How the US stole thousands of Native American children


I was adopted by a white missionary couple. I was adopted… immediately placed for adoption. I was in foster care with one family for 18
years. They were white. My parents loved us and I understand that. But at the same time… They took the idea that they were saving me. Saving us from ourselves. Being saved and I should be grateful for the life that I’ve been given because any child on the reservation would give anything to
live as I was living. They took us away from our mom. They came marching right in and literally took us and thousands of other children from their home. It’s a way to eradicate us. And to go to our nation’s children is one of the sure ways to do that. The US has a long and brutal legacy of attempting to eradicate Native Americans. For centuries, they colonized Native American lands and murdered their populations. They forced them west and pushed them into small, confined patches of land. But, Native Americans resisted. A Board of Indian Commissioners report said: “instead of dying out under the light and contact of civilization” the Indian population “is steadily increasing.” And that was an obstacle to total American
expansion. So the US found a new solution: to “absorb” and “assimilate” them. It all started with an experiment, and a man
named Richard Henry Pratt. He had in his charge some prisoners of war and he taught these men how to speak English, how to read and write, and how to do labor. He dressed them in military uniforms and basically ran an assimilation experiment. And then he took his results to the federal government and said they’re capable of being civilized. So he was able to get this project funded. In 1879,  the government funded Pratt’s project, the first ever off-reservation boarding school for Native American children. His motto was to “kill the Indian and save the man.” What started there, at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, was nothing short of genocide disguised as American education. Children were forcibly taken from reservations, and placed into the school, hundreds — even thousands — of miles away from their families. They were stripped of their traditional clothing. Their hair was cut short. They were given new names, and forbidden from speaking their Native languages. To take our children and to indoctrinate them into Western society to take away their identity as indigenous peoples, their tribal identity,
I think it’s one of the most effective and insidious ways that the US did do harm to indigenous peoples here because it targeted our children, our most vulnerable. And they tried to make us ashamed for being Indian and they tried to make us something other than Indian. There are also accounts of mental, physical, and sexual abuse. Of forced manual labor, neglect, starvation, and death. My great grandfather went to Carlisle and nobody in my family ever talked about it. So if you google Indian boarding schools, the majority of the pictures that you will see will be actually from Carlisle. Colonel Pratt created propaganda. He hired a photographer to create those before and after photos to show that his experiment was working. So it was intentional propaganda. And it worked. The Carlisle model of education swept the country — and led to the creation of over 350 boarding schools to assimilate Native American children. In 1900, there were about 20,000 Native American children in these schools. By 1925, that number more than tripled. Families that refused to send their kids to these schools faced consequences like incarceration at Alcatraz, or the withholding of food rations. Some parents, who did lose their children to these schools, even camped outside to be close to them. Many students ran away. Some found ways to hold on to their languages and cultures. Others, though, could no longer communicate with family members. And some never returned home at all. By stripping the children of their Native American identities — the US government had found a way to disconnect them from their lands. And that was part of the US strategy. During the same era in which thousands of children were sent away to boarding schools, a number of US policies infringed on their tribal lands back home. In less than five decades, two thirds of Native American lands had been taken away. The whole thing was purposeful. 
And the fact that it has been buried in the history books and not acknowledged is also intentional. And in fact the same tactics were used in New Zealand, Australia, Canada. All of these countries have acknowledged, apologized, or reconciled in some way except for the United States. Over time, the brutality of boarding schools
