We are not witnesses to the events that transpired in this family. We don’t know what went on. But what is clear in this and other audios is that the system set up to protect children at Spirit Lake, as well as at many other reservations, isn’t working.
Do you want to know why abuse continues at Spirit Lake despite everything that has happened to children there, and despite the BIA supposedly overseeing everything now?
It is because our federal government has set up a system that supports and even encourages it.
The Social worker in this audio doesn’t appear to be overly concerned with investigating the allegations from either parent. What she appears to be saying is that if any more 960’s are filed by either parent, the children will be placed in foster care. The criteria she indicates for removing the kids doesn’t appear to be on the merits of one of the currently filed 960’s, or even the merits of whatever a new 960 would be. It would simply be because one more 960 had been filed, making life more difficult for social services.
So – if a parent like Bundy had a genuine issue to be concerned about – they are now in fear of saying so.
We are all very concerned that if what Bundy is saying is true and he is no longer here to protect his kids, the system won’t help them and they could be placed in danger. But even Bundy said the point of publishing the audios goes beyond that. After all, he had no idea when he sent this material that within a few days, he would be gone. He did not know his kids would be at risk within the week. What he did know is that everything is messed up and needs to change.
This is about a good man – Bundy and his courage and passion to try to do something about what he was seeing. It is about his kids and the love he had for them along with his desire that they be safe.
It is also about the apathy and ineffective attitude within the BIA, ACF, Spirit Lake Social Services – and tribal social services on several other reservations. It is about a nation-wide system that routinely looks the other way because it is easier to do that than deal with the rampant abuse and neglect endemic on many reservations.
What has to be understood is:
1. The mother isn’t alone. If Social Services were to take action on some of the things this mother was doing, they would need to take similar action against many other parents. That would be exhausting considering the size of the problem.
2. Some parents don’t think they are doing anything wrong because so many others are doing the same thing – or worse. So some parents and their relatives are sincere when they say the believe a person is a “good” mother, despite certain behavior.
3. Some of the behavior is so common, kids are growing up thinking it is normal on the rez. Even some social workers behave in similar manner with their own children, so they certainly aren’t going to call other parents on the carpet for it. Bundy himself fell into some of that. He didn’t use seat belts the night of the accident. It’s not uncommon on the Rez for people not to use seat belts. Many of those who are criticizing him for it don’t use seat belts either. It is simply one of the things that is so common it is accepted.
4. Some within tribal leadership, supporters of the status quo, and even federal government claim that tribal members have different standards than “European” families and shouldn’t be held to the same familial standards as “white” people. There are some aspects of life where that is true. But not when it comes to abuse or neglect. The kind of behavior Bundy is talking about has been rationalized and determined to be acceptable by too many people on many reservations. Deep down, we all know abuse and neglect is NEVER okay, no matter who is doing it or what the person’s heritage is. When you hear the argument that tribal members can’t be held to “European” standards, realize that some use this as an excuse for abuse that allows it to continue.
5. Realize that many tribal members, just like Bundy, know abuse and neglect when they see it and want it stopped – but are powerless in the face of tribal corruption and the rhetoric of people in orgs like NARF, NICWA and the Casey Foundation. These orgs have spun a yarn and the federal government has bought it. Bundy, Roland Morris, Sr. and many others with no power have attempted to speak and tell the truth, but have been ignored.
6. It is claimed by supporters of the current system that tribal members are allowed a “higher standard” of proof before they can be accused of neglect or abuse. Talk about turning something on it’s head. What are they talking about when they say a “higher” standard? According to our federal government, children of Native American heritage need to be neglected and abused far more than children of any other heritage before they can be protected. That is clearly a LOWER standard.
7. The Indian Child Welfare Act is being protected at all costs – even the cost of children’s lives. Talk about an ironic turn-around. But that is what happens when you put a price on people’s heads; each tribal member amounts to additional federal funding for tribal governments. Think about this: If the BIA and tribal social services were to pursue and investigate every instance of abuse and neglect that they hear about, it would:
a) cost a lot of money.
b) involve finding foster care outside of the reservation, because there are already too few foster homes on the reservation.
c) threaten the credibility of the rhetoric that has been spun.
So instead, neglect and abuse is ignored, the number of incidents is hidden or played down, rhetoric is expounded, and tribal governments, tribal leaders and their cronies continue to receive their money and power.
And kids continue to suffer – and some even die.
Passing the buck:
The judge had said for him in the last audio to go to tribal social services to get the recommendation for supervised visits, while this social worker is telling him he needs to ask the court for what he needs and bring evidence.
He has already said that he gave both the judge and the social services many pictures and documents.
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