1. Solomon's Sword | Crooked Media
August 23, 2021
This Land
1. Solomon's Sword

In This Episode

ALM – as referred to in court documents – is a Navajo and Cherokee toddler. When he was a baby, a white couple from the suburbs of Dallas wanted to adopt him, but a federal law said they couldn’t. So they sued. 


Show Notes

  • Resources For Survivors (Crooked.com link)
  • Resources For Journalists & Investigators (Crooked.com link)
  • Have a tip? Share it with our reporting team (SecureDrop)
  • Jennifer Brackeen’s Personal Blog (Wayback Machine)
  • An Untold Number Of Indigenous Children Disappeared At U.S. Boarding Schools. Tribal Nations Are Raising The Stakes In Search Of Answers. (The Intercept)
  • My Relatives Went To A Catholic School For Native Children. It Was A Place Of Horrors (The Guardian)
  • Indigenous Children Finally Headed Home (Indian Country Today)
  • Indian Boarding School Investigation Faces Hurdles In Missing Records, Legal Questions (NBC News)
  • U.S. Boarding Schools To Be Investigated (Indian Country Today)







Rebecca Nagle: Just a note before we get started, the stories we’re sharing this season touch on different kinds of trauma. Please take care of yourself while you listen.


Rebecca Nagle: On a warm day in May of 2016, I gassed up my pickup truck and hit the highway. I was driving north towards a military base in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. On the base was an important historical site, or at least what was left of it. The Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Carlisle opened in 1879. On a cold night that fall, 147 Native children got off a train, the youngest ones for six. They were met by military staff who cut their hair, changed their clothes, changed their names to Luther, Joseph or Mary, and led them to the military barracks that were now home. Carlisle was a dangerous place to be a child. Physical and sexual abuse was widespread and well documented. The military gave the schools such little money children didn’t always have medical care or food. During the summers, they were rented out as domestic servants or for farm labor. Carlisle is still an active military base. On that warm day in May, I pulled up to the security checkpoint and could see the group I was meeting standing in a circle. The guard looked at my driver’s license. With a mirror on a little stick, he checked under my car and then waved me through. I walked up to the circle. We stood in a small section of grass between the commissary parking lot and the road. From far away, it looked like the edge of a strip mall, like an afterthought. But up close, you could see that behind a black wrought iron fence lies what’s left of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School today. It’s a cemetery. It was Memorial Day weekend. We were there to decorate the graves of the children who died at Carlisle. We brought tobacco ties, plastic flowers, and little toys, and left them on the headstones of the children who never came home. Unlick Carlisle, most of these so-called schools didn’t mark their graves, and last summer in Canada, people started finding the bodies. The bodies of hundreds and then thousands of children. In response, the US has launched an investigation into how many babies are buried in our soil. For most of the little ones who didn’t survive these horrific places, we still haven’t found their bodies. Any other school that killed its children would not be considered a success but Carlisle was replicated. The Bureau of Indian Affairs opened 26 boarding schools and churches opened hundreds more. Death didn’t get in the way of Carlisle’s mission because the mission wasn’t education, it was genocide. Carlisle was the brainchild of a white man named Richard Henry Pratt. His idea was this: if you took Native children and cut them off from their families, their culture and their tribe, they wouldn’t be Native anymore. And if you did that to enough Native children, there wouldn’t be Native people anymore. By the end of the 1800s, the US wasn’t done acquiring Native land, it had just come up with a new way to do it. Instead of using war, this time it used coercion. In the pressure campaign, Native kids were bargaining chips. In one letter, Pratt wrote “The children would be hostages for the good behavior of their people.” And it worked. While Native children were held hostage in boarding schools, the US seized more land — an area the size of Montana. At the time, the schools weren’t talked about as a land grab or tool of genocide, they were charity. To solicit donations, one Catholic mission wrote that Indian children were in grave danger and good Christians who came to the rescue would not only save those children, but reap their own rewards with God. Pratt even talked about himself as a benevolent man, he was saving those children. Throughout history, the people harming Native Americans have been motivated by two things: greed and charity. The greedy simply want what Native people have, but the charitable believe they know what Native people need better than Native people ourselves. You might think that the greedy and the charitable couldn’t work together, but when you study history, you find that they always do. It’s almost as if they need each other. The greedy have the resources and power to get things done, and the charitable well, the charitable help excuse unspeakable harm.




