Date(s) - October 26, 2018
5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Reading and Signing of Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption
By Susan Harness
In Bitterroot Susan Harness traces her journey to understand the complexities and struggles of being an American Indian child adopted by a white couple and living in the rural American West. When Harness was fifteen years old, she questioned her adoptive father about her “real” parents. He replied that they had died in a car accident not long after she was born—except they hadn’t, as Harness would learn in a conversation with a social worker a few years later.
Harness’s search for answers revolved around her need to ascertain why she was the target of racist remarks and why she seemed always to be on the outside looking in. New questions followed her through college and into her twenties when she started her own family. Meeting her biological family in her early thirties generated even more questions. In her forties Harness decided to get serious about finding answers when, conducting oral histories, she talked with other transracial adoptees. In her fifties she realized that the concept of “home” she had attributed to the reservation existed only in her imagination.
Making sense of her family, the American Indian history of assimilation, and the very real—but culturally constructed—concept of race helped Harness answer the often puzzling questions of stereotypes, a sense of nonbelonging, the meaning of family, and the importance of forgiveness and self-acceptance. In the process Bitterroot also provides a deep and rich context in which to experience life.
Harness will be reading two 20 minute excerpts from her book followed by a book signing and reception. The event is co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Department of English. This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to Katie.Horton@colostate.edu.
About the Author:
Susan Harness (Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes) is a writer, lecturer, and oral historian, and has been a research associate for the Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research at Colorado State University. Harness received her B.A. in anthropology from the University of Montana, her M.A. in cultural anthropology from Colorado State University in 2006, and her M.A. in creative nonfiction in 2016, also from Colorado State University. She is the author of Mixing Cultural Identities Through Transracial Adoption: Outcomes of the Indian Adoption Project (1958–1967).