Legalized Child Abduction

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Legalized Child Abduction Legalized child abductions are the three words that could easily sum up Louis Erdrich’s short story American Horse. Erdrich, who was born in the midst of a brutal attack on her Native American culture, weaves within her tale her passions against the Indian Adoption Project and paints a picture of the views of both the victims and the perpetrators. The story centers on a Native American woman and her son as they hide from the authorities that are attempting to steal her son away from her, and they are in the end successful. This story of Albertine American Horse along with her son Buddy portrays, from a fictional perspective, the historical assault on the rights of Native American’s as instigated by the Indian Adoption Project. The Indian Adoption Project began in the late 1950’s and lasted throughout the 1960’s. It allowed for the removal of Indian children from their homes and families, and to be placed within the non-Native community through adoption, foster care and orphanages simply because “the white man knew better” (Adopting a Native American Child). The Native American community viewed this project as “the most recent in a long line of genocidal policies toward Native communities and cultures” (Herman). Erdrich opens her story by displaying these events from the view of a child hunted, Buddy. The trauma and fear Buddy feels, knowing that at any moment he will be stolen away from his mother, is shown through his nightmare of being found hiding in a washing machine. In addition, it is observed in Buddy’s disturbing sense and mental picture described in the excerpt below: “It was a large thing made of metal with many barbed hooks, points, and drag chains on it, something like a giant potato peeler that rolled out of the sky, scraping clouds down with it and jabbing or crushing everything that lay in its bath on the ground.”
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