Rebecca Nagle: You’re listening to This Land, a podcast about the present day struggle for Native rights. From Crooked Media, I’m your host, Rebecca Nagle, [ᎪᎯᏂ ᏓᏆᏙᎠ. ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ.] citizen of Cherokee Nation. This season, we’re following how a string of custody battles over Native children turned into a federal lawsuit, threatening everything from tribal sovereignty to civil rights.


Native elders started decorating the graves at Carlisle in 1973. They’ve gone back every Memorial Day weekend since. At the time, Carlisle had closed but other boarding schools were still open. But by the 1970s, Native Americans were facing another crisis. About a third of Native children had been removed from their homes and tribes, mostly by state child welfare agencies. Before tribes could recover from the boarding school era, another generation was taken. In response, Congress passed a law called the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA for short. ICWA was created to keep Native kids with their families and tribes. The law has been around for decades. But recently a small group of people started saying that ICWA was a bad law, that it shouldn’t exist, and they started a campaign to get rid of it.


[news clip] A decades-old law to stop the separation of American Indian and Alaska Native children has been struck down as unconstitutional.


Rebecca Nagle: The group says that they know what’s best for Native children, and that, contrary to the position of basically every tribe and Native organization, ICWA actually harms Native kids.


[voice clip] The decision in Texas centered on a non-Native couple who sued the state to adopt an American Indian toddler.


Rebecca Nagle: And like so many people who came before, their effort to save Native children just happens to serve another agenda. Last season, I had a story to share with you. This season I have a story to uncover. Stay with us.


[ad break]


Rebecca Nagle: For the past four years, I’ve been following one court case. It’s become a sort of obsession. The case isn’t a murder or even a crime, it’s a lawsuit, a big sprawling federal lawsuit. Like all lawsuits, it has an official name, Brackeen v. Holland, but most people just call it the Brackeens case. The Brackeen case is complicated. On one side, there are foster families and states saying the Indian Child Welfare Act is unconstitutional. And on the other side are tribes and the US federal government defending the law. But the whole thing starts with the story of this one couple in the suburbs of Fort Worth, Texas, Chad and Jennifer Brackeen. Jennifer is a successful anesthesiologist and Chad is a stay at home dad. They are both Christian and they believe people with a lot of money, people like them, are supposed to use that money to serve God to help others. A few years ago, they started looking around for what to do. And after reading books, asking church leaders, and praying, they decided to become foster parents. Brackeen v. Haaland would not exist without Chad and Jennifer Brackeen. They started it and I wanted to know why? How did they go from wanting to help others to wanting to get rid of ICWA? Was it even their idea? The Brackeens declined to speak with us for this podcast. We reached out through their lawyers, we contacted them directly, I attended court hearings. When I was in the area, I even drove to their house thinking maybe I could convince them in person. Jennifer politely declined, so we reached out to people who knew them.


Christina Jones: Jennifer and I grew up going to church camp together, and then we also attended the same college.


Rebecca Nagle: This is Christina Jones.


Christina Jones: She’s just a great person, full of integrity, very driven, high justice. I mean, just character, loyal, dependable, you would trust her.


Rebecca Nagle: By the time the Brackeens started thinking about it, Cory and Christina had been fostering for years. Here’s Cory:


Cory Jones: When they got into the foster care and adoption world, she reached out to Christina. And Christina has been sort of, I think, a helpful resource for her through their journey.


Rebecca Nagle: Cory and Christina used to attend a Church of Christ, like the Brackeens do now. According to Cory, within that faith community, there is a big emphasis on adoption.


Cory Jones: You commonly hear passages like James 127 quoted that pure religion is to care for orphans and widows in their distress. Especially in church cultures, foster care can really be built up as the ultimate expression of faith. And so if you’re not fostering, if you’re not adopting, if you’re not involved somehow, then you’re actually not living the fullest expression of your faith possible. And people may not come out and say it directly like that, but it certainly implied in a lot of circles.


Rebecca Nagle: At the same time, I was trying to get the Brackeens to do an interview, I was just Googling them. And one day I found something that felt big. It was a public blog written by Jennifer Brackeen. In between posts about family reunions and Disney World, Jennifer described that long, complicated journey from becoming a foster parent to launching a federal lawsuit, with a surprising level of detail. So that’s how we’re going to tell one side of this complex story, in Jennifer’s own words read by an actor. Here’s one post from about six months before they got their first placement:


[reading of Jennifer’s blog post] This was all such a sweet idea until we discussed it together and decided this was really what God was calling us to do. Then all of a sudden it was real. The struggles were real, the neglected kids were real, and the long road to the new perfect family became real. After we started telling our families and friends, my fears became real. What in the world are you doing? Everything is perfect, why mess up a good thing?


