• Taylor Eckleberry

‘Stolen Childhoods’ and the inspiration behind it

Melissa Olson (center) accepts a quilt from Helaman Hale (left), MSU Native American Cultural Awareness Club president, and Annette Mennem, Native American Center director.  Olson, co-writer and co-producer of the audio documentary "Stolen Childhoods," spoke on campus last week.  In the documentary, Olson and three other Native women tell the stories of their mothers' adoptions into white families.  The quilt was presented as a thank you for sharing.

Melissa Olson, writer and co-producer of the audio documentary “Stolen Childhoods,” spoke on campus last week about the inspiration and process behind the project.

It is hard to imagine the hardships of displacement, but for many Native American children this was their reality during the adoption era when Native American children were taken from their families and their cultures and adopted into white families.

Olson’s mother was one of those children. Both her mother’s experiences and Olson’s own helped shape the idea for the documentary.

“The project, the audio documentary, really came about as we started to plan and think about who we were and what we wanted to do,” Olson stated. “I had done a lot of research, I knew I wanted to do something that set my mom’s experiences and the stories of these other moms in context.”

Olson brought three other women, whose mothers were also adoptees, onto the project. The women pitched their idea to decision makers at a local radio station in Minnesota, KFAI, and they agreed to help with the documentary. “Stolen Childhoods” took two years to craft and edit before being released.

Many of the stories told by the women and their mothers tell of the lifelong hardships associated with displacement, such as alcoholism and crises of identity. Although the adoption era stole the childhood from these children, there were stories of peace and acceptance. Some of the women were able to meet their birth parents and other members of their family.

After the audio documentary was published, Olson and the other women traveled to different places to share their stories. Through sharing their stories, their goal is to educate people about the hardships that indigenous children had to endure.

“Stolen Childhoods” is available for free on SoundCloud.

#news #documentary #StolenChildhoods

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