org/events.

Use the search bar on this blog for more about Carlisle and repatriation.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Rest in Peace Gord

Many of the 11.7 million people who tuned in to the Hip's final concert in August 2016 might have been surprised to hear Gord Downie speak out about Indigenous issues. In the new documentary Long Time Running, Downie says his plea that night to remember the plight of First Nations was a spontaneous decision. But his passion wasn't.

A trip north in 2012 led to the wry song Goodnight Attawapiskat, about the troubled northern Ontario reserve. Prime minister Stephen Harper's 2008 apology to First Nations led to 2009's Now the Struggle Has a Name. But you can go back to Looking for a Place to Happen, from the 1992 album Fully Completely, for a much earlier glimpse of the Indigenous sympathies in the Hip's music. It was indicative of the Hip's everything-to-everyone appeal that this song about colonialism became a sort of bro anthem among high school students in the early '90s.

In the year prior to his death, Downie released a solo album called Secret Path, about 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack, who died fleeing a residential school in 1966.

On the issue of the treatment of Indigenous people, Downie recently said, "We are not the country we think we are." READ MORE




Friday, October 13, 2017

Child Trafficking = Adoption



Treated like animals #60s Scoop

'They were treated like animals': How a Regina family was torn apart by the Sixties Scoop

"Thousands of us really feel like we were not a part of the families."
Michelle St. Germaine, left, and her sister Roberta St. Germaine pose for a portrait in Regina. TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post
 Michelle St. Germaine looks at the camera and smiles.The 18-month-old girl is seated and wearing a white dress and dress shoes in a portrait photo. There are also pictures of her three older siblings: Terry, Roberta and Denise. Each grins for the camera.
Roberta and Denise are wearing identical dresses and knee-high socks. Their brother Terry wears a dress shirt and a bow tie. The photos resemble those taken by proud parents of their children.
Except this is an advertisement for the Adopt Indian Metis program (AIM) in a Sept. 20, 1967 issue of the Assiniboia Times newspaper. Their photos are located next to ads for men’s jackets, heavy-duty filing cabinets and classifieds for local bridal showers.
The ad is titled “Is there a home that needs a family?” Interested couples of Roman Catholic faith, with or without children, are invited to inquire. The children’s names are even changed in the ad (Rose Marie, Deanna, Cindy and Bobby), a tactic used to make it more difficult for birth parents to find them.
Michelle and her siblings were eventually placed on a farm in southeast Saskatchewan, but “family” isn’t exactly an accurate description of what awaited them.
“It wasn’t good,” says Michelle, now 51, seated at the kitchen table in her Regina home.
“They were very physically abusive,” she adds. “It was just like they adopted all of us kids to work on their farm.”
One of her earliest memories of the farm is sitting on a platform towed by a tractor driven by her adopted father. She and her siblings were helping him plant evergreens on the farm.
“There was a hole in that platform, and we had to drop trees into that hole, and I can barely remember that, so they put us to work right away,” recalls Michelle. “I must have been like three years old.”
The family’s property stretched across 19 sections of land, where Michelle and her siblings did “every kind of work there is to do on a farm.”
They say the work was accompanied by frequent beatings from their adopted father. Roberta, Michelle’s older sister, recalls one incident during the spring when she was 13 and chasing cattle up a hill.
An adoption ad featuring the St. Germaine siblings that appeared in a Sept. 20, 1967 issue of the Assiniboia Times newspaper. (Photo courtesy Assiniboia Times) Photo courtesy Assiniboia Times


Roberta was up to her knees in mud when one of her boots fell off her foot.
“So I put a step back to try to put my foot back in my boot, and he whipped me. He whipped me on my back and I had to run around in my sock foot the rest of the way,” says Roberta.
At some point, Roberta had enough. She describes an incident in which Terry lay on the floor in a Quonset as their father kicked him with steel-toed boots. Seeing her brother rolled up into a ball while receiving the beating, Roberta attacked their foster father.
“I took one hand and I took the other hand and I just pounded his head,” she remembers.
Roberta jumped off him and ran into the house, hoping to incur some of his wrath and save Terry from further blows.
It worked. Michelle remembers her father chasing Roberta into the house to begin beating her.
“It was very like living in fear most of our lives,” says Michelle.
Their adopted father passed away in 2007. An obituary published in the Leader-Post describes him as a devoted husband and father. It says he was survived by three children, but makes no mention his adopted, Indigenous children.
“They never once told us that they loved us,” says Roberta. “Never.”
Michelle and her siblings never met their biological parents again until 14 years after their adoption. But even after she escaped the abuses of her adopted home, Michelle struggled with drug addiction, worked in the sex trade, served jail time and experienced the pain of being separated from her own children when they were taken into the custody of social services.

