In Maine, many native children were taken and placed in non-native families up until the 1970s. I believe my late grandmother was one of these children, but I don't know if these records were kept. How can we reconnect when there was so much displacement?
Yes, our history of being colonized has left a dark cloud over our identities and familial ties, but the good news is that there is a large community of folks with similar stories who have got your back.
I applaud you for beginning your journey of discovering more about who you are and where you come from.
Where to start?
- Relatives - This is where I would begin the search. Talk to the person you think has the most information, then go from there. Try talking to whoever you think might have any information for you. You could say something like, “It means a lot to me to know what tribe in Oklahoma I am from. Can you tell me anything about it?” Often what tribe you’re from could be determined by where your grandmother was raised. See if you can determine what region of Maine (NW, SW, E, W) your grandmother came from. That could help narrow down what tribes were in that area.
- Internet - Another place to look is the Internet. There are 4 federally recognized tribes in Maine, so any information can help. Each tribe should have its own website, so start looking for any information that starts to build a story off of what information you can gather from family or friends. You can go to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) for a full list.
- Do some reading – If you’re in Maine, check with a local or university library to help in your search.
Keep it up!
This may be a bit challenging depending on how much information you’re starting out with and how much you’ll be able to gather along the way. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right person. So don’t give up, just keep the conversation going.
Sometimes things have to happen in their own time. If it doesn’t match with your own timeframe, don’t take it personally. Be patient and know things will come together when they’re supposed to, as long as you’re doing your part.
Best of luck!