RE: Lexi, the little girl torn from her family in California after being labeled ‘Indian’ and subjected to a racist law; a law which as of June 8, 2016 – when the BIA published new, stricter rules – has become manifold worse for dissident and even non-Indian families.
Lexi is NOT alone. It is very important you know that. This is happening and has happened to many children across America. Two of our CAICW board members are former ICWA children and have told their story in the hope someone will listen.
This racist law is said to have been enacted to protect children – but we have a long list of testimony from families and former ICWA children stating the contrary.
We strongly believe the real reason for ICWA was never about protecting children – but about the fact that so many tribal members over the decades have taken their families and left the reservation system. According to the last two U.S. censuses – 75% of tribal members DO NOT live in Indian Country. People have been leaving for decades – – many times voluntarily as the incidence of crime and corruption on many reservations has grown.
ICWA, as written, fixes the membership drain – bringing back children and grandchildren of families who had left. It would not have been written to include unenrolled children, or children who have never had connection to Indian Country, if it wasn’t about taking back the children of dissident families. That is why tribal leaders have been so against the “Existing Indian Family Doctrine.” It is all about dissident families who have been deliberately keeping a distance.
Claiming that children have been kidnapped by social services – (while there was some historical truth to this to a certain extent) – has been a talking point meant to pull at the heart strings of America. Far more children have left the reservation system with their parents and extended family than have ever been taken by social services.
And many in our federal govt are helping the tribal leaders do this. The Tribal Justice Dept at the DOJ has made it clear on many occasions that they are not there to help individuals, they are there to support tribal governments. The BIA and the ACF do the same.
It appears the federal government has decided that tribal members themselves are expendable to the larger wishes and demands of tribal leadership. Any child with even a small amount of tribal heritage is less important than children of other heritages. They are deliberately left out of laws that protect other children.
These children apparently exist to be bandied about at the will of strangers within tribal governments – who have been granted the right to claim ownership over any child they choose…
The child’s best interest or feelings in the matter are apparently of no concern to the federal government or tribal leaders, who rake more federal dollars per head.
The new rules published by the BIA on June 8 make it even worse.
Who is factually benefiting from the demand that any child ‘in need of care’ who the tribal government decides to claim should be handed over to them?
The AG for the Cherokee Nation stated in 2012 that they had over 100 attorneys targeting 1500 children across the US – many of whom had less than 25% blood quantum and had never been near the tribe.
Why are they doing this?
Follow the money. Numerous federal agencies dole out funds to tribal governments based on the U.S census counts, tribal enrollment, and what is known as “child counts.”
QUOTE from the Federal Register: May 9, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 90): (Note – this is just ONE example of funding…)
“Title IV-B 1 funding is a per-capita formula based on Tribal population under 21. Tribal allotments are deducted from the State’s total IV-B 1 allotment for that fiscal year.
“Title IV-B 2 funding is a 3% set-aside of the total Title IV-B 2 budget for State and Tribes. The formula is based on a ratio of the number of children (under age 21) in the Tribe to the total number of children in all Tribes with approved plans.
“Why apply? Title IV-B funds are very flexible and may be used to meet the unique child welfare needs of your community. Tribes determine their own priorities in developing goals and strategies.”
…That said… right now – at least 60 tribal governments are considering changing their constitutions to do away with “blood quantum” and go with lineage – so they can grow their numbers as the Cherokee Nation has – claiming children with as little as 1% heritage.
Follow the money.
WHEN we as citizens take our federal government back from those who have been using it as their personal playground and cash machine – can we get some help in ensuring ALL citizens – and children – are able to receive equal protection under the law?
One thing that MUST be done – is to STOP giving tribal leaders money on a ‘per head’ basis. STOP using our children as chattel – and a lot of this problem will go away.
(NOTE: NONE of the treaties promise funds based on number of children. In FACT – Most of the treaties only promised funds for a certain number of years – most often twenty years – and on a depreciating scale, while also providing goods and services during that time to help the reservation develop an economy. There is NO wording that funds will go on as long as the “grass grows.”)
People need to start actually reading the treaties.
FACT: MY children and grandchildren were never a treaty promise to the tribal government.