SCOOPED

The St. Germaines are not the only ones with such a story. Hundreds of thousands of indigenous children in Canada were taken by child welfare workers during what is now called the Sixties Scoop, and many were placed into the care of white families.
Stories of abuse are pervasive among survivors, who became disconnected with their Indigenous heritage and grew up without knowing their natural parents.
In Saskatchewan, Indigenous children were adopted through AIM, a provincial child welfare program established in 1967.
Dr. Jacqueline Maurice, a survivor of the Sixties Scoop herself, authored The Lost Children: A Nation’s Shame. She is currently a clinical preceptor at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine. She’s also instructs youth care workers at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
Roberta St. Germaine in a photo taken on Aug. 2, 2017 (left) next to a photo of her when she was five that appeared in an adoption ad placed by the Adopt Indian Metis Program that appeared in the Sept. 20, 1967 issue of the Assiniboia Times. Troy Fleece Photo


Maurice estimates between 1,700 and 1,900 aboriginal and Metis children in Saskatchewan were put through the AIM program. They were adopted to families across Canada, as well as to the United States and European countries, such as Denmark.
She describes AIM as a program with good intentions, but one that was still an outright race-based policy. With some Indigenous people unable to parent because of traumas they suffered in residential schools, the notion was that AIM would help their children. Instead, it severed another generation of Indigenous children from their families.
At the time, Maurice says the effects of intercultural adoptions was not given consideration. “The impact of that wasn’t really a high priority,” she adds.
With the challenge of finding homes for so many children, AIM was formed from a two-year grant provided by the federal and provincial governments. Part of the push to find children homes involved taking out ads in radio, TV and large print ads in provincial newspapers.
Adoptions were fast-tracked, with homes found for children in as little as ten weeks. One of AIM’s founders, Frank Dornstauder, co-authored a paper on the history of child welfare services in Saskatchewan in 2009. It states AIM made an effort to recruit families of aboriginal origin as part of “recognizing the importance of cultural identity.”
The St. Germaines’ experience of not being treated as true members of their adopted family was a common experience for victims of the Sixties Scoop.
“Thousands of us really feel like we were not a part of the families. We were always an outsider looking in, and treated like a visitor and yes indeed kept for income,” says Maurice.
Michelle’s feeling of being more like an employee than a daughter is also an experience other Sixties Scoop survivors have shared.
“I really do believe that some children were farmed out so to speak,” says Maurice.
Because of that mentality, children like the St. Germaines did not get to experience childhood.
She believes the perception of Indigenous children as workers stems from them being seen and treated as a commodity, and describes the government’s handling of the issue as a “wholesale policy of children.”
Michelle and Roberta are complainants in a class-action lawsuit filed by Merchant Law Group against the federal and provincial governments. The lawsuit seeks compensation on behalf of Sixties Scoop victims who were adopted out to white families through the AIM program.
Last week the federal government announced it would provide $800 million in a compensation package to survivors of the Sixties Scoop, with between $25,000 and $50,000 to individuals.
The provincial government said in 2015 that it would apologize for the Sixties Scoop. In August, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said the apology could come before the end of his time in office, which will come when the Sask. Party elects a new leader in January.

TAKEN

The last time Shirley Pelletier saw Terry, Roberta, Denise and Michelle before they were taken was in a Regina courtroom.
Pelletier, then 30, was staying with family while her sister looked after the children at home. Pelletier was then in an abusive relationship, and feared returning home after discovering her partner was having an affair.
Pelletier asked her sister to phone a social worker about the situation. Her children were immediately seized by Social Services, and Pelletier attended court to identify them. As soon as she did, they were taken out of the courtroom. That was the last time she saw them for the next 14 years.
“What could I do? I was a broken person,” says Pelletier years later, sitting beside Roberta in Michelle’s home.
The events are still traumatic for Pelletier.
“This is really hard,” she says, tears coming to her eyes. Roberta, who was separated from her mother for so many years, leans in close to comfort her.
“I didn’t need my children to be taken. I needed help from an abusive relationship. That’s what I needed,” says Pelletier. “Taking my children away just made everything worse for me and my children.”
Back then, as Pelletier was left to wonder what had become of her children, their pictures were running in the Assiniboia Times.
“They were advertised in the paper like animals, and they were treated like animals, like slaves on the farm,” says Pelletier. “Now who does that? Who does that to children?”
Michelle St. Germaine in a photo taken on Aug. 2, 2017 (left) next to a photo of her when she was two-years-old that appeared in an adoption ad placed by the Adopt Indian Metis Program that appeared in the Sept. 20, 1967 issue of the Assiniboia Times