started to surface. And after a 1928 report detailed the horrific conditions at the schools — many began to close. In the 1960s, indigenous activism rose alongside the Civil Rights Movement. And by the 1970s, that activism forced more schools to shut down. The government handed over control of the remaining boarding schools to tribes, to be run in partnership with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. But just as the boarding school era started fading, another assimilation project took shape. Adoption. The main goal of this pilot project was to “stimulate the adoption of American Indian children,” to “primarily non-Indian adoptive homes.” They claimed it was to promote the adoption of the “forgotten child” but it was essentially a continuation of the boarding school assimilation tactics. And the strategy came with a financial advantage for the government too. Adoption was cheaper than running boarding schools. But first, adoption officials had to sell white America on the idea of adopting Native American children. Feature stories, like this one in Good Housekeeping, marketed them to white families. They were described as “unwanted,” and adoption gave them a chance at “new lives.” In the end, their media campaign worked. White families “wanted Indian Adoption.” But the problem was, many of these children, were not “orphans that nobody wanted.” They were kids, often ripped apart from families that wanted to keep them. You still will hear stories today of people my age, older, saying I remember as a child the social worker was coming. And people would hide their children. On reservations, social workers used catchall phrases like “child neglect” or “unfit parenting” as evidence for removal. But their criteria was often questionable. Some accounts describe children being taken away for living with too many family members in the same household. Extended family is a big thing for Native people. That means being judged for a house that’s overcrowded. So it’s always that
whiteness is the standard for success. And everything else is judged by that standard. By the 1960s, about one in four Native children were living apart from their families. The official Indian Adoption Project placed 395 Native children into mostly white homes. But it was just one of many in an era of Native American adoptions. Other state agencies and private religious organizations began increasingly making placements for Native American children, too. My mother giving me up was a white person telling her if she didn’t, she would never see her other kids again. In one of the documents I have, it’s addressed to my biological father Victor Fox. That he was trying to look us up to get ahold of us. But Hennepin County wrote, “Daniel and Douglas are adapting very well in their new family.” This was totally, it was a false statement. When you’re adopted, you know you’re missing something. I think I’ve likened it to having like, when someone has a 500 piece puzzle and they have all the pieces to make this pretty picture except one. My adoptive mother was not well. Verbally, physically, and sexually and spiritually abusive. By the time I was 14 I started drinking. 15, drugs were added and I became an addict to numb. I didn’t realize I was numbing pain. I tried suicide. I tried slicing my wrists
one time. Children were taken. And believed like I believed for a long time, that there was something wrong with me, versus something wrong
with the system The Indian Adoption Project was considered a success by the people who set it in motion. Officials claimed, “generally speaking, we believe the Indian people have accepted the adoption of their children by Caucasian families and have been pleased to learn the protection afforded these children.” But, the truth was unsettling. “These hearings on Indian children’s welfare are now in session.” “I was pregnant with Bobby and the welfare woman kept asking if I’d give him up for adoption. “Before he was even born?” “Yeah” “They picked up my children, and placed them in a foster home. And I think they were abused in the foster
home.” Four years after Native people organized in this Senate hearing — Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act — known as ICWA. It gives tribes a place at the table in court. States would be required to provide services to families to prevent removal of an Indian child. And in case removal was necessary,
they would have to try to keep the child with extended family, or another Native American family. Without our relatives we cease to exist. So with native people, part of our wealth, is in our family. It’s in who we’re connected to. But the legacy of family separation in Native communities has been difficult to fully undo. Today, Native American children are four times more likely to be placed in foster care than white children —  even when their families
have similar presenting problems. In these cases, ICWA is often the best legal
protection they have. And it’s been under attack, repeatedly. “A young girl ripped from her foster family, because of the Indian Children Welfare Act.” White adoptive families intent on keeping Native American children have tried to do away with the act, and they’re often backed by conservative organizations. “The Indian Child Welfare Act was dealt a blow earlier this month.” “The subject of a lawsuit issued on Tuesday by the Goldwater Institute arguing that preferences given to American Indian families to adopt Indian children is unconstitutional and discriminates based on race.” “It’s a way for these industries, these very powerful industries, to try to attack what Indian identity is.” Wanting to overturn ICWA is connected to everything about who we are as a nation. So if we don’t have any protections for our families, and if we don’t have protections for our treaties, then we have no more Indians. We’ve been under attack. We’re going to continue to be under attack and we have to keep just keep fighting. It’s in our DNA to survive. We are nations that pre-existed European contact and we are still here.

