Native Americans recall era of forced adoptions

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In the decades after World War II hundreds of Native American children in the US were taken from their communities and given to white families through adoption or foster care.

The idea behind the Indian Adoption Project was to help them assimilate into "white culture" and live what authorities viewed to be a safer and happier life.

Denise Altvater, from the Passamaqoddy tribe in Maine, was removed from her family and adopted when she was seven years old.

"All of us, who have been taken away from our homes as children, still as adults, we don't feel like we have a place where we belong," she says.

In 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act was passed to protect children and tribal communities. However, even in 2003 there were more than three times as many Native American children in foster care, per capita, compared to "Euro-American" children, according to the last available study.

Maine's child welfare services and tribes are launching a truth and reconciliation process this week. A group of five commissioners will listen to families and child welfare workers to compile the stories of those affected and help deal with their trauma.

Produced for the BBC by Anna Bressanin; camera by Ilya Shnitser

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