Greenfield, Massachusetts  -- Award-winning Native journalist Trace Hentz continues her heart-rending efforts to peel away the malodorous layers of Native American adoption with her newest book, Stolen Generations: Survivors of the Indian Adoption Projects and 60s Scoop (Publisher Blue Hand Books).
“What is significant about this new book? Everything,” Hentz said. “Ten years ago there were no books on stolen generations. Now we have more than one generation who have experienced the Indian Adoption Projects and 60s Scoop. These survivors have bravely documented their life experience in their own words in three anthologies (Two Worlds, Called Home and now Stolen Generations) that I’ve compiled so far.”
“For me, that is all I hoped for, prayed for,” Hentz said. An adoptee herself, Hentz reunited with her own birth family over the past 20 years. Her late-father Earl was Shawnee-Tsalagi and Euro mix. “I had to do something, as a journalist and as an adoptee to end the secrecy.”
When adoptees do start asking about their birth parents they often run into a wall of silence. Hentz offers to help them and often refers them to work with Librarian Karen Vigneault-MLIS, a member of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California, who can provide genealogy and research for no charge.
In the case of a First Nations adoptee in the US or Canada, being unable to trace a birth parent can deny that adoptee and their child(ren) their rightful place on tribal rolls, their rights to ancestral land, and may disqualify them from tribal benefits they qualify for and deserve.
Indian adoption is nothing new, nor has the essential purpose changed.
It was long common policy to take Indian children from their families and communities and to place them in non-Native homes or send them to residential boarding schools. In fact three contributors in Stolen Generations were the children of parents who had also been adopted out.
In 1978 tribes fought to get the Indian Child Welfare Act approved by the federal government. ICWA’s intent is to keep Native children in tribal communities.
However, even now, some in Congress seek to overturn the ICWA.
“We are the pre-ICWA adoptees – before the federal law was signed, preventing adoption to non-Indian parents, thereby lawfully supporting kinship-care adoption so First Nations children remain in their community,” Hentz explained.
Stolen Generations is an anthology, letting adoptees tell their own stories, in their own words.
“For these adoptees and their adult children, it takes real courage to think about the past and try to make sense of it,” Hentz said. “Many of us thought we were the only one. I know I did. Many of us felt very alone, isolated, confused.”
The introduction to Stolen Generations was written by Johnathan Brooks (Northern Cheyenne). Trace Hentz (Shawnee-Cherokee mix) wrote the preface.
Among the other contributors are author Patricia Busbee (Cherokee), Joseph Henning (Cree), Leland Pacheco Kirk (Navajo), Susan Devan Harness (Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes), author Dana Lone Hill (Oglala Lakota), Rebecca Larsen (Quinault Indian Nation), Nakuset (Cree), and Joshua Whitehead (Peguis First Nation Manitoba). (Read complete list of contributors below)
“They told their story in their own way in their own words,” Hentz said. “As you read this book, you will see Native adoptees must overcome many barriers preventing them from uniting with their own tribal families, to regain status as enrolled tribal citizens.
“It’s widespread (in Canada and the US) and it's a growing issue,” she said. “With sealed adoption records and the Bureau of Indian Affairs not actively helping, adoptees might wait years to rejoin their tribes and reclaim sovereignty.”
Hentz will continue fighting for the many generations affected by the various Indian Adoption Projects and 60s Scoop, supporting ICWA’s intent, using her blog American Indian Adoptees (www.splitfeathers.blogspot.com.)
“I just want to spare a future child the pain and loss we felt,” Hentz said.
Kindle ebook $3.96
Stolen Generations: Survivors of the Indian Adoption Projects and 60s Scoop: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects (Book 3)
An anthology of adoptees’ firsthand accounts and historical background of the Indian Adoption Projects and 60s Scoop in North America
INTRO: Johnathan Brooks (Northern Cheyenne)
Preface: Trace Hentz (Shawnee-Cherokee mix)
Joseph Henning (Cree)
Leland Pacheco Kirk Morrill (Navajo)
Debra Newman (Choctaw Cherokee)
Belinda Mastalski Smith (Oneida New York)
Janelle Black Owl (Mandan, Hidatasa, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, Lakota)
Susan Devan Harness (Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes)
Dana LoneHill (Oglala Lakota)
Joy Meness (Iroquois)
Levi William EagleFeather Sr. (Sicangu Lakota)
Patricia Busbee (Cherokee)
Karl Mizenmayer (Minnesota Ojibwe)
Mitzi Lipscomb (Walpole Bkejwanong First Nations)
Rebecca Larsen (Quinault Indian Nation)
Joseph M. Pierce (Cherokee)
Mary St. Martin (Koyukon Athabascan)
Joshua Whitehead (Peguis First Nation Manitoba)
COVER ARTIST: Terry Niska Watson (White Earth Ojibwe adoptee)
“This illustration I painted years ago when I was in a very dark place in my life. This is a painting of a subject matter that has always drawn my interest, that is the Native life and the beauty of tradition, family and nature. As my sister, Elizabeth Blake, said about this painting that still hangs on my wall, “the most interesting part is that the face is not visible. That is how it is when you do not know your birth family.”
BOOK PREVIEW LINK: Once Upon A Time (via pressbooks)
Media Contact: Trace Hentz, Greenfield, Massachusetts, 413-258-0115 (google message) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
BOOK PDF available for reviewers. For interviews with book contributors, contact Trace.