Honorific Adoption

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It is not unusual for adults to be adopted as honorary members of a family, clan or tribe. There are two main types.

  • One is the publicity-stunt adoption of politicians, usually western leaders, or other worthies by "native" clans or tribes, done as a photo-opportunity for the politician and for publicity by the tribe.
  • The other type is where an individual is adopted as a mark of respect or reward for his services to or sympathy with a tribe. It recognizes a long-standing bond between the individual and the tribe and could be compared with the award of the freedom of a city. It is not the same as the adoption of captives.
This directory contains three representative examples of honorific adoptions:

  1. Peter John Powell,
  2. Buffalo Child Long Lance and
  3. Julius Meyer
all adopted by Native American tribes.

Other names which I have collected but not provided full entries for include:
  • Batley, Robert Thompson, 1849-1917, New Zealand farmer (adopted by the Ngati Whiti people in recognition of his friendship and help in establishing their ownership of land confiscated by the government)

  • Boone, Daniel, 1732?-1820, American soldier and explorer (adopted by Native Americans in 1778)
  • Coombs, Herbert Cole ("Nugget"), 1906-97, White Australian economist, university chancellor and campaigner for Aboriginal rights and reconciliation (adopted by the Marika family of the Rirratingu clan of northeast Arnhem Land)
  • Schuon, Frithjof, 1907-98, Swiss-French-American philosopher and painter (adopted by the Sioux (family of James Red Cloud) in 1959 and by the Crow (Thomas Yellowtail) about 1963)
  • Weisner, Conrad, American businessman (adopted by the Mohawks in the 18th century)


Adopted as an Adult
To Further Family or Political Alliances
Honorific Adoptions
Trans-Racial, Trans-Tribal, International or Trans-Cultural Adoption or Fostering
Customary or Traditional Adoption, Informal and Extra-Legal Care
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