On June 15, 2023, The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States, with a 7-2 vote. Being a “pre-ICWA baby,” born some years before ICWA was established in Congress, this was a very emotional and impactful day for me.
As the picture shows, I didn’t really look like my White family. My face was broader; my hair, eyes, and skin were darker. Though when I was with Caucasian people, I looked Caucasian, and when I was with Native Americans, I looked Native. I always understood that I was “Indian,” but for the longest time, I didn’t know what it meant to be “White-passing.” It was disconcerting, to say the least. Over time, I learned derogatory names to describe that “passing” phenomenon, one of which was an ”Apple,” which meant being “Red” on the outside and “White” on the inside.
Being reared in a White family, I had limited cultural exposure to what it even MEANT to be Native American. The Campbells, a devoted couple eager to expand their modest family of three, adopted me when I was just three months old. Together with my adoptive brother, who is 2.5 years older than I am, we now had a family of four.
The only information I knew about my biological parents was that my father was “unknown,” and my mother was an “American Indian” from Oklahoma, but there was no mention of her “tribe” or the quantum of her “blood.” My ancestors, however, are believed to have come from one of Oklahoma’s Five Civilized Tribes, which include the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole, hence the name of my private practice, Five Tribes Therapy.
Stay tuned for Part 2, of a multi-part blog of the origins of Five Tribes Therapy, and me.