Hi Auntie, I was put in foster care when I was two. I just found out that my mother and grandfather are apache, but I’m not sure how much my mother’s percentage is, and I don’t know what tribe!! How do I found out what tribe? He came from TX?!

I believe this is an important question. Finding where you come from and helping establish your identity are all necessary in life. Knowing why and what things are in place to protect your cultural knowledge is important as well.

ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) exists to protect the best interest of Indian Children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children and placement of such children in homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture…

NICWA (National Indian Child Welfare Association) was created for the following stated principles

  • To promote safe, healthy, and culturally strong environments for Native children.
  • To promote the spiritual strength of Native children and a positive cultural identity.
  • To be a strong voice for the needs of Native children and American Indian/Alaska Native child welfare programs nationwide.
  • To advocate for and facilitate the proper implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
  • To promote the provision of effective services to Native children by child welfare workers.

You also have a caseworker who should be able to connect you to invaluable resources and help facilitate some of your cultural connections. Utilizing your caseworker to help engage your tribe or help with your enrollment process is up their alley.

Back to you questions at hand. I would start with your family, Mother and Grandfather, do you have their name? Does your caseworker know if they were enrolled?  Are they able to share? Can they help connect you to resources or people who do? Finding these things out will help identify the tribe in which they come from. Without these things finding the exact tribe even with the geography of Texas will be difficult.

I encourage you to still engage in cultural resources around you. Are you close to your tribe, or a tribe? Finding tribal support to connect yourself to would also be a great start. A lot of people’s growth come from being around their Tribes. Immersing yourself around key tribal keepers and your culture keeps could help your own spiritual growth.

It might be scary, even daunting to try and reach out about your culture. You are your own strongest advocate. Make sure your voice is heard and you are getting the services that are available. These organizations and tools exist to help ensure your connection to your culture.

Sometimes this journey is a long winding road with no end. Don’t let the journey change who you are, you are still a strong indigenous individual. Coming from a strong cultural people.

Best wishes,

Uncle Paige

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Topics: Culture and Language|Identity