A Child of the Indian Race: A Story of Return by Sandy White Hawk

A Child of the Indian Race: A Story of Return

A Child of the Indian Race: A Story of Return

  • Paperback
  • Minnesota Historical Society Press (2022)
  • SKU: 9781681342412
Regular price $18.95

An adoptee reconnects with the Lakota family and culture she was born into--and nurtures a new tradition that helps others to do the same.

In the 1950s, when Sandy White Hawk was a toddler, she was taken from her Lakota family on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Her adoption papers identify her as "a child of the Indian race," and her adoptive mother never let her forget it, telling her she was unwanted and shaming her for being "Indian." White Hawk medicated her traumas with drugs and alcohol. At age twenty-eight, she gained sobriety and reconnected with her birth relatives. As she learned what it means to be Lakota, she also learned that thousands of Native adoptees shared her experience--left to navigate racial and cultural complexities as children, with no way to understand what was happening to them.

Mentored by a respected elder, White Hawk began to work with relatives who also had been separated by adoption and foster care, taken away from their families and communities. Fighting through her feelings of inadequacy, she accepted that she could use her voice to advocate. Ultimately, White Hawk founded the First Nations Repatriation Institute, an organization that addresses the post-adoption issues of Native American individuals, families, and communities. White Hawk lectures and presents widely on the issues around adoption. She exposes the myth that adoption is a path to protecting "unwanted children" from "unfit mothers," offering a child a "better chance at life." Rather, adoption, particularly transracial adoption, is layered in complexities. A Child of the Indian Race is Sandy White Hawk's story, and it is the story of her life work: helping other adoptees and tribal communities to reconcile the enormous harms caused by widespread removals.

"In this profoundly moving memoir, Sandy White Hawk, Sicangu Lakota, speaks eloquently of her life as a young child adopted by a white family. It is an intensely personal story of resilience and perseverance in spite of trauma, racism, and painful truths. At the core of her healing is her tribe's Welcome Home song and ceremony for adoptees. To all Native adoptees, this book is a must read. Welcome home." Denise Lajimodiere

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