Jun 162015
 
Roland in St. Paul speaking to Minn AG Mike Hatch

CAICW was founded in February 2004 by tribal member Roland J. Morris Sr. and his wife, Elizabeth, who had begun speaking out against tribal corruption and the Indian Child Welfare Act in the late 90’s out of concern for the welfare of extended family.

After they created a website talking about how they personally felt, other families began writing to them from across the country, telling them their stories. Some even asked for help.

The Morris’ had no way to help anyone, but couldn’t just ignore the letters they were getting.

So the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare was born. CAICW has been a judicial & educational advocacy across the country since that time, as well as a prayer resource for families and a shoulder to cry on.

The attached documentary concerning Roland’s life aired on Minneapolis public TV in 2006.

Link on You Tube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHZ83zc4wjE

Federal government has literally made the decision to protect tribal sovereignty at all cost – even the cost of our children.

It is well known crime and corruption is rampant on many reservations. It is becoming increasingly apparent that this is due to the protection many receive under declared ‘tribal sovereignty.’

The last two U.S. censuses show that 75% of tribal members do NOT live in Indian Country. Many of our organization’s members state they left due to the crime and corruption.

Despite the many deaths of children and mass exodus from Indian Country, Federal government has looked the other way while tribal leaders claim to speak for everyone.

Please insist our political leaders put children first. Tribal “leaders” do NOT speak for everyone of heritage – nor do they know what is best for every individual child of heritage. Extended family knows better for the children than tribal leaders do.

Giving many of the tribal leaders additional money and control over abused children is NOT the best or only way to help the victims of this corrupt system.

Jun 122015
 
Senator John Hoeven

On June 10, 2015, the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing “Addressing the Need for Victim Services in Indian Country.” We fully agree that victims of assault in Indian Country, as everywhere, need help. We disagree with what appeared to be a pre-agreed decision by the committee to give more money to tribal leaders.

There is the adage that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. But there is also a reality that crime and corruption are never made better by giving those responsible for the crime and corruption more money.

1) One witness stated there is one rape or child sexual abuse reported every other day and another witness stated violence on his reservation is 3 times higher than in the rest of the nation and accounts for 75% of the deaths of Indian children between the ages of 12 and 20.
2) It was admitted that many people in leadership positions contribute to the abuse

Senator Hoeven appeared concerned about getting to the core of the issue, asking what “program for foster children is most effective to address their needs and get them into a safe environment.” Witnesses did not appear able to answer his question, nor other questions concerning success stories.

Senator Heitkamp, on the other hand, stated she is “horrified” to hear these things – (despite having been told about it numerous times by many sources over the last few years). A few minutes later, she admitted the stats are the same as in the 90s when she was AG. She went on to tell everyone that additional funding is the only solution. Despite the widely admitted abuse, she wants to know why these children are going into foster care at a disproportionate number.

The Senate Committee and the BIA has long been aware of documented and rampant sexual abuse of children on many reservations as well as suicide. It is appalling that, in light of well documented reports and the circumstances surrounding them, the BIA is proposing rules that will only increase risk for children, as well as infringe on personal, parental, and privacy rights of families.

The new rules strengthen the Indian Child Welfare Act and literally mandate our children to the custody of tribal leaders in Indian Country, and will not allow the best interest of the children to be even questioned. These rules will apply to all children a tribal government deems eligible, no matter whether the child has every lived on the reservation, has any connection to Indian Country, or has any significant blood quantum. If the tribal government deems the child a member, according to the BIA, that is all that is necessary.

Do the Senators on this committee support those rules? Will they question them in light of this latest hearing? Will they stop these rules from being implemented?

75% of tribal members do NOT live in Indian Country, and many have left due to the crime and corruption. Many, despite the claims of tribal leaders, are not interested in what tribal leaders deem is culturally appropriate and necessary. Federal government has not only looked the other way for years while tribal leaders claim to speak for and have jurisdiction over everyone despite the many deaths of children, but federal government has literally made the decision to protect tribal sovereignty at all costs – even at the cost of our children.

Of special concern is that ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan was NOT asked to testify at this hearing, despite full knowledge by the committee of his reports over the last two years.

Lastly, many victims within Indian Country, knowing full well the level of corruption, do not trust to share their stories and pain with tribal government and tribal social services. We cannot help victims by mandating their source of help come from those whom they feel victimized by.

Please insist our political leaders put children ahead of the wants and demands of tribal leaders. Tribal “leaders” do NOT speak for everyone of heritage.

You can view the hearing at – http://www.indian.senate.gov/hearing/oversight-hearing-addressing-need-victim-services-indian-country (video)

May 282015
 
Roland fishing with Andrew, 1990

This is the response by an executive on the board of more than one Foster Care Association after a tribal member – from a family terribly hurt by ICWA – asked why her association had signed on in support of the unconstitutional, ill-thought and emotionally destructive BIA Rules for ICWA.

This executive’s response does not address the concerns brought to her attention by the tribal member. It reflects the rhetoric pushed by tribal leaders, NICWA, NARF and the Casey Foundation, with little thought or regard for fact and the true needs of individual children. It appears that expediency – making her job and that of others in the industry easier – is much more important than addressing the individual and critical needs of hurting children.

This is the type of rhetoric that needs to be brought to light and shown for what it is – in order for persons in this woman’s position to begin to correct themselves and look at children of heritage as something other than expendable.

Placing children into safe homes – meeting their immediate needs in a timely and nurturing manner – a manner equal to that of children of every other heritage – is never “inappropriate.”

For people in her position to assume that any child with even the smallest amount of tribal heritage “needs” to be under tribal government jurisdiction and control – overlooking the reality of non-tribal relatives, lack of existing relationship with Indian Country, and even strong familial opposition to tribal government’s world-view – is the epitome of racism.

But – this is an example of the type of response commonly received from many who sit in similar positions.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Date: May 28, 2015 at 1:24:16 PM CDT
Subject: NFPA Response
From: Irene Clements

Dear Ms. XXXXXX,
Thank you for contacting the National Foster Parent Association.

The National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) believes that children belong with their birth families (parents or relatives) whenever safely possible and when that is not possible, that the children are served in family foster homes and/or placed into adoption when appropriate. NFPA does not endorse group or congregate care that is not short-term or treatment related.

NFPA signed on to a letter of general suppoprt to proposed regulations/guidelines developed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) because the current ICWA regulations were passed in 1979 and are in desperate need of revision. Regulations that are nearly 40 years old are not current nor do they reflect current child welfare best practice in general. We support that new regulations/guidelines are important and necesary at this point in time.

Part of the problems over the past years hav been created by some states not following current ICWA laws and not doing due diligence on children as they are identified as members of a tribe and need out of home placement. Also, the tribes have historically not had appropriate funding to implement adequate foster care services. At this time, Title IV-E funds are available to assist tribes in this endeavor.

We believe if there is a proper due diliegnce provided by the state prior to a long term placement of tribal children, there will be less disruptions for the child. We hope that the new regulations will stop the inappropriate placement of children until all possible birth or kinship families within the tribe are explored.

Irene Clements
Executive Director, National Foster Parent Association
Public Policy Chair, Texas Foster Family Association
Chair, EveryChild, Inc Board of Directors
Foster Care Consultant

May 282015
 
IMG_20140323_145850478_HDR

By Tony Mauro, The National Law Journal
May 27, 2015

“A husband-wife team from two Washington, D.C., law offices filed suit Wednesday challenging strict new government guidelines for adopting Native American children in the aftermath of a landmark 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

“Lori Alvino McGill, a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, and her husband Matthew McGill, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, filed the case on behalf of the National Council for Adoption and other groups and individuals, including birth parents who placed Indian children with non-Indian adoptive parents…”

Read more: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202727560257/New-Challenge-to-Native-American-Adoption-Rules#ixzz3bRgBBAWm

READ THE LAWSUIT IN PDF HERE –
https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/45a843bd-720a-4588-9c1f-e68acd715a58

May 232015
 
Roland and his newborn, 1990

A friend or relative appears to be struggling with the difficulties of parenting and appears to either not understand the needs of children at varied points in their development, or is overwhelmed with inside or outside stress and has been unable to complete certain tasks.

You want to help, but are uncertain how. Should you tell yourself it is none of your business and look the other way, speak to the parents privately and appear to be a busy-body, or anonymously call CPS and let them be the bad guys?

You need to decide what degree of danger the children are factually in and take steps based on that determination.

Wearing the same clothes for two days in a row is not necessarily child neglect. Some parents might simply be good stewards of limited resources. I once knew a wonderful mom who checked the clothes for soil, and if they were fine, hung them up again for use the next day. This family was cutting down not only on laundry expense, but the wear and tear of good clothing (the lint trap in your dryer is evidence of the wear and tear of frequent washing.) This was simply a lifestyle choice.

In fact, there is nothing wrong with living in what others might call “poverty.” Some of our best years as a family were when we lived extremely low income. In rural Montana, out in the middle of a cornfield, we opted to go without government welfare programs, despite the fact we would have easily qualified. Instead, we obtained goats and chickens (most of which were given to us by friends), taught our kids chores, baked bread from scratch, and raised a garden in glorious view of the Mission Mountains.

This was a lifestyle choice – and it was a healthy choice for our family physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Difficulties only arose when we felt compelled to take in extra children after being called by county social workers in accordance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. My husband’s adult children were struggling with addiction, and someone needed to take the grandchildren.

You see, ICWA had no qualms about our “poverty” status. That was a non-issue. However…our inability to handle that many children – theirs and ours – under the age of 8 was also a non-issue. ICWA workers weren’t at all concerned about whether we were capable and didn’t do any kind of home study or background check prior to placing four children with us. The only concern they had was to find a relative home – no matter what condition the home was in.

Twenty years later, after having raised all the children to adulthood, we belatedly know how the situation could have been handled much better for all concerned.

What I will tell you next is how I wish it had been handled and how I now advise others to handle similar situations.

Know this, first off. The placement of a child by tribal social services is not always in the best interest of the child. We have numerous documented accounts of placements made out of expediency for tribal government and tribal social services with little regard for the factual needs of the child. You do not want to take children out of the frying pan and put them into the fire.

There is financial incentive for a tribal government to take jurisdiction over a child. Tribal governments do get more money per head. Federal dollars are tied to tribal rolls and the U.S. census. The fact that a child in question has never been enrolled previously only increases the incentive, as it means an addition of dollars the tribal entity had not had up to that point. The true purpose of ICWA is to protect tribal sovereignty, not children.

For more explanation of this and what has been factually happening to children, Read: – http://caicw.org/2015/05/21/ive-messed-up-and-someone-is-threatening-to-call-cps/#.VWDZE6jlY6k

Second, if a child has even the smallest – or even a suspected – percentage of heritage. social services and court systems of every jurisdiction across the country are advised to contact a tribal government to take jurisdiction if the tribe so chooses. It is a guideline right now, but could become a permanent rule within the year.

What if the family you are concerned with has had no connection to or interest in being associated with tribal government? What if the family has purposefully decided to distance themselves from the reservation system? According to the BIA guidelines, that is irrelevant. The only matter of concern is whether the tribal government wants the child as a member. If they do, no other entity can stand in the way, including the parents.

With all this in mind, you need to decide whether intervention is necessary for the family you are concerned with, and if so, what kind of intervention.

If you decide to speak to the parents directly and offer personal assistance, the following points could help:

#1) Assure the parents that they are capable of raising their child, but simply need some short term guidance and teaching. Many parents respond better if they feel they are respected and not mocked. Assure them that you love them all and want to help before some stranger calls CPS and causes trouble for them.

#2) Determine to help them bond well and stay bonded to their child. If together you decide the child should be moved to your home or the home of another in order to give respite to the parents, make healthy reunification the primary and foundational goal. You do NOT want to raise their child to adulthood.

#3) Understand your own needs and limitations. I did not do this. I did not understand at the time that I was factually a loner who thrives on alone time. I could deal with my own children, but dealing with children I did not know very well almost broke me.

If you are a loner, see if other family or friends might share the responsibility with you. If, for example, you take actual custody, perhaps others can commit to scheduled and consistent respite care for you.

#4) If at all possible, leave CPS out of this, especially if the child has tribal heritage. You want the parents to be successful as a family – not destroyed. While there are many social workers and systems throughout the country that also want the family to be successful, there is no guarantee this will happen once a tribal government intervenes, and the current BIA guidelines can (and the probable rules will) tie the hands of all well-meaning social services and courts.

I am not afraid to make the last statement. Documentation of dangerous placements by tribal courts abound. See ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan’s whistle blower report as just one example of documented evidence. READ – http://caicw.org/2015/05/10/acf-regional-director-blowing-the-whistle-on-child-abuse/#.VWDZfKjlY6k

#5) The success in helping the family won’t be the result of separating them from their child – but in how patiently and lovingly you can teach the parents to be the best parents they can be….together with how willing and open they are to being taught.

Willingness will have to come from both sides. – they need to be willing to submit to at least weekly hands on teaching in the comfort and care of a child – spending the day with you, if possible – and the more often they do this, the more willing to be taught, the sooner they can resume as an independent family. This doesn’t have to take many weeks. It could end up being just a short time. It will depend on how willing they are to be taught.

#6) Speak the TRUTH – with Love. Yes, the truth can hurt. But outside of the truth, little will change. You will need courage and wisdom to identify the true problem areas and speak about them with gentleness. The parents will need courage and wisdom to accept the truth with humility and deal appropriately with it. God be with you all in the process.

#7) Leave money out of the issue if at all possible. Do not make this about money if you can avoid it. But in your teaching, encourage the parents to take increasing personal financial responsibility for the child’s physical and educational needs.

Take the hit and appear to be a busybody.

The government should be called where children are in danger and there is no other way to protect them.

May 212015
 
Dorothy, Andrew, and Walter, June 1983

– YOU CAN TURN THIS AROUND:

You have a good heart and have always meant well, trying to do what you thought was right and help others where you can, but somewhere along the line, you got caught in things you had been warned about.

These things didn’t seem dangerous initially. It looked fun, everyone else is doing it, and you wanted to be part of what was going on. That’s understandable. You might even have had some deep pains in your heart that you wanted to soothe, hurts you yearned to forget. The things you chose to do helped you forget pain. That’s understandable as well.

So, when some of your elders had warn you to stay away from it, it wasn’t what you wanted to hear. That said, you pushed them away and told yourself they were just old and judgmental.

Even that is understandable. Many of your elders felt the same way when young. But they learned the hard way what can happen, and wanted to spare you from having to learn the same way. Addiction is real – and eventually, it will destroy you and everything you love. Your elders wanted to help you avoid that.

Now you have young children, and someone has threatened to call CPS on you.

You CAN turn this around – but you need to start accepting help right away and listen to the advice of those who really do care and want the best for you and your children.

CPS is not necessarily the people who can or will help. Getting advice from older people is best – grandparents who have finished raising children to adulthood. It’s not just theory for them; they have lived it.

Find more than one older mentor, as not any one person has all the answers. Find mentors that are

• Living clean
• Have been doing so for quite awhile
• Have a strong relationship with God.
• Can see your heart and are willing to gently, patiently teach you in the ways of God.

Humble yourself – listen, trust, and do what they suggest. Do this NOW – TODAY – before someone calls CPS and gets them involved.

.
– WHY YOU DO NOT WANT CPS INVOLVED:

You do NOT want CPS in your life – most particularly if you have any Native American ancestry. Depending on the tribe, you and your child could be put into a situation you would never have imagined. It is not so much that all CPS workers are all bad – it is because of laws forcing them to hand your children over to tribal governments.

You might have been told this is a good thing – that this will protect your rights to your children and keep them in your home longer. This might be true to an extent. But the Indian Child Welfare Act was not written to protect children or parents. It was written to protect tribal governments and tribal sovereignty.

Therefore, you could be helped to keep your child longer – but only if it pleases the tribal government.

We have seen many cases where children have been removed from family members and given to other people because it pleased tribal government to do so. Current BIA guidelines say no one can question the placement decision of a tribal court because questioning a placement undermines the tribal court.

We have seen children
1. Taken from one extended relative and given to another because someone on the council didn’t like the original caretaker.
2. Taken from non-tribal parents and given to enrolled parents despite known drug and physical abuse.
3. Taken from grandparents because the grandparents were non-Indian.
4. Taken from maternal family members and given to paternal family members when a payment was coming out and the paternal family wanted the children’s checks.

The tribal government has complete and final say. NOT YOU.

There is no guarantee things will be done the way you envision – being able to keep your child AND your current lifestyle. Those who do get their way and keep their children despite continued drug, alcohol and even child abuse are frequently related to someone in tribal government and express complete agreement with tribal government’s agenda.

We have seen a 13-yr-old girl left in the home of a non-relative tribal member, with a documented history of sexual abuse, despite the fact that her non-tribal birth father wanted her, had a clean record, was fighting to try to get her back, and numerous reports of the tribal member’s sexual abuse record had been made to tribal and federal officials, including the BIA. To this date, the father has still not been able to get his daughter back.

We have seen two fathers in the Fargo area fight for over a year to get their daughters back from the Cheyenne River reservation. They have been unable to do so, despite court orders from the Fargo court.

But according to the new BIA guidelines, no one can question the placement of a tribal court.

READ about abuse of Native American children under the watchful eye of tribal and federal government – read ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan’s 29-page Whistleblower report – http://caicw.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Thomas-F-Sullivan-WB-April-2015.pdf

.
– WHY THEY ARE ABLE TO DO THIS:

I know it seems unbelievable, right? How could things like this be happening under the eye of federal government?

Our Government is currently protecting tribal sovereignty at all costs. Literally – at all cost.

According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75% of tribal members do not live in Indian Country. Many parents have purposefully taken their children and left Indian Country due to rampant crime and tribal government corruption on many reservations.

With a declining population, tribal governments have been losing money (federal money is tied to U.S. census numbers and tribal rolls). So they have pushed federal government to force children back into the reservation system.

They could not push Congressmen to do this by telling them tribal members are taking their families and leaving. Congress would have recognized it as a freedom and a right. So they have sold the American public on a false narrative – that evil “white” social agencies are “stealing” the children.

FAR more children leave Indian Country in the company of their parents than have ever left through social agencies.

But Congress bought the story and in 1978, passed the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Still – it hasn’t helped. With so much un-auditable money available from federal government, not to mention lucrative casino dollars, crime and tribal corruption has increased, and the numbers of tribal members living on the reservations continued to decline.

After a Supreme Court case in 2013 ruled in favor of the rights of a non-tribal birth mother, tribal governments were enraged. They felt their power threatened. They vowed to “fix” the “loophole” allowing an unwed, non-tribal birth mother to make her own decisions, and said they would find a way to strengthen the ICWA.

The Attorney General for the Cherokee Nation said they would not go through Congress to do it, though. She said that if they did that, other organizations, (such as ours) would try to get their two-cents in. She is right, of course. We would most definitely stand up for the factual rights of children and families. But they have more power and money than we do, so they went to the White House instead to “fix” the “loophole” of parental rights.

On December 3, 2014, U.S Attorney General Eric Holder vowed to give permanent jurisdiction of multi-racial children across the nation to Tribal Governments.

In reference to the Indian Child Welfare Act, he stated,

…“We are partnering with the Departments of the Interior and Health and Human Services to make sure that all the tools available to the federal government are used to promote compliance with this important law.”
And
“… because of the foundation we’ve built – no matter who sits in the Oval Office, or who serves as Attorney General of the United States, America’s renewed and reinforced commitment to upholding these promises will be unwavering and unchangeable; powerful and permanent.”

Can you avoid tribal government taking over jurisdiction of your child once CPS is called? It is very hard.

The new guidelines state:
1. It doesn’t matter if the child lives on or off the reservation, or has EVER been connected to Indian Country.
2. There is no need for a certain blood quantum. Tribal governments have complete say over whether a child is a member and subject to ICWA.
3. Courts do NOT have to entertain “Best Interest” arguments because Congress has already decided that the child’s best interest is under the ICWA. Any other discussion of “best interest” is irrelevant.
4. EVERY child custody case MUST be vetted to see if it is ICWA, because children who are just 1% heritage might not look Indian – so courts are required to question the heritage of EVERY child.
5. If there is any question that a child is Indian – he is to be treated as such until proven otherwise. The best interest of the child in relation to permanency is irrelevant. (How does one explain this to a child – especially when it is found later that this child was not eligible for membership? Why are the child’s rights irrelevant?)
6. No one is to question the placement decision of tribal court, because pointing out problems – for example, that a certain home has a history of child abuse – undermines the authority of tribal court.

(Again, please note Tom Sullivan’s report and the justified reason some placements needed to be questioned, but weren’t. Laurynn Whiteshield, (3 yrs. old) murdered a month after placement under the watchful eye of U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon and the BIA at the Spirit Lake Reservation, is just one of many examples.)

YOU SEE – the ICWA is NOT about parental rights. These rules are clearly written to thwart efforts by parents to protect children from corrupt tribal governments. It is NOT about protecting families. If you had any question before this, read the new BIA guidelines and proposed rules in full on your own. The new rules settle all doubt.

.
– BOTTOM LINE:

Some tribal governments are reticent to admit they don’t have enough safe homes to place children in, and not wanting to place the children off the reservation, they have placed children in questionable and even dangerous homes.
Abuses are rampant on some reservations because the U.S. Government has set up a system that allows extensive abuse to occur unchecked and without repercussion.
It appears much more important to some in federal government and tribal government to protect tribal sovereignty first and foremost.

According to the BIA, the only “best interest” of importance is keeping the child with the tribe. The BIA rules repeat that Congress has “a presumption that ICWA’s placement preferences are in the best interests of Indian children; therefore, an independent analysis of “best interest” would undermine Congress’s findings.”

These BIA rules reiterate a prejudicial assumption that everyone with any tribal heritage has exactly the same feelings, thoughts and needs. It prejudicially assumes it is always in the best interest of a child to be under the jurisdiction of tribal government, even if parents and grandparents have chosen and raised them in a different environment with different worldview.

Many of us – birth parents and grandparents of children who could be affected by these rules, do not want corrupt tribal governments interfering with our families or endangering our children and grandchildren.

Neither Congress nor tribal governments should be mandating political affiliations for our children.

