Oh, Father, Where Were Thou?
April 23, 2010 4:19 PM   Subscribe

How can I track down the reservation my father was born on and adopted out of?

- I have not been in contact with my father for over a decade and my attempts to hunt him down have failed; mostly because I don't have the money to pay for the information. (When I know more about what I'm doing, I may be more willing to scrape it up.)

- The only vital statistics I have on him are via my own birth certificate but I recall my step-mother telling me his actual birth date is different than he was raised with. His place of birth listed is actually the state the adoption was completed. All I know is that he's half native and half white, has siblings, and the reservation was in north part of North Dakota, close to the Canadian border.

- I would like, at the end of this quest, to have proof of his (and my) connection to the reservation and the tribe living on it.
posted by _paegan_ to Law & Government (7 answers total)
Is it possible that you can dig up his social security number? It may be on tax forms your mother submitted in the past.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:26 PM on April 23, 2010

Is your father's original birth certificate sealed as a result of the adoption? If so, he may be able to unseal it as a method of establishing membership in a Federally-recognized tribe. It's probably your father's battle to fight, rather than yours. He may or may not want his original birth certificate unsealed.

In any event, all this requires a lawyer who knows something about Indian Law. Here's the information for a legal services agency in North Dakota that provides help to those who live in poverty. They are on a list of legal services organizations with experience in Indian law.

Legal Assistance of North Dakota, Inc.
1025 Third Street North
P.O. Box 1893
Bismarck, North Dakota 58502-1893
Phone: 701-222-2110
Fax: 701-222-2149

Best of luck to you!
posted by ferdydurke at 4:47 PM on April 23, 2010

bottlebrushtree: I DO have access to his social security number... I had VA dependent benefits in college and we used his s.s.n. at that time.

ferdydurke: It may be my father's battle to fight, but I'm trying to establish MY membership in a Federally-recognized tribe so I'm hoping for options. Thanks for the info.
posted by _paegan_ at 5:18 PM on April 23, 2010

Oh, oh,... not to clutter my own post, but I suddenly recall that my father's adoption record and birth certificate was already unsealed; that's how my step-mother got the information she did give me. I wouldn't have thought of it if that aspect hadn't been brought up!
posted by _paegan_ at 5:28 PM on April 23, 2010

If it is any help, the northernmost reservation in North Dakota is the reservation of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa. See #1 on map. Here is another less busy map.
posted by gudrun at 8:17 PM on April 23, 2010

Just saw your follow-ups. Can you get those adoption records through your family? Once you have the records, it would be worth visiting with folks close to the tribes up in North Dakota. Somebody up there certainly knows your Dad's birth family, I'd bet.

You've got a real advantage now that the birth records are unsealed. Get those and you are more than halfway to your goal, I'd bet.
posted by ferdydurke at 8:41 PM on April 23, 2010

You might get lucky with placing ads in papers on or near reservations in that area.

It's possible that there might not have been a birth certificate issued for his original place and date of birth. I don't know if having something signed from a person who knew of the birth would help with tribal membership or not, different tribes have different membership requirements.
posted by yohko at 12:29 PM on April 24, 2010

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