Mixing Cultural Identities Through Transracial Adoption: Outcomes of the Indian Adoption Project (1958-1967)

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This book examines the ethnic boundaries, social hierarchies within the ethnic boundaries and the accumulation, transaction and conversion of social and symbolic capital used to change group membership that allow or prohibit perceptions of belonging and not belonging for American Indian adoptees.


“[This] book draws back the curtain . . . to reveal many themes and emotional legacies of the involuntary adoption policy . .” - Prof. Kate Browne, Colorado State University

“In this rigorously researched and lucidly written book, Susan Harness addresses issues of historical and contemporary importance and scope. Unlike existing psychological and sociological studies which have often approached the subjects of trans-racial adoption as victims of various pathologies, this is a pioneering cultural anthropological study of how American Indian adoptees negotiate complex issues of belonging and exclusion.” - Prof. Fiona Nicoll, University of Queensland

“Harness, an American Indian adoptee herself, has skillfully and diligently recruited adult American Indian adoptees to share their experiences, life histories, and identity struggles in this project. On that merit alone, it is a groundbreaking work that provides space for this group to speak out about the impacts, both positive and negative, of their adoption.” - Prof. Robert Ballard, University of Waterloo

“While this book is one of the few to address the policy specifically, Harness also makes an important contribution to the fields of Native identity. She challenges prevailing stereotypes that pathologize Native transracial adoptees, In this respect, her work echoes that of Renya Ramirez’s important ethnography on urban Native communities, that similarly challenges stereotypes of urban Natives as condemned to a one-way journey toward cultural alienation. Harness’s work is part of a growing number of Native studies’ scholars who are questioning the binary rubric of traditional versus assimilated by offering complicated portrayals of how racialization and acculturation intersect in the lives of Native peoples.” – Prof. Andrea Smith, University of California-Riverside

Table of Contents

Foreword by Dr. Kate Brown
1. Understanding the Past: History and Assimilation in the American West
2. Theoretical Frameworks: Boundaries, Hierarchies and Symbolic Capital
3. Adoption in America: Review of the Literature
4. American Indian Transracial Adoption: Review of the Literature
5. Methodology
6. Analysis of the Data
7. Discussion and Concluding Thoughts

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