Opinion: I’m a Jersey girl born into the Salt Clan. My Navajo identity was taken from me

News November 21, 2022 News
Opinion: I’m a Jersey girl born into the Salt Clan. My Navajo identity was taken from me

From CNN | Opinion by Hilary Tompkins

Hilary C. Tompkins, a member of the Navajo Nation, served as the Solicitor of the US Department of the Interior during the Obama administration. She currently practices law in Washington, DC.

My adoption papers said my mother was “very attractive” and that my “grandmother has some education and is considered to be an intelligent woman.” My father, who was listed as “Plains,” was described as having “hair with a slight tendency to wave.”

These small nuggets of information from my adoption papers were my only connection to my birth family. Only much later in life, as a young adult taking Native American studies at Dartmouth College, did I learn that I also had a legal connection with the Navajo Nation as a citizen of the Tribe.

I’m like many Native Americans who were placed in White families under the Department of the Interior’s Indian Adoption Project in the 1960s and 1970s.

Photo by Mariam Zuhaib / Associated Press

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