Do not lose your child. Before CPS is called – get help from trusted mentors. Today.

~~~~~~~~~~~~
Addendum:

According to former Montana State legislator, Rick Jore:

“[A Pastor once] asked me “Well Rick, what do we owe the Indians?” My response: “We owe them the same thing we owe everybody…the Truth.”

“It is a disservice to Indian people to avoid the entirety of Truth, which is necessary for discipleship, so as not to offend them or to be labeled “racist.” …To allow anyone to become, and continue to be, dependent upon gov’t is to allow them to wallow in idolatry…worship of the state. “Caesar worship.”

“… thousands of supposed purveyors of Christianity, diminish the message of Total Truth. They are evangelizing people into something besides Biblical Christianity. They teach people that they can be redeemed and then continue to think like humanists. And we wonder why the “churches” have become irrelevant? No discipleship.

…”Whom God loves, He chastens.” (“Truth demands confrontation.” -Francis Schaeffer)

“The Gospel does not begin at the Cross…it begins at Creation. Men cannot understand their need of a Savior if they do not understand how and why they are fallen and separated from God.

“Jesus is “The Truth” in all things and at all times. If not, He is not God. He is Lord and King over politics, economics, business, entertainment, science…everything. To separate Him from any area of life is to deny Who He Is.”

“The Scriptures are the final authority in all things to which they speak. Moreover, they speak to all things.” – Cornelius Van Til ”

Rick
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

May 112015
 
IMG_20150427_171342623

Ms. Rodina Cave and Ms. Elizabeth Appel
Office of Regulatory Affairs & Collaborative Action
Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW, MS 3642
Washington, DC 20240

Re: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking—Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings—RIN 1076-AF25—Federal Register (March 20, 2015)

Dear Ms. Cave and Ms. Appel,

Thank you for allowing our organization, the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, to meet with you on Monday, May 4, 2015, concerning the Notice of Public Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.

Please accept this letter as our official comments in the matter regarding said rulemaking for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.

As I explained in our meeting, my husband, a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, began speaking against the Indian Child Welfare Act and its usurpation of his rights almost twenty years ago. After dozens of families found our website and started writing to us from across the country, telling us of how their children were being hurt by the ICWA, our organization arose.

In April of 2014, our organization commented during the initial discussions concerning ICWA guidelines. I was dismayed to hear the hosts of a Thursday, April 24, 2014 listening session state a belief that tribal leaders are the only real ‘stakeholders’ in the ICWA issue. This infers that children, their parents, and extended family are not ‘stakeholders’ in their own lives. It infers that tribal members and potential tribal members are chattel for tribal leaders, and not the individuals of varied backgrounds, worldviews, heritages and needs that they are.

Our membership and I are ‘stakeholders’ in all decisions concerning ICWA. Our voices, feelings and needs are just as important as those of tribal leaders. Our children deserve a level of protection and services equal to that of non-tribal enrolled children.

Fortunately, I have learned over the last few weeks that several in Congress recognize us as stakeholders, value our children for their individuality, and have been stunned by the tenor of the proposed ICWA guidelines. Several Congressmen, in discussion, have recognized the tyranny of the rules as well as the unconstitutionality.

Tribal members who have rejected tribal jurisdiction, non-member parents of heritage who rejected the reservation system and/or have never lived under it, and hundreds of thousands of non-Indians across the nation are in fact “stakeholders” in this law – whether the federal government recognizes it or not.

Non-Indian stakeholders include non-Indian birth moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins of children adversely affected by the Indian Child Welfare Act. There are hundreds of thousands of them. You cannot say these families are not “stakeholders” if they have to fight a tribal government over rights to their own children and grandchildren.

Families are the center of all cultures. Our communities and children are gifts from the Lord God. The Indian Child Welfare Act has not been protecting our families. It has been harming them.

Federal and tribal governments do not have a right to interfere with our children or mandate political affiliations that parents do not agree with. Over the last twenty years, family upon family have contacted our organization with stories of how they have been hurt by the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA).

Many parents have taken their children and left Indian Country for justified reasons related to tribal government corruption and crime. The BIA has been made aware of documented and rampant sexual abuse of children on many reservations. It is appalling that, in light of these documented reports of rampant abuse and suicides and the circumstances surrounding them, the BIA is proposing rules that will only increase risk for our children, as well as infringe on personal, parental, and privacy rights of families.

Substantive ICWA regulations that provide rules for its implementation in state courts and by state and public agencies will only hurt our children and families more.

The ICWA has been applied in custody cases for almost four decades now. The ICWA has led to the unnecessary break up of families and placement instability for children of varied heritage. Native children and families need agencies and courts that implement ICWA to understand just how much damage this law has done. If the ICWA’s original purpose was truly to protect children, it has not been doing so.

If the BIA has the authority to issue regulations, we are asking you not to use that authority to continue to hurt our families.

We have current cases of extended birth family having to fight tribal governments for their own children. Children have become footballs for tribal leaders seeking revenge, money or other purposes. Reservations currently attacking the rights and decisions of “stakeholder” birth family include Cheyenne River, the Cherokee Nation, and Warm Springs, among others.

Further, the federal government is mandating jurisdiction of children to a political entity many families have no connection to outside of mutual ancestors. It is assumed by some that this law only affects persons who have chosen to be part of that political entity, but it affects many who have chosen not to be – and if these rules go into effect, will interfere with the lives of many times more children and families.

Neither Congress, the BIA, nor tribal governments should be mandating race-based political affiliation for our children. Many tribal members or potential tribal members who are part of our organization made conscience and purposeful decisions to distance themselves from tribal government due to crime and corruption within Indian Country, including crime and corruption by their tribal councils and governments.

Many, many more children have left Indian Country in the custody of their parents than have left in the custody of social services or adoption agencies.

People make various choices in how they live their lives. Many U.S. citizens of Native American heritage have purposefully chosen not to live under the auspices of tribal and federal government – nor in the limited “cultural” box defined by entities such as NICWA, NARF and the Casey Foundation – despite the many attempts by these organizations to close people into that box.

According to the last two U.S. censuses, Seventy-five percent of those considered Native American do not live in Indian Country. Further, multi-heritage families are the norm. The majority of children affected by ICWA have OTHER extended family, roots, traditions, and worldviews – all equally important and acceptable.

Neither Congress, the BIA, nor tribal governments have a right to decide which worldview or ‘culture’ should be primary for our children.

The guidelines and rules claim to clarify existing law for the protection of families – despite marginalizing the rights of birth parents as well the reality of extended non-tribal birth family. There is no acknowledgement that the vast majority of eligible children are multi-racial and 75% of eligible families live outside of Indian Country.

Tribal entities use misleading statistics, such as that “more than 50% of Native kids adopted are placed in non-Native homes” – while failing to mention that many of those children are of primarily non-native heritage and have no trouble living amongst others of their primary heritage.

In the famous case “Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl,” the child in question was 74% Caucasian, 25% Latino and 1% Cherokee Nation. If one believes that children need to be placed in homes with heritages reflecting their primary heritage, then her placement in a Caucasian home was fitting to her primary heritage.

We, on the other hand, are primarily multi-heritage families and do not believe claims that it is vital to match heritages. We are not as concerned with matching ethnicity and heritage as much as we are concerned with matching the child with families and environments they are familiar and comfortable with. Our heritage does not define us. It is merely an interesting data point. All men are created equal, and we yearn to be judged – as wisely noted by Martin Luther King – on the content of our character, not the color of our skin.

Bad enough our federal government has forced the children of some purposefully distanced families of 100% tribal heritage into a political relationship with tribal government, but our federal government has been requiring children of scant heritage to be placed before tribal entities for decisions concerning the most important aspect of their private lives – their home and family – as well.

Tribally appointed decision makers frequently interfere in families despite knowing little more about a child than their percentage of heritage. It is impossible for any entity to know the emotions and needs of a child if they do not have active knowledge of or relationship with that particular child.

But many of the decision makers as well as the BIA do not appear to want to know more about the children they are corralling – as the rules mandate that no “best interest” argument outside of ICWA needs to be entertained. The true aspects of that individual’s life and personality appear irrelevant.

Let us be clear that what tribal governments, NICWA, NARF, NCAI and the Casey Foundation describe as the emotional needs of children with Native American heritage do not reflect my children or the children of our membership. If these entities are unable to accurately describe the needs, thoughts and feelings of our children, they are most certainly unable to speak for them.

Forty years ago, ICWA was enacted under the premise that it would keep children in their families and in the culture and environment to which they were most accustomed. These new BIA rules prove that keeping children in their accustomed environment is irrelevant to ICWA and its supporters.

These rules clearly mandate seeking out children who have had absolutely no evident connection to or need for Indian Country, notifying any potential tribal government of the child’s existence, and giving that tribal government the option to steal that child away from the only home, family, culture and environment the child has ever known.

The Casey Foundation, NICWA, NARF and some tribal governments are now claiming this is necessary due to an unscientific “study” purporting the existence of a condition they call “Split Feather” syndrome. No one articulates clearly what this syndrome derives from, but they don’t appear to be talking about a virus. What appears suggested is either that it is a spiritual issue or that all children of even the slightest heritage have some kind of ‘inherent gene’ that will cause the child to suffer if not connected to tribal government.

If the suggestion is that it is genetic, this is the epitome of racism – the suggestion that persons of a certain heritage are inherently and genetically different from the rest of the human race.

Thankfully, the Human Genome project – a scientific study mapping all human DNA – has put to rest all such incredible notions.

The Genome project proved that no separate classifiable subspecies (race) exists within humans – meaning, there is no genetic ‘racial’ difference between a person of Indian heritage and a person of English heritage.

In other words, we are all brothers and sisters – having come from the same seed. Differences found in individuals are ‘familial,’ i.e.: family related genetic blueprints, not tied to any ‘race’ gene. Eye color, the shape of a cheekbone and texture of hair are all distinct genes, separate from each other and passed down from both parents to their child. European physical traits pass equally with all others.

If they are not suggesting the condition is genetic, the only other source of this “syndrome” they attribute to children who have not had any connection to Indian Country must be spiritual. If this is what ICWA supporters are suggesting is the source of their syndrome, CAICW would be interested in seeing the study supporting the theory.

Federal government appears to cater to tribal government demand for jurisdiction over our children – even when clearly contrary to a child’s well-being – purely for reasons of political expediency. “Stakeholder” arguments dispelled, we would like to know why federal government assumes the right to use our children as chess pieces – political stakes – as they negotiate land and treaty issues with tribal governments. Federal government should be aware that as they continue to “lower the stakes” and interfere with an increasing number of primarily ‘non-tribal’ children, and increasing number of non-tribal taxpayers will be affected.

What is clear is that tribal governments, NICWA, NARF, NCAI and the Casey Foundation all receive large amounts of money in relation to enrolled children. It is no surprise that an interest in funds would affect an appetite for more children.

The proposed ICWA Rules are dangerous to the well-being of our children. They state, in part:

1. It doesn’t matter if the child has never been connected to Indian Country.
– Our response: It does matter. Our children should not be forced into drastically different and frightening home situations. We oppose this mandate over our families.

2. There is no need for a certain blood quantum. Tribal governments have complete say over whether a child is a member and subject to ICWA.
– Our response: Families should have final say concerning membership – not tribal officials. We oppose this unwarranted and unwanted mandate over our families.

3. EVERY child custody case MUST be vetted to see if it is ICWA, because there are so many of scant heritage who have never been near Indian Country and thus aren’t readily apparent. Courts will be required to question the heritage of EVERY child in order for strangers from a tribal government to step in take custody if they choose.
– Our response: We oppose this stealing of children from their beloved homes and families. There seems to be no regard for the emotional destruction this callous and unwarranted intrusion will cause children and their extended families.

4. If there is any question that a child is Indian – he is to be treated as such until proven otherwise.
– How does one explain this to a child – especially when it is found later that this child was not eligible for membership? The best interest of the child in relation to permanency is irrelevant. Why are the child’s rights and feelings irrelevant? – We oppose this mandate over our families.

5. The BIA claims the tribe has a right to interfere in a family even if the child is not being removed from the home.
– We oppose this intrusive mandate over our families.

6. No one is to question the placement decision of tribal court, because pointing out problems – for example, that a certain home has a history of child abuse – undermines the authority of tribal court.
– Our response: We have documentation of many, many children placed in known danger by tribal courts, with the child victim ending up abused, raped, or even murdered. 3-year-old Ahziya Osceola of Florida, whose body was found stuffed in a box just last month, is case in point. – We oppose this mandate over our families and – for the sake of our children – will continue to question potentially dangerous custody placements made by any entity in any jurisdiction – appealing to media as often as necessary.

Some tribal governments are reticent to admit they do not have enough safe homes to place children in, and not wanting to place the children off the reservation, they have placed children in questionable homes. (Based on reports from ACF Regional Director Thomas Sullivan and Tribal police officer LaVern Littlewind)
Abuses are rampant on some reservations because the U.S. Government has set up a system that allows extensive abuse to occur unchecked and without repercussion.
It has become increasingly apparent that to some in federal government – as well some in tribal government – that it is more important to protect tribal sovereignty than it is to protect our children.

In fact – some are choosing to protect tribal sovereignty at the expense of our children.

If it was not obvious to some in the years leading up to this that the ICWA is more about protecting tribal sovereignty than it is about protecting children, than these BIA rules confirm it.

According to the BIA, the only ‘best interest’ of importance is keeping the child with the tribal government. The BIA rules repeat that Congress has:

“a presumption that ICWA’s placement preferences are in the best interests of Indian children; therefore, an independent analysis of “best interest” would undermine Congress’s findings.”

To paraphrase the above quote, the true best interest of our individual children is irrelevant. Don’t even try to argue it.

This flies in the face of everything we know about child psychology and development, let alone what we know about our own 4-year-old children.

These BIA rules reiterate a prejudicial assumption that everyone with any tribal heritage has exactly the same feelings, thoughts and needs. It prejudicially assumes it is always in the best interest of a child to be under the jurisdiction of tribal government, even if parents and grandparents have chosen and raised them in a different environment with different worldview – and even if the child himself/herself has made it clear what he/she needs and prefers.

Speaking as the birth mother and grandmother of enrollable U.S. citizens, I need our Congressmen to understand that these children are not the tribal government’s children.
They are our children.

The following are a list of proposed ICWA changes CAICW would like to see:

1. Children of tribal heritage should be guaranteed protection equal to that of any other child in the United States.

a) Children should never be moved suddenly from a home that is safe, loved, and where they are emotionally, socially and physically comfortable simply because their caregivers are not of a certain heritage. The best interest of the child should be considered first, above the needs of the tribal community.

b) State health and welfare requirements for foster and adoptive children should apply equally to all. If there is proven evidence of emotional and/or physical neglect, the state has an obligation to that child’s welfare and should be held accountable if the child is knowingly or by Social Service neglect left in unsafe conditions. ( – Title 42 U.S.C 1983)

2. Fit parents, no matter their heritage, have the right to choose healthy guardians or adoptive parents for their children without concern for heritage and superseding wishes of tribal government. US Supreme Court decisions upholding family autonomy under 5th and 14th Amendment due process and equal protection include Meyer vs. Nebraska, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, and Brown v. Board of Education.

3. The “Existing Indian Family Doctrine” must be available to families and children that choose not to live within the reservation system.

a) In re Santos Y, the court found “Application of the ICWA to a child whose only connection with an Indian tribe is a one-quarter genetic contribution does not serve the purpose for which the ICWA was enacted…” Santos y quoted from Bridget R.’s due process and equal protection analysis at length. Santos also states, Congress considered amending the ICWA to preclude application of the “existing Indian family doctrine” but did not do so.”

b) In Bridget R., the court stated, “if the Act applies to children whose families have no significant relationship with Indian tribal culture, such application runs afoul of the Constitution in three ways:

– it impermissibly intrudes upon a power ordinarily reserved to the states,
– it improperly interferes with Indian children’s fundamental due process rights respecting family relationships; and
– on the sole basis of race, it deprives them of equal opportunities to be adopted that are available to non-Indian children and exposes them…to having an existing non-Indian family torn apart through an after the fact assertion of tribal and Indian-parent rights under ICWA”.

c) In re Alexandria Y., the court held that “recognition of the existing Indian family doctrine [was] necessary to avoid serious constitutional flaws in the ICWA” and held that the trial court had acted properly in refusing to apply ICWA “because neither [child] nor [mother] had any significant social, cultural, or political relationship with Indian life; thus, there was no existing Indian family to preserve.”

Question: If current ICWA case law includes many situations where existing Family Doctrine has already been ignored, then have serious constitutional flaws already occurred?

4. United States citizens, no matter their heritage, have a right to fair trials.

a) When summoned to a tribal court, parents and legal guardians, whether enrolled or not, have to be told their rights, including 25 USC Chapter 21 § 1911. (b) “Transfer of proceedings [to tribal jurisdiction] …in the absence of good cause to the contrary, [and] objection by either parent…”

b) The rights of non-member parents must be upheld: for example: 25 USC Chapter 21 § 1903. Definitions “Permanent Placement” (1) (iv) “shall not include a placement based … upon an award, in a divorce proceeding, of custody to one of the parents.

c) Non-members have to be able to serve county and state summons to tribal members within reservation boundaries and must have access to appeal.

d) Under the principles of comity: All Tribes and States shall accord full faith and credit to a child custody order issued by the Tribe or State of initial jurisdiction consistent within the UCCJA – which enforces a child custody determination by a court of another State – unless the order has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so under Article 2 of the UCCJA.

5. Adoptive Parents need well-defined protections. These citizens among us have been willing to set aside personal comforts and take in society’s neediest children. Adoptive parents take many risks in doing this, the least of which is finances. People build their lives around family. Adoptive parents risk not only their own hearts, but also the hearts of any birth children they have as well as the hearts of their extended family. These parents have an investment in the families they are building and have a right to know that they can put their names on the adoption paper with confidence. If we, as a society, continue to abuse these parents, we will find fewer people willing to take the risk of adoption and more and more children will languish in foster homes.

6. A “Qualified expert witness” should be someone who is able to advocate for the well-being of the child, first and foremost: a professional person who has substantial education and experience in the area of the professional person’s specialty and significant knowledge of and experience with the child, his family, and the culture, family structure, and child-rearing practices the child has been raised in.

a) There is nothing a tribal social worker inherently knows about a child based on the child’s ethnic heritage. This includes children of 100% heritage who have been raised totally apart from the tribal community. A qualified expert witness needs to be someone who has not only met the child, but has worked with the child, is familiar with and understands the environment the child has thus far been raised in, and has professional experience with some aspect of the child’s emotional, physical or academic health. This is far more important than understanding the customs of a particular tribe.

7. Finally, if tribal membership is a political rather than racial designation, (as argued) than is it constitutional for the definition of an Indian child to include “eligible” children, rather than “enrolled” children?

a) 25 USC Chapter 21 § 1903. Definitions: (4) ”Indian child” means any unmarried person who is under age eighteen and is either

i) member of an Indian tribe or
ii) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe;

However;

1. Tribal governments have been given the right as sovereign entities to determine their own membership at the expense of the rights of any other heritage or culture as well as at the expense of individual rights.

2. ICWA does not give Indian children or their legal guardians the choice whether to accept political membership in the tribe. Legal guardians have the right to make that choice for their children, not governments.

3. Non-member relatives are told these children are now members of an entity with which the family has had no past political, social or cultural relationship.

4. So is it then the blood relationship that determines membership? Bridget R., stated, “If tribal determinations are indeed conclusive for purposes of applying ICWA, and if, … a particular tribe recognizes as members all persons who are biologically descended from historic tribal members, then children who are related by blood to such a tribe may be claimed by the tribe, and thus made subject to the provisions of ICWA, solely on the basis of their biological heritage. Only children who are racially Indians face this possibility.” Isn’t that then an unconstitutional race-based classification?

5. Keeping children, no matter their blood quantum, in what the State would normally determine to be an unfit home on the basis of tribal government claims that European values don’t apply to and are not needed by children of tribal heritage is racist in nature and a denial of the child’s personal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

6. Even with significant relationship with Indian tribal culture, forced application of ICWA conflicts with the Constitution in three ways:
(1) It impermissibly intrudes upon a power ordinarily reserved to the states,
(2) It improperly interferes with Indian children’s fundamental due process rights; and
(3) On the sole basis of race, it deprives them of equal opportunities to be adopted that are available to non-Indian children.

We are aware that certain tribal entities and their supporters – those who are in the business of jurisdiction over our children – are adamant that these rules be enforced as written. We realize it would be messy and difficult to defy the demands of tribal governments. We understand that many will not want to do that.

Please understand that we will never stop fighting to protect our children from those who wish to exploit them for profit. Our children are more important than tribal sovereignty.

Thank you for listening to all the stakeholders.

Elizabeth Sharon (Lisa) Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)
PO Box 460
Hillsboro, ND 58045

Attached:

Tom Sullivan’s 29 Page Whistleblower report (2015, April)

References:

ACF. (2007). Tribal Child Counts. Washington DC: Child Care Bureau, Office of Family Assistance.
Associated Press. (2014, April 28). 42 people killed in homicidal violence in 2013 on country’s largest Indian reservation. Retrieved from: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/04/28/42-people-killed-in-homicidal-violence-in-2013-on-country-largest-indian/
Belford, D. (2012). Life with James [Video].
Benedict, J. (2000). Without Reservation. New York: Harper.
CAICW Testimony: CHILD PROTECTION AND THE JUSTICE SYSTEM on the Spirit Lake Reservation: Oversight Hearing before the Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs; COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES of the House of Representatives, 113th Congress, (2014, June 24)
CAICW Request. Letter to Senator Tom Coburn, urging Inspector General Investigation, (2014, July 31)
Domestic and Sexual Violence outside the Reservations in North Dakota get lots of attention from the ACF. (September 2013) Email Correspondence between ACF Officials
In re SANTOS Y., B144822 (Cal. App. 4th, Second Dist. Div. Two July 20, 2001).
Jackson, J. C. (1999, February 12). Director of Government Affairs. (U. C. Rights, Interviewer) Retrieved from Jack C. Jackson, Jr., Director of Governmental Affairs, National Congress of American Indians, Statement on the importance of an accurate census to American Indians and Alaska Natives, before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Washington, D.C.,
Karnowski, S. (2013). Feds Say Native Mob Gang Dented but Work Remains. Minneapolis: ABC News.
Kershaw, S. (2006, February 19), Tribal Underworld: Drug Traffickers Find Haven in Shadows of Indian Country, New York Times
Lawrence, William (Bill). (2007). Publisher. Native American Press/Ojibwe News.
LittleWind, LaVern ‘Bundy’. (2014) Audio Tapes between tribal police officer Bundy Littlewind and Spirit Lake Social Services. Retrieved at http://caicw.org/2014/09/25/five-hours-later-he-died-in-a-car-wreck/#.VUo2LSFVjBE
Morris, E. (2007). VIEWPOINT: Law could tear children from a ‘tribe’ they love . Grand Forks: Grand Forks Herald.
Morris, E. (2013) To Better Protect the Children
Morris, Roland John. Testimony before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (1998) – Concerning tribal corruption and jurisdiction
Morrison, S.K., (1998), Testimony before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on tribal sovereignty and tribal courts, Choctaw Attorney; Wilburton, Oklahoma;
Necessary Corrective Action. (2012, February) BIA Regional Social Worker assessment of changes needed to ensure protection of children at Spirit Lake – sent to BIA Superintendent
Omdahl, L. (2013, July). Commentary by Former ND Lt. Governor. Grand Forks: Grand Forks Herald.
Oversight Hearing. (2014). CHILD PROTECTION AND THE JUSTICE SYSTEM ON THE SPIRIT LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION. Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs; Committee on Natural Resources (p. June 24). Washington DC: HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 113th Congress.
Quilt. (2004). Child Counts. Warm Spring: NCCIC
Rowley, Sean. (2015, April). ICWA Discussed at Symposium Seminar. Tahlequah Daily Press
Smart, P. M. (2004). In Harm’s Way. The Salt Lake Tribune.
Sullivan, Thomas F., R. A. 12th Mandated Report concerning Suspected Child Abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation. (2013, February) To ACF Superiors in Washington DC
Sullivan, Thomas F., R. A. 13th Mandated Report concerning Suspected Child Abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation. (2013, April) To ACF Superiors in Washington DC
Sullivan, Thomas F., R. A. Attempt to go to Spirit Lake, (2013, August) – email correspondence between Tom Sullivan and his DC Superiors
Sullivan, Thomas, R. A. (2014, April 4). Sullivan rebukes his DC Superiors for their negligence of children on Indian reservations. To ACF Superiors in DC. Retrieved from: http://caicw.org/2014/04/04/tom-sullivan-rebukes-his-dc-superiors-for-their-negligence/
Sullivan, Thomas F., R. A. (2014, May 6). Criminal Corruption continues at Spirit Lake. To DC Superiors with the Administration of Children & Families. Retrieved from: http://caicw.org/2014/05/06/criminal-corruption-continues-at-spirit-lake/#.U9cSg7FsLFQ
Sullivan, Tom, R. A. (2014, June 10). Continual Rape of 13-yr-old Ignored. To Superiors at the Administration of Children and Families. Retrieved from:http://caicw.org/2014/06/10/tom-sullivan-continual-rape-of-13-yr-old-ignored/#.U9b7y7FsLFQ
Sullivan, Thomas F., R. A. Response to Chairman McDonald’s Hearing Testimony (2014, June 25) by Thomas Sullivan, Regional Director of the Administration for Children and Families
Sullivan, Thomas F., R. A. Response to ACF Superior Ms. McMullen, (2014, July 1) – by Thomas Sullivan, Regional Director of the Administration for Children and Families
Tevlin, J. (2013, February 12). Tevlin: Sierra shares lessons on Indian adoption. StarTribune.com. Retrieved from: http://www.startribune.com/local/190953261.html?refer=y
Tilus, Michael R., P. M. (2012, March 3). Letter of Grave Concern: Spirit Lake Tribal Social Services Grievances. To Ms. Sue Settle, Chief, Dept. of Human Services, BIA Retrieved from: http://caicw.org/wp-content/uploads/Letter-of-Grave-Concern-Dr.-Tilus-March-3-2012.pdf

NPR ICWA Series Discredited: SD: Indian Foster Care 1: NPR Investigative Storytelling Gone Awry – National Public Radio Ombudsman – August 09, 2013

My finding is that the series was deeply flawed and should not have been aired as it was. Also: S. Dakota Indian Foster Care 2: Abuse In Taking Children From Families?: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2013/08/09/186943868/s-dakota-indian-foster-care-2-abuse-in-taking-children-from-families?ft=1&f= Also: S. Dakota Indian Foster Care 3: Filthy Lucre: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2013/08/09/186943952/s-dakota-indian-foster-care-3-filthy-lucre Also: Indian Foster Care 4: The Mystery Of A Missing $100 Million: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2013/08/09/209282064/s-dakota-indian-foster-care-4-the-mystery-of-a-missing-100-million Also: S. Dakota Indian Foster Care 5: Who Is To Blame For Native Children In White Homes?: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2013/08/09/209528755/s-dakota-indian-foster-care-5-who-is-to-blame-for-native-children-in-white-homes Also: S. Dakota Indian Foster Care 6: Where It All Went Wrong – The Framing: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2013/08/09/203038778/s-dakota-india
Full NPR Ombudsman Report: http://www.scribd.com/doc/159252168/Full-NPR-Ombudsman-Report-South-Dakota-Foster-Care-Investigative-Storytelling-Gone-Awry
http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2013/08/09/186943929/s-dakota-indian-foster-care-1-investigative-storytelling-gone-awry

May 102015
 
Jose Rodrigues 2005 - a Victim of the Indian Child Welfare Act

The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued new ICWA guidelines on February 25. These guidelines, effective immediately, are not binding. But the proposed rules, matching the guidelines and currently in comment period, will be. Washington DC

These rules negating the rights of children have been proposed despite well-documented evidence of wide-spread physical and sexual abuse in Indian Country.

The most recent example: Last month, ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan (Administration of Children and Families) released a 29-page Whistle Blower report detailing consistent and rampant physical and sexual abuse of children in Indian Country.

The ACF and BIA are both very aware of Mr. Sullivan’s report and other reports. The BIA does know physical and sexual abuse is rampant in many corners of Indian Country.

Hard enough to understand why our federal government will be enforcing rules that so deeply infringe on the personal, parental, and privacy rights of citizens of every age and heritage – it is impossible to understand why the BIA has the authority and gall to write rules which so obviously increase risk for abuse of displaced children.

READ the 29 page Whistle Blower report on rampant child abuse written by Regional Director Tom Sullivan of the Administration of Children and Families: Thomas F Sullivan WB April 2015

Reading the BIA’s proposed rules alongside Mr. Sullivan’s detailed report should clear up any question as to why these rules are brutally dangerous to children of every heritage in every state of this country. The rules state that it does not matter if the child has ever lived in Indian Country nor does it matter if the child has any significant heritage. All that matters is whether the tribal government wants to claim the child as a member.

Reading the rules will also clear up any question as to who the ICWA is factually intended to protect. They are not written to protect the rights and safety of children. They are written to protect the claimed rights of tribal leaders and to protect tribal sovereignty.

The proposed new BIA rules for ICWA can read here: http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc1-029447.pdf – (Beginning in middle of the page, right – “Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.”) The Public Comment period ends May 19.

Finally – we are questioning why the Administration for Children and Families under HHS has ignored Mr. Sullivan’s reports, and why they have recently suspended him for supposedly not filling out a leave of Absence form correctly.

You have about ONE WEEK LEFT to make comments CONCERNING the new Rules for ICWA – the BIA’s “Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.”
Comments must be received on or before May 19, 2015. You can submit comments via e-mail to [email protected]; include “ICWA” in the subject line of the message.
You may also mail comments or go through the federal rule making portal at – http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=BIA-2015-0001-0001

OUR SUMMARY: http://caicw.org/2015/04/12/educating-congress-on-the-new-bia-regs-concerning-our-children/#.VU8OWiFVjBE

Friends, we need more of your friends and family to understand what the BIA is doing, as well we need you to call your Congressmen and Senators and TELL them in you own words how these rules could – or do – affect you, your family, your friends, your neighbors… And simply what an unconstitutional affront this is to all Americans of every single heritage – as, (contrary to what its authors portray)… It DOES affect families of every heritage.

SHARE with friends and family – and CALL your Congressmen and Senators! Educate them!!

1) READ the BIA ICWA Rules – http://www.bia.gov/…/…/public/documents/text/idc1-029447.pdf (Beginning in middle of the page, right – “Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.”)
2) CALL your State Senators and Congressman! (If you need their phone numbers, please ask us – write ‘[email protected]’ )
3) PLEASE COMMENT ON THE NEW FEDERAL RULES CONCERNING ICWA… Comments must be received on or before May 19, 2015. You can submit comments via e-mail to [email protected]; include “ICWA” in the subject line of the message. You may also mail comments or go through the federal rule making portal at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=BIA-2015-0001-0001


There is also a public teleconference concerning these rules to be held on Tuesday, May 12, from 1 – 4 p.m. Eastern Time. The number to call is 888-730-9138, the Passcode is INTERIOR –

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Apr 122015
 
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Visited over 80 offices in last few days concerning how the BIA is hurting not just our kids, but kids of EVERY heritage across the U.S.

NONE of the offices I visited were aware of the new BIA rules, and many of the aides said they weren’t even clear on the ICWA. (You need to be calling your state delegation more, people!!)

However – when told what the new rules say and do, most (ON BOTH SIDES THE AISLE) were shocked.

(Most. I will tell you of the one stomach turning visit at the bottom here.)

Factually…these are NOT rules Congress intended, nor rules most Americans would agree with.

Friends, we need more of your friends and family to understand what the BIA did six weeks ago, as well we need you to call your Congressmen and Senators and TELL them in you own words how these rules could – or do – affect you, your family, your friends, your neighbors… And simply what an unconstitutional affront this is to all Americans of every single heritage – as, (contrary to what its authors portray)… It DOES affect families of every heritage.

1) READ the BIA ICWA Rules – http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc1-029447.pdf (Beginning in middle of the page, right – “Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.”)

2) CALL your State Senators and Congressman! (If you need their phone numbers, please ask us – write ‘[email protected]’ )

3) PLEASE COMMENT ON THE NEW FEDERAL RULES CONCERNING ICWA… Comments must be received on or before May 19, 2015. You can submit comments via e-mail to [email protected]; include “ICWA” in the subject line of the message. You may also mail comments or go through the federal rule making portal at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=BIA-2015-0001-0001

According to the new rules, effective immediately

– EVERY child who is presented to ANY court for adoption or foster care MUST be vetted for even the smallest connection to tribal heritage – and the tribal government MUST be notified and given the option to interfere. This is because families of minute heritage have been getting away with shutting out tribal govt, and tribal governments want that to stop. They want the money our children bring.
NOTE: It is proven that when ICWA is raised in a custody issue, a child’s permanency is delayed. It can be held up for months, sometimes years. Bad enough this has already been happening to a number of children, no matter their true needs and desires. Now the BIA has mandated a rule that could delay permanency for EVERY child – of EVERY heritage.

For the children a tribal govt decides it wants to claim –
It doesn’t matter if the child and his family have never lived in Indian Country.
It doesn’t matter the percentage of blood quantum
NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO ARGUE “BEST INTEREST” OF THE CHILD. The BIA claims that Congress has already decided your child’s best interest is ICWA preferences. No other ‘best interest’ is relevant.

FURTHER –
NO ONE is allowed to even question a placement chosen by a tribal court – ‘as questioning it undermines the tribal court.’

…In other words – these rules PROVE what we’ve stated all along; that ICWA IS NOT ABOUT WHAT IS GOOD FOR OUR CHILDREN.

‘Factual good’ for our children is irrelevant.

This issue – the ICWA – is and always has been about what is good for tribal government. It is – and has always been – about power and money.

Remember – federal funds to tribal governments are tied to the US census and tribal rolls. In other words, tribal governments get more money per head.

