How the US stole thousands of Native American children

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.

Comments (100)

  1. The children service is now lying on white parents to take their children now. So I believe this

  2. This is literally happening again with refugee children. everyday I hate America more

  3. It’s absolutely incredible how you don’t learn this in school. Probably because the list of disgusting things the white American man has done is too much to condense into a textbook. I think a lot of us have gone through a disappointing journey where we grow up and start learning about atrocities like these on our own. It’s like turning on the light to finally see what’s been hiding in the dark.

  4. And the slogan today is make America great again?

  5. this is euro royalty behind this. queen E took native children when she visited the reserve in Canada. England royalty is ruthless

  6. Thank you Vox for educating me, … this is ridiculous!!!!!

  7. I feel like native Americans should have a country for themselves the culture is to beautiful for this.

  8. oh my… 🤯😠😠😠😠😠

  9. at first place they are not "indians" they are the true americans not the white or black….

  10. The us or *WHITES*???

  11. Sila ang mga tunay na amerkano, hindi yung mga puti at itim.

  12. I’m disappointed that the end of this video, when looking ahead, doesn’t take 20-30 more seconds to describe what’s insidious about the new court cases. It’s hinted at in the trailing interviews, but the issue is Native Americans as nations that hold treaties with the U.S. vs. the idea of them as a race that exists within our borders. The former is the truth, and the latter is what it implies.

  13. This breaks my heart and saddens me.

  14. My mother went through the same thing

  15. This SHOULD be considered a crime and people should be charged by law!! unacceptable

  16. Well history is writen by the winners

  17. America land of dreams…. Oh god

  18. It's so weird to hear the called "boarding schools", in Canada, we always call them Residential schools.

  19. Rather ambiguous presentation.

  20. We aren't Indians. We are Native Americans. Please quit calling us Indian!

  21. Looks like China is not the only country that tried to brainwash and assimilate a culture of people they don’t like.

  22. Europeans made a bad society

  23. I didn’t learn this in school at all. This makes me so sick and so angry!!!!

  24. Is this better than what China is doing to Uyghurs?

  25. This sounds exactly like what is happening to Uyghur children in China today

  26. Even US has done these things it seemsEvery country has done horrible things for its people, every society is filled with genocidal criminal maniacs.

  27. Iam divided between liking this documentary because it is well made and not because it is just a one more anti-European (ethnicity) speech.

  28. Those first caucasians were the WORSE! They did the same exact thing to AFRICANS, take away their culture, force them to wear their clothes and learn THEIR language.
    They have been forcing us to assimilate for centuries.

  29. They didn't do that only to the natives, they are now doing that to poor african american families and other low income american families. This is an abomination and LEGAL KIDNAPPING.

  30. Make America great again, right?

  31. I didn't know this happened to native american kids as well, its DISGUSTING and america should be ASHAMED of themselves.
    That was just another way of trying to erase the native culture and forcing them to assimilate.

  32. "We are nations that pre-existed European contact… And we are still here."
    That's a very powerful sentence to finish the documentary.

  33. Child services is LEGAL kidnapping. Deal with the child abusers accordingly but they should NOT have the power to take children from the parents just because the parent is going through a tough time.
    Every day kids who arent abused or neglected are taken from their home and adopted out.
    The natives have been through enough, why is the govt still trying to hurt them? Govt has no right to take away their kids like that and adopt them into white homes.

  34. Next do a video about black slaves owned by the Native Americans (Five Tribes).

  35. Doesn't this sound familiar? it's just like what China is doing with muslim kids.

  36. Why are all of VOX’s videos bashing the United States in some way America is a amazing country it’s just very sad to see a YouTube Chanel only show the bad side of this wonderful country

  37. This is so HORRIFYING! "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."            Galatians 6:7-9

  38. Oh god, I live in USA….

  39. It's not all white people who are the problem. The problem is some white people thinking they are better than everyone else. Saying all white people are racist would itself be racist.

  40. Navajo code talkers in world war two were an essential part of wartime communications. Many Native Americans learned it. The language was unbreakable to the Japanese and Germans. Despite the trail of tears, the indoctrinations, and usurping of lands, the native american nations served in US military forces.

  41. I'm a federally recognized Native American. While this is sad and wrong, i personally believe the timing of this video shows exploitation of the atrocities done to Native Americans. This video fits the narrative of the media and their agenda to divide the people of the United States. Division is a tool used to control. Do not allow this video to separate you from good people.

  42. I say the same thing to the confederates.
    You lost.

    Get over it.

  43. All though history our society has solely been pushing on various ways all just to take us away from mother earth….

  44. It is laughable that they were accused of barbarism when, in fact, the barbarism was practiced by the "civilized" white men, snatching these vulnerable children from their environment, parents, family in general, and culture. How bright, huh? (Sarcasm intended).

  45. From WWI to WWI the pope used Catholic boarding schools in Germany to raise children in broom closet's so to speak, is how Germany was able to use 100, 000 general's to lead a million man army in just 20 years in starting WWII. After the WWII was over the world hated the pope back then for doing that.
    I Remain,
    4NOV19; 11:58 H.H.

  46. That’s what the indigenous people get for stealing America from us.

  47. It’s sad to say but this is the same fate that many children that are being taken away from their parents in the border are going to face
    It’s a true fkn horror

  48. !Attention!
    They still have boarding schools!

