The Fox Boy: A Social Worker in the Alaska Bush, 1968 - 1970
In 1968, fresh from college, Gretchen Brinck became the lone child welfare worker serving a remote region the size of Oregon State. The Fox Boy recounts her work in rural Alaska, her encounters with abuse, injustices against Alaska Natives, controversial adoptions, and the tragic disappearance of Gabriel Fox.
Gretchen Brinck offers a searing and heartbreaking account of child abuse and bureaucratic incompetence in post-colonial SW Alaska, 1968-70. Her personal narrative reveals why the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 was desperately needed in the U.S. Alcohol brought by Russians, then the U.S., and the loss of indigenous autonomy, brought misery and chaos to Alaska Native families. Her brilliant and honest memoir reminds us we need to honor the cultural dimensions of a child’s need for identity and happiness.
—Kerry Dean Feldman, Professor Emeritus, Anthropology, University of Alaska Anchorage
In 1968, as the lone child welfare worker in a vast remote region roughly the size of Oregon, Gretchen Brinck shouldered daunting responsibilities. She struggled against entrenched practices that did not consider Native families appropriate for child placement. Ms. Brinck saw the importance of culture, the strengths evident in Yup’ik traditional values and the potential harm of removing Yup'ik children and placing them with faraway white families. The Fox Boy is a must-read for all intending to "help" in child welfare services.
—Joan P Dewey, LCSW, 24 years of service in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Region of Alaska
For the first time ever, in reading The Fox Boy, I am able to heal from the generational trauma that has affected my people for many years. Although it is set in the sixties, we still experience situations like this. This book can bring healing to our people to hear how a “child snatcher” fought so hard for children and who came to serve a population they would come to love.
—Starretta Abdiu-Lucas, foster parent, Asset Supervisor, Public Housing, Yukon-Kuskokwim DeltaMore praise for The Fox Boy
The Fox Boy is a gripping story of one person’s efforts to serve the families, especially the children, in a remote region of Alaska. A young child protection worker faces frustrating barriers as she struggles with some unfeeling administrators, lack of resources, and inhuman regulations before she can help those who need her. I was touched by her love of the people and her persistence in finding ways to overcome those barriers. This account is sensitively written, putting us into the homes of real people and helping us understand their lives.
—Elaine Jordan, author of Mrs. Ogg Played the Harp
Publisher: Sandra Kleven
Cirque Press Author — Gretchen Brinck
Gretchen Brinck, is both writer and social worker. In 1968, fresh from college, she became the lone child welfare worker serving a remote region the size of Oregon State. The Fox Boy recounts her work in rural Alaska, her encounters with abuse, injustices against Alaska Natives, controversial adoptions, and the tragic Gabriel Fox disappearance.