This is why tribal governments with thriving casinos are not the ones we hear targeting children as much. Reservations such as the one in Shakopee prefer to keep their rolls small. And…people allowed to be members are usually quite happy about it.

However, other tribal governments appear to make an industry out of targeting other people’s children. In 2012, an attorney for the Cherokee Nation stated they have about 125 attorneys targeting over 1500 children across the United States. Many of those children had very minimal heritage and had never been connected to Indian Country.

The ICWA – and these rules, in stating that no other best interest matters – fly in the face of all that is known about child development and child psychology… not to mention what we ourselves know to be true about our own children and grandchildren.

These rules confirm that the true needs of our children don’t matter.

Remember, even our families of 100% heritage – or who HAVE lived on a reservation – have a right to choose their own political affiliation for their families. ALL Americans should have a right to say NO to tribal government interference in their families.

75% of tribal members do NOT live in Indian Country – according to the last two US census’. Many – including my husband and many of our org members – have left due to tribal corruption and crime.

Congress and tribal governments have NO right to mandate political affiliations – and most especially NOT mandate political affiliations for our children.

NO treaty gives them that right. Ask them what treaty – and the wording – that allows it.
It has also already been shown that the Indian Commerce Clause doesn’t allow it.

Lastly – the only LOUSY meeting I have had yet, where common sense simply had no welcome – was in Representative Doug LaMalfa’s office (R-CA) with staff member Kevin Eastman – who did not seem at all interested or concerned about the reality of what the ICWA and these rules do to our children and families. He blamed the courts for the way they interpret the law. He said, essentially, that it isn’t Congress’ problem. This, while courts cite Congress’s intent when they make their rulings. And, this, while the BIA is stating ‘best interest’ doesn’t matter because Congress says it doesn’t matter.

Everyone points the blame at the other – is no one willing to take responsibility and fix it?

Congress needs to fix it. NOW. No more games or pushing off the blame.

SHARE with friends and family – and CALL your Congressmen and Senators! Educate them!!

1) READ the BIA ICWA Rules – http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc1-029447.pdf (Beginning in middle of the page, right – “Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.”)

2) CALL your State Senators and Congressman! (If you need their phone numbers, please ask us – write ‘[email protected]’ )

3) PLEASE COMMENT ON THE NEW FEDERAL RULES CONCERNING ICWA… Comments must be received on or before May 19, 2015. You can submit comments via e-mail to [email protected]; include “ICWA” in the subject line of the message. You may also mail comments or go through the federal rule making portal at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=BIA-2015-0001-0001

There is also a public teleconference concerning these rules to be held on Tuesday, May 12, from 1 – 4 p.m. Eastern Time. The number to call is 888-730-9138, the Passcode is INTERIOR –
.

Mar 262015
 
Tom Sullivan - Regional Administrator ACF

We believe ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan is being punished – not for minor paperwork infractions related to his recovery from surgery as claimed in the letter below, but because he has strongly spoken out against his DC superiors in attempt to protect the children of Spirit Lake and other reservations.

It is ironic that these same superiors paid absolutely no attention to the paperwork he had submitted concerning the number of children currently living with known sexual offenders. But heaven forbid he not turn in a form related to his medical leave of absence.

Even more ironic is that forms related to National Security within the State Department have apparently been passed off as non-essential by many in the current executive branch of government.

But heaven forbid a lower-level manager, known for telling the truth, fail to (gasp)…dot an ‘i’.

His absence due to hip surgery appears to be a convenient opportunity for his superiors to finally “punish” him.

Please contact your congressional delegation and ask them to protect this brave and honorable man.

Letter from DC ACF Acting Director James Murray to Tom Sullivan:

(https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/9b0b4460-d9e3-40b5-8ca0-8a9d3aff6d54)

DATE: March 23, 2015

FROM: James Murray
Acting Director Office of Regional Operations

.TO: Thomas Sullivan Regional Director

SUBJECT: Notice of Proposed Suspension (Fourteen Days)

You are hereby notified that it is proposed to suspend you from duty with out pay for a period of fourteen calendar days, from your position as Regional Administrator, Denver Region VIII, GS-15, in the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF). This action is initiated pursuant to Title 5 USC Part
752, which.affords you the right to make an oral reply and/or to submit written material
to the deciding official named below, before a decision is rendered. You will remain in a .
duty status until a decision has been rendered by the deciding official named herein. The reason for this action is as follows:

Charge #1: Failure to Follow Proper Procedures for eave Notification and Requests. The Agency records show that you were on approved Annual arid Sick Leave from
February 9 to February 20, 2015. You were scheduled to return to duty on Monday
February 23, 2015. On February 24, 2015, Marrianne McMullen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs addressed an e-mail message to various officials including you. The message was intended to set up visits to two regions including the Denver region. In the e-mail, Mrs, McMullen asked about your availability for th.e week of March 16 to 20, 2015.

You responded to Mrs. McMullen by e-mail at 2:43 pm on February 24, and copied me. Your message reported that you “had hip surgery one week ago today.” You indicated that it was unlikely that you would be cleared to travel ta Denver for the meeting during the week of March 16 to 20, 2015.

Mrs. McMullen replied promptly to inquire how long you would be on leave and who is acting in your absence. You replied to state that the length of leave is contingent on the surgeon’s approval and you would return when he cleared you,

You did not request leave as required. You did not notify me that you were going to be absent. Neither did you submit any leave request in ITAS. You failed to follow basic and standard procedures for notifying your supervisor of the absence and requesting
leave as required. I determined that your total disregard for such basic and necessary

Page 2-

procedures cannot be condoned. HHS leave regulations found in the HHS Instruction • 630-1 requires that employees normally must notify Management of absences, and submit appropriate leave requests in advance. In cases where advance notice is unforeseeable,employees are required to notify the supervisor of absences and make a request for leave no later than one hour after the scheduled reporting time on any given day.’ As a Regional Administrator in a senior position of authority, you must have known or should have known of these basic and standard requirements. The fact that you elected to ignore or disregard the !eave procedures is very disturbing, in light of your position as a senior and experienced management official. Several days elapsed after the e-mail exchange on February 24, 2015. You did not subsequently notify me of an approximate date of your return or make a proper request for leave, indicting the leave type and the expected duration. Neither did you submit any medical documentation to substantiate the absence.

On March 5, 2015, I sent you a “Directive to Comply.” I reminded you of the HHS regulations which require employees to notify their supervisors of absences and employees’ responsibility to request leave. I cautioned you that failure to comply with the applicable leave procedures may result in appropriate corrective action and/or a charge of absent without leave (AWOL). I specifically directed you to submit a leave request for the period of your absence commencing on February 23 through the date that you anticipate returning to duty. In addition I instructed you to furnish acceptable medical documentation to substantiate the request for Sick Leave or Annual Leave in lieu thereof. Finally, I directed you to comply with the instructions no later than March 12, 2015, to avert a charge of AWOL and for appropriate corrective action.

You replied to me on the same day, March 5, 2015. You relayed a copy of an e meil message you addressed to the Region VIII timekeeper, CarolDelgado at 4:26 pm on March 5, 2015. Your message to the timekeeper indicated that you requested Annual Leave for partial day absences on February 23 thru March 1, 2015. You claimed that you were working six to seven hours per day during that period. You further stated that you worked eight hours per day on March 4 to March 6. In this regard, your actions are a flagrant violation of several applicable regulations and standard procedures. You did not request to perform Telework and for notify me of your intention to do so. You do not have a current telework agreement and you are not approved to participate in the Telework Program. It is very disconcerting that you demonstrated such a total disregard for compliance with the Agency’s Telework policies. The manner in which you took it upon yourself to allegedly perform work at a remote site, without even notifying me and/or any of your superiors constitutes a grave offense. Your conduct demonstrates a total disregard for the Agency policy and applicable regulations, which you are charged to uphold and enforce. In addition, your actions evince stark disrespect and lack of consideration for your supervisors. In addition, your assertions that you were working every work day between February 23 and March 5, 2015 were submitted and advanced after the fact. You had an obligation to notify your supervisor that you intended to work at a remote site and to obtain approval in advance. You elected not to do so. Your
notice to the timekeeper and to me was in fact retroactive, coming as it did on March 5, 2015, apparently in response to my directive issued to you earlier that day.

Page 3-

In light of all the facts noted above, and in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I cannot approve or verify that you worked at a remote site on the dates you cited and I cannot properly certify or verify the work hours as such in the Agency time records. In consideration of the foregoing, I am proposing to suspend you from duty without pay for a period of fourteen calendar days. This action will promote the efficiency of the federal service.

Penalty Analysis and Considerations:

The offenses you committed namely, incurring a period of absence without notification to your supervisor and without making a request for leave is a clear failure to comply with a HHS Leave Regulations. In addition, based on your own assertion, you it
upon yourself to perform work at a remote site, without notification and /or approval from your supervisor and without the benefit of a current telework agreement In doing so, you showed a blatant disregard for the same regulations which you are charged to uphold. As a senior member of management in your role as Regional Administrator, it is expected that you enforce and uphold the Agency’s policies. It is further expected that you will serve as a model for compliance with the same. The manner in which you disregarded these regulations was in violation of the HHS Standards of Conduct and showed your disrespect and lack of consideration for your managers.

I considered the severity of your actions and the effect upon your ability to carry out your duties and responsibilities. Your actions have eroded my confidence in you and your ability to uphold and enforce the leave regulations, which is a requirement of your position as Regional Administrator. In addition, I considered your prior disciplinary record. You sustained a three day suspension in August, 2014 for the charge of Improper Conduct. The instant. proposed action is therefore proper and progressive. I determined that the degree of discipline is !he minimal action necessary to the deficiencies and to serve as a deterrent factor. The proposal is in keeping with the recommendations in the ” HHS Disciplinary Guide”.

You and/or your representative may review the material relied upon to support the reasons for this Notice, by contacting Garfield Tavernier, National Labor Relations Officer at (202) 260-6697, between the hours of 9:00 am and 4:00 pm Monday thru Friday. If you do not understand the reason for this Notice, contact Mr. Tavernier further explanation.

I would like to remind you that the Employee Assistance Program (EAP} provides professional and confidential services to assist employees with a variety of personal issues or problems. If you believe that EAP could be of assistance, you are urged to contact them on 1-800-222-0364.

You and/or your representative may answer this notice within fourteen (14) calendar days of your receipt thereof, either in person or in writing, or both, before Mrs. Marrianne McMullen, at the Aerospace Building, 901 D Street SW, Washington DC, between the hours of 9:00 am and 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. You and/or your representative may also furnish affidavits or written material to Mrs. McMullen within fourteen (14) calendar days of your receipt of this Notice. You will be afforded a reasonable amount of official time for the above purpose,if you are otherwise in a duty status. After the expiration of the time limits for reply, all of the facts, including any reply you or your representative may submit, will be given full consideration before a final decision is rendered. You will receive a written decision from Mrs. McMullen.

Acknowledgement of Receipt

Your signature below is only an acknowledgement of receipt. lt does not indicate your agreement with the content By signing below you will not forfeit any rights you are entitled. Failure to sign will not stay the action.

Thomas Sullivan
(Signature and Date)

Feb 252015
 
Washington

For immediate release: February 25, 2015 Contact: Elizabeth Morris, Chairwoman

BIA Issues Devastating ‘Anti-Family’ ICWA Rules

Washington DC

The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued new ICWA guidelines on February 24. These guidelines claim to clarify existing law for the protection of families – despite marginalizing the rights of birth parents as well the reality of extended non-tribal birth family. There is no acknowledgement that the vast majority of eligible children are multi-racial and 75% of eligible families live outside of Indian Country. Every State court in the nation is required to apply these rules effective immediately.

The rules clarify that tribal governments can intercede at any point of a proceeding on the basis that the tribe’s rights have been violated. Parental wishes or the best interest of a child do not need to be considered. The rules state Congress has already decided a child’s best interest is with the tribe. Birth parents can still refuse tribal court, but not extended family in the case of a birth parent passing away.

The Rules further state:
1. It doesn’t matter if the child lives on or off the reservation,
2. There is no need for a certain blood quantum. Tribal government has total say over whether a child is a member and subject to ICWA,
3. EVERY child custody case MUST be vetted to see if it is ICWA, because children who are just 1% heritage might not look Indian – so courts must question EVERY child.
4. If there is any question that a child is Indian – he is to be treated as such until proven otherwise,
5. The tribe has a right to interfere in a family even if the child is not being removed from the home.
6. No one is to question the placement decision of tribal court, because pointing out that a certain home has a history of child abuse would undermine the authority of tribal court.

The only “best interest” of importance is keeping the child with the tribe. It repeats there is “a presumption that ICWA’s placement preferences are in the best interests of Indian children; therefore, an independent analysis of “best interest” would undermine Congress’s findings.”

These rules reiterate the prejudicial assumption that everyone with any tribal heritage has exactly the same feelings, thoughts and needs. It prejudicially assumes it is always in the best interest of a child to be under the jurisdiction of tribal government, even if parents and grandparents have chosen and raised them in a different environment with different worldview.

For more information concerning numerous families hurt by the ICWA and how to help, please visit caicw.org.

###

The Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW, founded by tribal member Roland J. Morris and his wife after becoming concerned for the welfare of extended family, is both a ministry and advocacy group. CAICW has been advocating since February 2004 for families at risk of harm from the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Our advocacy has been both judicial & educational, as well as a prayer resource for families and a shoulder to cry on.

PLEASE CONTACT SENATOR JOHN HOEVEN (202) 224-2551,
SENATOR HEIDI HEITKAMP (202) 224-2043
AND REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN CRAMER (202) 225-2611
AND TELL THEM THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE! Please Contact YOUR Congressmen as well!

LINK TO NEW ICWA RULES – http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc1-029447.pdf

.
.

Feb 242015
 
"Stakeholders" - the new BIA buzzword -

These guidelines make it clear that a child’s extended birth family is irrelevant and the only matter of concern is the wishes of tribal government.

It claims to be protecting families – while treating as irrelevant that fact that the vast majority of eligible children are multi-racial with many extended family members who are non-tribal. If I am understanding correctly – with these rules, tribal governments CAN take children from their non-tribal extended family – and it appears no one will be allowed to question it.

Birth parents can refuse tribal court, but not grandmas, aunts, uncles….

It further states that a tribal government can intercede at any point in a proceeding, for any reason – and they can do so on the basis that the tribe’s rights have been violated. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with parental wishes or the best interest of the child – as theses rules state that Congress has already decided that a child’s best interest is with the tribe.

http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc1-029447.pdf

“SUMMARY: These updated guidelines provide guidance to State courts and child welfare agencies implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act’s (ICWA) provisions in light of written and oral comments received during a review of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Guidelines for State Courts in Indian Child Custody Proceedings published in 1979. They also reflect recommendations made by the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence and significant developments in jurisprudence since ICWA’s inception. The updated BIA Guidelinesfor State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings promote compliance with ICWA’s stated goals and provisions by providing a framework for State courts and child welfare agencies to follow, as well as best practices for ICWA compliance. Effective immediately, these guidelines supersede and replace the guidelines published in 1979.

http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc1-029447.pdf

PLEASE CONTACT SENATOR JOHN HOEVEN (202) 224-2551, SENATOR HEIDI HEITKAMP (202) 224-2043 AND REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN CRAMER (202) 225-2611 AND TELL THEM THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR OWN STATE’S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION AND TELL THEM AS WELL!

Feb 042015
 
Senator John Hoeven

Senator Hoeven’s bill “To amend the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act to require background checks before foster care placements are ordered in tribal court proceedings” passed its 3rd reading and will be headed to the floor. It might take a little while to get there as so many other things are being discussed and worked on right now.

Please read the bill and comment. If you have questions, please contact your Senator and ask. It is important for your Senators to know this bill is important to you. If they don’t know anything about the bill, ask them to contact Elizabeth Frei in Senator Hoeven’s office to find the answers you need.

We are concerned about the two year wait to have child protection implemented…but look forward to hearing your thoughts.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Direct Link:

https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/s184/BILLS-114s184is.pdf

[Congressional Bills 114th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[S. 184 Introduced in Senate (IS)]

114th CONGRESS
1st Session
S. 184

To amend the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act
to require background checks before foster care placements are ordered
in tribal court proceedings, and for other purposes.

_______________________________________________________________________

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

January 16, 2015

Mr. Hoeven (for himself and Mr. Tester) introduced the following bill;
which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs

_______________________________________________________________________

A BILL

To amend the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act
to require background checks before foster care placements are ordered
in tribal court proceedings, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Native American Children’s Safety
Act”.

SEC. 2. CRIMINAL RECORDS CHECKS.

Section 408 of the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence
Prevention Act (25 U.S.C. 3207) is amended by adding at the end the
following:
“(d) By Tribal Social Services Agency for Foster Care Placements
in Tribal Court Proceedings.–
“(1) Definitions.–In this subsection:
“(A) Covered individual.–The term `covered
individual’ includes–
“(i) any individual 18 years of age or
older; and
“(ii) any individual who the tribal social
services agency determines is subject to a
criminal records check under paragraph (2)(A).
“(B) Foster care placement.–The term `foster care
placement’ means any action removing an Indian child
from a parent or Indian custodian for temporary
placement in a foster home or institution or the home
of a guardian or conservator if–
“(i) the parent or Indian custodian cannot
have the child returned on demand; and
“(ii)(I) parental rights have not been
terminated; or
“(II) parental rights have been terminated
but the child has not been permanently placed.
“(C) Indian custodian.–The term `Indian
custodian’ means any Indian–
“(i) who has legal custody of an Indian
child under tribal law or custom or under State
law; or
“(ii) to whom temporary physical care,
custody, and control has been transferred by
the parent of the child.
“(D) Parent.–The term `parent’ means–
“(i) any biological parent of an Indian
child; or
“(ii) any Indian who has lawfully adopted
an Indian child, including adoptions under
tribal law or custom.
“(E) Tribal court.–The term `tribal court’ means
a court–
“(i) with jurisdiction over foster care
placements; and
“(ii) that is–
“(I) a Court of Indian Offenses;
“(II) a court established and
operated under the code or custom of an
Indian tribe; or
“(III) any other administrative
body of an Indian tribe that is vested
with authority over foster care
placements.
“(F) Tribal social services agency.–The term
`tribal social services agency’ means the agency of an
Indian tribe that has the primary responsibility for
carrying out foster care licensing or approval (as of
the date on which the proceeding described in paragraph
(2)(A) commences) for the Indian tribe.
“(2) Criminal records check before foster care
placement.–
“(A) In general.–Except as provided in paragraph
(3), no foster care placement shall be finally approved
and no foster care license shall be issued until the
tribal social services agency–
“(i) completes a criminal records check of
each covered individual who resides in the
household or is employed at the institution in
which the foster care placement will be made;
and
“(ii) concludes that each covered
individual described in clause (i) meets such
standards as the Indian tribe shall establish
in accordance with subparagraph (B).
“(B) Standards of placement.–The standards
described in subparagraph (A)(ii) shall include–
“(i) requirements that each tribal social
services agency described in subparagraph (A)–
“(I) perform criminal records
checks, including fingerprint-based
checks of national crime information
databases (as defined in section
534(f)(3) of title 28, United States
Code);
“(II) check any abuse registries
maintained by the Indian tribe; and
“(III) check any child abuse and
neglect registry maintained by the
State in which the covered individual
resides for information on the covered
individual, and request any other State
in which the covered individual resided
in the preceding 5 years, to enable the
tribal social services agency to check
any child abuse and neglect registry
maintained by that State for such
information; and
“(ii) any other additional requirement
that the Indian tribe determines is necessary
and permissible within the existing authority
of the Indian tribe, such as the creation of
voluntary agreements with State entities in
order to facilitate the sharing of information
related to the performance of criminal records
checks.
“(C) Results.–Except as provided in paragraph
(3), no foster care placement shall be ordered in any
proceeding described in subparagraph (A) if an
investigation described in clause (i) of that
subparagraph reveals that a covered individual
described in that clause has been found by a Federal,
State, or tribal court to have committed any crime
listed in clause (i) or (ii) of section 471(a)(20)(A)
of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 671(a)(20)(A)).
“(3) Emergency placement.–Paragraph (2) shall not apply
to an emergency foster care placement, as determined by a
tribal social services agency.
“(4) Recertification of foster homes or institutions.–
“(A) In general.–Not later than 2 years after the
date of enactment of this subsection, each Indian tribe
shall establish procedures to recertify homes or
institutions in which foster care placements are made.
“(B) Contents.–The procedures described in
subparagraph (A) shall include, at a minimum, periodic
intervals at which the home or institution shall be
subject to recertification to ensure–
“(i) the safety of the home or institution
for the Indian child; and
“(ii) that each covered individual who
resides in the home or is employed at the
institution is subject to a criminal records
check in accordance with this subsection,
including any covered individual who–
“(I) resides in the home or is
employed at the institution on the date
on which the procedures established
under subparagraph (A) commences; and
“(II) did not reside in the home
or was not employed at the institution
on the date on which the investigation
described in paragraph (2)(A)(i) was
completed.
“(C) Guidance issued by the secretary.–The
procedures established under subparagraph (A) shall be
subject to any regulation or guidance issued by the
Secretary that is in accordance with the purpose of
this subsection.
“(5) Guidance.–Not later than 2 years after the date of
enactment of this subsection and after consultation with Indian
tribes, the Secretary shall issue guidance regarding–
“(A) procedures for a criminal records check of
any covered individual who–
“(i) resides in the home or is employed at
the institution in which the foster care
placement is made after the date on which the
investigation described in paragraph (2)(A)(i)
is completed; and
“(ii) was not the subject of an
investigation described in paragraph (2)(A)(i)
before the foster care placement was made;
“(B) self-reporting requirements for foster care
homes or institutions in which any covered individual
described in subparagraph (A) resides if the head of
the household or the operator of the institution has
knowledge that the covered individual–
“(i) has been found by a Federal, State,
or tribal court to have committed any crime
listed in clause (i) or (ii) of section
471(a)(20)(A) of the Social Security Act (42
U.S.C. 671(a)(20)(A)); or
“(ii) is listed on a registry described in
clause (II) or (III) of paragraph (2)(B)(i);
“(C) promising practices used by Indian tribes to
address emergency foster care placement procedures
under paragraph (3); and
“(D) procedures for certifying compliance with
this Act.”.

Jan 022015
 
Paula and John

We recently asked Paula Van Dyk, of Alberta, Canada, to be an honorary board member for CAICW and she has accepted.

Paula has been a dear prayer warrior for CAICW from the time if its inception – and from even before that. She has been praying for Roland and I and the work we do from about the time we first met her at Living Faith Bible College in the the fall of 2000.

And when I say prayer warrior – I mean warrior. Her compassion for others, her passion for the Lord, and the steadfast time she spends in prayer is amazing. We have been truly blessed by her – and her husband, John – over and over and over again.

Paula will be finishing her race soon – possibly within the next few weeks – having decided against further chemo. She is looking forward to being with Jesus. She says she will continue praying for us all from heaven.

Thank you, Paula, for honoring us with your prayers, love, and acceptance. We will always hold you close in our hearts.

Dec 272014
 
Blessed Jesus Christ

Why we do what we do – and what’s next:

CAICW has no paid staff. That isn’t to say that we don’t get important things done, as the Christmas newsletter shows. We simply get it done in the most cost effective way imaginable…albeit, slowly…

We are not complaining. My husband and I got involved with the work – fighting against the current reservation system – from the pain and passion of watching too many relatives, including children, die tragically from drugs, alcohol, violence and suicide. As we delved in through the years, doing research, writing, speaking and acquiring colleagues, we learned how deep the corruption in Indian Country goes. Financial compensation has never been important. We are talking about the welfare of our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

The first thing a person should know about CAICW prior to getting involved is that we are politically “incorrect” and have been vilified by the Montana Human Rights Network, among others, in the past. My husband, in fact, was labeled an “anti-Indian Native American” by MHRN. They were so upset by his words and actions that they continued to use him on their power point as their poster child for anti-Indian racism three years after he passed away.

All I could think when told this by someone who had attended one of their seminars was… if all they can come up with as their worst “Anti-Indian” offender is a man of 100% Minnesota Chippewa heritage who has been gone for three years…well…then there really must not be much of a problem…

There is much going on in Indian Country that the rest of America needs to realize. For starters, we are all aware that former lobbyist Jack Abramoff went to prison. However, no one who paid him the money, nor anyone who received the money, went to jail. Jack was gone, but obviously, the money continues to change hands – at the expense of the lives and well-being of our children.

The Indian Child Welfare Act is not about ‘protecting’ children.It never was. (Why did Russell Means brag about being the only federally incarcerated prisoner to work for a U.S. Senator – SD Senator Abourezk?) The ICWA was about protecting tribal sovereignty and the money that tribal governments are given per head.

Most of you have heard about the child abuse and murders at Spirit Lake. There is so much more – documented – that we can tell you. Further, what is happening at Spirit Lake is not isolated. Many reservations, due to the high levels of alcohol and drug abuse, coupled with the inability for state law enforcement to act or federal money to be audited, have become deeply corrupt. True traditional culture does not prevail. A crime and drug culture prevails.

Congressman Cramer has been wonderful in that he has taken this issue head-on. He is one of the few unafraid of saying what needs to be said. He is the one who requested the Oversight hearing last June and called the Spirit Lake leaders on the carpet.

There is much more work to do.

1) I will return to DC in late January to resume talking to every office.Well…I have given up trying with Senator Heitkamp’s office, but there are 99 others. I will be there for a few weeks.

2) Our legal fund for families who are fighting the Indian Child Welfare Act needs funds. Some are birth families; some are foster or adoptive families. But all are trying to protect children from being forced from their homes and placed into homes chosen by the tribal government. Many times, these children have very little tribal heritage. Some have less than 5%. One little girl three years ago had just 1% Cherokee heritage. We have had grandparents who were told they cannot keep their grandchildren because the grandparents are not Indian. We have had birth fathers whose children have been whisked away to the reservation, despite state court orders, and law enforcement has been unwilling to step on toes to retrieve them. We have had children who have never lived on the reservation – and whose families have never lived there – taken from foster or adoptive homes where they have lived happily most of their lives. We cannot pay the full fees for families, but can pay for consultations with good ICWA attorneys. This year, through this fund, a seven-year-old child’s family learned what they needed to do, won in court, and he was allowed to continue living with his grandmother.

Our children are not on this earth to benefit tribal sovereignty. They are our children. 75% of tribal members do NOT live in Indian Country. Many, many have left due to the crime and corruption and do not want tribal governments to lay claim over their children.

When things are wrong, they need to be admitted and dealt with – not hidden. Many enrolled and enrollable families agree.

3) We also have families who have left Indian Country and want a different life for their children, but need help putting that new life together. So we are also in the process of finishing a business plan for a long-term therapeutic setting, similar to “Teen Challenge,” where families can come as a unit and grow healthy together.

We appreciate your interest and hope you find us worthy.

~ Christmas 2014 Newsletter ~

Luke 2:11 “…in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

My Friends and Family – 2014 has been so busy and eventful, it’s been hard to know where to begin, let alone find time to begin it.

In October, 2013, I took off for DC with the Blazer and a couple hundred dollars, trusting God to provide for the work that needed to be done once I got there. Once there, I visited every Senate office in DC and several house and committee offices, renewing old relationships and building new ones, telling them what is really going on in Indian Country.

After coming home for my son’s birthday and Christmas, I traveled west at the invitation of a supporter, visiting several friends and CAICW families along the way –

Over the course of six months, I visited several awesome families from coast to coast. I traveled from South Carolina, to North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Washington, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado – (where I was introduced to a publicist who later introduced me to my new book publisher. I also met for the first time with ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan) – Kansas, Arkansas, and finally, Missouri. I video-taped several ICWA family stories.

It was a blessed time. I wish I could name all my gracious hosts – but there were so many and my patient readers would think they were reading Genesis 10. Through it all, God provided tremendously – food, gas, warm homes to stay in, repairs to the Blazer and more.

I came home at the end of March, 2014 for the birth of my grandson, ‘Roland John.’ I thought I would only stay a couple weeks and then head back to DC. But for varied reasons and difficulties, ended up staying through the summer. One of the difficulties – I was given a 1983 Toyota Huntsman camper. I intended to continue traveling, so thought this would allow me to be more independent. So I gave the Blazer to my daughter. Well… as it turns out, there had been a recall on the axle for that camper about twenty or so years ago – and this camper didn’t get one. So now I was told it was too dangerous to drive; that I had been given a two-ton planter.

Yeah – so that put a small dent in travel plans. But again – God is good. After several weeks, a friend found an axle for $200 and put it in. The camper was finally ready by August or so…

But the summer wasn’t wasted. While in ND and MN, continuing to work volunteer and trusting God for provision, I wrote several articles and tended to the org. I also visited a lot of extended family, had a long and good visit with (former) Spirit Lake Tribal Chair Russ McDonald, and later the ND Executive Director for Indian Affairs, Scott Davis. I also spent Mother’s Day with my daughter and baby Roland with dear friends in South Dakota.

In June, I took a really nice SD family to the House Oversight Committee Hearing in DC. They weren’t testifying concerning the subject of child abuse at Spirit Lake, but they had a similar story and it is important for Congress to know these things are happening on many reservations – not just at Spirit Lake. I also did quite a bit of writing this summer, finished Sage’s ICWA story on video, took a couple classes through Liberty University online, contracted with a new publisher for the book “Dying in Indian Country,” and tried to sell almost everything I own through rummage sales and Craig’s list. (I intended to hit the road again so figured I didn’t need anything anymore.)

However, once summer was over, it made more sense to stay in North Dakota and help Congressman Kevin Cramer’s campaign then to go to DC during campaign season, when very little gets done (well, outside of Pres. Obama’s executive orders). So I worked for Congressman Cramer, putting up campaign signs and making phone calls for events.

In September, a BIA policeman – tribal member from Spirit Lake – who had first contacted me in June, contacted me again. This time he, Bundy Littlewind, wanted to share his story publically. I was sent several documents and audio tapes between him and tribal social services. After I had listened to the tapes, he called me. We talked for about an hour. He told me that all he cares about is truth. He told me he was raised to be a warrior – protecting women, elders and children. He said tribal social services only protects tribal government. I asked him if he wanted me to arrange radio interviews. He said, “Yes.”

Five hours later, he was killed after hitting a moose on highway 2.

Bundy wanted us to spread the documents, so in accordance with his wishes, after removing the names of the children from the material, we posted it. The response was amazing. Our CAICW Facebook page grew with hundreds of followers – many of whom members of the Spirit Lake reservation.

In October – one of my niece – the adult daughter of Roland’s sister – came to live with me for a few weeks. She helped me with putting signs up for Congressman Cramer, attended an small event featuring Senator Rubio with me, walked with the campaign in a parade… and as a professional masseuse (YES!) gave me a couple of GREAT massages.

In November, a nephew – the adult son of another of Roland’s sisters – came to live with me for a long term. In the short time he has been here, he has already painted two rooms in my house as well as started his flooring business in eastern North Dakota. My son – who arranges home improvement installations for Lowe’s – and nephew talk a lot about such things, and I nod my head and pretend to understand.

My nephew was in Teen Challenge last winter, loves the Lord, and wants to work in men’s ministry as well as help found the RJM (name?) home. It is exciting to have a partner in ministry!

Now here it is, December, and I helping some beloved friends in Canada get through a difficult time. I have been learning so much while with them – as I always do when with them – about pausing, prayer, worship, and taking time to listen to the Lord. What an awesome opportunity this time with them has been – a blessed way to end the year.

Trusting God fully for providence – all this last year. Thank you, Jesus.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PRESIDENT OBAMA, SENATOR HEITKAMP, AND STANDING ROCK:

This letter was printed in the Grand Forks Herald and Bismarck papers Thursday, June 12, 2014, and read on air during the Jay Thomas radio show Friday, June 13, 2014

To the Editor,
Concerning the upcoming event featuring President Obama and Senator Heitkamp at the Standing Rock Reservation on Friday, June 13th:

North Dakotans are a gracious and forgiving people and will politely welcome the president to our wonderful state.

However, before he gives his speech concerning the wonderful “Nation to Nation” relationship he has with tribal leaders and announces what further moneys and authorities he will bestow upon them – he needs to learn facts from those whom his edicts directly affect.

• One: According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75% of tribal members DO NOT live in Indian Country – and many have deliberately taken their children and left in order to protect their families from the rampant crime and corruption.

• Two: The abuses at Spirit Lake here in North Dakota are well known, but it is also known that Spirit Lake is just a microcosm of what’s happening on reservations across the country.

• Three: These abuses are rampant on many reservations because the U.S. Government has set up a system that allows extensive abuse to occur unchecked and without repercussion.

• Four: Many, many times more children leave the reservation system in the company of their parents, who have mass exited – than do children who have been taken into foster care or found a home in adoption. But tribal leaders can’t admit parents are consciously taking their kids out of Indian Country in attempt to get them away from the reservation system and corrupt leaders. It makes a better sound bite to blame it on evil social services

President Obama, please listen to those who do not have a vested financial interest in increasing tribal government power, and learn about the physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of tribal members by other tribal members and even many tribal leaders.

