April 11, 2013 § Leave a comment
I am a native New Yorker, but not a ‘Native (North) American Indian’.
My earliest familiarity with North American Indians and North American Indian issues came about quite organically in South Hampton, New York when my grandmother would take me with her to the then known as ‘Shinnecock Indian Reservation’ and now known as ‘Shinnecock Indian Nation’. It was a classic play date, i.e., I would play with the children who resided there while she cooked, crafted and chatted the day away with their mothers, grandmothers and older siblings. (My grandparents had similar relationship with Amish friends in Pennsylvania; typical New Yorkers, they enjoyed living in a cultural melting pot and weren’t going to let me miss out on doing so too).
There was nothing political or special or academic about these play dates, i.e., the conversations they had and playing that we did was no different than any other play date in South Hampton; the only difference being that these children were there too during the winter when I visited for Thanksgiving whereas most other children I knew in South Hampton were summer-only residents.
Fast forward a few decades and my experience with victims of forced migration and repatriation of their property, civil and social rights is tapped by a former high school class mate who was interested in collecting his casino and oil rights in Canada. In the process of discovering what those rights were and how to collect them, we – with the fantastic, critical assistance of a local congressman’s immigration and American Indian specialist – discovered that he was: not a USA Citizen as he had always thought he was and expressed to be when he registered to vote and filled out federal applications, including passport, education, banking and court documents; a victim of Canadian Scoops, and going by a name that USCIS classified as ‘alias’ and which he had already 2x changed ‘legally’ through local court system.
Through a nearly (2) year process of identifying, correcting and improving his immigration status and the several other legal complications that were a direct result of his being a USA placed victim-survivor of the Canadian Scoops, I – along with a prominent American Indian Adoptee Advocate – unearthed a few thousand files of other potential USA Placed Victims-Survivors of The Canadian Scoops.
Obviously all USA Placed Victims-Survivors of The Canadian Scoops deserve the same recognition and compassionate consideration that my former high school classmate has achieved; TRC-Canada must expand it’s mandate so that all USA Placed Victims-Survivors of The Canadian Scoops are recognized AND Governments of USA, Canada, and INAC, must provide correlating and enabling legislation so that these individuals can safely and thoroughly come forward and legitimize their immigration status and identity, and receive restitution for the crimes they are victims of.