Sep 122016
 
Dew on a Rose

Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare Board of Directors Resolution 2016

WHEREAS, the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare was established in 2004 and is the oldest national organization defending the rights of children and families against the overreaching and unconstitutional Indian Child Welfare Act; and

WHEREAS, we, the members of the CAICW Board of Directors, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and

WHEREAS, Congress, working with tribal nations, tribal leadership, and advocates for tribal sovereignty – but with little input from enrollable individuals and families who have rejected the reservation system; enrollable individuals and families who have rejected tribal government jurisdiction; un-enrolled birth parents and extended families of all heritages; abused children without voice within the reservation system; and other stake-holders directly affected by the law – passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978 under the premise of stopping a “wholesale removal of Indian children by public and private agencies, taking 25-35% of all Indian children from their homes, families, and communities;” and

WHEREAS, families, social workers, medical professionals, government officials, law enforcement and abused children have reported to CAICW board members that there are frequently not enough safe homes to place children on many reservations, and when lacking a safe home, some tribal leaders have opted to place children in dangerous homes rather than place them off the reservation; and

WHEREAS, more than 75% of persons with tribal heritage do NOT live in Indian Country according to the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census’, and many tribal members have taken their children and purposefully left Indian Country due to the high incidence of crime and corruption within the reservation system; and

WHEREAS, it is held by CAICW that more children have left the reservation system in the company of their families who had made a personal decision to leave than have been removed by social services; and

WHEREAS, once off the reservation, many families consider themselves dissidents and do not want their children returned to the reservation system or to be under the jurisdiction of what they know to be a corrupt tribal government; and

WHEREAS, a coalition of leading national child welfare organizations has agreed it is in every child’s best interest to be protected from harm and to prevent the unnecessary trauma that occurs when children are removed from their family, culture, and community; and

WHEREAS, tribal leaders have demanded the removal of many children from their families, culture and communities off the reservation, under the premise they are better off on the reservation even if they have never lived there before, have never been part of the tribal community there, and don’t know anyone there; and

WHEREAS, many organizations, state governments, members of Congress, and tens of thousands of AI/AN individuals have opposed ICWA and repudiate the claim it is an essential and effective policy that protects the best interest of AI/AN children; and

WHEREAS, early application and consistent compliance with state laws governing child protection and family unity – without any application of or concern for ICWA – prevents frivolous removals of AI/AN children from their family by tribal governments and promotes stable placements for AI/AN children in loving, permanent homes, connected to the factual family and factual culture in which they have been raised and/or are most comfortable; and

WHEREAS, early application and consistent compliance with state laws governing child protection and family unity allows for the best probability of equal protection for children of every heritage as well as an increased probability that children will be able to remain within the factual family, culture and community the child is most familiar with and/or most comfortable with, whatever form that culture and community that might be; and

WHEREAS, current research shows that family, culture, and community promote resiliency and healthy development in AI/AN youth and in all youth of every heritage; and it is in their best interest to remain within the culture and community they have been raised in and/or feel most comfortable with; and

WHEREAS, AI/AN children continue to be taken from the only homes they know by tribal governments at alarming rates, often against the wishes of the child’s birth family, and due largely to misapplication, ignorance, or willful non-compliance with the mandates of ICWA by many tribal governments, tribal social services, and tribal courts, including § 1903 (2) – the definition of extended family member, which does not mandate tribal heritage; and § 1903 (1)(iv) – where ICWA is not to be used to award custody to one of parent against the other, and most notably, as the base reason for choosing an enrolled parent over an un-enrolled parent; and

WHEREAS, a 16-yr-old girl called CAICW from a Michigan reservation stating she felt trapped and neither the tribal police nor judge would allow her to leave her father’s home and go live with her mother off the reservation; and

WHEREAS, a 12-yr-old girl from a Minnesota reservation stated she has been abused and wants to leave, but feels trapped, and the tribal social services has sided with her care-taker; and

WHEREAS, a mother living on a Washington State reservation told CAICW she feels trapped with her children on the reservation and unable to leave without the tribe’s ICWA social worker taking her children away from her, as had been done to her in the past; and

WHEREAS, a North Dakota mother has stated to CAICW she does not want to go before the tribal judge as she does not believe she will obtain justice; and

WHEREAS, hundreds of individuals and families have contacted CAICW since 2004 with their personal stories concerning what they felt was abuse by tribal government and/or feeling trapped within Indian Country as a result of the ICWA, and these individuals and families have represented multiple backgrounds and heritages from across the nation; and

WHEREAS, the Cherokee Nation Attorney General stated in 2012 they have over 100 attorneys targeting over 1000 children across the nation, and many of these children had little if any factual connection to the Cherokee Nation, other than a distant relative generations past; and

WHEREAS, despite these troubling numbers, calls for action from across the nation, and consistent and shocking reports of widespread abuse and even murder of children who had been moved from their safe and loving homes and placed into dangerous homes under the auspices of ICWA, federal agencies have recently and inexplicably acted to increase ICWA implementation against Indian children and families; and

WHEREAS, appropriate opposition to ICWA has risen in the form of litigation, information campaigns with Congress, and attempts to draw media attention to increasingly tragic events and as well as the racist nature of the ICWA, which, despite claims it is not based on race, targets children of heritage; and

WHEREAS, those in opposition to ICWA are advocating on behalf of Indian children and for the best interest of Indian children – who are many times their very own children from within their very own birth families, extended families and communities – and therefore rightfully and thoroughly refuse counsel or permission from overreaching, self-professed ‘Indian Country experts,’ national Native organizations, or any individual tribe that does not have direct connection and personal knowledge of their children and families or been invited to participate in the custody action; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that CAICW recognizes and firmly supports the full repeal of ICWA and opposes any further federal or State efforts to force ICWA compliance and implementation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that CAICW pledges to work hand-in-hand with every AI/AN family and non-Indian family that presents to CAICW requesting assistance, and all supporters, to vigorously fight ICWA in the courtroom, state house, and Congress to protect AI/AN children and their families from the harmful effects of arrogant and autocratic tribal governments and ICWA; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that this resolution shall be the policy of CAICW until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.

CERTIFICATION. The members of the Board of Directors of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare do hereby adopt the foregoing resolution and direct that this resolution be entered in the record of board work. The foregoing resolution was adopted by the CAICW Board of Directors through electronic vote on this day 5 of September, 2016.

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