STOP supporting corrupt tribal leaders and corrupt systems and pretending all is okay in Indian Country.

Every time power to tribal leaders is increased, tribal members – U.S. citizens – are robbed of civil freedoms under the constitution of the United States.

More power given to tribal leaders means less freedom, safety and constitutional rights for tribal members.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you so much for all your encouragement and support!

Articles we write and receive are posted on the CAICW website at http://caicw.org.
To follow us on Facebook – go to https://www.facebook.com/fbCAICW.org NOTE: Facebook algorithms have changed. Facebook, being a business, has begun diminishing the ability for pages to get attention in a free, organic manner in order to encourage page owners to purchase advertising. Studies have shown that in the last year, organic page reach has diminished 40% – and up to 80% for some pages. You are not seeing everything we post.
o To ensure you are getting all of our updates, please set the “Get Notifications” for the page or “Add to your Interest List.”
o Otherwise, without paying FB for advertising, it is becoming harder and harder for content posts to be seen in the timeline. (The select options are available in a drop down on your page where it says “Liked.” (Forewarned: Scripture and our Sunday evening prayer thoughts will also come through, along with updates about families and legislation.)
The book, ‘Dying in Indian Country,’ will be available this coming summer through Deep River Books – at half the current price.

Some of the recent articles available at http://caicw.org

Three South Dakota Children Given to Abuser? (Video from family) –
– http://caicw.org/2014/05/03/three-south-dakota-children-given-to-abuser/#.U5vKmrH4IfQ
Criminal Corruption continues at Spirit Lake (May 16, 2014, Letter from Thomas F. Sullivan) –
– http://caicw.org/2014/05/06/criminal-corruption-continues-at-spirit-lake/#.U5vKRrH4IfQ
Mark Fiddler Explains Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl (Published in Minnesota State Bar Association Family Law Forum | Vol. 22 No. 2 | Spring 2014) –
– http://caicw.org/2014/06/03/mark-fiddle-explains-adoptive-couple-vs-baby-girl/#.U5vKebH4IfQ
Letter to BIA Concerning Planned Changes to ICWA Guidelines – – This letter is in response to suggestions made by tribal leaders in an April BIA listening Session –
– http://caicw.org/2014/05/01/letter-to-bia-re-icwa-guidelines/#.U5vKtLH4IfQ
Tom Sullivan’s Response to ACF Superior Ms. McMullen, (July 1, 2014) – This letter is in response to testimony at the June House Oversight hearing –
– http://caicw.org/2014/07/05/tom-sullivans-response-to-acf-superior-ms-mcmullen-july-1-2014/#.U-KACmNsLFQ
Tom Sullivan’s Response to Chairman McDonald’s Hearing Testimony – This letter is in response to testimony at the June House Oversight hearing –
– http://caicw.org/2014/07/05/tom-sullivans-response-to-chairman-mcdonalds-hearing-testimony/#.U-KAL2NsLFQ
CAICW TESTIMONY: CHILD PROTECTION AND THE JUSTICE SYSTEM ON THE SPIRIT LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION: – This letter is in response to testimony at the June House Oversight hearing –
– http://caicw.org/2014/07/05/testimony-child-protection-and-the-justice-system-on-the-spirit-lake-indian-reservation/#.U-KAW2NsLFQ
Response to Mayo Clinic Prayer Study: – (Thinking through the obvious…)
– http://caicw.org/2014/08/06/concerning-the-long-ago-mayo-clinic-prayer-study/#.U-JwT2NsLFQ
“Stakeholders” – the new BIA buzz word: – – In response to the offensive use of the word “Stakeholder”
– http://caicw.org/2014/06/20/stakeholders-the-new-bia-buzz-word/#.U-J8gWNsLFQ
Sage’s Story: Running from ICWA (Video)
• – http://caicw.org/2014/08/13/sages-story-running-from-icwa/
Bundy’s Audio Tapes and documents: – Audios from BIA policeman, Bundy Littlewind
– http://caicw.org/2014/09/25/five-hours-later-he-died-in-a-car-wreck/#.VCwQSzaZ5pk
Letter to Eric Holder, re: His ICWA Statement at WH Tribal Nations Conference, Dec 3, 2014
– http://caicw.org/2014/12/05/letter-to-eric-holder-re-his-icwa-statement-at-wh-tribal-nations-conference-dec-3-2014/

And on the ‘Dying in Indian Country’ blog site –
AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT, LIES, & THEIR FEDERAL SUPPORTERS
– http://dyinginindiancountry.com/2014/10/12/american-indian-movement-persuasion/

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12: 1-2)

Dec 052014
 
USAG Eric Holder 2014

U.S Attorney General Eric Holder Vowed to give Permanent Jurisdiction of Multi-racial Children Across the Nation to Tribal Governments on Wednesday, December 3, 2014.

In reference to the Indian Child Welfare Act, he stated,

…“We are partnering with the Departments of the Interior and Health and Human Services to make sure that all the tools available to the federal government are used to promote compliance with this important law.”
And “… because of the foundation we’ve built – no matter who sits in the Oval Office, or who serves as Attorney General of the United States, America’s renewed and reinforced commitment to upholding these promises will be unwavering and unchangeable; powerful and permanent.”

(READ his remarks in full here – http://caicw.org/2015/05/18/attorney-general-eric-holders-dec-3-2014-remarks-in-full/#)

He made this vow in remarks during the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, DC. Below is a response from a Parent – the Chair of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare.

Attorney General Eric Holder;

Re: Your statement during the White House Tribal Nations Conference, Dec. 3, 2014, in regards to the Indian Child Welfare Act.

What is consistently left out of the ICWA discussion is the civil rights of United States citizens of every heritage – those enrolled in tribal communities and those who are not – who do not want tribal government interference in their families. Shortsighted placation of tribal leaders ignores these facts:

1. 75% of tribal members do NOT live in Indian Country
2. Most families falling under tribal jurisdiction are multi-racial, and
3. Many families have purposefully chosen to raise their children with values other than those currently popular in Indian Country.

Federal government does not have the right to assign our children to political entities.

Further, federal government does not have the right to choose which religion, customs or traditions a child should be raised in. This holds true for children who are 100% a certain heritage, let alone children who are multi-heritage. It holds true because we are a nation that respects the rights and freedoms of every individual citizen – no matter their heritage.

Please recognize that while we agree with you that “any child in Indian Country – in Oklahoma, or Montana, or New Mexico – is not fundamentally different from an African-American kid growing up in New York City” – neither is any child fundamentally different from a Hispanic Catholic, German Jewish, or Irish Protestant child growing up in any U.S. city or rural town. In fact, most enrollable children in America have Caucasian relatives – and many live with their Caucasian relatives. My own enrolled children are no different from their fully Caucasian cousins or their cousins with Filipino heritage. Children are children – with fundamentally the same emotional and physical needs. We agree 100% with you.

We also agree no child “should be forced to choose between their cultural heritage and their well-being.” Tragically, that is the very thing federal and tribal governments are doing to many of these children.

Enrollable children – and at times even children who are not enrollable but are targeted by a tribal government anyway – are currently forced to accept what is purported to be their cultural heritage – at the expense of their safety and well-being. This has even been done under the watchful eye of the Justice Department, as in the case of 3-year-old Lauryn Whiteshield, murdered in 2013.

Concerning your directive regarding cultural heritage, the federal government does not have the right to mandate that my children and grandchildren – or any of the children whose families we represent – be raised in a home “suffused with the proud traditions of Indian cultures.” As parents, my husband and I had a right to decide that our children’s Irish Catholic, German Jewish, and “American” Evangelical heritage is all equally important. It is the parent’s choice, not the government’s, as to how our children are raised (Meyer vs. Nebraska, 1923; Pierce vs. Society of Sisters. 1925)

My name is Elizabeth Sharon Morris. I am the widow of Roland John Morris, a U.S. citizen of 100% Minnesota Chippewa heritage who was born and raised on the Leech Lake Reservation, speaking only Ojibwe until he started kindergarten. I am the birth mother, grandmother, foster and adoptive mother to several enrolled or eligible members, and an aunt and sister-in-law to dozens. Our home was an accepted ICWA home for 17 years and we raised over a dozen enrolled children in it.

I am also the Chairwoman of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, a national non-profit founded by my husband and myself in 2004. CAICW represents children and families across the nation who’ve been hurt by federal Indian policy – most notably ICWA – and who, as U.S. citizens, do not want tribal government control or interference in their families.

The facts are:

1) According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75% of tribal members DO NOT live in Indian Country. Many, like our family, have deliberately taken their children and left in order to protect their families from the rampant crime and corruption of the reservation system. These families do NOT want their children turned over to tribal authorities under any circumstances – and having made a decision to disassociate, should not have to live in fear of their children being placed on the reservation if the parents should die.
2) The abuses at Spirit Lake in North Dakota are well known, but it is also known that Spirit Lake is just a microcosm of what’s happening on many reservations across the country.
3) Gang activity involving drugs is heavy and rampant on many reservations. My husband’s grandson was shot and left for dead at Spirit Lake in July, 2013. To date, your Justice Department, which you’ve highly praised for its work in Indian Country, has not charged anyone for the shooting despite family knowledge of who was involved in the altercation. Many children have been dying within Indian Country whose names don’t make it to the media – and for whom justice is never given.
4) These abuses are rampant on many reservations because the U.S. Government has set up a system that allows extensive abuse to occur unchecked and without repercussion.
5) Many, many times more children leave the reservation system in company of their parents, who have been mass exiting – than do children who have been taken into foster care or found a home in adoption. But tribal leaders won’t admit many parents consciously take their kids out of Indian Country in attempt to get them away from the reservation system and corrupt leaders. It makes a better sound bite to blame evil social services
6) There are many documented cases of children who have been happy in homes outside of Indian Country and who have fought being moved to the reservation, and who have been severely traumatized after being forced to do so. Many in federal government are aware of these children but, as done with the reports of ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan, have chosen to ignore them.

It is claimed the cause of crime and corruption in Indian Country is poverty and “Historical Trauma,” and that additional funding will solve the problems. Yet, crime and corruption are never made better and can never be made better by giving those responsible for the crime and corruption more money.

It’s time to stop listening to those with vested financial interest in increasing tribal government power, and admit the physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of tribal members by other tribal members and even many tribal leaders.

Every time power to tribal leaders is increased, tribal members – U.S. citizens – are robbed of civil freedoms under the constitution of the United States. Equal Protection is a constitutional right.

To better protect children, we need to:

A. Guarantee protection for children of Native American heritage equal to that of any other child in the United States.
B. Guarantee that fit parents, no matter their heritage, have the right to choose healthy guardians or adoptive parents for their children without concern for heritage.
C. Recognize the “Existing Indian Family Doctrine” as a viable analysis for consideration and application in child custody proceedings. (See In re Santos Y, In Bridget R., and In re Alexandria Y.)
D. Guarantee that United States citizens, no matter their heritage, have a right to fair trials.

    • When summoned to a tribal court, parents and legal guardians need to be informed of their legal rights, including USC 25 Chapter 21 1911 (b)“…In any State court proceeding for the foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to, an Indian child not domiciled or residing within the reservation of the Indian child’s tribe, the court, in the absence of good cause to the contrary, shall transfer such proceeding to the jurisdiction of the tribe, absent objection by either parent…”
    • Further, parents involved in any child custody proceeding should have a right to object to tribal jurisdiction. Many tribal members don’t take things to tribal court because they don’t expect to get justice there. For the Justice Department to deny this reveals the Justice Departments willingness to ignore how many tribal courts factually work.
    • Under the principles of comity: All Tribes and States shall accord full faith and credit to a child custody order issued by the Tribe or State of initial jurisdiction consistent within the UCCJA – which enforces a child custody determination by a court of another State – unless the order has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so under Article 2 of the UCCJA.

E. Include well-defined protections for Adoptive Parents equal to protections afforded families of every heritage.
F. Mandate that a “Qualified expert witness” be someone who has professional knowledge of the child and family and is able to advocate for the well-being of the child, first and foremost – not tribal government.
G. Because it is claimed that tribal membership is a political rather than racial designation, parents, as U.S. citizens, should have the sole, constitutional right to choose political affiliation for their families and not have it forced upon them. Only parents and/or legal custodians should have the right to enroll a child into an Indian Tribe.

    • Remove the words “or are eligible for membership in” 1901 (3)
    • Remove the words “eligible for membership in” from 1903 (4) (b), the definition of an ‘Indian child’ and replace with the words “an enrolled member of”

Thank you for your willingness to hear our concerns and take action to protect our children and grandchildren from further exploitation.

Elizabeth Sharon Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)

Cc: Tracy Toulou, Director, Tribal Justice
Members of Congress

Oct 252014
 
Northern Minnesota road

The death of 2 1/2 month old Joseph Jenkins on October 17, 2014, was just outside my husband’s reservation.

The Bemidji Pioneer news report states, “The St. Louis County medical examiner said the infant had experienced blunt force trauma as well as cuts and injuries to his chest, abdomen, hand, fingers, feet and toes, according to the complaint.

Investigators interviewed the infant’s mother, who said Jenkins bit their son many times because the baby was crying, according to the complaint. Jenkins wouldn’t allow the baby to go to a scheduled medical appointment because Jenkins did not want anyone to see the injuries.She also said they made up the story about the neighbor’s dog biting the baby, according to the complaint.Jenkins allegedly “committed multiple acts of child abuse on his infant son,” County Attorney John J. Muhar said in a statement.Jenkins has multiple convictions, including for domestic abuse and driving while intoxicated, according to court records.”

We don’t know yet if there was any tribal social service involvement – but the story illustrates again the pervasive violence within my husband’s community.

Many people (not all) in my husband’s community look the other way. That’s simple fact, whether admitted or not.

There is a climate of “mind your own business.” “This doesn’t concern you.” People who “stick their nose in where they don’t belong” can end up getting beaten, as well.

It is that climate, which disallows anyone from saying anything – that contributes to the cycle of depression, abuse, hopelessness, and suicide.

It is a climate of violence and fear. Increased federal funding or tribal sovereignty isn’t going to fix that. It just reinforces it – rewarding and protecting the lifestyles of abusers.

Blaming the past, or pushing hypotheses of “historical trauma,” and “white privilege” isn’t going to fix the extensive abuse, anger and depression either. Those faux concepts only INCREASE feelings of anger and hopelessness.

There are people at the top of the food chain who benefit from this garbage at the expense of everyone else. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

They want people to keep on blaming – and never look inside to what is really going on.

Matthew 24:12 (NIV) “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold”

Job 24:15,17 (NIV) “The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk; he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’ and he keeps his face concealed… For all of them, deep darkness is their morning; they make friends with the terrors of darkness.”

Isa 29:15 (NIV) “Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?”

Psalm 36 1-4 (NIV) “I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before their eyes. In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin. The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful; they fail to act wisely or do good. Even on their beds they plot evil; they commit themselves to a sinful course and do not reject what is wrong.”

Jeremiah 17: 9-10 (NIV) “The human mind is more deceitful than anything else. It is incurably bad. Who can understand it? I, the Lord, probe into people’s minds. I examine people’s hearts. And I deal with each person according to how he has behaved. I give them what they deserve based on what they have done.

1 Corinthians 4:5b “[God] will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.

James 1:21 (NIV) “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

Prov 28:13 (NIV) “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

1 Thes 5:5-8a (NIV) You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled.

Ps 119:105 (NIV) “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”

2 Cor 4:2,6 (NIV) “We have renounced secret and shameful ways… For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

Ephesians 5:8-14 (NIV) “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.

http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/content/updated-itasca-county-man-charged-infant-sons-death

Aug 132014
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEogtESN5Wo

Sage was 4-years-old and one of the first children to be hurt by the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978. She was 6-years when she and the family she loved went on the run to protect her from the law that intended to force to live with an abusive birth parent. She was 13 when she was finally forcibly taken from her family to be placed on the reservation with the birth mother who had almost killed her.

She tells her story of going on the run with her chosen parents, her trauma of being taken from them, and ultimate relief when she was finally released from the reservation and allowed to return home. To this day, thirty-some years later, she is upset by what the government and ICWA put her through.

– http://youtu.be/TEogtESN5Wo

Jul 052014
 
House Oversight hearing June 24, 2014

June 25, 2014

Chairman McDonald:

It was quite interesting to listen to your testimony and response to questions yesterday. I was reminded of the famous quote from the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who frequently said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not his own facts.”
There were three points where your opinions expressed as facts are so egregious that I must respond specifically to each of them.

First, you claimed that, during our meeting here in Denver in early April of this year, you had offered me a job at Spirit Lake. This subject never came up during my conversation with you. If it did, I would be prohibited under federal conflict of interest requirements from accepting such a post-federal employment position.

You are Chair of the Spirit Lake Council because the prior Chair was removed due to the community’s perception he was totally ineffective in dealing with the child protection issues at Spirit Lake. When we met you had been Chair for 7 months and as far as my sources and I were concerned we saw no discernible improvement in the safety of the Spirit Lake children who I had been complaining about, at that time, for 22 months. My sources have been complaining about the treatment of Spirit Lake children for several years before I arrived on the scene.

I learned just last week that, by your silence, you are apparently endorsing a tribal judge’s refusal to extradite a Level 3 Sex Offender, who has already served a lengthy sentence for his vicious rape of a teen girl, to Ramsey County to stand trial on four felony indictments for child sexual abuse. You failure after seven months in office, to protect the children who had been moved into the full-time, unsupervised care and custody of addicts, abusers and rapists where they are available to be raped daily, I believe, is unconscionable and, if the subject of employment had been raised, would have elicited an extremely loud negative response from me, a response that would have been heard not only by you but also by anyone within 30 feet of our conversation. Under no circumstances would I allow my character and integrity to be used as a cover for your failures to effectively address the abuse and rape of Spirit Lake children. Did you think that somehow you could shield yourself from public scrutiny by hiding behind my well-known reputation for integrity and honesty built over more than 45 years of professional experience, much of it spent rooting out abusive situations such as you seem to wish to protect? Your continuing refusal to speak publicly against your tribal judge’s refusal to extradite this violent rapist moves you, I believe, into the ranks of the criminally corrupt.

I have spoken to a good friend, a long-time tribal council-member from another state in this region, who knows you and who was horrified at your willingness to shield this rapist from trial in Ramsey County and who also said he would try to speak with you about the foolhardiness of your position.

Second, you claimed that during our meeting you had asked me why I had not filed any 960s with the appropriate tribal offices and claimed I had no answer. I told you that I had been receiving widespread complaints from Indian Health Service employees, former Tribal Social Services staff, former Tribal court staff, all stating that when they filed 960s they were ignored and thrown away, that no action was taken on them no matter how serious the problem complained of was. I went on to tell you that under these circumstances I believed it was unlikely that anything different would happen to any 960 that I filed. You have to admit that if I had not filed 13 Mandated Reports, but instead only filed 960s, yesterday’s hearing probably would not have happened.

Third, you claimed that during our meeting you asked me why I had not responded to your letter to me and claimed that I had no explanation. During our meeting I explained to you that when I received and saw your letter in my Denver office, Ms. Mcmullen had already pre-empted my response with a response of her own. Somehow, your letter to me took several days longer to arrive in Denver than it took to get to her in Washington, DC. The US Postal Service is full of surprises but I believe you followed the practice of your predecessor who when he sent a letter addressed to both the Acting Assistant Secretary, based in Washington, DC, and to me, he held mine for several days so that, his complaints about my efforts to address the child abuse, rape and torture of kids at Spirit Lake, at least for a few days would go unchallenged by me since I knew nothing about his complaints. I told you I believed you were doing the same thing and that I found that offensive. You had no response to my reconstruction of what you had done. I also told you that since Ms. Mcmullen had responded to your letter to me so promptly, effectively removing me from any substantive involvement with issues at Spirit Lake, no response from me was appropriate.

I trust that in the future you will exercise more care in your future statements about me so that you differentiate more precisely between what is fact and what is only your opinion.

Thomas F. Sullivan Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver

Jun 202014
 
"Stakeholders" - the new BIA buzzword -

The word “stakeholders” is the new buzz word at the BIA. They use it in attempt to delimit who they will listen to and who they will not when it comes to federal Indian policy.

However, the Merriam definition of the word is, “a person or business that has invested money in something, one that has a stake in an enterprise, the person entrusted with the stakes of bettors, or one who is involved in or affected by a course of action”

By the Merriam definition, everyone in America, whether as tax-payers, as extended family members (no matter the heritage), as residents of a reservation (no matter the heritage), as business owners on or around the reservation, as local, state, or federal officials, or as simply neighbors adjacent to the reservation (no matter the heritage) – everyone is a “Stakeholder” in federal Indian policy.

And this is what our Congressmen and bureaurats need to realize.
They CAN NOT pass laws targeting one group of people and pretend it doesn’t affect others. They CAN NOT continue to disregard how it affects ALL people.

It is a silly, ridiculous fallacy to pretend only one arbitrarily chosen group of people (as each tribal entity defines its own membership and it varies greatly) is affected by federal Indian policy – and thus are the only stakeholders in the government’s decisions.

It’s long past time for our current government pull its collective head out and respect and honor the US Constitution and the rights and responsibilities afforded by it.

We are ALL stakeholders in federal Indian policy. Period.

Jun 102014
 
Spirit Lake, North Dakota

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Sullivan, Thomas (ACF) Date: Tue, Jun 10, 2014 at 10:37 AM
Subject: Criminal Corruption Reaches New Heights at Spirit Lake
To: “Mcmullen, Marrianne (ACF)”
Cc: “Greenberg, Mark (ACF)” , “Murray, James (ACF)” <[email protected]>

Ms. McMullen:

One month ago I wrote a four page email documenting the level of control exercised by the criminally corrupt at Spirit Lake.

This was not the first time I had raised their control over events at Spirit Lake. Almost two years ago, in my First Mandated Report, dated June 14, 2012, I quoted favorably from a letter composed by former Tribal Judge Molly McDonald who had written, “I grew up on this reservation and witnessed many acts of violence and abuse. This is normal to us. Our tribe has adopted this as a way of life, violence and hopelessness. When does the cycle end?…The abuse is reported but nothing is done by Social Services or Law Enforcement. Where do we go from there?…. Please consider that if an investigation had been done, many children could have been saved from further abuse, and possibly, they would have been alive today…..our tribe is attempting to cover up these issues that plagued our reservation for many years……Whatever picture our tribal council or chairman want to paint, it simply is not the case. There is a dire need for professionals …that know their boundaries and will not overlook issues at the request of Tribal Council.”

When former Tribal Judge McDonald wrote that letter in the Spring of 2012, the criminally corrupt controlled the levers of power at Spirit Lake. They still do. Now, however, after going unchallenged by anyone in authority for so many years, they may have gone too far for most responsible people.

In item # 2 in my December 19, 2013 email to you I referenced the allegation that a 13 year old little girl was being raped by a known sex offender, that this had been reported to the Tribal Chair and Council, BIA and Tribal law enforcement. The child’s non-custodial father was told by the BIA that they would not be able to investigate this allegation for another thirty days at the earliest. I have periodically referenced this child’s situation in my subsequent emails to you. To my knowledge, more than 6 months after this allegation was first reported to the BIA, no investigation has yet been conducted. This is how innocent victims are treated at Spirit Lake! Would such a failure to investigate these allegations, to stop the abuse and to protect the innocent victim be tolerated in Devils Lake, ND, the nearest off reservation majority community?

Clearly the criminally corrupt do not control Devils Lake. Even though the alleged rapist, referenced above, resides on the Spirit Lake reservation, the State’s Attorney for Ramsey County (Devils Lake is the county seat for Ramsey County) has obtained four felony indictments against this man for child abuse, endangerment for actions he engaged in off the reservation in Ramsey County. My sources and I suspect these indictments are for child sexual abuse but have not thus far been able to obtain confirmation of our suspicions. Nevertheless, these are felony level charges involving the abuse of a child. I believe most thinking adults, knowing this, would consider those to be serious charges. This is not an opinion held by the Spirit Lake leadership because they are refusing to allow this alleged rapist of a 13 year old little girl, the subject of four felony indictments involving child abuse, to be extradited to Ramsey County.

Apparently this is how it works at Spirit Lake: the allegations of little girls who report they are being raped are ignored while their alleged rapists the subject of four felony indictments for child abuse is shielded from the law. If this isn’t a new extreme in criminal corruption what is?

Thomas F. Sullivan
Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver

Jun 062014
 
Washington

President Obama, North Dakotans are a gracious and forgiving people and will politely welcome you to our wonderful state on Friday, June 13th.

However, before you give any blustery speeches concerning the wonderful “Nation to Nation” relationship you have with tribal leaders and announce what further moneys and authorities you will bestow upon them – you need to learn facts from those whom his edicts directly affect.

To assist you, we are providing an audio tape of an April 9, 2014, meeting between Spirit Lake tribal members and some of your trusted DC bureaucrats with the BIA and ACF.

Please listen to those who do not have a vested financial interest in increasing tribal government power, and learn real facts about the rampant physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of tribal members BY OTHER TRIBAL MEMBERS AND EVEN MANY TRIBAL LEADERS before you speak on Friday – and have Honorable Senator Heitkamp listen in as well. For all the fluff about how helpful she has been, she still hasn’t done anything for average tribal members.

This audio concerns abuses at Spirit Lake, but it is well known that Spirit Lake is a microcosm. These abuses are rampant on many reservations because the U.S. Government has set up a system that allows rampant abuse to happen unchecked and without repercussion.

Please, President Obama, STOP supporting corrupt tribal leaders and corrupt systems. STOP pretending all is okay in Indian Country. STOP pretending that by giving corrupt tribal leaders more power over tribal members, all will become well.

START realizing that more power given to tribal leaders means less freedom, safety and constitutional rights for tribal members.

Every time power to tribal leaders is increased, tribal members – U.S. citizens – are robbed of civil freedoms under the constitution of the United States.

Please, President Obama, WAKE UP to the fact that 75% of tribal members DO NOT live in Indian Country* – and many have deliberately left in order to protect their families from crime and corruption.

PLEASE LEARN ABOUT THE ABUSE AND CORRUPTION OF MANY TRIBAL LEADERS AND GOVERNMENTS – AND TAKE A FIRM STAND AGAINST IT. MAKE A GENUINE DIFFERENCE.

*According to the last two U.S. census’.


Facts:

One: According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75% of tribal members DO NOT live in Indian Country – and many have deliberately taken their children and left in order to protect their families from the rampant crime and corruption.

Two: The abuses at Spirit Lake here in North Dakota are well known, but it is also known that Spirit Lake is just a microcosm of what’s happening on reservations across the country.

Three: These abuses are rampant on many reservations because the U.S. Government has set up a system that allows extensive abuse to occur unchecked and without repercussion.

Four: Many, many times more children leave the reservation system in the company of their parents – who have mass exited – than do children who have been taken into foster care or found a home in adoption. But tribal leaders can’t admit parents are consciously taking their kids out of Indian Country in attempt to get them away from the reservation system and corrupt leaders. It makes a better sound bite to blame it on evil social services.

Jun 032014
 
http://caicw.org

Adoptive Couple V. Baby Girl, State ICWA Laws, and Constitutional Avoidance

By: Mark D. Fiddler (fn 1)~
Minnesota State Bar Association Family Law Forum | Vol. 22 No. 2 | Spring 2014
http://msba.mnbar.org/docs/default-source/family-law/2-fiddler—the-impact-ofadoptive-couple.pdf?sfvrsn=0

One of the thorniest questions facing attorneys who practice adoption law is determining whether and how the Indian Child Welfare Act applies to voluntary adoption proceedings, especially cases where the birth mother, whether Indian or not, wishes to consent to adoption and the father does not otherwise have standing or any rights under state law. A raft of questions arise. Does ICWA apply? Does the unwed father have standing? Does the tribe have the right to notice? Does the father have the right to demand a termination trial and remedial efforts before an adoption may proceed? Does a fit birth mother have the right to place her child with non-Indians? Most of these issues were addressed in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 133 S. Ct. 2552 (2013), a landmark case decided by the United States Supreme Court on June 25, 2013, which dramatically reshapes adoption practice, and casts new doubt on the constitutionality of states’ laws which attempt to expand ICWA beyond its original reach.

The Facts (fn 2)~

While Birth Mother was pregnant with Biological Father’s child, their relationship ended and Biological Father (a member of the Cherokee Nation) agreed to relinquish his parental rights. Birth Mother put Baby Girl up for adoption through a private adoption agency and selected Adoptive Couple, non-Indians living in South Carolina. For the duration of the pregnancy and the first four months after Baby Girl’s birth, Biological Father provided no financial assistance to Birth Mother or Baby Girl. About four months after Baby Girl’s birth, Adoptive Couple served Biological Father with notice of the pending adoption. In the adoption proceedings, Biological Father sought custody and stated that he did not consent to the adoption.

Following a trial, which took place when Baby Girl was two years old, the South Carolina Family Court denied Adoptive Couple’s adoption petition and awarded custody to Biological Father. At the age of 27 months, Baby Girl was handed over to Biological Father, whom she had never met. The State Supreme Court affirmed, concluding that the ICWA applied because the child custody proceeding related to an Indian child; that Biological Father was a “parent” under the ICWA; that §§ 1912(d) and (f) barred the termination of his parental rights; and that had his rights been terminated, § 1915(a)’s adoption-placement preferences would have applied. In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court reversed, holding:

(1) the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) section conditioning involuntary termination of parental rights for Indian child on a showing regarding merits of continued custody of child by parent does not apply where Indian parent never had custody;
(2) ICWA section providing that party seeking to terminate parental rights to Indian child under state law shall satisfy court that active efforts have been made to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent breakup of Indian family and that these efforts have proved unsuccessful does not apply where Indian parent abandoned Indian child prior to birth and child had never been in Indian parent’s legal or physical custody; and
(3) ICWA section providing placement preferences for adoption of Indian children does not bar a non-Indian family from adopting an Indian child when no other eligible candidates have sought to adopt the child.

Unpacking Adoptive Couple: when does a “parent” have standing under ICWA?

In adoption proceedings, where paternity timelines in most states are so short to promote early permanence for children, is a “late” custody claimant a “parent” with the full panoply of ICWA rights? Adoptive Couple had argued in the South Carolina Supreme Court that the birth father was not a “parent” with any rights under ICWA. The definition of parent matters, for nearly all of ICWA’s protections hinge on who is and is not a “parent” with standing to assert ICWA rights. Critical in Adoptive Couple was the issue of whether ICWA’s termination of parental rights provision, 25 U.S.C. § 1912 (f), with its stringent requirements of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”, “qualified expert witness” testimony, and proof of “serious emotional or physical harm”, applies to a putative father who has not timely established paternity under state law.

Under ICWA, “ ’parent’ means any biological parent or parents of an Indian child or any Indian person who has lawfully adopted an Indian child, including adoptions under tribal law or custom. It does not include the unwed father where paternity has not been acknowledged or established.” 25 U.S.C. § 1903(9). Adoptive Couple argued that by using the terms “acknowledged or established,” Congress intended to defer to state law on paternity establishment since there was no body of federal law on paternity, citing the unanimous view of state courts that such matters are the subject of state law. One state supreme court concluded that Congress intended to exclude from ICWA “unwed fathers who have not taken affirmative steps to ensure that their relationship with their child would be recognized.” In the Matter of the Adoption of a Child of Indian Heritage, 543 A.2d 925, 935 (N.J. 1988).

The definition of “parent” in Adoptive Couple was pivotal, because under South Carolina law, the birth father had not taken the required “affirmative steps” to acquire rights to consent (or to withhold consent and block the adoption). This is because birth father had failed to provide support, which under South Carolina law was defined as a “fair and reasonable sum, based on the father’s financial ability, for the support of the child or for expenses incurred in connection with the mother’s pregnancy or with the birth of the child, including, but not limited to, medical, hospital, and nursing expenses.” S.C. Code § 63-9-310(A)(5)(b). South Carolina’s law may at first blush seem strict, but it is not at all uncommon. Indeed, under Minnesota law, a putative father has no right to notice or consent for failure to provide “substantial support” to the child. Minn. Stat. § 259.49, subd. 1(2). (fn 3) In short, Adoptive Couple argued that if a birth father has no rights under state law, what specifically is it in ICWA that accords him greater federal rights? The South Carolina Supreme Court brushed this argument aside, holding the birth father had “established” paternity through a DNA test — without examining what it means to “establish or acknowledge” paternity.

The United States Supreme Court declined to rule on the issue of whether the birth father had standing as a “parent”, holding, [w]e need not — and therefore do not — decide whether Biological Father is a “parent.” fn 4. Rather, assuming for the sake of argument that he is a “parent,” we hold that neither § 1912(f) nor § 1912(d) bars the termination of his parental rights.” Adoptive Couple, 133 S. Ct. at 2560 (emphasis added). In footnote 4, the Court explained, “if Biological Father is not a “parent” under the ICWA, then § 1912(f) and § 1912(d) — which relate to proceedings involving possible termination of “parental” rights — are inapplicable. Because we conclude that these provisions are inapplicable for other reasons, however, we need not decide whether Biological Father is a “parent.”” Id. at fn. 4. (These “other reasons” are discussed below).

The Court’s decision in Adoptive Couple to pass on determining what makes a father a “parent” under § 1903(9) disappointed many adoption attorneys, as it leaves some critical issues in ICWA practice unresolved — chief among them is whether the birth father has the right to notice in ICWA proceedings. A “parent” is entitled to notice of “involuntary” foster care or termination proceedings under ICWA. 25 U.S.C. § 1912. Does a noncustodial father — who, under Adoptive Couple has no right to a termination trial under 1912(f) — still have the right to notice? Under the Minnesota Fathers Adoption Registry, a putative father must register within 30 days of birth in order to have the right to notice. Minn. Stat. § 259.52. What if the Indian father files late? Does a non-custodial putative “parent” under ICWA have to provide his consent to adoption in court under 25 U.S.C. § 1913? Future litigation may tell.

Adoptive Couple: existing Indian family doctrine left unresolved

