Britt Reed: Indian children still being taken from their traditions

"My perspective on cultural appropriation will always be different than most of the outspoken folks in Indian country. I did not grow up on a reservation, nor experience the “classic” urban native experience. I am a Native woman who was adopted out when I was a baby. Some call people like me “lost birds” or “split feathers.” People that have gone through the assimilation process that has taken over what the boarding and residential schools have done to our grandparents and ancestors.

Today the problem persists, despite the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978 designed to stop 25 percent of all native children in the United States from being adopted out to non-native families. In 1987, nine years after the passage of the Act, a study was conducted by CSR Incorporated, and it’s subcontractor, Three Feathers Associates; they found that 35 percent of all native children were being placed in substitute care and that 85 percent of that number were being placed in non-Native homes. In the summer of 2012, we were reminded of this epidemic with NPR’s report that 700 native children are being removed from their homes and adopted out each year in South Dakota alone.

Native children who live on reservations or grow up with their families around urban centers, like the American Indian Center in Chicago, have access to family, community members and resources to learn about and engage in their cultures. As a native child adopted out to non-native parents, I did not have this same access. Regardless of my disconnection to any sort of native community, it did not stop me from having a very strong pull to my roots and a drive to learn about my cultures as a Choctaw and Lakota woman."

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She the Bear (Britt Reed): Cultural Appropriation: A Different Perspective (Indian Country Today 11/7)

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