Generations of Child Removal Policies Impacting American Indian/Alaskan Native Families: Links between Mandatory Boarding School and Adoption in the U.S.

Sandy White Hawk, First Nations Repatriation Institute
Christine Diindiisi McCleave, National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition
Rose Miron, National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition
Carolyn A. Liebler, University of Minnesota
Sara Axtell, University of Minnesota
Samuel Torres, National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

Between 1879 and the 1960s, thousands of Native children were forced to attend boarding school. As this era came to a close, the federal government shifted its cultural genocide methods to adoption – taking Native children from their homes and placing them with white adoptive and foster families. Native families continue to face very high levels of child removal. The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) and First Nations Repatriation Institute (FNRI) were founded to support research, education, advocacy, and healing by Native survivors and their relatives. The trauma of family and community separation as well as the violently assimilative strategies of the boarding schools affected these children, their families, and their communities so deeply that the trauma has impacted descendants. This trauma is intergenerational in part because boarding schools replaced nurturing with violence, removed role models, and often included physical, sexual, and spiritual abuse (which can interfere with parenting). To understand experiences of Native people whose family lives have been disrupted by boarding schools and/or adoption and foster care, we are conducting a ground-breaking survey with closed- and open-ended questions. This project is a Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) study created by FNRI, NABS, and two faculty members from the University of Minnesota. We aim to learn how these experiences have impacted child welfare and health in later generations, and how impacted individuals have begun healing. NABS and FNRI will use results to educate Native communities, health care providers, the public, tribal leaders, Indian Child Welfare professionals, and policy-makers to further promote healing by affected individuals and tribes. The survey will be open from March 2019 to March 2020. At SSHA, our primary focus will be on our practical experiences with CBPR, the reasons the study is needed, and the content of the survey.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 268. Understudied Racial Populations