Also unresolved in Adoptive Couple is the viability of the “existing Indian family doctrine.” In the South Carolina Supreme Court, Adoptive Couple waived invoking the existing Indian family doctrine, a judicial construction of ICWA which conditions ICWA’s application on the sufficiency of a custodial Indian parent’s ties to his or her tribal heritage. See, e.g., Hampton v. J.A.L., 658 So. 2d 331, 336-37 (La. Ct. App. 1995); In re Adoption of Crews, 825 P.2d 305, 310 (Wash. 1992). Courts that have rejected the existing Indian family doctrine have criticized the propriety of examining whether a preexisting Indian family is “Indian” enough to merit protection under ICWA. In re A.J.S., 204 P.3d 543, 551 (Kan. 2009); In re D.A.C., 933 P.2d 993, 999 (Utah Ct. App. 1997); see also Minn. Stat. § 260.771, subd. 2 (rejecting EIF by statute). Rather than invoking this doctrine, Adoptive Couple simply argued there was no preexisting family, period — consisting of Father and Baby Girl. Thus whether an Indian child would be raised in an “Indian-enough” environment was not relevant. Adoptive Couple did not question the birth father’s cultural ties. Despite not even briefing the Court or arguing the existing Indian family doctrine, the South Carolina Supreme Court rejected it. Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 731 S.E.2d 550, 558 fn 17 (S.C. 2012) reversed on other grounds, Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 133 S. Ct. 2552 (2013).

While the United States Supreme Court failed to rule on the validity of the EIF, which it did not even discuss, the Court did clearly hold that ICWA applied: “Baby Girl is an “Indian child” as defined by the ICWA because she is an unmarried minor who “is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe,” § 1903(4)(b). … It is also undisputed that the present case concerns a “child custody proceeding,” which the ICWA defines to include proceedings that involve “termination of parental rights” and “adoptive placement,” § 1903(1).” Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 133 S. Ct. 2552, 2557, fn 1 (2013).

Adoptive Couple: when are § 1912(d) active efforts required?

The South Carolina Supreme Court held that Adoptive Couple had failed to provide “active efforts” to the father by “attempting to stimulate Father’s desire to be a parent or to provide necessary education regarding the role of a parent.” Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 398 S.C. at 640, 731 S.E.2d at 563. 25 U.S.C. § 1912(d) provides in part that any party who seeks “a foster care placement” or the “termination of parental rights” to an Indian child must prove that “active efforts have been made to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the breakup of the Indian family and that these efforts have proved unsuccessful.” Adoptive Couple had argued that since birth father had never had legal or physical custody of the child, he had never parented the child, and there was simply no Indian family to “break up.” They also argued that § 1912(d) by its own terms does not apply in adoptive placement proceedings.

The United States Supreme Court agreed, holding that that the “active efforts” requirement in § 1912(d) applies only in cases where an Indian family’s “breakup” would be precipitated by the termination of the parent’s rights under 1912(f). As Justice Samuel Alito, explained, Justice Alito: “Section 1912(d) is a sensible requirement when applied to state social workers who might otherwise be too quick to remove Indian children from their Indian families. It would, however, be unusual to apply § 1912(d) in the context of an Indian parent who abandoned a child prior to birth and who never had custody of the child.” He added, “[o]ur interpretation of § 1912(d) is also confirmed by the provision’s placement next to § 1912(e) and § 1912(f), both of which condition the outcome of proceedings on the merits of an Indian child’s “continued custody” with his parent. That these three provisions appear adjacent to each other strongly suggests that the phrase “breakup of the Indian family” [within 1912(d)] should be read in harmony with the “continued custody” requirement.” Id. at 2563.

Adoptive Couple: when is a § 1912(f) termination trial required?

Adoptive Couple had also argued that where the father had no established rights under state law, there was no parent-child relationship to be terminated under 25 U.S.C. §1912(f). While birth father had a biological parent-child relationship, that relationship is incapable of severance — and that is not the kind of parent-child relationship ICWA was designed to protect. Rather, Adoptive Couple argued § 1912(f) protects a pre-existing custodial relationship — whether legal or physical — between a parent and child.

The ICWA provides at 25 U.S.C. §1912(f) that no “termination of parental rights may be ordered” unless supported by “evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, including testimony of qualified expert witnesses, that the continued custody of the child by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child.” The rationale of 1912 (f) is that serious emotional, physical damage to the child will occur if the child is separated unnecessarily from the custodial parent. That § 1912(f) does not create rights out of whole cloth, but instead protects existing custodial rights, is not new or novel under Minnesota case law. The Minnesota Court of Appeals held nearly 20 years ago that § 1912 (f) does not apply to terminate the rights of an Indian father who fails to establish paternity under state law:
“[father’s] paternity action is not an action that can result in the termination of the parent-child relationship. If [father’s] action is unsuccessful, the parent-child relationship between [father] and [child] will not be terminated, it will simply never be established.” J.A.V. v. Velasco, 536 N.W.2d 896 (Minn. App. 1995)(emphasis added), aff’d, Matter of Paternity of J.A.V., 547 N.W 2d 374 (Minn. 1996).

The Supreme Court agreed. Justice Alito wrote, “[u]nder our reading of § 1912(f), Biological Father should not have been able to invoke § 1912(f) in this case, because he had never had legal or physical custody of Baby Girl as of the time of the adoption proceedings. As an initial matter, it is undisputed that Biological Father never had physical custody of Baby Girl. And as a matter of both South Carolina and Oklahoma law, Biological Father never had legal custody either.” Id. As a result, § 1912(f) does not apply in cases where the Indian parent never had custody of the Indian child.” Id. at 2562.

Thus while the Court did not directly address the validity of the existing Indian family doctrine, as discussed above, it did adopt a version of it, albeit “EIF lite” (fn 4), by applying ICWA’s most stringent procedural protections to a father, based not upon the child’s genetic connection to him or the tribe alone, but based upon the father’s actual physical or legal custody of the child.

In this sense, what Adoptive Couple did not get through its first argument — denial of “parent” standing to a father who had stepped forward to establish or acknowledge paternity under state law— it got in its second argument: that regardless of whether the father timely stepped forward and was a “parent”, if the father had never established physical or legal custody, nothing in ICWA would allow him to block an otherwise lawful adoption under state law. This means that a noncustodial putative father is not entitled to a termination trial under ICWA. Thus an adoption proceeding based upon the birth mother’s consent may now be considered a purely voluntary proceeding for which tribal notice is not required under ICWA. See 25 U.S.C. § 1912(a). But see Minn. Stat. § 260.671, subd. 6 (requiring tribal notice in voluntary adoption proceedings). Other provisions of ICWA will apply, however, such as the in-court consent requirements found in 25 U.S.C. § 1913.

Adoptive Couple: but what about those placement preferences?

Adoptive Couple had argued in the South Carolina Supreme Court that once the birth father’s rights were at their end under state law for his failure to provide support, the child was free for adoption. They argued that ICWA’s placement preferences allowed for adoption of an Indian child by non-Indians with the birth mother’s consent. 25 U.S.C. § 1915(a) provides: “[i]n any adoptive placement of an Indian child under State law, a preference shall be given, in the absence of good cause to the contrary, to a placement with (1) a member of the child’s extended family; (2) other members of the Indian child’s tribe; or (3) other Indian families.” Adoptive Couple relied on numerous decisions in other states, which hold that a birth parent’s preference is sufficient to establish good cause. See, e.g., In re N.N.E., 752 N.W.2d 1, 7-8 (Iowa 2008) (citing cases). The South Carolina Supreme Court ignored the argument that mother’s preferences may constitute good cause, and instead held that “bonding, standing alone, should [not] form the basis for deviation from the statutory placement preferences.” Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 731 S.E.2d at 657.

The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the South Carolina Supreme Court on this score as well, holding “§ 1915(a)’s preferences are inapplicable in cases where no alternative party has formally sought to adopt the child. This is because there simply is no “preference” to apply if no alternative party that is eligible to be preferred under § 1915(a) has come forward.” Adoptive Couple, 133 S. Ct. at 2564. The Court noted that neither the birth father, nor any other family members, nor any other Cherokee families had sought to adopt Baby Girl. Id. On remand to the South Carolina Supreme Court, birth father argued he had the right to petition to adopt. The South Carolina Supreme Court rejected this petition and ordered the family court to finalize the adoption by Adoption Couple, holding “[o]ur original and erroneous decision was premised on the applicability of ICWA to the Birth Father. As a result, the Birth Father’s rights, if any, are determined by the law of the state of South Carolina. While this Court was in error concerning the applicability of ICWA, we have consistently held that under state law, the Birth Father’s parental rights (because of his irrefutable lack of support, interest and involvement in the life of Baby Girl) would be terminated. Therefore, under state law, the Birth Father is precluded from challenging the adoption.” Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 404 S.C. 490, 492, 746 S.E.2d 346, 347 (S.C. 2013).

While birth father then sought to bar enforcement of the South Carolina adoption judgment ordered on remand, this legal gambit ultimately failed when the Oklahoma Supreme Court dissolved its stay of enforcement, thus freeing Baby Girl to be returned to Adoptive Couple on September 24, 2014 — this, roughly four years after the child’s birth. See Brown v. DeLapp, 312 P.3d 918 (Okla. 2013).

While the Court’s holding that the preferences are inapplicable might appear a dramatic setback to tribes, the Court’s holding is far more limited — for the fact remains that in voluntary adoption proceedings based upon the consent of a fit parent, under no circumstances may an adoption be granted without the consent of the parent. See, e.g., Minn. Stat. § 259.24, subd.1(a) Therefore, there cannot be a competing adoption petition filed for the simple reason that the birth parent’s consent to specific adoptive petitioners precludes other persons from invoking the preferences. The Court’s holding finally clarifies that a birth parent’s selection of specific adoptive petitioners, whether Indian or not, may no longer be denied by courts under § 1915 as that section is inapplicable.

Some critics of Adoptive Couple note the decision did not address the provision of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ ICWA Guidelines that requires a diligent national search of potential adoptive families within the preference placement order, or how that requirement would apply in any other case. Guidelines for State Courts; Indian Child Custody Proceedings, 44 Fed. Reg. 67,584, 67,594, F.3 (a)(iii) (November 26, 1979). Yet the specter of requiring a fit birth parent, or an adoption agency acting on her behalf, to conduct a national search for an Indian adoptive family, when the mother has already selected a couple to her liking, raises troubling due process concerns and ignores the holding of the case. It has long been established that parenthood and child-rearing fall within the most basic and fundamental liberties protected by substantive due process. Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 65-66 (2000). The Court endorsed this argument, holding “[a]s the State Supreme Court read §§ 1912(d) and (f), a biological Indian father could abandon his child in utero and refuse any support for the birth mother — perhaps contributing to the mother’s decision to put the child up for adoption — and then could play his ICWA trump card at the eleventh hour to override the mother’s decision and the child’s best interests… Such an interpretation would raise equal protection concerns.” Adoptive Couple, 133 S. Ct. at 2565 (emphasis added). In the voluntary adoption context, this paternalistic search requirement cannot be applied without trampling on Indian birth parents’ freedom to choose who will raise their children.

Adoptive Couple: straight statutory construction or constitutional avoidance?

Attorneys, judges, and legislators seeking to apply Adoptive Couple — and to know what it permits — first have to know how the Supreme Court got to its result. Thankfully, the Court left a clear trail. Delivering the opinion for the 5-4 majority, Justice Alito wrote,
“[t]he Indian Child Welfare Act was enacted to help preserve the cultural identity and heritage of Indian tribes, but under the State Supreme Court’s reading, the Act would put certain vulnerable children at a great disadvantage solely because an ancestor — even a remote one — was an Indian. As the State Supreme Court read §§ 1912(d) and (f), a biological Indian father could abandon his child in utero and refuse any support for the birth mother — perhaps contributing to the mother’s decision to put the child up for adoption — and then could play his ICWA trump card at the eleventh hour to override the mother’s decision and the child’s best interests. If this were possible, many prospective adoptive parents would surely pause before adopting any child who might possibly qualify as an Indian under the ICWA. Such an interpretation would raise equal protection concerns, but the plain text of §§ 1912(f) and (d) makes clear that neither provision applies in the present context.” Adoptive Couple 133 S. Ct. at 2565 (emphasis added).

This last sentence should give tribal attorneys pause. As a straight matter of statutory construction, the majority arguably could have construed the phrase “continued custody” in 1912(f) to apply to bar the termination of birth father’s parental rights, despite the fact he only had a biological relationship with the child. Indeed, Justice Scalia, dissenting, wrote that “continued” could mean “merely that initial or temporary custody is not “likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child,” but that continued custody is not likely to do so.” Adoptive Couple at 2570-71. But the majority’s finding that such a broader construction would “raise equal protection concerns” could not be a more clear invocation of the doctrine of constitutional avoidance — that the majority saw the equal protection and due process clauses as requiring the Court to hew closely to the plain language of the text. As the United States Supreme Court has held,“[I]t is a cardinal principle” of statutory interpretation … that when an Act of Congress raises “a serious doubt” as to its constitutionality, “this Court will first ascertain whether a construction of the statute is fairly possible by which the question may be avoided.” Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 62, 52 Sc.D. 285, 76 L.Ed. 598 (1932); See Minn. Stat. § 645.17 (3) (presuming the legislature does not intend to violate the Constitution of the United States or of this state).

What are these “equal protection concerns”? The Court did not elaborate in detail, but the parties’ briefs provide helpful context as a guide. In Adoptive Couple, the birth father, Cherokee Nation, Solicitor, and countless amici, argued there were no such concerns. They argued the application of 1912(d) and (f) to the proceedings to block a valid state adoption, based upon the child’s blood connection alone, did not constitute racial discrimination or run afoul of the equal protection clause because the tribe’s designation of who is a member is a political, not racial, distinction. Under Cherokee law, a child is eligible for membership in the tribe if descended from an Indian on the tribe’s enrollment rolls created by the Dawes Commission in 1906. See CONST. OF THE CHEROKEE NATION, art. IV, § 1. In support, they cited Morton v. Mancari, a 1974 United States Supreme Court decision, which upheld a law granting a hiring preference for Native Americans by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. See 417 U.S. 535 (1974). In that decision, the Court stated that “the preference, as applied, is granted to Indians not as a discrete racial group, but, rather, as members of quasi-sovereign tribal entities . . . .” Id. at 554. This Court has upheld preferential treatment for Indians where the differentiation is a consequence of Indians’ unique sovereign status. Morton v. Mancari, 417 U.S. 535, 553 (1974).

Adoptive Couple argued when the preferences under Sections 1912(d) and 1912(f) are construed to protect preexisting connections between an Indian child and her custodial parent, there is at least the possibility that the child could be exposed to Indian culture through her Indian parent. ICWA’s preferences in those circumstances at least plausibly prevent the unwarranted removal of Indian children from their families and safeguard tribal cultural and social cohesion. 25 U.S.C. § 1901.

However, Adoptive Couple argued that such differential treatment predicated solely on “ancestral” classification violates equal protection principles, citing Rice v. Cayetano, 528 U.S. 495 at 514, 517 (2000). Adoptive Couple argued that ICWA’s legitimacy evaporates if unwed fathers with no preexisting substantive parental rights receive a statutory preference based solely on the Indian child’s race. In that circumstance, “[i]f tribal determinations are indeed conclusive for purposes of applying ICWA, and if . . . a particular tribe recognizes as members all persons who are biologically descended from historic tribal members, then children who are related by blood to such a tribe may be claimed by the tribe, and thus made subject to the provisions of ICWA, solely on the basis of their biological heritage.” In re Bridget R., 49 Cal. Rptr. 2d 507, 527 (Cal. Ct. App. 1996). When unequal treatment is predicated on a status unrelated to social, cultural, or political ties, but rather blood lineage, the ancestry underpinning membership is “a proxy for race.” Rice, 528 U.S. at 514.

The Adoptive Couple majority did not hold that Morton constituted a “blanket shield” to any preferential treatment of Indians. Indeed, it never even mentioned the decision. For had the Court found that Morton shielded sections 1912(d) and (f) from equal protection scrutiny — because they were supposedly applied based upon the child’s “political” as opposed to racial status — it would not have found that their application raised any “equal protection concerns.” Conversely, the Court did not suggest in its analysis that Sections 1912(d) and (f) would have raised equal protection concerns when applied to a custodial parent of an Indian child. (fn 6) For in that instance the child’s connection to the tribe would have proved to be more than racial — it would have meant she was enmeshed in a real Indian family with a custodial parent. Thus at a minimum, Adoptive Couple stands as a clear signal from the Court that the application of ICWA, and perhaps other Indian preference statutes, cannot be based merely upon a person’s lineal or blood connection with a tribe. Something more is required. In Adoptive Couple, it was the requirement of parental custody. What that “more” will be in other contexts will no doubt be the subject of further litigation.

Adoptive Couple: impact on state ICWA laws

Many states have adopted laws that purport to expand upon or provide higher protections to Indian parents or custodians than exist under ICWA itself. Indeed, ICWA permits them to do so. Under 25 U.S.C. § 1921, [i]n any case where State or Federal law applicable to a child custody proceeding under State or Federal law provides a higher standard of protection to the rights of the parent or Indian custodian of an Indian child than the rights provided under this subchapter, the State or Federal court shall apply the State or Federal standard.” (emphasis added). Interestingly, in § 1921 the higher standards to be applied must be applied to the parents or custodians of an Indian child — not to the child.

Minnesota adopted the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA) in accordance with § 1921. Several provisions of MIFPA raise the same “equal protection concerns” the Supreme Court sought to avoid in Adoptive Couple. For instance, MIFPA defines“ Indian child” as “an unmarried person who is under age 18 and is: ( 1) a member of an Indian tribe; or
 (2) eligible for membership in an Indian tribe. Minn. Stat. § 260.755, subd. 8. By contrast, the federal definition of “Indian child” under ICWA is more restrictive: “Indian child” means any unmarried person who is under age eighteen and is either (a) a member of an Indian tribe or (b) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe. 25 U.S.C. § 1903(4). It is now clear under Adoptive Couple, that while ICWA in general may apply based upon the child’s eligibility for membership — and being the child of a member — the application of ICWA, in toto, based upon the child’s genetic or racial connection to the tribe alone, forces the same equal protection concerns Adoptive Couple sought to avoid by making its stringent protections applicable to custodial parents who were tribal members.

Likewise, MIFPA makes ICWA’s sections 1912(d) and (f) applicable — irrespective of whether a parent has had custody of an Indian child. Minn. Stat. § 260.771, subd. 2, provides, “[t]his chapter and the federal Indian Child Welfare Act are applicable without exception in any child custody proceeding, as defined in the federal act, involving an Indian child. This chapter applies to child custody proceedings involving an Indian child whether the child is in the physical or legal custody of an Indian parent, Indian custodian, Indian extended family member, or other person at the commencement of the proceedings.” This subdivision thus squarely achieves what the Supreme Court sought to avoid in Adoptive Couple — reaching a result that offends equal protection by making such sections applicable on the basis of race alone. Its constitutional validity is now highly dubious.

Other states, too, have passed laws which grant the noncustodial father the right to ICWA termination trial, purportedly “exempting” them from the reach of Adoptive Couple. See, e.g., California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 224(a) states: (2) (“It is in the interest of an Indian child that the child’s membership in the child’s Indian tribe and connection to the tribal community be encouraged and protected, regardless of whether the child is in the physical custody of an Indian parent or Indian custodian at the commencement of a child custody proceeding, the parental rights of the child’s parents have been terminated, or where the child has resided or been domiciled.”). Application of the heightened procedural protections in Section 1912 to a father who has never had custody or parented the child, and solely on the basis of a child’s racial connection to a tribe, resurrects the grave equal protection concerns the Supreme Court sought to lay to rest in Adoptive Couple by limiting Section 1912’s application to Indian families where a parent had custody.

ICWA was passed in 1978 with a laudable purpose. Congress found that “an alarmingly high percentage of Indian families [were being] broken up by the removal, often unwarranted, of their children from them by nontribal public and private agencies.” 25 U.S.C. § 1901(4). Under Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, the United States Supreme Court has set out some boundary lines as to how far ICWA may be extended before this laudable purpose becomes suspect and ICWA itself undermined. In that sense, the case remains an important reminder that ICWA is not a sui generis body of law, but rather must be understood and construed consistently with equal protection principles, respect for the due process rights of fit birth parents wishing to make decisions about the future care of their children, and ultimately the best interests of Indian children.

1 Mark D. Fiddler was co-counsel to the adoptive couple before the South Carolina Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court. Editorial assistance provided by Jason Teiken, Esq.

2 Taken verbatim from opinion. Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 133 S. Ct. 2552, 2554-2555 (2013). No U.S. Reporter citation for this case yet.

3 The United States Supreme Court has been clear that “[p]arental rights do not spring full-blown from the biological connection between parent and child. They require relationships more enduring.” Lehr v. Robertson, 463 U.S. 248, 260 (1983). An unwed father’s parental rights are constitutionally protected only if he has “demonstrate[d] a full commitment to the responsibilities of parenthood by com[ing] forward to participate in the rearing of his child.” Lehr, 463 U.S. at 261 (emphasis added).

5 http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/adoptive-couple-v-baby-girl/

6 The ICWA defines “Indian child” as “any unmarried person who is under age eighteen and is either (a) a member of an Indian tribe or (b) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe.” 25 U.S.C. § 1903(4).

http://msba.mnbar.org/docs/default-source/family-law/2-fiddler—the-impact-ofadoptive-couple.pdf?sfvrsn=0

May 032014
 

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

First Published May 2, 2014 by the authors

Quote from Author:

“This is a PODCAST INTERVIEW with a South Dakota family that was torn apart by the court system. These children have not seen their foster parents since November 1, 2013. The State of South Dakota put these children into a home on the reservation where they we HEAVILY ABUSED, MOLESTED, AND NEGLECTED!!!
This video is in NO WAY ANTI-TRIBE PROPOGANDA. . . Our page (the Angel page) was started by Randal Bohn, a 18 year old member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe.”

May 012014
 
BIA - DC

On Wed, Apr 30, 2014 CAICW wrote the following letter to BIA officials:

Ms. Cave and the committees involved with transforming ICWA guidelines;

Thank you for allowing input concerning the Indian Child Welfare Act guidelines.
The hosts of the listening session on Thursday, April 24 stated that only tribal leaders have a stake in the ICWA and are thus the sole “stakeholders” in what happens with ICWA. I realize this is what the BIA as well as many in Congress believe.

However, tribal members who have rejected tribal jurisdiction, non-member persons of heritage who rejected the reservation system and/or have never lived under it, and hundreds of thousands of non-Indians across the nation are in fact “stakeholders” in this law – whether government wants to admit it or not.
Non-Indian stakeholders would include the non-Indian birth moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins of children adversely affected by the Indian Child Welfare Act. There are hundreds of thousands of them. You can not say that these families are not “stakeholders” if they are having to fight a tribal government over rights to their own children.

And yes – we have current cases of birth family having to fight tribal governments for their own children. We had a grandmother in Colorado last month who won her case to keep her 7-year-old grandson – but would not have won without help from good attorneys. Sadly, we have a birth mother in Michigan right now who is losing against tribal court because she had no money to hire an attorney who could stand up and say the tribal court isn’t following ICWA, let alone regular family law.

When government passes a law that mandatorily gives jurisdiction of ones family to a political entity – and that law affects not just persons who have chosen to be part of that political entity, but everyone of 100% certain blood heritage – Government has approved a law based on race and has way overstepped its bounds. It gets even worse. Bad enough that many persons and families of 100% heritage are forced unwillingly into this political situation due to their race, but our federal government went further – forcing everyone down to 51% heritage to be included in the law – as well as hundreds of thousands of people with even less than 5% heritage. This means families who are predominately non-native – many of whom are unconnected to the reservation system.

Government has lost sight of the reality that 75% of those who are considered Native American do not live within the reservation system and appears to be blind to the reality that the vast majority of people affected by ICWA are predominately of non-Indian heritage. These affected children have OTHER extended family, roots, traditions, and worldviews – all equally important and acceptable.
I am speaking as a birth mother, grandmother and aunt. I am also speaking as representative of our national membership. I and the people I represent are undeniably stakeholders.

Below are some of the issues brought up by tribal officials in the listening session last Thursday. Tribal leaders are talking about ways to strengthen their jurisdiction over our children. We were very dismayed at the suggested ICWA changes.

Some of the upsetting points of change requested by tribal leaders and their attorneys are listed here. I have summarized reasons for our objections in italics.
1. ‘Make it easier to transfer children to tribal court’ – (Thus harder for families such as ours to protect themselves)

2. ‘Tribal decisions concerning eligiblity should be conclusive’ – (Dominating the feelings and decisions of the birth family, who might have purposefully left the reservation system due to prevalent crime and corruption. Parents and primary caregivers should have the final say as to whether their children are enrolled.)

3. ‘A tribal committee should make revisions to the guidelines and those guidelines should become binding law.’ – (Despite the legislative record, which shows that the guidelines were never meant to be binding. Further – ALL stakeholders should be invited to the table, not just those who have a financial and power stake in having possession of our children.)

3. ‘Make it easier for kids to be eligible. Allow for combining the heritage from two different tribes to help a child reach eligibility.’ – (We are obviously talking about children here who are primarily of non-native heritage. Are tribal governments grasping at straws to keep control over other people’s children?)

4. ‘Require complete ancestry charts for BOTH parents’ – (No tribal government has any right to see my ancestry chart. I am not a tribal member – they have no right to demand any of my personal documents or a right to inspect my lineage.)

5. ‘Eliminate all language referring to “delay” being a problem, the advanced stage of proceedings, or the undue hardship of transferring to tribal court.’ – (OUR children have a right to be respected and protected. There are laws in every state limiting how long a child must wait for permanency BECAUSE it is well documented that children have an emotional need stable and permanent homes as soon as possible. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, our children are no different from any other child in America. It is extremely racist to claim that OUR children are somehow different than other kids and do NOT need permanence as early. What this is essentially saying is that it is okay if children of heritage have their lives disrupted and pulled apart – it doesn’t matter how long they cry or pine for the people they knew and loved best – because they are not as important or valued by our government as other children are. Our government is willing to deeply hurt our children simply because they have Native American heritage. Does the government consider them not as worth protecting as other children?)

6. ‘No more talk about a child not being connected to the tribe – as if the child isn’t “Indian” enough. Eliminate use of the Indian Child Doctrine nationally.’ – ( It is extremely racist for tribal governments to claim that they know my child, who they have never met, better than I do – and that it is more important for my child to be connected to the tribe than it is for my child to have a permanent, safe, and stable home. It is extremely offensive for Tribal leaders to make racist statements like this – completely denying the rights and feelings of non-Indian families as well as Indian families who have purposefully distanced themselves from the reservation system.)

7. ‘Acknowledge that a parent who has not had custody is still a parent with continuing custody.’ – (Would this acknowledgment apply to non-Indian parents as well? Will the government consider the non-Indian mother in Michigan as one with ‘continuing custody,’ even though the tribal court has ripped her 13-yr-old daughter away from her – against the daughter’s wishes? Or is the suggestion that only non-custodial parents of tribal heritage will always be considered a custodial parent? Why? Does the U.S. government continue to view U.S. citizens of native heritage as somehow incapable? Is there an underlying racist notion that parents of heritage are somehow different than their non-native counterparts – despite the vast majority of citizens of tribal heritage living average, mainstream lives off the reservation? To many parents of heritage who choose to live outside of Indian Country, it is offensive that our government continues to pigeon hole people. Further, to non-native parents of eligible children, it is appalling anyone would suggest the other parent be considered to have had custody simply due to a percentage of heritage. Parents without custody are non-custodial parents, period.)

8. ’24-months isn’t long enough for some parents. ex – One dad wasn’t the one with custody because most young children are raised by the mothers and so it is not his fault. He wasn’t responsible for the current situation and needs more time.’ – (The best interest of the child – the need for permanence, safety and stability – needs to be of utmost importance. The needs of Dads who haven’t been in the picture – many times by choice, although they might regret it later – must be secondary. Our society needs all parents, no matter the heritage, to be responsible and accountable, not blaming. We need to make the emotional needs of individual children priority and quit making excuses for adults who should know better.)

9. ‘What one culture deems normal, another culture might not.’ – (This is true. But many ICWA workers seem to ignore the cultural norm an individual child has been raised in – as well as ignore any other heritage of the child – for the sake of the culture tribal leaders and ICWA workers deem necessary and solely important. This appears to happen even when a child has been completely raised and feels comfortable in an alternate culture. Among many ICWA workers, there appears to be a complete disregard and even antagonism for the equally good and acceptable cultures many children living outside of the reservation system have been comfortable with.)

10. ‘States should be required to give the tribal gov’ts a list of all their licensed foster homes so they tribal gov’t can identify preferred families.’ – (Foster families have a right to privacy. This expectation and demand is frightening.)

The following are a list of proposed ICWA changes we would like to see:

1. Children of tribal heritage should be guaranteed protection equal to that of any other child in the United States.
a) Children should never be moved suddenly from a home that is safe, loved, and where they are emotionally, socially and physically comfortable simply because their care-givers are not of a certain heritage. The best interest of the child should be considered first, above the needs of the tribal community.
b) State health and welfare requirements for foster and adoptive children should apply equally to all. If there is proven evidence of emotional and/or physical neglect, the state has an obligation to that child’s welfare and should be held accountable if the child is knowingly or by Social Service neglect left in unsafe conditions. ( – Title 42 U.S.C 1983)

2. Fit parents, no matter their heritage, have the right to choose healthy guardians or adoptive parents for their children without concern for heritage and superseding wishes of tribal government. US Supreme Court decisions upholding family autonomy under 5th and 14th Amendment due process and equal protection include Meyer vs. Nebraska, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, and Brown v. Board of Education.

3. The “Existing Indian Family Doctrine” must be available to families and children that choose not to live within the reservation system.
a) In re Santos Y, the court found “Application of the ICWA to a child whose only connection with an Indian tribe is a one-quarter genetic contribution does not serve the purpose for which the ICWA was enacted…” Santos y quoted from Bridget R.’s due process and equal protection analysis at length. Santos also states, Congress considered amending the ICWA to preclude application of the “existing Indian family doctrine” but did not do so.”
b) In Bridget R., the court stated, “if the Act applies to children whose families have no significant relationship with Indian tribal culture, such application runs afoul of the Constitution in three ways:
— it impermissibly intrudes upon a power ordinarily reserved to the states,
— it improperly interferes with Indian children’s fundamental due process rights respecting family relationships; and
— on the sole basis of race, it deprives them of equal opportunities to be adopted that are available to non-Indian children and exposes them…to having an existing non-Indian family torn apart through an after the fact assertion of tribal and Indian-parent rights under ICWA”.
c) In re Alexandria Y., the court held that “recognition of the existing Indian family doctrine [was] necessary to avoid serious constitutional flaws in the ICWA” and held that the trial court had acted properly in refusing to apply ICWA “because neither [child] nor [mother] had any significant social, cultural, or political relationship with Indian life; thus, there was no existing Indian family to preserve.” Question: If current ICWA case law includes many situations where existing Family Doctrine has already been ignored, then have serious constitutional flaws already occurred?

4. United States citizens, no matter their heritage, have a right to fair trials.
a) When summoned to a tribal court, parents and legal guardians, whether enrolled or not, have to be told their rights, including 25 USC Chapter 21 § 1911. (b) “Transfer of proceedings [to tribal jurisdiction] …in the absence of good cause to the contrary, [and] objection by either parent…”
b) The rights of non-member parents must be upheld: for example; 25 USC Chapter 21 § 1903. Definitions “Permanent Placement” (1) (iv) “shall not include a placement based … upon an award, in a divorce proceeding, of custody to one of the parents.
c) Non-members have to be able to serve county and state summons to tribal members within reservation boundaries and must have access to appeal.
d) Under the principles of comity: All Tribes and States shall accord full faith and credit to a child custody order issued by the Tribe or State of initial jurisdiction consistent within the UCCJA – which enforces a child custody determination by a court of another State – unless the order has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so under Article 2 of the UCCJA.

5. Adoptive Parents need well defined protections. These are the citizens among us that have been willing to set aside personal comforts and take in society’s neediest children. Adoptive parents take many risks in doing this, the least of which is finances. People build their lives around family. Adoptive parents risk not only their own hearts, but the hearts of any birth children they have as well as the hearts of their extended family. These parents have an investment in the families they are building and have a right to know that they can put their names on the adoption paper with confidence. If we, as a society, continue to abuse these parents, we will find fewer people willing to take the risk of adoption and more and more children will languish in foster homes.

6. A “Qualified expert witness” should be someone who is able to advocate for the well being of the child, first and foremost: a professional person who has substantial education and experience in the area of the professional person’s specialty and significant knowledge of and experience with the child, his family, and the culture, family structure, and child-rearing practices the child has been raised in.

7. Finally, if tribal membership is a political rather than racial designation, (as argued) than is it constitutional for the definition of an Indian child to include “eligible” children, rather than “enrolled” children?
a) 25 USC Chapter 21 § 1903. Definitions: (4) ”Indian child” means any unmarried person who is under age eighteen and is either
b) member of an Indian tribe or
c) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe;

However;
1. Tribal governments have been given the right as sovereign entities to determine their own membership at the expense of the rights of any other heritage or culture as well as at the expense of individual rights.
2. ICWA does not give Indian children or their legal guardians the choice whether to accept political membership in the tribe. Legal guardians have the right to make that choice for their children, not governments.
3. Non-member relatives are being told that these children are now members of an entity that the family has had no past political, social or cultural relationship with.
4. So IS it then the blood relationship that determines membership? Bridget R., stated, “If tribal determinations are indeed conclusive for purposes of applying ICWA, and if, … a particular tribe recognizes as members all persons who are biologically descended from historic tribal members, then children who are related by blood to such a tribe may be claimed by the tribe, and thus made subject to the provisions of ICWA, solely on the basis of their biological heritage. Only children who are racially Indians face this possibility.” Isn’t that then an unconstitutional race-based classification?
5. Keeping children, no matter their blood quantum, in what the State would normally determine to be an unfit home on the basis of tribal government claims that European values don’t apply to and are not needed by children of tribal heritage is racist in nature and a denial of the child’s personal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
6. Even with significant relationship with Indian tribal culture, forced application of ICWA runs afoul of the Constitution in three ways: (1) it impermissibly intrudes upon a power ordinarily reserved to the states, (2) it improperly interferes with Indian children’s fundamental due process rights; and (3) on the sole basis of race, it deprives them of equal opportunities to be adopted that are available to non-Indian children.