Rebecca Nagle: To Jennifer, becoming a foster parent was a sacrifice. In the blog, she compared it to going on a mission trip and living without electricity.


[reading of Jennifer’s blog post] It would not be an offering to God if it didn’t cost us something.


Rebecca Nagle: Their first foster placement did not go well. On the blog, Jennifer said the 3-year old boy was difficult and even suffocating. She was overwhelmed by all the therapy appointments, the messes he made in her house, and the strain on her other two boys. After five months, Jennifer and Chad ask child welfare to take the boy back. When they got a call for another placement, Jennifer wrote she thought it would be easier because the second foster child was a baby.


[reading of Jennifer’s blog post] Ironically, Chad didn’t want to take the placement because we were told from day one we would not be adopting him. And I kind of agreed with that, but having had such a rough time through our first placement, I thought a baby for three months would be a nice way to get our feet wet again. So we took the placement.


Rebecca Nagle: Jennifer was right. The baby was so much easier.


[reading of Jennifer’s blog post] Other than a difficult bedtime last night, he’s spoiled us. He’s been easy to love. He’s a precious one. A big part of that is that he’s a baby, not a 3-year old. But I find that much easier to do as an emotional lover.


Rebecca Nagle: In court documents, this child is referred to by his initials A.L.M. We’ll call him Antonio. It’s hard to verify Jennifer’s blog because in Texas, child welfare cases are confidential. It’s one of the things that’s really frustrating about this lawsuit. So much hinges on the details of the underlying custody cases, but those details are locked away in a black box. And as a reporter, all I wanted for months was to open it. But we do know from the blog that the Brackeens knew why they couldn’t adopt Antonio.


[reading of Jennifer’s blog post] His ethnicity and the laws of this land, at one time meant to protect but likely antiquated at this point, will likely prevent us from adopting him. We won’t get our hopes up.


Rebecca Nagle: That law Jennifer mentioned was the Indian Child Welfare Act. Antonio is Native American, his mom is Navajo and his dad is Cherokee. ICWA, as I mentioned before, was created to stop the systemic removal of Native children from their families and tribes. The law is a little complicated because it does more than one thing. I think of it like a set of guardrails. ICWA is there to make sure Native kids get through foster care and adoption safely. First, it requires child welfare agencies to make active efforts to reunify the child with their parents. Second, the law allows tribes to advocate in cases that involve their children, or move the case to tribal court. And lastly, if a child can’t be reunified with their parents, it sets out placement preferences for where that child should go next. The preferences go like this: first are members of the child’s family, then members of their tribe, and then other Native homes—which means the Brackeens should come after all those other options. And that’s the part of the law they don’t like because it puts them last in line. Jennifer tried not to get her hopes up, but then she got attached.


[reading of Jennifer’s blog post] It’s sad, really. The law is going to take him from the only family he knows for over half of his life by the time he goes home. If it’s going to be this way, then now is the time to do it. Now, when he likes to cuddle at night, now when he’s gaining his independence but always stays close— now is the time to bond with him. And we are doing it, but it should be someone else. But he’s stuck in the system, so we wait. We wait and wait and wait. And sometimes this is what foster care is. He’s loved and safe with us until the day he goes home.


Rebecca Nagle: To be clear, the system Jennifer was waiting on here wasn’t ICWA, it was foster care. That’s because Antonio’s parents had a year to work on their case plan. So during that year, Antonio wasn’t available to be adopted by anyone. I talked to a social worker at the agency that licensed the Brackeens. She told me fostering can be a long and tedious process, but it is also very defined. This is Jailynn Smiley from CK Family Services.


Jailynn Smiley: So when we are providing information to families in the early stages of the process, we’re definitely stressing that this is not a traditional adoption experience because we don’t know what’s going to happen with that case or what relatives will come forward. So we can never make a promise that on the day that a child is placed with a family, that they will remain with that family forever.


Rebecca Nagle: In the majority of child welfare cases, the foster child is not adopted by the foster family. At the end of that year, Antonio’s mom and dad lost their parental rights. Two months later, Navajo Nation found a home. A Navajo couple living on the reservation in New Mexico wanted to adopt Antonio. This placement complied with ICWA. That summer, the Brackeens drove to El Paso so Antonio could meet them. According to Navajo Nation, the couple was really excited about the adoption. They even had a baby shower. But two days before the trip, the Brackeens went to court.


