EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

October 21, 2012

Your view: Letters to the editor

Native Americans must still fight for rights

To the editor:

This letter is in response to the Oct. 14 article, “Addison draws attention to Innu exhibit with large banners,” which is about the struggles of the Innu people of Labrador and the challenges they have faced since their forced settlement in the 1960s.

Here is a story about the struggles of Native Americans right here in the U.S. who still struggle and suffer as a result of policies set down by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Both of my biological parents were of Native American ancestry. I was born six days prior to my biological mother’s 18th birthday. On the fifth day, the day before my mother’s 18th birthday, I was taken from her arms and placed with a foster family for two weeks before being placed for adoption with a couple in Methuen, who were not of Native American ancestry and were older than my biological grandparents.

With regard to adoption and to paraphrase the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ guidelines: “Any child of Native American ancestry who is adopted by non-Native American parents shall no longer be deemed as being Native American, but rather the ethnicity of the adoptive parents.” So now I’m English, French and German!

Although I have documented proof of my biological ancestry, as well as the three DNA test results to confirm my Native American ancestry, I cannot become a member of any of my ancestral tribes because they all have “federally recognized” status and must adhere to all of the guidelines set forth by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The government would like me to forget my Native American ancestors, among whom were Canonicus, great chief sachem of the Narragansetts; Quadequinna, elder brother and chief counselor to the Massasoit; Ousa Mequin, of the Wampanoag Confederation; Ihyannough, sachem of the Mattakeeset (for whom Hyannis was named) and his son, “John Hyanno,” sachem of the Cummaquid, both of the Nauset Confederation; as well as all the rest of my Native American ancestors who were living on this continent when my Pilgrim ancestors arrived on the Mayflower.

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