Thank you for listening to all the stakeholders – including us.

Feb 282014
 

.
Three little boys from South Dakota had been living Nov18286_001 with a wonderful family. The maternal relatives (tribal members) had a great relationship with the foster parents and ceremonially accepted them as part of the family. But the children were moved from that home a few months ago by tribal government. A paternal family member – who had previously shown no interest in the kids – requested custody of the children when it was announced federal government was paying each individual member – including children – a sum of money in a court settlement. Over the last few months since the transfer, several instances of abuse have been documented. The following are comments recently shared by family:

RS: “I am asking no I am begging for —- to undo the wrong he has created and make it right for these babies. I am begging the courts and tribal council to help get these kids to safety, you have the power you need to use it. You can undo the injustice that has been done. These kids are not only the victims of Cathy’s abuse now they are in the presence of their extremely abusive father, please, please, please help us to get these kids to safety before it is too late.”
February 15 at 10:59pm

RS: “Why is no one for our tribe helping these children…..”

BM: “Because the tribal courts, and counsel employees are heartless and don’t care what happens to these 3 lil’ ones. So much for protecting their people. That is a bunch of crap when they all allow the 3 lil’ angels to be taken away by their abuser.”

DB: “Was just informed that she took these children to …California with their abusive father and are being helped by another daughter … And was informed that individuals were rewarded greatly for doing this….wonder who that was ???? How does spilled children’s blood feel on your hands?”

See More about these three in this video clip: http://caicw.org/2014/05/03/three-south-dakota-children-given-to-abuser/#.U2ePZldRzbw

.
Other children in need of prayer:

– – A Spirit Lake grandma sent a picture of her granddaughter and said the girl is living in the home of a sexual offender, but tribal social services won’t do anything about it.
An Oregon Tribe insists on jurisdiction over an unenrollable

– – 7-yr-old boy who was placed with his paternal grandmother by both birth father and mother and had been living with his paternal grandma for 2 years.
This child is NOT eligible for enrollment according to the tribe’s constitution – but tribal government desires to transfer child to maternal grandma, who has a record of abuse.
o The CAICW legal fund paid for a consultation between family members and ICWA attorney Mark Fiddler. The family was able to bring facts to the court room, refuting claims by the tribe.

– – 13-yr-old girl was taken from her non-native birth mother who had custody all her life and given her to enrolled birth father 3 months ago – for no reason other than tribal court decision. The tribe initially made it joint custody and gave him the school year. They’ve now served mom with papers giving the father sole custody.
o The CAICW legal fund paid for a consultation between the mother, her local attorney, and ICWA attorney Mark Fiddler. Unfortunately, she was not able to continue with the local attorney.

– – A 7-yr-old boy taken from his home in Wisconsin just before Christmas and his 7th birthday. His pre-adoptive parents begged he be allowed to attend his scheduled birthday party, but were refused. This was the 3rd time this little boy, who struggles with emotional issues, was removed from this same home due to whimsy of tribal government. The fact this pre-adoptive mom is a tribal member with the very same tribe made no difference. When the boys therapists testified to the emotional damage another move would bring, the tribe’s social services director stated, “Our kids are resilient.”

Many more…

Fact: According to the last two U.S. Census’ – 75% of Native Americans don’t live on the reservations. While some have moved for jobs, schooling, or other reasons and are still supportive of the reservation system, many, like the founder of CAICW, distanced themselves due to the high amount of tribal government corruption, chemical abuse, sexual abuse and other crime.

Fact: Tribal governments benefit financially from increased membership. It is no secret federal dollars for tribes are connected to the U.S. Census and tribal rolls. Abuse happens when you put a price on people’s heads. Abuse happens when humans are put in the position of chattel.

Jan 222014
 

THANK YOU, BETTY JO KRENZ & TOM SULLIVAN –

The omnibus bill that was just recently passed and signed by Obama includes language mandating the BIA to “report to the House and Senate Committees of jurisdiction on the progress of its efforts and the adequacy of child placement and judicial review by the tribe and the Bureau. The Secretary [of Interior?] is expected to take all necessary steps to ensure that children at the Spirit Lake Reservation are placed in safe and secure homes.”

Thanks to Betty Jo Krenz, Tom Sullivan, and the others they’ve worked with for having gotten this ship launched. Without them, the atrocities at Spirit Lake would be still just as hidden and ignored as they are on most other reservations.

We are VERY grateful for this omnibus language – but also recognize that it is two sentences in a 286 page appropriations bill. It is our job now to press in and monitor the process, ensuring that these two sentences don’t just fall by the wayside or that mere fluff is offered up and called, “enough.”

We need to encourage our varied friends and relatives to call their respective Congressmen and remind them not only how important is it to protect these kids – but how these issues are much wider spread than just Spirit Lake.

I am working on the newsletter and the blog. I am slow – but we are going to do this. 2014 is going to be a GREAT year for human rights in Indian Country. Thank you for all of you who have been so steadfast in praying the work through!

Dec 212013
 
Lauryn Whiteshield, July 19, 2010 - June 13, 2013

Mr. Sullivan’s most recent letter to his superiors in Washington DC… please spread far and wide –

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Sullivan, Thomas (ACF) Date: Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 2:53 PM
Subject: Spirit Lake
To: “Mcmullen, Marrianne (ACF)” , “Greenberg, Mark (ACF)”
Cc: “Chang, Joo Yeun (ACF)” <[email protected]>, “McCauley, Mike (ACF)” , “Murray, James (ACF)” <[email protected]>

December 19, 2013

In my First Mandated Report of suspected Child Abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota, filed more than 18 months ago, I wrote, “The children of the Spirit Lake Reservation are being subjected to actual abuse or the threat of such abuse due to the actions and inactions of adults who have responsibility to protect them from such abuse. These adults include their parents, neighbors, community leaders, Tribal program staff and directors, Tribal Council members, federal and state program leaders who have been notified and allowed the following conditions to persist. Thus, due to their inaction and excuses in some cases they have played an active role in fostering the development of conditions here.”

Testifying about child abuse

Testifying about Child abuse before Senator Dorgan’s committee, December 9, 2013


My fervent hope was that such a Report would lead to the development of a broad-based collaborative effort of tribal, state and federal agencies working with Spirit Lake community members as well as the private sector for the purpose of addressing the specific issues I had identified as well as all others that would emerge as we moved these Spirit Lake children to safety.

A collaborative effort did emerge not for the purpose I had expected but in defense of the status quo. That collaboration has devoted its’ energies against those of us who have spoken up about the problems at Spirit Lake. My sources and I have been subjected to an unremitting campaign of lies and threats. We have been treated as pariahs, outcasts, unfit to be heard or seen in polite society, fair game for whatever outrageous lies our opponents wish to spin. Those responsible for this campaign have tried to remain anonymous, relying on the spoken word in most cases, but some few have had the courage to emerge from the shadows and reveal themselves

All of our allegations have been in writing submitted through formal channels. The lies and threats have been, in most cases, made verbally and have been dropped into conversations so as to poison the minds of those who know little about conditions in Indian Country or Spirit Lake and who are too busy/lazy to dig into the facts of this case. These lies and threats have been calculated in every case to minimize the impact of the detailed factual Reports we have placed on the record. In practically every case when a source of these false statements has been publicly identified, I have written to them requesting a copy of their documentation of my “errors” so that I might correct the public record. None have been provided even though up to 16 months have elapsed since those requests were first made. This is quite surprising since I have made these written requests to the former TSS Director, BIA spokeswoman Darling, former Tribal Chair Yankton, US Attorney Purdon, former ACF Acting Assistant Secretary Sheldon and ACF Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs Mcmullen.

Why should I risk my well-known reputation for integrity and accomplishment built over more than 45 years of service in the public and private sectors by lying about conditions at Spirit Lake?

I am deeply committed to seeing the unspeakable child abuse at Spirit Lake stopped. That is my only motivation.

As a result of these efforts to minimize the impact of our reports more than 100 American Indian children at Spirit Lake remain in the full time care and custody of sexual predators, available to be raped daily.

Who, among you, wants that crime to continue?

If you want it to stop, why are you establishing committees and study groups, delaying the movement of these children to safety for years?

If you want to stop it, just stop it!

There are an extraordinary number of contradictory statements made by those who oppose our efforts to assist the children of Spirit Lake to get into safe homes. There are essentially two types of contradiction in the following 9 examples. First, where two senior leaders of an agency or of different agencies take positions that are diametrically opposed to one another (Items # 1 and 4 fall into this category). Second, when agency leadership claims in broad general terms that everything has been solved and, by the way, many of those allegations were just exaggerations and an enrolled member or other informed citizen objects and factually challenges these claims (Items #2, 3 and 5-9 fall into this second category). The following brief examples outline these nine contradictions:

    1. On October 11, 2012 Acting Assistant Secretary Sheldon was in Denver for a brief visit to the Region. He spent a great deal of time telling me that I was being too hard on all those involved with the Spirit Lake Tribal Social Services program and that he had been assured by the Washington, DC leaders of the BIA and the Children’s Bureau that great progress had been made since I filed my first report, four months earlier. During that conversation, I responded to Mr. Sheldon’s claims with half a dozen examples of egregious systemic failures at Spirit Lake in the two weeks prior to his visit where children were being endangered by placing them in the care and custody of abusive parents or foster parents. He was unmoved by my examples that came directly from my sources living and working on Spirit Lake.

    On November 5, 2012, less than 4 weeks after that discussion with Mr. Sheldon, then Spirit Lake Tribal Chair Roger Yankton was asked, during a General Assembly, by an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Nation, “Are there any lies in Mr. Sullivan’s Reports?” Mr. Yankton’s response was, “No, there are none.” He was then asked, “Do you have any proof that the conditions those children are living in and which are cited by Mr. Sullivan have improved?” Mr. Yankton’s response to this question was, “No, there has been no change.” Chairman Yankton’s statements were made almost five full months after I started filing my Mandated Reports, after seven of my Reports had been submitted. These seven Reports contained 90 – 95% of an unduplicated count of the factual allegations I have made.

    I reported this exchange at the General Assembly to Mr. Sheldon but never received any word from him indicating he had changed his mind from what he had expressed on October 11, 2012. To most readers, however, the contradiction should be obvious.

    2. In the November 4, 2012 issue, the Fargo Forum quoted BIA spokeswoman, Nedra Darling as saying, “The BIA is working hard to ….protect the youngest and most vulnerable members of Indian Country.”

    How does that statement square with Spirit Lake Tribal Chairman Yankton’s statement one day later that he knew of no change in the conditions about which I had been complaining in my Reports during the prior five months?

    A recent article from the October 28, 2013 issue of the Grand Forks Herald is even more damning of the BIA’s failures at Spirit Lake, “Lolly Diaz, a former member of the Spirit Lake social services board said there is little evidence of improvement since the BIA took the lead on child protection and foster placement. ‘Nothing has changed from putting it over to the BIA’, Diaz said. ‘There really isn’t any difference in my opinion. They’re on a revolving door basis’, she added, referring to BIA staff brought in to help. ‘We don’t have anybody permanent here.’

    In the last few days the following situation has been brought to my attention by a former TSS staff member who lives in close proximity to the Spirit Lake Reservation: a 13 year old little girl is staying with her grandmother approximately 80% of the time. Another relative an adult male also lives with the grandmother. This male is a registered, violent sex offender. The conduct of the 13 year old has been regressing and she has apparently told her non-custodial father that she is being sexually abused by this registered sex offender. The father has gone to BIA, TSS, Tribal Court and the Tribal Chair to complain about his daughter’s placement. He has been told by the BIA that it will be at least 30 days before they can even initiate an investigation.

    How many of us would be satisfied with Ms. Darling’s “working hard” when we understood it really meant at least a 30 day delay before any action would be taken to protect our 13 year old little girl from a vicious sexual predator?

    3. Ms. Darling in her November 4, 2012 comments to the press is quoted as saying, “The BIA maintains standards of professionalism and public safety…..” and “the highest levels of integrity and accountability of its employees.”

    Despite these claims the BIA ignored the domestic violence of their senior criminal investigator at Spirit Lake for more than a year even though during this time he mercilessly beat his wife on several occasions. Each of these occasions was public, known all across the Reservation and known to the former BIA Superintendent as well as to his Deputy (the current BIA superintendent). None of these people did anything to protect this defenseless woman from these beatings. When a friend of mine placed the victim’s affidavit into the hands of the number 2 person in BIA Law Enforcement in Washington, DC, BIA still did nothing.

    How do these actions up and down the chain of command in BIA contribute to the “highest levels of integrity and accountability of its employees”?

    4. Acting Assistant Secretary Sheldon in his April 15, 2013 letters praised both the BIA and DOJ for their efforts to address the situation at Spirit Lake and essentially condemned me for incorporating my “… own personal views” and that “those views might be misinterpreted or misreported as those of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) or the Department of Health and Human Services.” Mr. Sheldon went on, “after evaluating your reports, the Department does not share your view that the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the United States Attorney’s Office have (sic) been derelict in their duties….. We know that improvements have been made.”

    In mid-August, 2013, you, Ms. Mcmullen, in a telephone conversation with one of my sources, Ms. Betty Jo Krenz, who was complaining about ACF’s refusal to allow me to attend a meeting in Bismarck, ND later that week said, “I don’t understand what could be gained by another meeting. We’ve been in meetings at Spirit Lake for two years and have seen little or no progress.” When I asked for a clarification four months ago, in late August, 2013, of the contradiction between these two positions, I was greeted with total silence.

    When I asked both the Acting Assistant Secretary and you, Ms. McMullen for the factual basis for those April 15 letters, I have been stonewalled. Nothing has been provided. Perhaps that is because there is no factual basis for those conclusions. Given the facts on the record, however, most readers will agree there is a basic contradiction between what you said in August to Ms. Krenz and the letters, Acting Assistant Secretary Sheldon sent to me, Ms. Settles and Mr. Purdon on April 15, 2013, a contradiction that ACF leadership seems unwilling or unable to explain, despite my continuing requests for an explanation.

    5. On June 19, 2012 in response to my First Mandated Report, Mr. Purdon, the US Attorney for North Dakota wrote, “the United States Attorney’s Office in North Dakota shares your concern for the safety of Native children as can be seen in our strong track record of prosecuting and convicting the hands-on perpetrators of abuse and neglect on the reservations in North Dakota.” When I read those words I was impressed and hopeful

    Hopeful, that is, until I reviewed the record of charges filed, indictments sought, plea deals made, trials and convictions for child sexual abuse originating from the Spirit Lake Reservation and could find only 2 cases in the last 25 months. I have been told that in most recent years there have been on average 50 cases of child sexual abuse per year reported, investigated and confirmed by child protection workers on Spirit Lake and referred to the FBI or US Attorney’s office for criminal investigation and prosecution.

    That dismal record of only two cases of child sexual abuse from Spirit Lake in a 25 month period can be explained best, I believe, by the alleged rape of a 12 year old little girl who had just turned 13 on September 29, 2012, who was home alone when a 38 year old male friend of her mother’s stopped by and raped her. (This account of what happened to this little girl was provided by an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Nation.) She called the police who, when they responded were given the alleged rapist’s name, address and physical description. BIA police did not take a rape kit. BIA police did not question the suspect for three weeks at which time he told them that, “She wanted to have sex with me. What was I supposed to do?” It was bad enough that the BIA police swallowed this line but so did the FBI and US Attorney Purdon. When statutory rape occurs in this manner with such an age discrepancy and these are the standards applied to determine whether to prosecute or not, it is remarkable that any child sexual abuse cases made it into Court during the last 25 months.

    On February 27, 2013 US Attorney Purdon made the following statement, as told to me by an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Nation who attended that Hearing, in a public meeting on the Spirit Lake Reservation, “Many of Sullivan’s allegations are just false.” Since he had never communicated such a view to me or to my sources, I immediately, that day, requested by email that he give me the courtesy of identifying which of my allegations were, in his words, “just false”. Now almost ten months later I await the documentation of his otherwise slanderous, self-serving characterization of my Reports.

    6. Both the BIA and US Attorney claim in many public statements that every allegation I have surfaced has been investigated. When I use the term “investigated” here, I assume this means that interviews with complainants and witnesses have been conducted, evidence has been gathered, reports filed with an appropriate supervisor and a determination made, based on that record, whether to recommend further legal action. I also assume that records of each investigation would be available for review by an appropriate independent, properly qualified reviewer.

    I have listed below ten possible crimes reported to the BIA and US Attorney which, if they have been investigated, that has been done privately without the benefit of interviewing those who were responsible for filing those complaints.

    Why has there been no investigation of my 14 month old complaint filed against FBI Special Agent Cima?

    Why has there been no investigation of the 15 month old charges of Domestic Violence against BIA’s Senior Criminal Investigator at Spirit Lake by his wife?

    Why has there been no investigation into the destruction of the Incident Report completed by the CI’s wife in the Devils Lake Mercy Hospital Emergency Room after a particularly vicious beating at the CI’s hands in mid-August, 2012 by the former Director of the Spirit Lake Victim Assistance Program?

    Why has there been no investigation of the complete and total failure of the state, FBI and BIA to investigate charges that were credibly brought several years ago against each of these entities?

    Why has there been no investigation into the withholding of critically needed intensive rehabilitative services from several Spirit Lake children who have been sexually abused and severely beaten? If the purpose of preventing these children from gaining access to this therapy is to prevent the names of their predators who damaged these children from being revealed to professionals who have a legal obligation to make this information known to law enforcement, is this obstruction of justice? If it is, the entire leadership of the BIA Strike team should be indicted.

    Why has there been no investigation into the Spirit Lake school system’s retaliatory actions against two mandated reporters – firing one and giving the other a letter of reprimand, simply because they were attempting to help a young child having difficulties in his foster home placement?

    The Tribal Elder who observed two little boys engaging in anal sex in her yard called police immediately when she observed this behavior. No one in law enforcement took her statement. She tried to tell her story at the February 27, 2013 Hearing but she was shushed by US Attorney Purdon, the BIA leadership and all those on the platform. The US Attorney did say publicly he would speak to her privately after the Hearing concluded. He did not. Nor did anyone from his office take her statement. Why has there been no investigation into this complete failure of law enforcement in this particular case at Spirit Lake?

    One day later, on February 28, 2013, these same two boys were observed by two little girls engaging in oral sex on a Spirit Lake School Bus. The little girls reported this to the bus driver, their teachers and the school principal. All of these supposedly responsible people said and did nothing about this incident. None of them filed a Form 960 as required. Why has there been no investigation into the failures of these adults to fulfill their responsibilities? What else are they failing to do?

    Why has there been no investigation of the decision to place a four month old, previously meth-addicted infant in the unsupervised full time care and custody of her meth-addicted mother. The mother had been required to complete a lengthy drug treatment program with periodic, unannounced testing to make sure she was still not using. She never completed that treatment program and refused to take any tests during it. Despite these facts this infant was returned to her full time care and custody by the Tribal Court.

    Why has there been no investigation of the unexplained removal of a child from her mother’s home without cause in December, 2012, the perjured, sworn testimony of the BIA Social Worker self-identified as Gabrielle who swore that she had sought kinship care but could not find any kin willing to take this child. This child’s aunt is Ms. Molly McDonald, former Tribal Judge and one of my sources, and her grandfather is Leander McDonald, current Tribal Chair. Neither was contacted by this or any other BIA social worker. When this child was finally returned in April, 2013 her mother was told that she was prohibited from speaking to her aunt, my source, Ms. Molly McDonald. Why is the BIA resorting to such tactics? Is there some fear that the truth might emerge?

    All of the information in these accounts of possible criminal activity which has not been investigated at Spirit Lake have been provided by sources who are enrolled members or former employees with close ties to a large number of enrolled residents of Spirit Lake.

    The bias reflected in all of these non-investigations at Spirit Lake may well rise to the standard set by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in their decision in the Oravec case.

    7. On June 27, 2013, a meeting was convened in Bismarck, ND in the offices of Scott Davis, Indian Affairs Commissioner for the state of North Dakota. The meeting was attended by Mr. Davis, congressional staff from the offices of the two senators and one representative and a delegation of enrolled members from the Spirit Lake Nation, including several Elders, former Tribal Judges, a former Tribal Chair and several former Council members.During the meeting Mr. Davis made several derogatory remarks about me and the Reports I had been filing. Mr. Davis has never made any attempt to me to speak with me or to discuss my Reports with me.

    Ms. Molly McDonald, a former Spirit Lake Tribal Judge challenged Mr. Davis on his derogatory remarks about me. She said, “I have never met Tom Sullivan but he is the only fed we trust. After more than five years of complaining about conditions at Spirit Lake to tribal, state and federal government officials who did nothing in response to our complaints, he is the only one who returned our calls. What is in his reports are our stories told to him by us, faithfully recorded and reported by him. Tom Sullivan is the only one we trust in government at any level.” I am not aware of any response from Mr. Davis to Ms. McDonald.

    Mr. Davis is a good example of those who have libeled and slandered me. They have never met me and apparently have not read my on-line bio available at the ACF Region 8 web site. Clearly most have done little more than skim thru my 13 Reports about Spirit Lake, if they have done even that. None have sought me out to discuss the basis for my strongly held opinions about the unacceptable treatment of so many Native American children at Spirit Lake. For many, like Mr. Davis, those children seem to be an after-thought.

    8. I believe the highest obligation for every adult, whether working for government or not, who is aware of this situation is to insure the safety of those children who were abruptly removed from safe, off-reservation placements and returned to on-reservation placements in many cases to the full-time care and custody of known sex offenders where they were available to be raped daily as well as those children placed in unsafe homes in the care of addicts and abusers as a result of decisions made by BIA, TSS and Tribal Court.

    The leadership of my agency has instructed me that my belief that the safety of those children is paramount in this matter does not reflect the policy position of either my agency or my department. Despite my request for the Agency’s and Department’s policy in these circumstances, no one in that leadership has provided any information on what that is.

    From what my sources and I have experienced during the last 18 months the highest priority of the state, the FBI, BIA as well as other federal agencies has been to silence us, to label us as liars, as incompetents not qualified to identify the abuse of a child, to minimize the seriousness of this situation with their fabricated, self-serving claims. Among those claims are, “It’s a new problem.”; “This problem arose because the Tribe lost the person responsible for filing their forms.”; “If those whistleblowers would shut up everything would be fine.”; “Everything is fine.”; “They are making great progress.”; “You are expecting too much progress too quickly.”; “They are working hard.”; “it’s all fixed.”; “We’re doing a great job for kids.”; “You are not a subject matter expert.”

    None of these claims were true when spoken. None are true now.

    If that self-serving approach were held by those who served on the Grand Jury that indicted Jerry Sandusky on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, there would have been no indictments. It would have been decided that none of the witnesses against Sandusky were credible because Jerry would have told the Grand Jury all of those witnesses were lying and they would have believed him.

    Are the children of State College, PA more deserving of protection from child rape than the American Indian children of Spirit Lake, ND? If not, why the lengthy delay in rescuing the children of Spirit Lake from their rapists?

    It appears that every agency involved with Spirit Lake has elected to follow a path that leaves young, defenseless children in the full-time care and custody of addicts and sexual predators rather than getting these children into safe homes as quickly as possible. In doing this, these agencies and their actions track the same path followed by the leadership of both Penn State and the Catholic Church when these organizations sought to protect their institution’s reputation by covering up the rape of children. I believe such an approach is wrong, disastrous for those children and with the capacity to do significant long term damage to the reputation of the agencies involved.

    If your son or daughter were in the full time care and custody of known addicts and rapists and had been for more than a year, would you agree with those public agencies which wished to study the issue to determine what course of action to follow, knowing the study would take another year? Or would you demand that your children be removed immediately from the care and custody of addicts and rapists and that those same addicts and rapists be indicted for their crimes?

    9. Almost a month ago a good friend and supporter of mine sent me an email recounting a conversation she had just had with a congressional staff member by the name of Kenneth Martin who works for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Apparently, Mr. Martin had a quite strong reaction when my name came up during their meeting. I understand Mr. Martin to have said, “He no longer has that job.” “It would be illegal to prohibit him from filing Mandated Reports.” “Mr. Sullivan is a liar and that would be proven in a hearing.”

    Mr. Martin has never attempted to speak with me. He has never sent me any written inquiries about my Reports. If he has copies of them, I doubt that he has spent much time in reviewing them. I can only assume his comments were driven by prior conversations with Washington, DC staff from BIA, DOJ or my own agency. Wherever they come from, he has made slanderous statements about me.

    I still work for ACF as Regional Administrator in Denver.

    I also believe prohibiting me from filing Mandated Reports is an illegal act. I trust he has initiated a congressional oversight investigation into this matter to determine whether there is a factual basis to proceed to indictments.

I would be pleased to appear before the US Senate Indian Affairs Committee if I were subpoenaed, placed under oath and asked to answer any questions about conditions at Spirit Lake. Then we would know who the real liars are.

Thomas F. Sullivan
Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver

###

Dec 042013
 

 

George Sheldon, Former Director of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), made it clear in April, 2013, that the ACF does not want to hear about atrocities occurring at Spirit Lake. He further stated the ACF stands firmly behind the behavior of the BIA, FBI and US Attorney at Spirit Lake – despite numerous reports from Spirit Lake residents as well as ACF’s own Regional Director, Tom Sullivan, that horrific child abuse has been ignored by the federal agencies.

The horrific child abuse that Mr. Sullivan reported to Mr. Sheldon in 2012 and 2013 was supported by a recent CNN segment (Oct, 1013) entitled “Sexual Abuse Rampant on Indian Reservation.”

Further, had Mr. Sheldon listened to Mr. Sullivan, toddler Lauryn Whiteshield might be alive today.

Capitol Hill

Dec 032013
 
Corruption at the U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC

In October, CNN did a segment called “Sexual abuse rampant on Indian Reservation.” Questions were raised as to how and why our federal government could be turning its back on children on reservations across the country. Tom Sullivan, Regional Administrator for the federal ACF, had been telling his superiors about the horrific handling of children for over a year. We now have documents between Tom Sullivan and his superiors.

Had the ACF listened to him and done its job, toddler Lauryn Whiteshield would be alive right now.

Our children have been viewed as collateral damage in DC’s ongoing political games for far too long.

An email from Tom Sullivan to his superiors is below. More documents to follow.

—————————————————-

Congressman Issa,

Thursday morning, Mr. Kenneth Martin, senior aide to Senator Cantwell, Chair of the Indian Affairs Committee, made several disparaging remarks concerning ACF Regional Administrator, Thomas Sullivan and suggested a hearing would reveal lies.

What Mr. Sullivan had been pointing out in a series of mandated reports is that the ACF, BIA, FBI and US attorney have not been doing their jobs on the Spirit Lake Reservation. In fact, what many Spirit Lake tribal members have been saying is that our federal government is allowing tragedy to occur despite the pleas of people living there.

We want that hearing Mr. Martin suggested. We need our government to investigate Mr. Sullivan’s claims – and we need our government to investigate similar situations on other reservations.

Read the emails:

———- Forwarded message ———-

Lauryn Whiteshield, July 19, 2010 - June 13, 2013

Lauryn Whiteshield, July 19, 2010 – June 13, 2013

From: “Elizabeth Morris”
Date: Nov 22, 2013 10:16 AM
Subject: Re: Mr. Tom Sullivan’s email concerning Spirit Lake
To: “Martin, Kenneth (Indian Affairs)”
Cc: “Thompson, Mariah (Indian Affairs)”

Thank you for your note, Mr. Martin. I appreciate it.I hope you will also concede at some point that we are not “cherry picking.” It is time to admit the depth of what is happening on many reservations. No more playing politics with the lives of a vulnerable community – let alone vulnerable children.

My sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews – at the very least – are worth much more than that, (if I can speak personally. It is after all, for personal reasons that my husband and I began this work in the first place.)

But I will not stop with just our extended family. Too many people have come asking for help.

We insist that the facts Mr. Sullivan and others have presented be acted upon.

Thank you again for your response.

—————

On Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 8:31 AM, Martin, Kenneth (Indian Affairs) wrote:

Ms. Morris,

Thank you for the email. I apologize as I must have misspoke, as I have no information on the issues surrounding Mr. Sullivan and did not intend to insinuate otherwise. Thank you for the opportunity to clarify.

Kenneth Martin

—————-

From: Elizabeth Morris [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Thursday, November 21, 2013 8:15 PM
To: Thompson, Mariah (Indian Affairs); Martin, Kenneth (Indian Affairs)
Subject: Mr. Tom Sullivan’s email concerning Spirit Lake

Ms. Thompson and Mr. Martin

Shortly after our conversation concerning Mr. Tom Sullivan of the ACF, I received this email. It appears to address some of the very issues we had discussed.

Mr. Martin, you had suggested that a hearing would prove Mr. Sullivan had lied. I wonder if it might come to that.

I would appreciate your comments concerning the below. Thanks –

—————————————-

Begin forwarded message:
From: “Sullivan, Thomas (ACF)”
Date: November 21, 2013 1:45:05 PM EST
To: “Mcmullen, Marrianne (ACF)”
Cc: “Chang, Joo Yeun (ACF)” <[email protected]>, “McCauley, Mike (ACF)” , “Greenberg, Mark (ACF)”

Subject: Spirit Lake

Marrianne:

In the early evening of October 21, 2013, CNN broadcast a detailed and substantive report entitled “Sex Abuse Rampant on Indian Reservation” about the epidemic of child sexual abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation. That broadcast ran a little more than 6 months after former Acting Assistant Secretary Sheldon’s April 15, 2013 letter to me prohibiting me, in my official capacity as Denver Regional Administrator for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), from filing any more Mandated Reports about child sexual abuse at Spirit Lake. Since that policy applied only to me, I believed it was retaliatory and discriminatory.

Your refusal to announce this new policy with any of the other 1500 ACF employees across this country is a clear signal to me that I have been singled out for this retaliatory and discriminatory action which, because of your silence, continues to this very day.

Your continuing exclusion of me from any participation in efforts to address the problems at Spirit Lake is further evidence of retaliation and discrimination.

Mr. Sheldon’s letter to me was accompanied by letters to the BIA’s Ms. Settles and US Attorney Purdon. Unlike his letter to me, his letters to them were full of high praise for their efforts in addressing the epidemic of child sexual abuse at Spirit Lake..

Since I had no contact with Mr. Sheldon after October 11, 2012 and since at that time he had made clear his displeasure with my Mandated Reports, and since I had responded to that displeasure with extensive factual documentation of conditions at Spirit Lake, I was surprised by his letter to me. His unqualified endorsement of the efforts of Ms. Settles and Mr. Purdon was and still is shocking, lacking, as it did, any factual basis for the high praise heaped on them. This contrasted sharply with the factual detail provided in my Mandated Reports.

Believing that Mr. Sheldon must have had some factual basis for the position detailed in his letters to Ms. Settles and Mr. Purdon, I have asked twice for those facts. None have been provided. My emails have been ignored by both you and Mr. Sheldon. I can only presume there are no facts available to justify your position.

My sources have been complaining to Tribal, state and federal agency leadership for more than five years about conditions at Spirit Lake and the maltreatment of children there. Their complaints have been ignored and continue to be ignored. Their documentation unread and then shredded.

I have filed 13 Mandated Reports. All have been ignored or characterized as rumors or exaggerations by Tribal, state, BIA, DOJ as well as other federal agencies. Facts and truth mean little to those charged with defending both the status quo at Spirit Lake and themselves. More importantly the safety of abused American Indian children at Spirit Lake appears to have meant even less. As a result of their misleading puffery more than 100 children remain in the full time care and custody of sexual predators available to be raped daily.

On September 23, 2013, I sent an email to Mr. Sheldon concerning the situation with a young suicidal boy who had fled his foster home. You responded that “Marilyn Kennerson is working with the BIA and tribe to make sure all appropriate measures are being taken to assure this child’s safety.” My sources inform me that nothing has changed for this young boy.

Claims have been made that every allegation in my Mandated Reports have been investigated. Many of my sources say otherwise because they have not been interviewed by anyone in law enforcement. This claim becomes even harder to believe when the US Attorney for North Dakota has indicted, sought a plea deal or prosecuted only one case of child sexual abuse originating on the Spirit Lake Reservation in the last 25 months. I have been told by experienced child protection workers from Spirit Lake that in a typical year there are, on average, 50 cases of child sexual abuse reported, investigated, confirmed and referred for prosecution. Why has the US Attorney prosecuted only one case of child sexual abuse from Spirit Lake in the last 25 months, a case where the actual sexual abuse occurred between 2007 – 2009. Just learned the US Attorney for North Dakota has filed one more charge of child sexual abuse in the last few days, doubling his numbers for the prior 24 months.

Law enforcement at every level at Spirit Lake, including the FBI, BIA, Tribal police and the US Attorney have allowed the Tribal Council to determine which criminal activities will be investigated and prosecuted. For confirmation of this fact please review the last page of the Spirit Lake Tribal Council Meeting Minutes for September 27, 2013, attached for your convenience.

The apparent unwillingness of government at any level to protect the children at Spirit Lake from abuse creates the impression there is a large, unannounced experiment being conducted at Spirit Lake to determine what harm, if any, would be done to abused children who are returned to the care of either their abusive biological parents or abusive foster parents before these parents have completed their court-ordered rehabilitation therapy. But in order for such an experiment to be conducted there would have to be a rigorous research design, with control groups, opportunities for informed consent and extensive data collection. No such safeguards are apparent but children continue to be placed with abusive adults. How strange, all we have is abused children being returned to abusive parents with none of the other elements required for a legitimate research project. Why is such experimentation on these children being tolerated?

Certainly, no one can claim the hypothesis that abused children can be returned to their abusive homes without harm to those children has been proven. Who is responsible for attempting to prove it at Spirit Lake?

A perfect example of this experimentation and the Tribal Council’s control of criminal investigation and prosecution at Spirit Lake is the Tribal Court order from 5 – 6 months ago returning to a biological mother her children even though she has been charged with and convicted in Tribal Court of sexual abuse of her children – she was discovered by police in bed having sex with a male friend while all her children, one of them totally naked, were in the same bed.