[reading of Jennifer’s blog post] We intervened. He has been with us over a year, and he was not yet two. We felt it was in Baby Brother’s best interest to stay right where he was, the place where he knew he belonged. Since he could not speak for himself, we spoke for him.


Rebecca Nagle: Jennifer and Chad Brackeen did not think Antonio should go and live with the family he had only met for a few hours just because they were Navajo. They said the culture he might gain didn’t outweigh the trauma of taking him from their home. But here is what I struggle with: how can the Brackeens weigh the value of Navajo culture when, like most Americans, they don’t know much about it?


Amber Kanazbah Crotty: [speaks in Navajo]


Rebecca Nagle: This is Amber Kanazbah Crotty, a delegate on the Navajo Nation Council.


Amber Kanazbah Crotty: So as I began this conversation and introduced myself, I recognized my family tries. You introduce yourself by clans and then you know how you are instantly related to one another.


Rebecca Nagle: Most child welfare policy in this country is structured around the idea of a nuclear family, as in mom or dad and their kids. But Navajo families, because they are integrated into those clans, are different.


Amber Kanazbah Crotty: Literally, when you see like a tree and the roots that are sprouting on the bottom and how they interconnect and intertwine and are there to support one another, that’s the family structure. So it’s not one or two individuals, it’s just whole system, right? It’s this whole system.


Rebecca Nagle: Navajo Nation is not just a people, it’s a place. A place where the Navajo have lived since the beginning of time.


Amber Kanazbah Crotty: There’s songs and prayers that we sing when we see our mountains, because that is where our umbilical chords are connected to the land, to this place that was placed here for us, specifically for us. And so the land is like our womb.


Rebecca Nagle: But in the 1860s, the US Army cut that umbilical cord. Using starvation and murder, the Army forced Navajo people into concentration camps and then on a 400-mile death march away from their homelands.


Amber Kanazbah Crotty: Not only was a time of great sorrow, but it also then was a time where families were separated and almost like our heart and souls were taken from us.


Rebecca Nagle: Navajo Nation is one of the few tribes in the US that, after removal, was able to negotiate their return until.


Amber Kanazbah Crotty: When the elders and the leaders were able to negotiate Navajos to return back to our homeland, there’s songs and there’s prayers that we sing, like when we pass the Rio Grande River because we recognize those that we lost. So that’s how, in my mind, how I see us being taken and being extremely fortunate to come back home and have the ability to continue to care for our earth and to be here with our mountains, who when we walk amongst them, they know who we are.


Rebecca Nagle: And Councilwoman Crotty wants Navajo children to have that, to live on the land that knows them, to be part of that root structure, and to be firmly planted in who they are.


Amber Kanazbah Crotty: It is important for our children’s spiritual, mental, physical well-being to know who they are, their special purpose in the world, and that this is theirs. This is a space and a place and a people who claim them and who will protect them.


Rebecca Nagle: According to the United Nations, taking the children of an ethnic group is still a form of genocide.


Amber Kanazbah Crotty: A child missing is a sorrow in my heart because I know we cannot continue to heal when we have our children taken away from us. We cannot be whole when we don’t have our babies.


Rebecca Nagle: Both choices—removing a child from a foster home and removing a child from his tribe— are a disruption. And which disruption feels bigger, it’s all about perspective. If you zoom in, placing Antonio with that Navajo family breaks his attachment with the Brackeens, who raised him for a year. And if you zoom out, placing Antonio with the Brackeens . . . something I don’t even have words for. I just think about the land between those sacred mountains where Antonio’s family has lived since the beginning of time.


The importance of identity came up in our conversations with Jennifer’s old friends, Christina and Cory Jones too. It wasn’t something they understood at first. Cory just thought his big house and all the opportunities that came with it gave his foster kids a better life. And one day he said as much to a social worker.


Cory Jones: He dropped his pen, looked me dead in the eye and said: being poor doesn’t make you a bad parent. And I just quit talking and was like, OK. And that, man, that just sort of rattled through my bones for a while. I didn’t understand what is meant by “good for the kids” because I think if a child has opportunities for what would widely be considered as a good school or a safe neighborhood, that that’s good for a kid, but not if the kid doesn’t feel at home there, and not if they don’t feel like their identity is connected to that place.


Rebecca Nagle: Cory kept having moments like that one, where the reality of foster care hit him like a ton of bricks and it changed the way he and his wife Christina saw things. It even changed the way they saw themselves.


