Books

My book, Bitterroot: A Memoir of Transracial Adoption,  will be published in Fall of 2018 by the University of Nebraska Press.   Bitterroot weaves my personal experience as an American Indian transracial adoptee with the colonizing history of assimilation policies and programs, including the Indian Adoption Project, which ran from 1958-1967.  The problem was twofold: not only did I not find an easy place to fit in, either within my white communities nor in the American Indian community, I carried so much historical and political baggage with me and I grew tired of being the only one to carry this burden.  My story, intimately told, reveals the devastating and destructive nature of these policies on American Indian people, and more specifically, how they affected my tribe, my family and ultimately myself.  

 

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 I was in my 40s when I began to realize that my questions about whether or not I was legitimately American Indian had nothing to do with having an identity crisis.  As an American Indian transracial adoptee that crisis had more to do with society not being able to easily label and pigeon-hole me.  Thus began my cultural anthropology research into American Indian transracial adoption, and its place as a governmental assimilation policy of the 1960s and early 70s.  I interviewed and surveyed over 70 people, including adoptees, American Indians and Euro-Americans to understand how we classified ourselves and each other, how we placed a value on those classifications and how we, as adoptees, navigated the complicated maze of identity and belonging.  Finally, I explored the ways social memory kept the classifications as the status quo, and where those memories were found: national monuments, media images, marketing and literature.  By placing my research into a context of social theory, I was able to deeply explore the harsh realities of what it means to be transracially adopted into a culture that views the ethnic group from which we were extracted as inferior.

Published 2008 by Edwin Mellen Press, NY