March 21, 2019
Combine Frank Waln’s truth, Lyla June’s spirit, Supaman’s energy and you might get close to Lara’s fiercely beautiful voice. She has been forced through the sieve of many names, but she presses on, sings for herself and for many. It is code, she says, in this book’s first pages. She lets the reader decode the mystery.
When Lara lifts John Trudell’s voice she lifts her own. “We’re not taught about our personal relationship to power. We’re not taught about our relationship to the Great Spirit. Recognizing power is what you have to do. When you recognize it, you exercise it. You can’t take back what they have already taken but you can stop the taking of your power, once you recognize it.” She lifts her own voice as she investigates the absence of Indian history, the erasure of Indian lives, the loss of Indian identity in many ways including adoption. Lara lifts mostly directly through her poetry in “Masks” and “I Shook” and “When a trickle… becomes a river.. then a flood” and “I Wasn’t Ready For Her To Die” and most powerfully in “Ghost Shell.” It’s hard to leave the impact of her words behind. She writes, “a good poet would never let a good catastrophe go to waste.” She shares the Hopi prophecy, “Now is the time, we are the ones we have been waiting for.” In all her powerful, hip-hop-like words, her closing statements resonate. In them Lara writes, “All our suffering is mutual. All our healing is mutual. All our thriving is mutual.”
This exquisite little book is actually two books in one – both thoughtful compilations of original poems, prose snapshots, memes, photos and “creative nonfiction,” all beautifully laid out on the page.
Mental Midgets contains a moving tribute to Native American musician, poet, philosopher and activities John Trudell, who died in 2015.
General themes covered in both books are colonization, the survival and resistance of indigenous people and the attitude of hopeful resistance all of us need to survive the barbarity and insanity of advanced industrial capitalism.
There are also thought-provoking quotations from fellow dissidents Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Lev Tolstoy, Chris Hedges, Kurt Vonnegut and Neil Young.
It’s the type of book I envision re-reading repeatedly over coming months and years.
Trace A. DeMeyer’s book One Small Sacrifice: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects is a marvelous read.
Trace narrates her story of growing up in small-town Wisconsin, US, with her younger brother, JW and a very dysfunctional adoptive family, yet the only family she knows. What’s interesting about this book is how Trace takes the reader along with her on her journey. At times I felt I was with Trace, in her house struggling with abuse, listening from the back room as her parents and parish priests drank into the wee hours. I was sitting in the bar where she and her band were performing. I was also with her when she relentlessly searched for her family of birth. I pondered with her as she tried to make sense of her home environment – disturbed, abusive adoptive father, distracted adoptive mother – and a deep desire to know her roots and connect emotionally and physically with her sorely absent parents.
One Small Sacrifice: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects, provides a realistic representation of the pieces of identity that are missing year after year for those separated from their parents and tribe, as well as the laws, societal myths and pressures that require adopted children to play the role of daughter or son to those unrelated to them. There is a subtle message to readers how adopted persons, by being adopted and legally forbidden to know who they are adapt to their surroundings, while unwittingly abetting in the crime of secrecy of their own identity and past.
The reader struggles with Trace as she tries to cope with and overcome her constant questioning of all that is strange about human nature, but knowing instinctively not to blame herself for the perverse actions of others. We then share her appreciation for all the beauty in nature that is so often unnoticed. Trace shows us how to unearth the exquisiteness in birds, snakes, water and trees.
Trace is a writer, a very introspective and musical person; she has determination and a untamed spirit that keeps her moving bit by bit to find her truth, and the truth of her Indian-self and of her people who have suffered en masse through the controlling and untiring hands of the white man.
This book will help those who wonder how an adopted person is connected to an adoptive family, simply by “being there” and how complex it is to amalgamate one’s adoptive identity into a found identity, and how the mind plays tricks on you when paradoxically wishing for, yet accepting the life that is and the life that never was.