100 thoughts on “How the US stole thousands of Native American children”

  1. human rights violation!!! how hypocritical of the US to criticize other countries' human rights when they are doing horrible deeds like this?

  2. At school we read something about that Native American wasn't allowed to do their tradition and was taken away and then the japanese was attacking america and that man thought of the secret code. (I forgot the rest)

  3. They should be called Native American not Indian. You just trying to say they are not real owner of America by saying them Indian.

  4. This is why I want a smaller much weaker government. Governments are the biggest perpetrators of evil in our worlds history. Minus religious fundamentalists.

  5. My grandmother was never taught our language because it carried the penalty of jailtime to speak it. My great-grandmother refused to teach it to her because of that. My grandmother was forced to go to a boarding school—she was lucky enough to have the choice of going to a Catholic boarding school instead of the ones for only Natives.

  6. This is still so depressing, so many modern Native people are still affected by this today. I think it really twisted some of my family into something sad, bitter, and angry.

  7. Things haven’t really changed for White America. Today instead of stealing Native American babies and separating them permanently from their parents, White America is separating undocumented immigrants from their kids. White America does not evolve as a society. The evil is still there.

  8. In the guise of adoption, kidnapping children was and is going on. Be proud of your tribal heritage! Fight those who try to kidnap.

  9. I met one at school how she went through both. Like first they took her from her family and made her go to that boarding school but then she got adopted by white folks. She could not speak her maiden language. She could not show any over her culture. Since they don’t have a culture yet a soul. They have to take other cultures, beliefs, and everything else they can have

  10. They hide a lot they hid how they treated the backs the natives and more. Have anyone ever notice how in school they always talk about how we were inslave. And they choose certain things that black people accomplish to show but every thing have to do with slavery

  11. I'm Native America and go to a native school. We have a whole chapter and lessons about this stuff. And I've also learned through my family. Some people don't want our existence to be known or what happened to come out. I thank all the people who support the native American tribes here and want to genuinely help us, because the new generations have so much trauma from what happened to our ancestors. My own great grandparents were put in a boarding school as well and some of them never made it out. They were little kids taken away from their families to be "saved" by the white man. I really don't have hate toward the white people today because many of them want to help us. So I ask you to make our existence known and talk about what happened to us so that everyone will know how badly the first colonizers wanted us gone.

  12. This is the most honest and sad thing I've heard in awhile. We need more videos like this, revealing people's faults and all the horrible things that have been covered up.

  13. Another genocide that usually gets overlooked. As for the adoption part, someone smarter than me should create a word for what the US did to the Native Americans…

  14. I'm half muscogee and I saw this, this just got me so mad about usa, I never liked the u.s. anyway I don't even care about usa

  15. This type of thing has been going on across the planet since time immemorial. When are people going to quit whining about it and move on? It's happened all across Europe, Asia and Africa, along with genocide and slaughters, assimilation, slavery and wholesale destruction of cultures. Its history, learn from it and stop wallowing in it.

  16. Black people didnt want to be in the north American lands just as much as Indians never wanted the white man in their lands

  17. The name "Smith" will never be apart of who I am. "Smith" is not the name of my ancestors. It will remain a reminder of what the white man tried to eradicate.

  18. what more didn’t they do. it’s so heart breaking but they will never break the native american spirit. proud to be a dakota Sioux and who i am.

  19. Gesh this sounds familiar! And why does the title say The
    “U S” and people keep saying “America”??? Can we say White People?!?! Can we say Root Cause? 👀

  20. This also occurred in Australia, they wanted to erase the aboriginal race and culture by mixing them with the whites to breed, and gradually erase the color to attain white. The children were also taken away and placed for adoption. Some were also sent to work with whites in many fields which is described by some as slavery type of work (there were also camps for the aboriginals for segregation purposes) , all to "civilized' them by the European standards. Sadly those mix person's were treated badly by both sites and were neglected. There is many similarities between the two, sadly.

  21. Today, forced immigration in Europe and the US, is serving the same purpose., to mix the races, thus eliminating groups of people who share a culture, a race. This agenda is pushed by the United Nations. The agenda created in the 1920’s called the Kalergi plan is now in full display. Why do this? Easier to control the masses.

  22. I think america needs to learn from New Zealand in how to embrace their Native culture, the fact that this is not even included in the history curriculum is shameful.

  23. OMG! At 67, it horrifies as much today as it did as a young man when I first began hearing these stories. It was from an oral tradition early on, and as society has matured, or been undressed -these issues have gained greater notice…

  24. After all they have been through they deserve to be protected. They are strong people and will stand their ground. Honestly it breaks my heart hearing these stories. I’m not Native American but my heart goes out to them.

  25. “So it’s always white the standard of success,and everybody is judge by that standard. “Hmm sounds familiar. Oh wait isn’t that exactly what’s happening now ?

  26. why do you still allow them to call you indian. ?? when will you nationalize under one name. Moor. indian is from 1621 and refered to being godless. that is not a nationality. you are Moors, start refering to ourselves as it is in the 1760s peace and friendship treaty we we're Moors.. white is a status held by the nationals. why do you still call the european white?? this is your status, and you give it away to a foriegnor wake up study and research what i say, im not interested in argueing with those who choose to stay ignorant.

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