The biological mom lives with her children’s grandfather. The children were recently evaluated at the Red River Advocacy Center (RRAC) and it was determined that two of the girls, ages 6 and 7, were being sexually abused by that very same grandfather. The recommendation of the RRAC was that these children were “not to be left alone with the grandfather”. There is a young teenage son in this family who attempted suicide three times before his 14th birthday. The grandfather who has never been charged or prosecuted for his criminal sexual assaults on his granddaughters is the uncle of a Tribal Council member. There is no indication that anyone from law enforcement has launched an investigation of the grandfather’s alleged sexual abuse. It is likely that Council Member would oppose any Council Motion to refer this situation for criminal investigation of his uncle.

The father of these children has petitioned Tribal Court to assume custody. I understand his petitions have been routinely dismissed even though he is ready, able and willing to assume responsibility for his children, caring for them in a safe home. The mother of these children is an enrolled Tribal member. Their father is not.

Conducting an assessment at this point after more than five years of complaints from my sources and after my 13 Mandated Reports seems to simply delay the desperately needed corrective action to get those 100 children to safety. As one of my sources recently wrote, “…when will the government realize we are serious about this….kids are being raped and nobody in law enforcement gives a damn”.

Natalie Stites, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and former Project Coordinator in the Attorney General’s office on the Rosebud Reservation writing in LastRealIndians.com in December, 2011 speaks words that need to be considered here, “There are thousands of Lakota, Dakota and Nakota children experiencing abuse and neglect….. Over a third of women raped today were sexually assaulted as children. Sadly all too often abused and neglected children become perpetrators themselves as adolescents and as adults……..There are many complex reasons for the conditions facing the children today: lack of compassion, colonization, epigenetics, grief, violence, the feminization of poverty, the school-to-prison pipeline, organized sexual abuse, unemployment, mental illness, addiction, racism, cultural oppression. These are the roots of our current situation…………….

However, try explaining this to the 5 year old boy who hasn’t eaten a meal in two days, or a beaten 8 year old girl caring for an infant and a toddler like she’s the parent, or a 15 year old youth who faces and eventually joins his addicted parents and the drunken strangers they bring home to party every night. Try explaining to these children why family members, social workers, policy makers, police, courts, schools, health care providers cannot protect them, even after their own parents fail them, or abandon them, or hurt them. Who takes responsibility for this? We must.”

When will we take responsibility?

After your assessment? How long will that take?

How many more months will the Tribe allow this experimentation with their children to continue?

Have a great Thanksgiving.
Thomas F. Sullivan
Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver

———————————————-

From: Mcmullen, Marrianne (ACF)
Sent: Friday, November 01, 2013 6:22 AM
To: Sullivan, Thomas (ACF)
Cc: Chang, Joo Yeun (ACF/ACYF) (ACF); McCauley, Mike (ACF)
Subject: Spirit Lake

Good morning Tom: Attached and below is a memo about ACF’s work on Spirit Lake moving forward.

Tom, as a courtesy based on your expressed interest in matters at Spirit Lake, I wanted to let you know that Children’s Bureau has been actively working with the Spirit Lake tribe on improving their child protection services.

Currently, the National Resource Center for Child Protective Services, funded by CB, is conducting an assessment of Spirit Lake social services. As you may know, numerous assessments have been started over the past 18 months, but leadership changes have stalled and ultimately stopped these processes. Now, however, the new Tribal chair and the new social services director are moving forward with the assessment. Once this assessment is complete, it will provide a roadmap for the policies, practices, procedures and staffing levels that the Tribe needs to establish a successful agency. The Children’s Bureau will work hand-in-hand with the Tribe to follow that map and to ensure that all available resources are brought to bear for the Tribe to be successful in better protecting its children.

I want to be clear with you that the Children’s Bureau is leading this effort for ACF and will manage work with both the Tribal leadership and the Tribal social services staff moving forward. The Children’s Bureau will also be the principal liaison with the state of North Dakota, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Dept. of Justice to address child protective issues at Spirit Lake.

As the Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary, the Children’s Bureau, and the Administration for Native Americans have worked to address concerns at Spirit Lake over the past year, it has become clear that Region 8 IORA involvement has damaged some of the most critical relationships needed for achieving progress for the children and families of Spirit Lake. It is our full intention to rebuild these relationships and move forward in a collegial and productive direction.

Tom, I know you share ACF’s goal of establishing a strong social service system at Spirit Lake that can act quickly and effectively to protect children who may be in danger. It is my expectation that you will refer all future inquiries to the Department concerning Spirit Lake to the Children’s Bureau and respect the Bureau’s role in leading and coordinating the Department’s efforts to achieve the goal of protecting Spirit Lake’s children.

————————————————————

### END FORWARDED MESSAGE

Oct 222013
 
Suffer the Children. Sexual Abuse of kids on the Spirit Lake Reservation

BIA response re: Sullivan’s citations of abuse – “They have been investigated.” Right. Sure. Someone moved a file from one drawer to another. Investigation over.

Not one honest person at Spirit Lake believes real investigations have ever been done. But notice as well that they say things have been “Investigated” and then leave it at that. So if things have been investigated, – when do the prosecutions begin? Everyone at Spirit Lake KNOWS the abuse is really happening – they have seen it with their own eyes. If the FBI has investigated and found nothing – then everyone knows that the FBI didn’t even try. Because nothing is hard to investigate. So much of it is right out there where everyone knows about it.

– Yet the BIA is trying to pretend it isn’t happening. WHY? What’s WRONG with the jerks at the BIA? Do they think tribal members are nobodies, so don’t have to be listened to? Do they think the rest of America doesn’t care about what is happening, and will tire of the story and forget about it? Do they think they can continue to sweep it under the rug?

WATCH THE VIDEO:

Sex Abuse Rampant on Indian Reservation

WE ARE HERE TO ENSURE THEY CAN’T CONTINUE TO SWEEP IT UNDER THE RUG. This WON’T be ignored.

Oct 182013
 
Empty Swing

Traveling Thursday, I stopped to visit a couple that first contacted CAICW several years ago.

Parts of their story are common, parts unusual. Fighting for their child for years, they have rarely had foster care status. This means the care they have given their child has been out-of-pocket most of the time.

This – while the tribal government has refused to allow them any legal status, let alone permission to adopt.

The tribal government has retained control without any obligation to provide financially. Instead, they have treated this couple as glorified babysitters – knowing that the love this couple has will not allow them to turn the child away. Emotional blackmail?

Further – the couple’s attorney had not been allowed to practice in tribal court. This is something that happens in many tribal courts but goes completely ignored by our Congress. Tribal leadership has a right to decide which attorneys can practice in their courts and are inclined to only allow attorneys who agree with tribal sovereignty and will not confront blatant civil rights violations.

The fact that an attorney’s ability to practice can be pulled at the whim of the court is strong incentive for an attorney to play by tribal government rules.

That said – a party with an argument against tribal government, who wants to argue their case on the basis of civil rights, will have to appeal out of tribal court into federal court before their attorney can stand and represent them.

Either that, or choose from among the tribal court’s accepted attorneys who could have an interest in protecting the assumed rights of tribal government first and the rights of their client second.

Congress – you continually claim to be protecting tribal members while at the same time laying law upon law forcing tribal members into a box, with no options other than forced submission to a corrupt tribal government.

(Again – the current version of the Violence Against Women Act forces women

    of every heritage

into tribal court where they can be victimized a second time. I will keep saying this until someone wakes up and does something about it.)

All United States citizens are guaranteed Due Process, Equal Protection and Right to Counsel – Unless our Congress has handed jurisdiction of them over to a tribal court.

BTW – just as a reminder: about 60 tribal governments are currently in the process of changing their constitutions to lower the blood quantum necessary for membership. NO one but current tribal members have any say in this decision.

This is likely to happen – and without the personal consent of those who will find themselves caught up in the net.

I don’t know how many individuals these new memberships will affect, but you can imagine the number of children, like Veronica, with less than 5% heritage, who will now fall under ICWA. They will change overnight from being average American citizens with full rights under the United States Constitution, to being defined as “Indian Children” without full protection of U.S. constitutional rights.

I am in Indiana now. I might stop to see my editor today. We’ve worked together for about a year, but haven’t yet met face to face.

Grace be with you –

Lisa

Sep 202013
 
Sweet Girl Don't Die

Scriptural Basis for Social ActionDear, dear friends:  Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and spiritual and emotional support over the years.  When I think back to the state Roland and I were in when we first came to Jesus Christ, I am so extremely grateful for all the kind, patient people who came alongside and walked us through very troubled, difficult times.

I don’t know what we would have done – had we not come into the loving, compassionate community that the Lord led us to.

What is happening today is difficult, but not like it was back then. Having gotten through those years, I know we can get through anything.

Thank you so much for standing strong despite the recent harsh attacks.    When under this kind of attack – being told that we are not only NOT Christian, but we are stumbling blocks for tribal members to come to Christ – it can leave a horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach.  It is vital that all of our supporters search their souls and pray.  I know the amount Roland and I prayed about all this and the number of people who have prayed with us through the years.  We’ve already been back and forth and sideways about it all.  I stand comfortably in what we have been doing – knowing that I am, indeed, doing what God has asked of me.

I pray that all our supporters feel secure in their conviction as well.  If not – be certain to talk and pray about it with your pastors and others close to you. It is important for everyone to feel comfortable in where they stand.

What gives assurance is the many people who have written or called over the years to say, “Thank You. Your ministry was a blessing for our family.”   They don’t even know how much it means to hear this from them, especially during difficult times.   May God continue to bless each and every one of them.

Although no brick and mortar church or Christian organization has come along side to help this ministry, we are not alone in this walk in the least.Dying In Indian Country

To have Reed Elley, former Minister of Parliament from Canada and a Baptist minister who had raised children of Native heritage, call Roland and I out of the blue in 2001 – and tell us he had read my manuscript (which I had sent to one of his colleagues, never having heard of Reed Elley before) and tell us that he was 100% behind what we are doing and saying – and to continue to be a friend and prayer support from that point forward, has been amazing.

Dr. William B. AllenTo have Dr. William B. Allen, former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, not only make the effort to meet with us in Washington DC on three separate occasions, but to be the keynote speaker at our ICWA forum on October 29, 2011, in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing room, and to write a forward to my book, has been amazing.Rob Natelson

And it hasn’t been just Christian friends, alone, walking with us.

Rob Natelson, the same Rob Natelson cited by Justice Clarence Thomas in his June, 2013, concurrence in the case “Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl,” who had been a supportive friend since around 1995 or so, called in 2002 to tell me he had finally read a copy of my manuscript and was amazed.  He wanted me to continue writing like that. At the time, he knew I was considering law school as he had written a recommendation for me.  So I asked him, “Rob, should I write or go to law school?” He couldn’t answer right away. He had to think about it.  In the end, he told me to write.

I am so, so grateful for the long term strength and support of people like this – as well as so many other amazing friends and supporters.   Their encouragement helps ward off fiery darts of the enemy.

Thank you, Jesus, for all the wonderful people who have come alongside us through the years.  I would continue doing what I am doing even if totally alone… but the fact that I am not alone makes me tear up with thankfulness.   Thank you, Jesus, for the blessed gift of friends.

  •  Gal. 2:10   “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”
  • Prov. 31:8-9   “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
  • Acts 5:29   “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men.”

The phone call with Roland’s sister the other night helped keep perspective as well.  My sister-in-law, “Annie,”committing slow suicide as we have seen so many in our extended family do, wants me to come be with her and give her courage to have triple bypass surgery.  But… we went over this same potential surgery last September when she was here with me for ten days or so and ended up in the hospital.  She and I both know… she refused it then – and isn’t going to do it, now, either.  She does not want to quit drinking long enough to stay in the hospital and get healthy.  That is the reality.  Because I am four hours away, my not being there is a convenient reason not to do the surgery.

Sierra Campbell, celebrating her high school graduation with her adoptive family

Sierra Campbell, celebrating her high school graduation with her adoptive family

We talked about the possibility of her not waking up in the morning.  I told her to go to her doctor and tell them she changed her mind. As soon as she is in the hospital, I will go sit with her every minute and not leave. We talked about her drinking herself to death as her sister had done.  I asked her if she is ready to go to heaven.

This is what it is all about.  This is what it is all about.

“When I call on Jesus, all things are possible….”   Dear Jesus, I am calling on you.

 

Is ICWA a distraction from helping people to know Jesus?

Our org is both a family Advocacy AND a Christian ministry.  Family advocacy IS a Christian Ministry, but they are also two different things.  Both necessary.

As much as our detractors want to make this all about Veronica being taken from her birth father…we have been at this for years before Veronica was taken from her home by an unconstitutional federal law.  Despite the complicated matter this case has become, we can’t give up on a 7-year old boy who is threatened with removal from his non-tribal grandmother in order to be given to a tribal grandmother who has neglected him in the past.  He is currently under threat simply because a tribal social worker says this is what is happening and there isn’t anything that the other family can do about it.

Is ICWA a distraction from helping people to know Jesus?   The emotional and physical needs of this little boy is a current hands-on reality and has been placed before us.   The supposition, on the other hand, that we could cause someone to reject Jesus Christ is merely a supposition.  It may or may not have validity.  However, the purpose the supposition was said had nothing to do with sincere concern for Salvation. It was said to hurt and quiet us.

We can’t give up on that little boy, nor can we give up on a 3-year-old girl in a north-eastern state with strong and very real emotional and attachment issues, nor can we give up on any of the other families we are working with.  We can’t drop these children and families out of fear that someone in another state will reject Jesus and blame it on us.

Isn’t that like… Annie saying she won’t go to surgery if I am not there?

It’s a threat – and a manipulative, but potentially effective one, at that.   Effective in that it is potentially strong enough to change the actions of the accused.  (I am not blaming Annie. I understand why she is doing it)

I love Annie.  I love Annie.  I do not want her to die.  But I can’t change her any more than I could change Roland.

Who was it just the other day that said that Roland was able to change because he had me?  Oh yes – LOL – it was Annie herself on the phone!  I told her, “No. Roland lived with me for ten years prior to coming to Jesus Christ – and I had absolutely no ability to stop his drinking.  It was Jesus Christ who changed Roland.”   She said, “Oh, yeah, I guess that’s right…”

Lord Jesus, what do I do with Annie?  What do I do???

Baptism at Leech Lake, 2005, following CAICW Music Ministry

Baptism at Leech Lake, 2005, following CAICW Music Ministry

Our evangelical ministry MUST become more of a reality.  The RJM home MUST become more than just a dream.   How many times during my talk with Annie did I wish it was already a reality?  How I wish for a place that can help my family and others with huge, insurmountable addictions.

But our ministry to children and families fighting federal Indian policy is just as much a true ministry and need.  Both aspects of the ministry have potential to bring people to the Saving Knowledge of Jesus Christ. 

It is about reaching out to help where the need is.  Do you sit back and do nothing while watching someone put a noose around their neck?  Do you say it is none of your business?  Do you chase a drunk off of a 10-year-old girl, or do you cower in fear and vow to notify the authorities as soon as you get around to it?

KNOWING that abuse and neglect are occurring at the high levels we know it is occurring, it would be despicable to look the other way and obediently do what tribal and federal government tells us to do – just so as not to make anyone mad.  Forget it.

 

 – BTW – to those who are good enough to be concerned about how our money is spent: It is always good to be on one’s toes and monitor non-profits about that kind of thing.  Corruption can occur at many levels and is especially hateful if children are being exploited.   But to save you time and energy, you can note that I have already written openly about our expenses – and documents have been filed to the appropriate agencies.    Read here –  How I Make Money off of Kids and Unsuspecting Donors: Transparency is a virtue

False accusations for the sole purpose of hurting and shutting people up is not a virtue.  Sign petitions with garbage written on them, demand an investigation. Whatever.  Your efforts are in vain.  I won’t stop speaking and writing.   You are just giving me more to write about.

 

TRAMP FOR THE LORD.

An email sent to friends a couple weeks ago….

Prayer friends,

I am going to roll up my sleeves and do what needs to be done… This is a new season of life.  I am packing up and hitting the road this fall. I am going to DC to stay there for a little while, “educating” legislators, as well as traveling wherever needed to encourage, speak, and teach.

Spirit Lake Town Meeting, February , 2013

Spirit Lake Town Meeting, February , 2013

No more playing games.  I have been sickened by what I have seen in Oklahoma and Spirit Lake – not to mention Leech Lake.  Did I tell you that it was Roland’s 16-year old grandson who was shot at ***********   in July?   I hadn’t seen him since Roland passed, and before that, since he was a baby.  He did survive this drug related shooting (possibly drugs or drug money stolen from his own father).

But… I know my husband’s angst.  I know the fear he had for that boy.  If it isn’t as bad as Roland and I have said it is – how come he was able to look at this child and foretell what could become of him?   This is exactly the thing Roland was afraid would happen.  Dear Lord Jesus, this has to stop.

….I am looking to the Lord to direct my time, work, and even where I rest my head at any point in time – whether it be in DC, Florida, Kansas, or any of the 50 states.

I am truly looking forward to God guiding and directing everything.

I realize that our detractors won’t be satisfied unless we are in agreement with them.  Those who claim we are “pushing Indians away from the Lord” appear to be people who despise Jesus anyway, and are just tossing that out in an attempt to somehow hurt.  Clearly, they don’t fully understand who Jesus is and what He actually stood for.

After all, he wasn’t nailed to the cross because everyone loved what he had to say.  And Stephen wasn’t stoned to death out of love, either.  I could continue on with the apostles, Polycarp, John Hus, etc., but I will stop there.   Taking an actual stand for Christ isn’t always a warm, fuzzy thing.

What is being done to children in the name of tribal sovereignty is horrific – and I won’t shut up about it.

For others who say they are Christians but question our heart and commitment to the Lord… They have forgotten the key responsibility of those truly concerned about the actions of Christan brethren:

Matt 18:15 – “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” (NIV)

In other words – “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” (NLT)

IN other words – “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” (KJV)

None of the accusers have come to me first, privately, to ask questions and find out truth.  On the contrary they have immediately believed the worst and lashed out.
I look forward to our Christian brethren coming to me personally to talk over issues with our ministry.  It will be much easier in a one-on-one situation for me to point out the Scripture our ministry has stood on for these last fifteen years or so and perhaps share with them some of the feedback we have gotten from various families concerning the blessing this ministry has been for them.  I can even show them letters.

 

Thank you to all our friends who have stood by us through thick and thin.

Thank you, Jesus, for continually guiding, directing, and even carrying us at times.  Thank, thank you, dear Lord.  Please put a hedge of protection around all of us and our families as we continue this work.

 

Destination Heaven

Sep 142013
 
FAMILY, 2000

I was interviewed this week by an AP reporter.  Wishing to avoid a repeat of the disingenuous interview I had two weeks earlier with the reporter from “Religion” News Service, who did NOT report who did NOT report things as they were actually said, I asked the AP reporter if she wouldn’t mind writing questions down for me.  I told her that I could then either simply write out my answers (ensuring accuracy for both of us) or talk on the phone.

This are my responses to her six questions:

 

1.       Can you talk about the founding of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare. Why did you and your husband want to start the organization?

This was all explained to the reporter, Angela Aleiss of Religion News Service, as well. None of it was important enough to include in her article.  As you have spent time reporting on things in the Dakotas, I am praying you will be able to see his heart a little easier than this reporter from Los Angeles was able to.

My husband was a man of 100% Minnesota Chippewa heritage. He grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation in the 1950′s. He didn’t speak English until he was 5 years old and began kindergarten. His fondest memories were of “ricing season” – the time in the early fall when the wild rice was ripe on the lake and the community would pitch tents down there and spend a couple weeks “ricing” the traditional way. He said it was like the Christmas Holiday is for us.

Roland and his newborn, 1990We had five children together and raised four of his relatives’ children as well. They were placed with us through ICWA – their parents were addicted to crack. So that was nine kids total. (not a total of 13 as stated by the other reporter)  When the four came to stay with us, they were all very young. The youngest was only a year old. I had 8 kids under the age of 8 at the time (and one 12-year-old)

It was, as you can imagine, very difficult. I raised all of the kids to the age of 18 (although one was in therapeutic care for a couple years). I kept the four even through my husband’s terminal illness. You see, he was very afraid of turning them back to the tribe – even though we were struggling very hard to raise them all. He had seen too many very bad things happen to children in his family. He knew what his extended family was capable of doing to children. We knew of physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect. I was at the funeral of a 2-yr-old who was beaten to death. I chased a drunk off of a 10-yr-old girl. He didn’t know I was on the bed when he pushed her onto my legs, trying to take her pants off. And there is so much more.

The other reporter, despite being told this, chose to make the story about me and MY motivation for getting involved.

As a man of 100% heritage – my husband had made the decision to raise his kids elsewhere, off the reservation, because of the danger and corruption going on at Leech Lake.

The fact is – he isn’t alone. 75% of tribal members, (according to the last two U.S. censuses) do NOT live on the reservation. Many have left for the same reason he did (not all have left for the same reasons – but many)

Because of his fear of his children ever being raised on the reservation, he feared what would happen if we both died. He had also become a Christian and had led me to the Lord. This can be confirmed by his cousins as well as many others who were around at the time.  He was determined to raise his children Christian and so wanted me to be a Christian as well. He did not want t

Roland and Senator Conrad Burns, 1997

Roland and Senator Conrad Burns, 1997; Click for link to his 1998 Senate Testimony

he tribe to move the kids to the reservation or place them with relatives. If he died, he wanted one of our Christian friends to finish raising our kids.

So – it is for all these reasons that he disliked the Indian Child Welfare Act and began to speak out against it. This was in the 1990′s. We made a website – and as we wrote about the law, people across the country began to contact him.

You see, at the time, when you would google ICWA – all you would get is all the sites that supported ICWA. Ours was the only one that didn’t. So people began to contact us and ask for help. Tribal members and non-members. Birth parents, foster parents, and adoptive parents.

Their stories broke our hearts. Lots of abuse of children – by tribal

governments. But we were just two parents, no different than them. Roland continued to speak up though, and had opportunity to give testimony to the Senate Committee, among other opportunities.

In February 2004, we founded the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare so we could help other families better. It has been a blessing every time we have been able to help someone – because we are small and simply do the best we can. We give all credit to God for whatever we are able to do.

When Melanie Capobianco first contacted us in July of 2011, we did our best to help her as well. I have found her to be a very sweet, kind, thoughtful, woman. She has been able to back up everything she has said with documentation.  As the Supreme Court of the United States noted, the ICWA should NOT have been used to prevent this adoption. According to Oklahoma law, there is only 90 days after birth in which a father can show his interest in paternity. If he does not do this, he loses his right to object to an adoption. He is not considered a legal parent.

Mr. Brown exceeded that. He also exceeded the limits under South Carolina law. He admitted in the first family court – documented on the court record for all to see – that he did not, in truth, make any attempt to contact, inquire about, or provide for this baby in any way, shape or form. By the laws of both states, he had lost his right to object to an adoption. In the meantime, Matt Capobianco was there at the birth and cut the cord. THAT is the fact that the states (and SCOTUS) have been ruling on.

2.       What, in your opinion, are the problems with ICWA? Why is it harmful?

We are told time and again that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) isn’t about race or percentages, but about preserving a dying culture.

There is much benefit in enjoying ones heritage and culture.

Everyone of us has a historical heritage. Some hold great value to it and want to live the traditional culture (to a certain extent. Few try to REALLY live traditional), others only want to dabble for fun – but others aren’t interested at all.

My children have the option of enjoying Ojibwe traditional, German Jewish, Irish Catholic, and Scottish Protestant heritage. We told them as they were growing up that each one of their heritages are interesting and valuable. (While at the same time making it clear that Jesus is the only way, truth and life.)

Most of us whose families have been in America for more than a couple generations are multi-heritage. Even most tribal members are multi-heritage. All individuals have a right to choose which heritage they want to identify with. If one of my children were to choose to identify with his or her Irish heritage, it would be racist for anyone – even a Congressman – to say that their tribal heritage was more important.

Beth, September 1987There are times to speak softly, and other times when people and situations need to be firmly set right.  This is a time for firmness. For those who think I don’t have a right to speak because I am not “native,” think again.  As long as they are claiming multi-heritage children, I have a right to and WILL speak. They are claiming jurisdiction over MY children and grandchildren.

Reality Check: It is up to families and their ethnic communities to preserve traditional culture amongst themselves if they value it. That is the same no matter what heritage is the question.  Many groups do this by living or working in close proximity – such as in Chinatown, or Dearborn, Michigan – or any of the ethnic neighborhoods within large cities. It is a very normal thing for humans to do.

But no other community has asked the federal government to enforce cultural compliance to that community.  The federal government has NO right to be forcing a heritage or culture onto an individual or family.  Contrary to what Congress assumed, my children are NOT the tribal government’s children – nor are they “commerce” under the “Commerce Clause” the ICWA was based on.

To those who constantly parrot that “white people” are “stealing” THEIR children, Wrong:  TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS are currently stealing OUR birth children.

I am NOT comfortable phrasing it that way IN THE LEAST. I try to avoid talking about race in ways that give it any kind of validity.  Tribal governments and the BIA, although claiming to the contrary, are the ones making “race” an issue.

  • There is no gene in our DNA for “race” according to the Genome Project. All there is are genes from familial traits such as color of hair and shape of cheekbones, etc.  In fact, the Genome Project has traced all DNA back to one singular family.
  • Those ‘DNA tests’ for ‘race’ don’t actually test for race. They test for the genes that show up primarily within a people group – in actuality a “family” gene – and the location of that people group is mapped.  The assumption is then made that this is a “racial marker.”
  • There is NO inherent gene in persons of Native American descent that will cause them to have “Split Feather” if not raised within Indian Country. “Specialists” in “Split Feather” simply blame any mental health issue that comes up on this fictitious malady.  The “studies” on “Split Feather” have serious flaws – i.e: taking a small sample of children, some of whom have alcohol related birth defects, who had been abused and neglected by birth parents and then placed in Caucasian foster homes – and blaming ALL later emotional difficulties on the fact that they were in Caucasian homes without any real regard for the precipitating issues.
  • My husband and I did not make race an issue in our multi-heritage home. Although we recognized the treasure in all heritages, we chose to make Jesus the bigger and better focus.

Those who accuse us of genocide for demanding that tribal government keep their hands off our kids need to get something straight.  They are free to raise their children in the manner they see best. They are NOT free to raise MY children in the manner they see best – nor are they free to do so with the thousands of families across the United States who feel the same way that we do.

Targeting other people’s kids to bolster membership rolls might be easier than doing the work necessary to keep one’s own children within the reservation community – but that isn’t something we are standing for anymore.

Reality Check: 75% of tribal members, according to the last two U.S. Census’, do NOT live in Indian Country. Some continue to value the reservation system and culture, but by the admission of tribal leaders who bemoan the loss of tradition – MOST do not.  Individual tribal members are making private and personal choices. To continue blaming it on “white” people is disingenuous.

Our boysPersonal experience: While taking Ojibwe language classes for a year to learn more about my husband’s culture – I attempted to encourage our household to speak it more.  Boy, was I in for a surprise.  My husband who spoke it fluently from birth, wasn’t interested in having the kids learn it. His teenage nephews, who I was raising at the time, weren’t the least bit interested in learning it. And you know what? THAT was their choice! My husband was a man – my nephews were free individuals. No one has a right to force them to conform to what tribal government thinks is best.

If people are leaving Indian Country and turning their backs on culture and the reservation system – that is something Tribal governments are going to have to look inward to resolve.

Reality Check: Tribal members are individuals with their own hearts and minds – not robots ready to be programmed by the dogma spewed in “Indian Country Today.”  Further, they are U.S. Citizens – and many, despite the rhetoric of a few – value being U.S. citizens.

If people are turning their back on traditional Indian culture and embracing American culture — that’s no different than what happens with any heritage in close proximity to other heritages. It’s been a reality to civilizations forever. China tried to prevent it for centuries.  North Korea is trying it today.  But to keep things forever the same – a government has to suppress the rights of the populace – many times with cruelty.  However, no dictatorship has been able to keep it up forever.

Those yelling and screaming about it being the fault of “white” people who adopted babies and the fault of boarding schools from 50 years ago and the fault of everyone else – need to wake up. Free-thinking individuals have been taking their kids and leaving the reservation system in droves for decades. It is no one’s fault. It is life.  It’s probably even the REAL reason ICWA was enacted. (Blaming the exodus on “White” adoptive homes just sounded better – there was more of a hook in it than “our people are simply taking their kids and leaving.”)

Reality Check: Stealing babies won’t solve the problem because many of them will grow up and leave as well.

Extending membership criteria to match that of the Cherokee Nation – as 60 tribal governments are currently considering doing  – won’t solve the problem either. It is only going to further open the eyes of the rest of America, and further anger those of us who do not want oppressive and predatory tribal govt touching our children, grandchildren, or great-great grandchildren.

Tribal leaders can NOT force other families to submit to their value system. That is why ICWA is totally unconstitutional. They are attempting to force many people of heritage to preserve something they have personally decided isn’t of value to them.

Now – I realize that tribal governments will turn that statement around and make it about ME – claiming I am out destroy tribal culture and commit Genocide and again totally ignore the fact that tribal members themselves are fleeing Indian Country.

Nope.  I said you can’t force tribal members who are not interested in preserving the culture to submit to the demands of the few who DO want to preserve it. You are forcing your values down the throats of people who have decided to live differently and have chosen to raise their children differently.

Example. I have a niece that is 50% Native American, 50% African American, who has decided to be Muslim and raise her children Muslim.

That isn’t me doing it.  She knows her Uncle wanted her to know Jesus.  That is an individual making her own decision – no matter how her uncle would feel about it – or how tribal Government feels about it.

 

3.       Some people are surprised that your husband, who was Native American, spoke out about his displeasure with the Act. Why was that?

Just why would a family decide that reservation life is not what they choose for their family? The reasons are many.

Sweet Girl Don't DieWhat cannot be denied is that a large number of Native Americans are dying from alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide and violence. Further, scores of children are suffering emotional, physical and sexual abuse as a result – and the Indian Child Welfare Act is trapping more and more children into this unacceptable system.

While many tribal governments continue to fund congressional candidates who promise to increase tribal sovereignty, the voices of the children who are at the mercy of corrupt government continue to go unheard.  The truth is that some tribal governments are not protecting the children in their “custody.”  Instead, they are gathering children where they can because federal funding allocations are based on the U.S. census and tribal rolls.

Our book, Dying in Indian Country, tells exactly why Roland felt the way he did about ICWA and about tribal sovereignty in general.  It provides a real glimpse into some of the unacceptable conditions his family has lived in – and I am not referring to poverty.  We have been very comfortable with poverty.  Living low income isn’t a bad thing.  But violence, child abuse and child neglect is.  ‘Dying in Indian Country’ tells the story of our family – which after years of alcoholism and pain, comes to realize that corrupt tribal government, dishonest Federal Indian Policy, welfare policy, and the controlling reservation system has more to do with the current despair than the tragedies that occurred 150 years ago.

 “Dying in Indian Country is a compassionate and honest portrayal… I highly recommend it to you.” Reed Elley, former Member of Parliament, Canada; Chief Critic for Indian Affairs in 2000, Baptist Pastor, Father of four Native and Métis children

“He was a magnificent warrior who put himself on the line for the good of all…I can think of no one at this time, in this dark period of Indian history, who is able to speak as Roland has.”  Arlene,Tribal Member

“…truly gripping, with a good pace.” Dr. William B. Allen, -Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1989)

 

4.       Can you give some examples of how ICWA has, in your opinion, caused problems for individuals or families?

 – This 3-year-old was beaten to death in June, three months ago, after having been taken screaming from the safe, loving home she had been in Bismarck –

http://caicw.org/2013/06/21/a-child-dies-and-dozens-more-remain-in-abusive-homes-ignored-by-the-bia/

Washiington DC, February 2013

Washiington DC, February 2013

 

– Sierra came with us to DC in February, 2013 and told her story to Congressional offices – how she was taken from the only home she loved (albeit Caucasian) and placed with an uncle who she was forced to sleep with at the age of 10.  She begged to be allowed to go “home” to the people who wanted to adopt her.  They would not let her go – until she was 16 and they cut her down from a rope when she tried to hang herself.

http://www.startribune.com/local/190953261.html?refer=y

 – A birth mom stands up for herself:

http://www.xojane.com/issues/my-uterus-will-not-be-used-to-fill-your-tribal-rolls-i-fought-the-icwa-and-won?utm_medium=facebook

 – An official report from Thomas Sullivan, Regional Director of the ACF, Denver office, concerning the abuse at Spirit Lake.  There is a link to his 12th report as well.

http://caicw.org/2013/04/05/13th-mandated-report-re-spirit-lake-child-abuse/

Jose Rodrigues 2005

Removed from Hispanic grandparents home due to ICWA, he was beaten at maternal grandmothers home for speaking Spanish.

 – This family wrote to us recently and asked me to post their story  –

http://caicw.org/2013/09/08/like-veronica-this-child-is-hurt-by-icwa/

 – Rebuttal to the NPR series:

http://caicw.org/2011/11/21/rebuttal-to-nprs-icwa-series-from-the-mother-of-enrolled-children/

 – Other evidence of harm:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/us/focus-on-heritage-hinders-foster-care-for-indians.html?_r=2&

 – Two years ago – I had the letters from various families arranged much better on our website. Some people decided to help me with it and it’s not quite as I like it anymore… I still have to find time to arrange it my way again…  But this is a link to many stories…    http://caicw.org/family-advocacy/letters-from-families-2/

There are many, many more.  I think its’ been a good two years since I have been able to put newer letters up.

 

5.        How has the Baby Veronica case shed light on ICWA?

Some wonder why Capobianco supporters don’t side with a father whose child is being taken from him. Some have even questioned the authenticity of Christians who would support the Capobiancos. (Forgetting that even Jesus was raised by an adoptive father.)

