Odds and Ends > Etcetera

Adoption Ceremonies

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Here in Oklahoma, my Cheyene-Arapaho friends have an associate--a friend--named Billy (that's his name, not a pseudonym for the sake of the story). Billy is a full-blooded white guy.

But here's the thing. Billy's grandfather was a missionary to the C&A tribes, but rather than being part of the genocidal colonization type of missionary, he integrated into the tribes. He learned the language fluently, and memorized songs. He became so renowned that later in his life, the tribes would come to him to verify facts or ask questions about older ways.

Billy has kept that tradition. He knows the language, sings the songs, knows the stories (I've seen full-bloods ask him to help remind them how a story goes), he helps in ceremonies, and he knows most of the active families here in the area.

Now, I've never heard Billy try to pass himself off as an Indian. He's comfortable identifying as a white guy. But here's the thing: the traditional C&A's practically insist that he's "one of us." They see Billy as having all the authenticity and belonging as anyone else in their families, and expect to see him at the sundances and sweats. He knows the arrow-keeper and bundle-keeper. Billy is fully culturally-adopted in every sense of the word, yet he doesn't exploit that and start promoting himself as a "holy person who was trained by so-and-so to do ceremonies" and that crap. He just shows up, sings, moves rocks, sets up tipi poles, feeds people, and fits in. Simple as that.

If, for one minute, he started acting like some sort of "chosen one" who was "adopted" and authorized to do ceremonies, he'd probably lose his welcome. But he doesn't do that. He DOES know the ceremonies, and he respects them, and he works for the people, and so in their hearts Billy's one of 'em. Billy may be the best example of "adoption" into a tribe I've ever seen.

There are those people who have come and made a place in our hearts,
we have Jack who came to live among us and became a part of us, adopted by many families,
he never disrespected his place among us. he was welcomed at all our ceremonies, his wife and him cooked for ceremonies
never once did he step out of places, I remember one day jack was standing with this white guy and we asked him jack
who was that white guy you were talking to and he told us who he was and said you know that it was really two white guys standing there
i said Jack i never saw you as the white guy. When he died the tribe went and buried him traditional among us because he was one
of us. You would never hear Jack say he had any rights to our ways. That deep respect we had for him that we took care of his widow and
still do today.
I know that there are good people out there among many races of people but just as we know these good people there are those who
will steal everything we have without looking back so we must always be caution. That is why i ask if you are adopted by a tribal member
do you take care of that family? Are you a part of that family? How many time a year do you visit your family?
Remember family is not the tribe nation.

I have a friend who I admire very much who I guess was *kind of* adopted into one community. He was given a name. He's also a fluent speaker of the community's language and has rights to certain songs. He's not a blood member of the community. He's half non-US Asian country on his father's side and his mother is white and half NDN, but from a different part of the country and he really never had any connection with those people at all, so he doesn't think of himself as part of that community at all.

As a kid, he moved to his adopted community with his mom when she married a member of the community and that guy was the main father figure for my friend, teaching him language and encouraging him to learn about the land and the culture of the land.

Aloha kakou! Greetings to us all!
I think EducatedIndian has invited me to share some of the NAFs we have in the islands, but I am not comfortable stating specific names. But claims of adoption have been used to give a false authentication to a number of NAFs. So, when I saw this thread on adoption, I thought,"Oh, this is a good place to share mana`o."
In Hawaiian culture, we have two forms of adoption:

Hanai - the root word " `ai " indicates feeding. A hanai is generally adopted at a very young age, fed and reared exactly as a hanau (birth child). In fact, part of the hanai ceremony has the hanai parents affirm that they will take full responsibility for the child "from the food that goes into the mouth to the excrement that comes out of the anus."

Ho`okama - the root word "kama," child, is made into a verb. Your ho`okama is generally an adult that you did not rear, but there is such a great bond of affection that you wish this person to be a part of your `ohana, your family. In this case, the adoption is mutual, and the ceremony requires the ho`okama, as well as the makua (parents) and kupuna (elders) to accept all obligations which come with being part of an `ohana.
My husband and I have two ho`okama, and we each have one hanau. So, between us, we have four daughters.

Malama pono,

it is good to hear other belief in making relatives, :D
I believe making relatives is important to continue our families,
that is why it hurt to see people abuse the adoption ceremonies of our people.


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