  49. This is such nonsense your making indians seem targeted. I work with foster care and I'm part Cheyenne myself. Alot of kids in foster care are treated similarly. OUR FOSTER CARE PROGRAM IS BADLY BROKEN. I've seen children you were beaten so badly bones and scars resulted, so badly terrorized they hide in a corner. One small black child had been put with a affluent black couple, he was a show piece. "Look how much we care about other minorities!" They would bring out this child would spoke little but was so perfect. When no one was there they beat and electrocuted the child for speaking. He was five when I saw him and had been with that couple for years. The point is one group is no more targeted than any other. Unless your rich, then it doesnt matter what color, what you do or to whom. The white poor families of our have the same thing done today. No one stands for them bc they are white. The probelm isnt the government, they are only the tool. The probelm is we as a nation have lost the willingness, the basic part of us that wants to do good, and right the things we know we should. Instead we follow Hollywood in "whatever feels good do". The thing about that is that evil always turns on itself. How long until the world decides no nation needs borders and makes war on "Rightness of their cause" to take away all that your families; who loved you before you were born, bled and died for? Dont you see? By focusing on the mistakes of our nation, or any nation, they devalue the sacrifices of the people who built and gave so we could be here now. Ah it is a waste of time you will not hear me nor will you pick up the one book that has never been wrong and will tell you the future. Just think for a few moments tune out the news and those of the world who would influence you. Just for a moment consider and look at facts then, tell me the world doesnt terrify you.

  50. It’s sad that our teachers glorify that clown named Christopher Columbus. “In1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue my as*”
    They’re like the great land was found after the Natives were defeated. When we were in elementary school we used to believe that bs, but now in high school we know wassup cuz our ancestors were treated the same way by whites even though we’re not natives.

  51. Kidnapping isn't genocide

  52. canada did the same

  53. This is sad no wonder why i dont see that many Native indians

  54. America is a dark place covered with glitter. 😞

  55. Notice, almost none in the southern states. Who bare the false racist label

  56. Ugh why does she keep saying Indian. Its Native American.

  57. What about guide lines for outrageous lies?

  58. This was the children’s holocaust. We learned about it a lot in school in Canada but the Canadian government can never reconcile, it’s impossible. It has to be acknowledged but the damage can never be made up for.

  59. Kinda funny how things still haven’t changed much!! (Like those detention centers) 🙁 C’mon America we are better then this!!

  60. I thinking "nothing short of genocide" is a bit of an overexaggeration.

  61. I am Native on my fathers side with a white mother so I know my own identity crises. My Aunt, my fathers sister was raised in a boarding school. My family has seen so much injustice and felt the shame they tried to escape, as well as myself. I struggle now to learn my own language which is difficult in a world where everyone speaks english….including Indians on the res.

  62. America always have to hide the (Shame + Guilt) of their own atrocities inflicted on others.
    Australia, exactly the same madness / psychotic behavior. What is wrong with these
    groups ? Have they forgotten the "Golden Principle" of the Religion which they profess
    to adhere to "Love" ? When have they aver practiced this ?
    Richard Henry Pratt – Now I know the derivation of the surname and meaning !
    He was a cold Blooded – "Pratt", indeed !!!
    " I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his "JUSTICE" cannot sleep forever. "
    (Thomas Jefferson).

  63. What is the sequence of successive Indian land losses based on? Stunning. Thanks. I saw series of maps that presented a series of treaty-based Indian lands when I was a child. This looks based on that source, but I have never been able to find it again. I would appreciate it if you could provide the source or sources.

  64. Do canadian rezadent

  65. Mans inhumanity to man. Will this ever change?

  66. Sounds a lot like the Canadian Indian residential schools. It's still an open wound in the nation and will be for a long time .

  67. The US government destroyed the culture of the Native America by design.

  68. this is genocide according to the U.N.

  69. 48% of Americans DO NOT KNOW that Slavery was the cause of the CIvil War.

  70. When you realize it's not two Indias 😐

  71. This is the equivalent of the stolen generation in Australia.

  72. I don't know why I'm crying though I'm not Native American nor American. This was not civilization.


  74. CPS today steals kids and thats inspired by democrat evil doctrine-vote republican

  75. If this company is Belgium wheres all the Belgium Genocide or letting in other countries for free

  76. Stole their babies..

  77. Love from all minorities to the Native Americans.

  78. This is so disgusting and truly heart breaking. How could something like this have happened with zero apologies to reconcile?

  79. This is just half of what Native Americans have been thru, read The Missionaries: God Against the Indians book by Norman Lewis.

  80. Theirs a visit I wanna show you hold on

  81. Same thing in Canada. I would have liked to see it covered at the same time!

  82. Why are they called Indians when they are indiginous Americans or native

  83. Conservatives want to keep Native Americans babies away from their families, hugest of surprises!

  84. So putting children in schools and cutting their hair to look normal is bad? You prefer them to stay in those tribes? I don't see how what happened to those people had a negative impact on their lives? Honestly, education is the key to many issues that our civilization. is facing right now.

  85. the enemy of the united states, is the pasty white man.

  86. I am proud to say that I hate the entire white race with passion! You are a disease to the world! You are the literal embodiment of destruction and only wickedness comes from you!

  87. I'm SO truly sorry for their pain.
    So much pain by the hands of the elite Psychopaths. This is horrifically SO sad!

  88. Stolen generation in Australia. See movie rabbit proof fence.

  89. Some people aren't aware that this happened accross all the Americas… The Spanish invaded Central and South America and did the same exact thing to the natives there. Totally stripped and robbed them from their/our identity. (Spanish are European… for those of you who don't know).

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