Cory Jones: And so, yeah, we’ve done a lot of soul searching and, I guess for lack of a better term, repenting for just how we perceive people in general and especially people who are poor. I mean, if we’re honest and I think especially those of us who come from like white conservative Christian backgrounds, we can certainly come at it with the white savior complex. And we believe we’re not just helping kids, but we’re also saving souls and we’re going to ride in on the white horse and save the day for these children. But I think it’s something that foster parents are going to have to confront as well and check our own hearts and ask why we’re really doing this. Like, are we doing this to make ourselves feel better? Are we doing this because we think this is how we, this is how we finally make it into heaven by doing this really cool, noble thing?


Rebecca Nagle: As the custody battle heated up, the Brackeens got some help from an unusual place. That story, after the break.


[ad break]


Rebecca Nagle: That petition the Brackeens filed to adopt Antonio was denied and Antonio was scheduled to be moved. Here is Jennifer’s blog again read by an actor:


[reading of Jennifer’s blog post] We wanted to appeal. We felt we should have won, not to mention we felt this would do real emotional harm to him. But the cost of the appeal was extraordinarily high.


Rebecca Nagle: It looked like they could lose Antonio, but then something happened. Something big.


[reading of Jennifer’s blog post] Through God moving some very big mountains, we came to find a firm who appealed for us pro bono.


Rebecca Nagle: That pro bono law firm was Gibson Dunn. You may not have heard of Gibson Dunn, but you’ve probably heard of their clients like Chevron, Shell, Walmart and Amazon. Gibson Dunn has a bit of a reputation. Here is how one of their recent opponents put it:


[clip of Paul Paz y Mino] Gibson Dunn has built an entire wing of, like their reputation is dirty work that they do for Chevron and offering it to others.


Rebecca Nagle: If you’re a big corporation, you don’t hire Gibson Dunn to settle your lawsuit. You hire Gibson Dunn to go scorched earth. And they brought that scorched earth approach to a custody battle over a 2-year old. Around the same time the Brackeens were fighting to adopt Antonio in state court, Gibson Dunn helped them file another lawsuit in federal court. Here’s their lawyer:


[clip of Matthew McGill] Thank you, Chief Judge Owen, and may it please the court, Matthew McGill for the individual plaintiffs. My clients opened their hearts and their homes to a child in need and embraced that child as a part of their family. They are here because the Indian Child Welfare Act’s placement preferences turned their lives and their families upside down, solely because the child they took in is an Indian child, and they are not, and cannot be because of their race, Indian families.


Rebecca Nagle: It’s a little tricky because there were two cases happening at the same time. In state court, the Brackeens were fighting for custody, but in federal court they were fighting to strike ICWA down to get rid of the law entirely. That lawsuit, not the custody dispute, is Brackeen v. Haaland. It’s still under appeal, waiting on the steps of the Supreme Court. Antonio’s custody case raises a lot of hard questions, and that Solomon’s parable of who should raise this child, is what every reporter focused on. But the thing I wanted to know was, what the hell is Gibson Dunn doing here? Why is a big corporate law firm involved in a custody dispute? How did the Brackeens find them? According to Jennifer’s blog, once Gibson Dunn was on the case, things started to go their way.


[reading of Jennifer’s blog post] At this point, the potential adoptive couple removed their names from consideration. And who could blame them? They were looking at several months of uncertainty and waiting for a child they had met once for three hours when there were plenty of children in need of a home now. The tribes tried to find another family but were unable, so they agreed to let us adopt.


Rebecca Nagle: The Brackeens won. They adopted Antonio. The blog post about adoption day includes a new family portrait. In the picture, Antonio has a wide smile. He’s definitely a toddler standing tall on two feet, but his cheeks are still fat like a baby. The family is wearing matching baseball shirts and in cursive font running diagonally across Antonio’s chest is his new name, not his new last name, his new first name. The Brackeens changed it. Here’s Councilwoman Crotty:


Amber Kanazbah Crotty: We have learned from our own history, modern history, of those who were taken that inside them, their being not knowing where they originated from, they had a spiritual sense of something was missing. It’s a calling. We’re trying, and when we say prayers and we’re praying in a ceremonial way for our children to return, we pray for when someone is gone from the family, we pray for them, for the spiritual connection that they have because of who and where they’re from, for them to come back.