In 1981, she ran her own ad, this one in the Western Producer, to find her children. The ad appeared in a Thursday issue, and by Sunday, Roberta had called her.  
After getting to know their mother, the siblings came to understand what had happened when they were children. And Pelletier learned what her children had gone through on the farm.
“They told me a lot of sad stories of the way they were treated. And that was my greatest hurt — wondering how are my kids being treated, are they being loved, hoping that they weren’t being abused,” she says.
Pelletier had tried to learn how her children were doing after they’d been adopted. She made an appointment with a family service bureau in the city. She recalls being told her children were fine, and that her daughters were studying ballet.
When she finally met her children as adults, Pelletier was once again living with her partner, Robert. But Michelle and her siblings were only able to know their father for five years before he passed away from lung cancer.
Michelle and her father never spoke of her adoption, but she knows he was hurt by not seeing his children grow up.
“I’m thankful that I got to meet my dad, and I’m thankful that we got to meet our mom and now we do know what family is like,” says Michelle. “Before, we never really knew.”
Michelle has her birth father’s last name, as she had no desire to use that of her adopted father.
While Michelle was fortunate enough to start a relationship with her parents later in life, many children of the Sixties Scoop are not so lucky. For many survivors, Maurice included, those lost relationships are never recovered.
“I’ve met my biological mom and my half-brother, and I can count on one hand the number of conversations we’ve had,” says Maurice.

A TROUBLED NEXT GENERATION

Michelle was asleep when Social Services workers knocked on her door to tell her they were taking custody of her children.
She lived in a house in Regina without proper locks on the door, so she had stuck knives into the door to keep it shut. Her children, toddlers at the time, had crossed the street and rolled down a hill.
Michelle was ultimately handcuffed because she kept trying to take her children out of the social workers’ car.
During her 20s, Michelle hardly communicated with her mother. She temporarily moved to Calgary with her partner. The two became involved drugs, and Michelle worked in the sex trade.
Michelle and her partner were hooked on the street drug “T and Rs.” Also known as “poor man’s heroin,” the pills Talwin and Ritalin were crushed and mixed with water, then injected.
She built up a long criminal record, involving thefts and fraud, to support their habit.
Michelle’s children were continually moved in and out of foster care. She was serving time in jail when her second son was born in 2002.
Watching her daughter struggle with a life of drugs and crime was devastating for Pelletier.
“You want to see your children doing good for themselves. You don’t want to see your children being failures,” says Pelletier.
Michelle’s youngest son was taken into foster care when he was four years old. She didn’t regain custody of him until he was 11.
When Michelle did get a chance to visit with her children, she would constantly inspect them for bruises, fearful they would experience the same abuse she did.
Michelle’s husband, Gabrielle, passed away in 2009 from a leaky heart valve, which she attributes partially to his drug use. Pelletier believes it was his death that motivated her daughter to get clean.
On Oct. 5, 2013, Social Services closed Michelle’s file. She had been clean for four years.
“I was just tired. I didn’t want to live like that anymore cause you have no purpose, no goals,” says Michelle. “I wanted to live for my kids and be an example to them.”
Michelle now has a much more stable life, living Regina with two of her children. Terry and Roberta also live in Regina, while Denise passed away from breast cancer in 2010. She was 49.
Roberta is confident that her sisters would have known a more peaceful life sooner had she been raised by their real mother, and believes the proof is in Michelle’s oldest son.
“She raised Michelle’s little boy, and he turned out really good. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t do drugs, he’s a really good boy. And I wish we were raised by her because that’s the way we would have turned out,” says Roberta.
Instead, Michelle grew up in a home she described as having “no love.” And that was when it was at its best. She and Roberta remember feeling a sense of relief when their adopted father had one of his hands disfigured by an auger.
“He got his hand taken away so he couldn’t hit us anymore,” said Michelle.
The moments of peace she remembers aren’t with her adopted parents. Instead, they came from riding her horse out into the fields, where she and her siblings would build fires and camp out for days, only sneaking back onto the farm to take food from the garden.
The St. Germaines do occasionally have contact with their adopted mother, who they say still refutes that any abuse took place.
While travelling outside the city with her brother last summer, Michelle decided to make a stop at the farm where they lived.  She wanted to see the evergreens that they had planted all those years ago. They’re now fully-grown.
No one was home, so Michelle and Terry stood at the foot of the dirt driveway for a few minutes and took pictures.
Standing in front of the farm where she endured so much pain was surreal for Michelle. Asked why she wanted to visit a place that held such terrible memories, Michelle says there were still some moments shared by the siblings that she wanted to acknowledge.
Just like the fires the St. Germaines would build during their temporary escapes from the farm, their love for each other provided warmth in a home devoid of the tenderness that parents provide.
“I had to take a moment to kind of push aside the bad and be grateful that the farm was still intact,” says Michelle. “Even though there was bad memories there, there was still good memories amongst us four.”
mmelnychuk@postmedia.com

Across North America

Every. Day.

Every. Day.
adoptees take back adoption narrative and reject propaganda

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

Join!

National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network (NISCWN)

Membership Application Form

The Network is open to all Indigenous and Foster Care Survivors any time.

The procedure is simple: Just fill out the form HERE.

Source Link: NICWSN Membership

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ADOPTION TRUTH

As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

Our Fault? (no)

Leland at Goldwater Protest

#defendicwa

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