Rebecca Nagle: The Brackeens case was not the first of its kind. In the last decade, ICWA has been challenged more times than the Affordable Care Act. There is a coordinated effort underway to strike it down. As a reporter, I followed these anti-ICWA cases for years. Why was this decades-old law, a small step towards addressing 200 years of family separation, suddenly the target of these special interests? And who was paying for it and why? I spent years poking around and every time I connected a dot, the web just got bigger. It was too big for one article or even one reporter so we put a team together and we spent a year investigating. We talked to case workers, family members, adoptive couples, background sources—over a hundred people. ICWA opponents told us this case is all about the children.


Naomi: I think we need to get rid of ICWA. I think we do need to have the same laws for white, black, Indian, Chinese kids, no matter what.


Rebecca Nagle: But we found court documents and legal experts that pointed to something else.


Ted Shaw; The position of many of these conservative lawyers, in effect, was that any conscious effort to address racial inequality constitute a so-called reverse discrimination.


Man: It is a direct disadvantage placed on non-Indians.


Sandy White Hawk: Give me a fucking break. I’m sorry. Talk about privilege—we shouldn’t be last because we’re white, just because we’re white.


Rebecca Nagle: We submitted 60 FOIA requests, read over 10,000 page of court documents. Our reporting uncovered details that have never been shared publicly. We followed the money and found some disturbing incentives.


Gary: There are more people looking to adopt than there are children. There’s clearly a shortage and supply and demand problem.


Washburn: Some of these legal theories would put tribal gaming at risk in the same way they put the Indian Child Welfare Act at risk. And it might be too obvious to do it in the gaming context.


Rebecca Nagle: Every time I thought I got to the bottom of it, the bottom just got lower.


Kimberly: If Indian country is not afraid, it should be, because this is the new frontier of trying to take away everything that it means to self-govern, everything that it means to build up an independent nation.


Talia: They called and said, we’ll be dis-establishing your reservation lands. I think everyone was looking at each other like, what the hell just happened?


Gary: My cynical view on this is that this case is a front for a bigger legal challenge mounted by various conservative groups that are upset about all sorts of federal rules and regulations ranging from abortion rights to same-sex marriage, civil rights laws.


Matthew: It’s not about kids. It was never about kids.


Rebecca Nagle: One of the biggest breakthroughs came late in our reporting. After months, we finally pieced together what actually happened in Antonio’s custody case, and it wasn’t at all what I expected. Next time on This Land.


[clip of Rebecca Nagle] The Solicitor General of Texas is filing a motion in this custody case?


[Amy] Yes.


[clip of Rebecca Nagle] What the hell? That’s so bizarre.




Rebecca Nagle: This Land is reported, written and hosted by me, Rebecca Nagle, [speaks Cherokee] citizen of Cherokee Nation. Additional reporting this season from Maddie Stone, Martha Troian, citizen of Lac Seul First Nation, and Amy Westervelt. From Crooked Media, our executive producers are Jon Favreau, Sarah Geismer, Lyra Smith, and Katie Long, with special thanks to Alison Falzetta. From Critical Frequency, our managing producer is Amy Westervelt, our senior producer is Sarah Ventre, and our story editor is Rekha Murthy. Additional editing from Martha Troian and Pauly Denetclaw, citizen of Navajo Nation. Sound design and mixing by Lyra Smith, Mark Bush and Charlotte Landes. Original score composed by Jerod Tate, citizen of Chickasaw Nation. Our outro] song is an honor song for adoptees, written and sung by Jerry Dearly, who is Oglala Lakota. Our fact-checker is Wudan Yan. Our First Amendment attorney is James Wheaton, founder of the First Amendment Project. Podcast art by Keli Gonzales, citizen of Cherokee Nation.  Jennifer Brackeen’s blog was read by voice actor Alissa Sia.


If you’re enjoying the show, please rate review and subscribe. It helps more people find us. And please share it with your friends. If you have a tip or information to share related to our reporting, you can do that securely and anonymously through our secure drop. You can find a link in the show notes. While we were working on this episode, one of the elders who started the annual decorating of graves at Carlisle passed away. Karen Collins was a citizen of the Eastern Shawnee tribe of Oklahoma, served on the Elders Council of the American Indian Society, and was an important leader in the DC urban Native community. She was also incredibly kind to the people, especially the young people, she helped lead. To see pictures of Karen and the annual decorating of graves at Carlisle, please visit our website. On there, you will also find more historical information about the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. We also have a link to Jennifer Brackeen’s blog. This season of This Land touches on different forms of family, childhood and racial trauma. If you feel like you could use support, please check our show notes or website: ThisLandpodcast dot com to find resources for adoptees and survivors of childhood trauma abuse, foster care and boarding schools.


This Land is a trademark of This Land Press, used with permission.