One must understand that many Capobianco supporters have been there since the day they first saw, either in person or on video, the horror of not only having one’s child taken, but –

1) taken without the benefit of a caring transition, and –

2) taken solely due to 1% heritage, (as the father’s admitted abandonment of the child would have prevailed otherwise.)

Matt, Melanie & Veronica Capobianco

Matt, Melanie & Veronica Capobianco

Just 1.12% heritage. 

Since then, the Cherokee Nation has put on a show, shaking signs that claim “genocide” and claiming that “white people” are stealing “Indian” babies.

1.12% heritage.

If a C supporter brings up the 1% heritage, their statement is twisted and they are accused of racism – despite that it was the Cherokee Nation that brought the 1% into issue.

1.12% heritage.

As much as the Cherokee Nation, ‘Indian Country Today’, NICWA, NARF, and others want to spin it as a “citizen” issue – it is not spinning. Very few people – including many tribal members in Oklahoma and elsewhere – are falling for the “citizen” claim – especially when “citizenship” is being forced on children.

At 1.12% heritage.

Ardent supporters of the Cherokee Nation, either purposefully spinning for PR or snowed by their own rhetoric, fail to see how disgusted many others are by the claim that “white people” are stealing “Indian” babies.. Many Americans can see that claim for the dishonesty it is – but few have wanted to speak it. While it is okay for a tribal entity to speak in terms of race and percentages, it is deemed “racist” for anyone else to. But I will say what is on the hearts of many. This was no Indian Child being stolen by “White” people.

It was a Caucasian/Hispanic child, stolen by a tribe.

That is the bottom line.

As the Cherokee Nation continues to encourage and assist Mr. Brown in defying state and federal law, it is an overtly obvious fact. And that is why the Cherokee Nation and tribal governments in general aren’t getting the traction on their genocide spin (outside of  ‘Indian Country Today’) that they somehow thought they would.

When you are talking about OUR children – which this child was – NOT an Indian child – you should expect hostility when trying to claim that child as the Tribe’s.

BIA - DCAND if 60 more tribal governments attempt to lower their membership criteria – as 60 are talking about doing – to CN levels and begin to target children of minute heritage – as the Cherokee Tribe has – they should not expect to get sympathy. They should expect a strong push back.

They should expect push back because now, due to the Veronica horror – a whole lot of Americans who would have otherwise remained oblivious to the issue, have woken up to what is happening and are outraged by the ICWA stories they are hearing. Many now want ICWA to be repealed.

Americans’ are not buying the rhetoric that tribal governments should have jurisdiction over children of 1% heritage. It is hard enough to justify ICWA jurisdiction over a child who is 25% tribal heritage – as the child is still 75% another heritage. Even children of a parent who is 100% – such as my own – have a right to be free from tribal government jurisdiction. Even individuals of 100% heritage have a right to be free of tribal government interference in their lives and families – if that is what they choose.

So do we feel angry? Yup.

Is there a Christian purpose and righteousness in that anger? Absolutely.

– “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” (Mark 10:13-16 ESV)

Having raised nine tribal members, five of whom are my birth children, and seen much tragedy, child abuse, sexual abuse, suicide, and other horrors on more than a few reservations – and having an advisory board and membership of parents who have raised, adopted and witnessed the same – we know far too much about tribal governments seeking children for the federal dollars, then showing little or no interest in what happens to them once they have been “retrieved” for the tribe and placed with a member. We won’t be bullied or intimidated.

We have known of far too many kids abused in ICWA homes, and some even murdered.

(Don’t even try to argue that point with me; I had been an ICWA approved home myself for 17 years. I know how little the tribal social services paid attention.)

So, concerning this particular case, in summary – for those who are flabbergasted that we would not be supporting the father – understand this: from the get-go,

1) Mr. Brown has been seen as an extremely selfish man.

2) The Cherokee Nation has been seen as an extremely selfish organization – using this child as a political pawn.

What appalls us is that not only were Mr. Brown and the Cherokee Nation willing to hurt this child deeply the first time a transfer took place – by taking her without any concern for her need of a transition – but even worse, Mr. Brown and the Cherokee Nation are now willing to do it to her a 2nd time.

How in the world are we expected to sympathize with people who do that?

http://caicw.org/2013/09/01/taking-veronica-from-a-loving-father/

 

6.      Anything else you’d like to add?

Mr. James Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples,urges “relevant authorities” to maintain Veronica’s “cultural identity” and “maintain relations with her indigenous family and people.” The fact is that Veronica’s family is primarily of European descent and that is therefore much more of her “cultural identity” then her 1% Cherokee ancestry.

Veronica Capobianco's RightsIf Mr. Anaya  really cared about Veronica’s rights – he would advocate for her right to be an individual with freedom to choose her own identity. But he doesn’t honestly care about Veronica’s rights. He cares only for tribal sovereignty and the “right” of government to subjugate people.

In a press release, Mr Anaya stated,

“Veronica’s human rights as a child and as member of the Cherokee Nation, an indigenous people, should be fully and adequately considered in the ongoing judicial and administrative proceedings that will determine her future upbringing,” Mr. Anaya stressed. “The individual and collective rights of all indigenous children, their families and indigenous peoples must be protected throughout the United States.”

Never mind the “individual and collective rights of all United States citizens.” Never mind the children’s families and equally important heritage.

This is racism at its worst – regardless of the spin about it being about citizenship and political affiliation. Those are just fluff terms to gloss over the racial discrimination evident every time a supporter of tribal sovereignty states that “White people” are stealing tribal children, or that “White people” are guilty of genocide every time they adopt.

The claim that “White people” can’t possibly raise a “Native American Child” is especially offensive – in that most enrollable children are multi-heritage, primarily Caucasian.

Wake up people – hundreds of thousands of “Native American Children” have been and are currently being raised successfully by their own “White” birth parents.

If I can successfully raise my own birth children – so can my sister and my best friend.

You are absolutely right that this is about politics, not “race,” Mr. Arayo. If I had to choose between a friend (no matter the heritage) and someone with your political bias to adopt and raise my children – you lose.

We are not interested in honoring the racial prejudice of the Indian Industry supporters. A stranger from my conservative Church community (no matter the heritage) is preferable to a stranger beholden to Tribal government.

Keep politically biased, predatory, self-serving and profiting hands off of our kids. Period.

 

 

LASTLY – re: All the belly-aching about how “Un-Christian” we are being:

If certain groups want to believe it is “Un- Christian” to side with individuals, families, and human rights over horrific Government oppression – than so be it. I am tired of hearing the accusation that we aren’t being “real” Christians.

  1. Are they suggesting that Jesus threw money-changers out of the temple and called Pharisees “Dogs” because he was timid and didn’t want to offend anyone?
  2. Or that he was hung from the cross because everyone loved hearing what he had to say?

No, actually, this is what being Christian is about:

Ps. 82:3-4 (Psalmist to the kings) ”Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the week and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Prov. 29:7 “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”

Prov. 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Isa. 1:17 “learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the fatherless , plead the cause of the widow.”

Isa. 10:1-3 (God, through Isaiah, to the Israelites) ”Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?

Jer. 22:16-17 “He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ Declares the Lord, ‘but your eyes are set on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.”

Acts 5:29 “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!”

Jn. 15:18-21 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world., That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.”

Matt 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Col. 3:24 “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

My husband and I prayed for years about what we were saying and doing and long ago came to the solid conclusion that it was the right thing to do before God. This org can’t be bullied about it now.  We are past it.

Roland Preaching a Sermon in Juarez, Mexico

Roland Preaching a Sermon in Juarez, Mexico, June 2003

Baptism in Leech Lake, 2007

Baptism in Leech Lake, 2007

 

Sep 142013
 
Washington DC, January 2011

Yes, Veronica, there may be no Santa Claus, but there is a God and there is work being done to amend ICWA.

Washington DC, February 2013

Washington DC, February 2013

Some very kind, concerned supporters of justice have begun a petition to amend the Indian Child Welfare Act. We appreciate the effort very, very much.   But after having been urged several times to act on the petition, I need to explain why we an’t work on the petition.

Many of our newer friends are unaware that draft legislation to amend the ICWA has already been written and presented to various Congressmen.   I am a little afraid of possibly a conflict in wording or goals.

This legislation was written by one of the best ICWA attorneys in the nation and introduced by the Coalition for the ‘Protection of Indian Children and Families’ to legislative offices last summer, 2012.  The ICWA attorney based his wording on the primary reasons families are coming to him for help – the most noted issues with how ICWA was hurting children and families.

It has been on somewhat of a hold during the Veronica proceedings.  Well… actually, the hold was only meant to be until the United States Supreme Court had ruled.  Congressmen needed to know what the Justices had to say about the case before they could move forward further with the bill.

The court has ruled – but these last two months have been nuts, taking everyone’s time and energy.  Further, Congress recesses in August.

BUT – it is now September.  Thank you all for the reminder concerning the legislation.  According to attorney’s I have consulted – because no real resources of our organization are being spent or used on the legislation – and because I don’t get paid by CAICW but am entirely volunteer, there isn’t much concern about my discussing it a little bit.

So it is time to get back into the saddle with the legislation. I will be rolling up my sleeves and leaving for DC as soon as I put various things in order here at home – hopefully within the next couple weeks.

For your information, here is the amendment wording as it stood last summer.  There MIGHT be changes made following the Veronica events. I can’t say for certain as I am not an attorney.  But this is what we stood on last summer.

 ICWA Amendments 11-11-12

 

PLEASE join us in urging your Congress members – as well as the President – to change ICWA.

 

Washington DC, January 2011

Washington DC, January 2011

 

 

 

Sep 092013
 
Sweet Girl Don't Die
Baptism in Leech Lake, 2007

Baptism in Leech Lake, 2007

We are told time and again that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)  isn’t about race or percentages, but about preserving a dying culture.

There is much benefit in enjoying ones heritage and culture.

Everyone of us has a historical heritage. Some hold great value to it and want to live the traditional culture (to a certain extent. Few try to REALLY live traditional), others only want to dabble for fun – but others aren’t interested at all.

My children have the option of enjoying Ojibwe traditional, German Jewish, Irish Catholic, and Scottish Protestant heritage. We told them as they were growing up that each one of their heritages are interesting and valuable. (While at the same time making it clear that Jesus is the only way, truth and life.)

Most of us whose families have been in America for more than a couple generations are multi-heritage. Even most tribal members are multi-heritage. All individuals have a right to choose which heritage they want to identify with. If one of my children were to choose to identify with his or her Irish heritage, it would be racist for anyone – even a Congressman – to say that their tribal heritage was more important.

There are times to speak softly, and other times when people and situations need to be firmly set right.  This is a time for firmness. For those who think I don’t have a right to speak because I am not “native,” think again.  As long as you are claiming multi-heritage children, I have a right to and WILL speak.

Reality Check: It is up to families and their ethnic communities to preserve traditional culture amongst themselves if they value it. That is the same no matter what heritage is the question.  Many groups do this by living or working in close proximity – such as in Chinatown, or Dearborn, Michigan – or even ethnic neighborhoods within a large town. It is a very normal thing for humans to do.

But no other community has asked the federal government to enforce cultural compliance to that community.  The federal government has NO right to be forcing a heritage or culture onto an individual or family.  Contrary to what Congress assumed, my children are NOT the tribal government’s children – nor are they “commerce” under the “Commerce Clause” the ICWA was based on.

To those who constantly parrot that “white people” are “stealing” THEIR children, Wrong:  TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS are currently stealing OUR birth children.

To those who are accusing us of genocide for demanding that tribal government keep their hands off our kids – get something straight, you are free to raise your children in the manner you see best. You are NOT free to raise MY children in the manner you see best.

Targeting other people’s kids to bolster membership rolls might be easier than doing the work necessary to keep your own children within the reservation community – but that isn’t something we are standing for anymore.

Reality Check: 75% of tribal members, according to the last two U.S. Census’, do NOT live in Indian Country. Some continue to value the reservation system and culture, but by your own admission – with your own statistics, such as losing 4 Indian languages a year – that is individual tribal members choosing NOT to speak the language. To continue blaming it on “white” people is disingenuous.

How can that I say that?  While taking Ojibwe language classes for a year to learn more about my husband’s culture – I attempted to encourage our household to speak it more.  Boy, was I in for a surprise.  My husband who spoke it fluently from birth, wasn’t interested in sharing it. His teenage nephews, who I was raising at the time, weren’t the least bit interested in learning it. And you know what? THAT was their choice! My husband was a man – my nephews were free individuals. No one has a right to force them to conform to what tribal government thinks is best.

If people are leaving Indian Country and turning their backs on culture and the reservation system – that is something YOU are going to have to look inward to resolve.

Reality Check: Tribal members are individuals with their own hearts and minds – not robots ready to be programmed by the dogma spewed in “Indian Country Today.”  Further, they are U.S. Citizens – and many, despite the rhetoric of a few – value being U.S. citizens.

If people are turning their back on traditional Indian culture and embracing American culture — that’s life.  (Go ahead and screen shot that and share it with your friends. They need to wake up to reality as well.)

Those yelling and screaming about it being the fault of “white” people who adopted babies and the fault of boarding schools from 50 years ago and the fault of everyone else – need to wake up. Free-thinking individuals have been taking their kids and leaving the reservation system in droves for decades. It is no one’s fault. It is life.  It’s probably even the REAL reason ICWA was enacted. (blaming the exodus on White adoptive homes just sounded better – there was more of a hook in it than “our people are simply taking their kids and leaving.”)

Reality Check: Stealing babies won’t solve the problem because many of them will grow up and leave as well.

Extending membership criteria to match that of the Cherokee Nation – as 60 tribal governments are currently considering doing  – won’t solve the problem either. It is only going to further open the eyes of the rest of America, and further anger those of us who do not want oppressive and predatory tribal govt touching our children, grandchildren, or great-great grandchildren.

You can NOT force other families to submit to your value system. That is why ICWA is totally unconstitutional. You are attempting to force many people of heritage to preserve something they have personally decided isn’t of value to them.

Now – I realize that you are going to turn that statement around and make it about ME – claiming I am out destroy tribal culture and commit Genocide and again totally ignore the fact that tribal members themselves are fleeing Indian Country.

Please note what I factually said. I said you can’t force tribal members who are not interested in preserving the culture to submit to the demands of the few who DO want to preserve it. You are forcing your values down the throats of people who have decided to live differently and have chosen to raise their children differently.

Example. I have a niece that is 50% Native American, 50% African American, who has decided to be Muslim and raise her children Muslim.

That isn’t me doing it.  She knows her Uncle wanted her to know Jesus.  That is an individual making her own decision – no matter how her uncle would feel about it – or how tribal Government feels about it.

 

If you want to believe it is “Un- Christian” to side with individuals, families, and human rights over horrific Government oppression – than so be it. I am tired of hearing the accusation that we aren’t being “real” Christians.

Are you suggesting that Jesus threw money-changers out of the temple and called Pharisees “Dogs” because he was timid and didn’t want to offend anyone?

Or that he was hung from the cross because everyone loved hearing what he had to say?

 

No, actually, this is what being Christian is about:

Ps. 82:3-4 (Psalmist to the kings) ”Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the week and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Prov. 29:7 “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”

Prov. 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Isa. 1:17 “learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the fatherless , plead the cause of the widow.”

Isa. 10:1-3 (God, through Isaiah, to the Israelites) ”Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?

Jer. 22:16-17 “He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ Declares the Lord, ‘but your eyes are set on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.”

Acts 5:29 “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!”

Jn. 15:18-21 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world., That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.”

Matt 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Col. 3:24 “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

 

My husband and I prayed for years about what we were saying and doing and long ago came to the solid conclusion that it was the right thing to do before God. This org can’t be bullied about it now.  We are past it.

 

Roland Preaching a Sermon in Juarez, Mexico

Roland Preaching a Sermon in Juarez, Mexico

 

 

Sep 082013
 
Sunset on the Rez

 In response to Lisa’s Open Letter

by Anonymous – received Sat 9/7/2013 10:44 PM

Jeremiah 1In the Woods by the Lake

New International Version (NIV)

The Call of Jeremiah

The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.

As I read the passage above it occurs to me that like Jeremiah, God had chosen Veronica for this difficult struggle long before he formed her in her mother’s womb. For that matter, Ms. Maldonado, the Cs, the Browns, the attorneys and judges have all been chosen to execute his plan and in the end it will be God’s word and will that will prevail. As Christians this is all we have to understand in order to find comfort and peace as this struggle plays out.

A little over one year ago I too unwittingly joined the crusade to speak out for the injustices and the hurt that ICWA is increasingly causing to good families and helpless children of Native American descent. I feel this story has to be told, because unlike Veronica, it takes place on a reservation and similar stories happen with regularity, but no one ever hears about them. Like Veronica, these children also deserve to live with a permanent, loving family and be afforded all the privileges, rights and opportunities that other children of the United States enjoy as a result of being citizens of the greatest nation on earth.

My intimate struggle with ICWA began years ago when I befriended a Native family living on a reservation. The family was poor, the father having been raised in the bush by people living a very old, sacred traditional life. He came to be raised this way only after being abandoned by his birth parents and spending his earliest years on a work farm where he was physically, emotionally and sexually abused by the church people that ran the farm. As a result, this father never learned to read and write and only learned to speak English in adulthood. The mother of this family grew up on the reservation and experienced the same type of abuse as a child. As a result of their pasts, both of these parents had made a conscious choice not to have children. This was a rare decision indeed. When the wife’s niece and nephew were found to be severely abused in all unthinkable manners by their own parents, grandparents and extended family members, as well as members of the gang their family belonged to, social workers placed the children in this couple’s care. There were no background checks or formal transfer of the children. A year later a drug and alcohol addicted infant came to be in their care through a respite program. Again no background checks. Soon afterwards, the great grandmother of this infant, who was said to have custody of the child, came to them and said for them to raise this child as their own. And they did. In Indian Country, they call this a “traditional adoption.” The only catch was that the grandmother kept the child’s government subsidy. Another common occurrence with Indian foster families. The infant was nurtured and loved as it withdrew from the drugs and the other two children began to make positive progress as a result of the couple’s devotion.

Seven years later, after a long illness, the wife, who was a member of the tribe, passed away. By then, the two older children had been returned to the custody of their father even though he continued to live a bad life. The children were passed to many different caregivers and juvenile programs and most of the good work and progress they had made in the care of my friends soon was lost. The youngest child remained in the custody of the father, while the grandmother continued to receive the child’s check. She did not provide for the child in any way. The man was not a member of the tribe himself so the tribe did nothing to help him support the child. In fact, no tribal members came forward to help him when his wife passed. The father was very worried about how he and the child would make it, so I lent a hand. They both struggled at the loss of the wife/mother.

One year ago, as I was working to set the family up so that they could reside in a safer area of the reservation, the grandmother who had approved the plan, abruptly reclaimed the child who was by now 8 years old. Neither the father or the child wanted to be separated, but the grandmother told the father that he would never get the child back because she would loose her check. Apparently, my involvement and the death of the wife caused a panic.

In the entire 8 years there had never been any social workers involved or background checks or follow up on the well being of the child. That being said, virtually every doctor, teachers, mayors, judges, tribal lawyers, tribal council members and every so called “mandated reporter” knew this child was being raised by the couple and was considered their “legal” child by virtue of the traditional adoption. All of these same people turned a blind eye and refused to help the man and his child. They told him that he had opened a can of worms and to this day father and child are not permitted to see or talk to one another.

Imagine losing the only mother you have ever known and then just a year later being torn from the man you know as your father. What type of cultural was preserved by these actions? Without a question, the child’s best interests were not served. Tribal members burned the man’s property in an attempt to silence him. The man is now homeless and his life and his child’s life will never have the chance to see a happy ending as hopefully Veronica’s will.

When an ICWA injustice is served to you on a reservation, there is little recourse. ICWA children mean a check for the tribe and a check for the caregiver. The tribal government and tribal courts will do ANYTHING to strengthen the ICWA. They do not want stories such as this one (and there are many) to see the light of day because it will expose the uncomfortable truth that even within Indian Country, the ICWA isn’t about preserving culture or serving the best interests of children. The ICWA is the philosophical and financial cornerstone of tribal sovereignty and the fact that children are being sacrificed to further this agenda does not bother those in power.

I witnessed this child being torn from its father, crying “daddy” and trying to cling to him for dear life. The transition time was 3 minutes, not even the hour that the Cs and Veronica were allowed. Shortly after this happened, I found CAICW, and unquestionably, Lisa has been a huge support in a vast sea of people who actively advocate for the ICWA, but many who do so have no idea of what a life confined to a reservation means to a child. There are few if any adults willing or able to speak out against the ICWA. Knowing that regardless of gender, it isn’t a matter of whether a child living on a reservation will be raped, trafficked or abused, but rather when, is a source of constant fear and anxiety for me now because I can do nothing but turn the situation over to our all loving God and trust that He and his angels will see fit to watch over and protect a young child I had come to love and would have gladly offered my life, time, love and financial resources to so that the child could fulfill its full potential.

As the ongoing struggle to return Veronica to her parents continues to unfold, I continue to pray for the right words and the opportunity to speak out for ALL the special children who God has set apart to be his voice in this struggle. I ask all involved, those who support and those who do not support the ICWA, to take time to ask the children how the ICWA is working for them. Why haven’t we asked the children? If this law is meant for them, shouldn’t they have a voice too?

Before my story took place, I knew the ICWA existed and as a self-imposed student of Native American history, I was acutely aware of the historical precedent and destruction of the Native family that was the impetus for the passage of this law. In the past year, as I have struggled and mourned the loss of knowing and communicating with a motherless child, I have followed Veronica’s story, the plight of the children on the Spirit Lake Reservation (which mirrors the stories on the reservation I am intimate with) and I now understand how this law has been corrupted and abused to serve those in power. I have so many beautiful, yet tragic faces of children etched into my memory. I have reached out to some who say they are working to amend the ICWA and asked, “but what about all the kids on the Rez.” One such person told me I was crazy, that it would take a crusade. Well, I’ve been called much worse. I’m happy to be called crazy and to be part of a crusade if it means that just one child will be afforded the same opportunities and love that I have been blessed with in my life.

I thank Lisa and Roland Morris for their EXTREME bravery and courage to do what they felt was right for their family, and for Lisa to speak out about what both she and I know to be true about what it is like to live in Indian Country today. I am so grateful that Lisa is there for so many families struggling with the unintended consequences of this law. I urge people on both sides of this struggle to consider the needs and best interests of the children involved. I pray that we can start an open truthful dialog and that compromises can be reached and political agendas put aside so that THE CHILDREN have some hope for a better future.

In closing, I invite you to join Lisa and CAICW supporters in weekly prayer each Sunday (9 EST, 8 CT, 7 MT, 6 PST) as we pray for ALL children in Indian Country and those to whom their best interest is entrusted. As we pray Ephesians 6, we ask that God’s will be done, in his time and according to his plan. We pray for peace and love to fill the hearts and minds of all those involved in bringing truth, light, justice and permanent families to ALL of God’s children. Amen.

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

 

A CAICW logo from Veronica

Aug 222013
 
Suffer the Children. Sexual Abuse of kids on the Spirit Lake Reservation

In June, 3-year old Laurynn and her twin sister were thrown down an embankment, then kicked in the head while their care-giver stood aside, smoked a cigarette and watched.  Laurynn isn’t the first child to be murdered at Spirit Lake in the last two years. Several have been killed. Other children are being physically and sexually abused as you read this.

Yet federal and state bureaucrats continue to act as it this is a non-issue. Despite numerous pleas for help, the BIA, FBI and U.S. Attorney feign assistance while the abuse continues. When an official actually WANTS to do something to help, like the man below, permission is refused…

IMMEDIATE ACTION: NORTH DAKOTA BUREAUCRAT AND DC SHUT DOWN EFFORT TO HELP SPIRIT LAKE KIDS –“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`

A gov’t official who has CARED about the deaths at Spirit Lake and sent documented report to DC calling for change has been DENIED permission to participate in a fact-finding meeting this week in ND. Please read the bureaucratic garbage he was sent in the letter below.

Further – while Rep. Kevin Cramer was willing to participate in the meeting and Senator Hoeven’s office was sending a rep, Senator Heitlkamp was not sending anyone – and Scott J. Davis, Commissioner, ND Indian Affairs, said he wasn’t going to show unless Senator Hoeven and Heitkamp were there as well! WHY are our state & federal gov’ts NOT addressing the severe abuse occurring on many reservations? Why does DC continue to set up roadblocks. We will NOT stand by and allow this to continue. Below is the letter in full.

It bloviates that a meeting is possible – but whether or not anyone makes any real effort to gather “leaders from multiple ACF offices – when it has been so clear that the DC office has ignored every single report that Mr. Sullivan has sent – is another question. Mr. Sullivan holds a non-refundable plane ticket to Bismarck this next week.

PLEASE CALL ASAP: Please ask these people to allow Tom Sullivan to travel to Bismarck next week to get documentation about the child abuse at Spirit Lake!

George Sheldon: Acting Director of ACF ~ 202-401-5383
MaryAnn: Travel Clerk – 202-401-9216

PLEASE insist that he be allowed to listen to the average people who want to speak to him, that Heitkamp’s office do their job and listen – and that the ND official get off his lazy butt and participate…

A couple more officials below as well….

From: Murray, James (ACF)
Sent: Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:11 AM
To: Sullivan, Thomas (ACF); Delgado, Carol (ACF); Rogers, Thomas (ACF); Ross, Sharon (ACF)
Subject: RE: Itinerary for THOMAS FRANCIS SULLIVAN on 8/27/13 to Bismarck (IGTOZC)

Tom,

Thanks for your patience. ACF’s response to the concerns at the Spirit Lake Nation will have to be generated through a collaborative effort by leaders from multiple ACF offices. Representatives from those offices will have to be included along with you in meetings like the one proposed below, to maximize ACF’s response. Your leadership will be critical in the work of the larger ACF group to address the issues. That being said, I have to deny the travel request at this time. We can revisit the topic once ACF has a chance to mobilize the larger leadership group to begin moving things forward. Let me know if you’d like to discuss it further and I can set up a conference call for tomorrow or early next week.

Sincerely,

James Murray || Acting Director || HHS/ACF/ORO || Desk: (202) 401-4881 || BlackBerry: (202) 253-0217 || Fax: (202) 401-3449 || Email: [email protected]

LETTER RE: Scott Davis:

> From: “Sullivan, Thomas (ACF)
> Date: August 22, 2013, 7:57:01 AM CDT
> To: “Davis, Scott J.” <[email protected]>
> Subject: RE: meeting
>
> Scott:
>
> Thank you for your email.
>
> It seems that both your tone and attitude have changed dramatically in the last 24 hours. It is almost like you have been told to cancel our meeting and are searching for a way to make me pull that trigger so you don’t have to. That is troubling.
>
> I see nothing in my emails to you suggesting anyone interested in helping improve conditions at Spirit Lake should be excluded from this scheduled meeting. Who they are invited by is irrelevant as long as they are at the table.
>
> In my long career I have come to despise those who seek to create a straw man in order to achieve something they are unwilling to place their own hands on. Such folks, I have found, lack both courage and integrity.
>
> I have no idea why someone would wish to cancel this meeting which is being convened, as I understand, solely to discuss how we all might work cooperatively to improve conditions at Spirit Lake. It is hard for me to believe that any responsible person wishes to stop our meeting from occurring, effectively maintaining the status quo.
>
> All the best
>
> Tom
>
> —–Original Message—–
> From: Davis, Scott J. [mailto:[email protected]]
> Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 4:20 PM
> To: Sullivan, Thomas (ACF)
> Subject: Re: meeting
>
> Tom,
>
> No that is not acceptable.
>
> As I said I am happy to meet with all of the stakeholders at the table.
>
> It is important to me to have everyone (federal agencies) who has a role in the solutions to these problems at such a meeting.
>
> Please let me know when you can confirm you have everyone lined up to attend.
>
> Thank you.
>
> Scott J. Davis
> Commissioner
> ND Indian Affairs

Jul 152013
 
http://dyinginindiancountry.com/

Sitting in an airport on my last leg home after a two week break, I’ve been doing http://elizabethsharonmorris.com/some work while waiting.  While away these two weeks, I finished five books – one of which was a book by Corrie ten Boom. It gave me lots to think about – the least of which is how she managed funding for her post-Holocaust ministry.  (I say the “least,” because, obviously, she had many vital things to say.)

But, equally obviously, these comments got my attention.  She determined early on never to ask for money again.  She would leave it to God. Her thoughts and prayers aren’t unlike those of George Muller or the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary.  They all supported their ministry through prayer and faith.

It interested me because we have survived these last …almost ten years now… with extremely limited funding.  I have asked the Lord many times through those years why, if He seriously wants us to do this ministry, we don’t have more funding.  It was confusing because, you would think that money would be a confirmation of blessing on the work.  Why have we never been able to build a good legal fund?

Yet confirmations were coming in other ways; primarily from families telling us how grateful they were that we were there for prayer, friendship and referrals to attorneys.  They thanked us for being here and understanding their problems and emotions.  This seemed to matter more to some than whether or not we had funds for their legal battle.

Now I am thinking about how some of the recent attacks from our opponents have included accusations that we have “just been in this for the money.”

I had to laugh when I first heard that.  I’ve never had a salary for doing this.  But… although salary would have been nice and many times I thought I would burst trying to do this work while working a “real” job at the same time –  a salary apparently wasn’t necessary.  We survived without it.  We have also been blessed in that an office and major office expenses were also unnecessary.  My functional desk cost $25 at a rummage sale.  I found two boxes of paper (20 reams of paper per box) that someone was throwing away three years ago or so, and still have about 8 reams of it left. (So if you wondered why your newsletter paper looked a little…well, not bright white…).

Our biggest overhead expense is simply the cost of getting the word out / teaching those who haven’t gotten the message – i.e.: our job as an advocacy and ministry.

Yet…when the rubber hit the road and money was needed for Veronica – people in South Carolina and across the country raised it and almost $40,000 went through our system and out to the attorney’s.

So when it was vitally needed – the money was there.

Further, when we have gone to DC to speak to Congressmen about ICWA – the money has been there.  People want us to go to DC, so they help with that.

And maybe that’s all that was ever necessary.  Maybe, despite my earlier concerns about funds, we have always has exactly what we needed.

Now – we want to grow in areas of our ministry.  We want to have a home to help parents and families with substance abuse – Patterned after Teen Challenge, but a long term facility where parents can stay WITH their kids and learn and grow together, as a family, so that they don’t have to be separated while one or both parents get treatment.

But I don’t want to worry about the funding.  When the time is right, I want to trust the Lord to help it come to be.

I asked one of our pastors who I was with these last two weeks (I was at the Bible College campus where I got my B.A. in Christian Ministries)  if I should take the donation button off of our website, but he said, “No. You have to provide an avenue for those who decide they want to give.”

I need to talk to our board about it more and see how they feel.

I like looking back and seeing how the Lord has always provided what’s been needed.

I also like that money has rarely been wasted – because there hasn’t been any money to waste.  (Waste would be things like the brand new stapler that broke the first time I tried to use it – and then never had time to bring back to the store.)

And…I like that opponents can’t say we are in this for “money.”

Amen, amen. I have had a great two weeks and am ready to get back into the saddle.

 

 

Jun 212013
 

Honorable Senator Hoeven,

A charge has been made in the death of a 3-year-old girl named “Lauryn’ who died last week after she and her twin sister were sent to live on the Spirit Lake Reservation, a community known for widespread violence, crime, tribal government corruption and sexual abuse against children. A member of the family has been arrested and accused of physically abusing the twins as well encouraging her children to beat and kick them.

This child’s death is not isolated. Three other young children have died and countess others have been abused while under the care of Spirit Lake Tribal Services. Thomas Sullivan, Regional Director of the Administration of Children and Families, has documented 40 children living with sex offenders at Spirit Lake after they were removed from safe homes off of the reservation.  His mandated report was given to federal officials overseeing Spirit Lake tribal social services as well as DC officials and U.S. Senators. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) started overseeing tribal services last year to stop the crime and abuse. Yet, little has been done. Today most of these young children are still living with sex offenders.

One month ago, the twins were healthy and happily living with a foster family in Bismarck, ND, but were moved solely due to the Indian Child Welfare Act. Until this Act is significantly altered, many more children will needlessly suffer and even die. Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW) is calling for immediate action by Congress to ensure that the lives of children be elevated to higher importance than the demands of tribal government leaders. The Spirit Lake Tribe is not an anomaly. CAICW is frequently contacted by families being hurt by ICWA across the nation.

Our current reservation system rewards dependence on federal government rather than on an individual’s strength and God. It encourages strong people to embrace anger and hide under the mantle of victimhood. A large number of citizens living within Indian Country are dying from alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, and violence. The prevalence of alcoholism results in a percentage of Fetal Alcohol adults now raising Fetal Alcohol children. While many healthy tribal members move off the reservation to get away from crime, many of the neediest remain. Those who remain submit to a life amid a criminal element that retreats to the reservations to stay out of reach of state law enforcement. Sometimes the criminal element influences, or even becomes, the tribal government. Shockingly, this displays a similar sociological pattern to third world countries or small dictatorships around the globe.

Six months ago, in January 2013, our entire Senate unanimously voted on a resolution calling on Russia to put the best interest of children ahead of politics. The House followed suit with their own resolution.  Why can’t we do the same thing for children who are citizens of the United States?

Further, we are asking you to no longer be taken in by the claims of tribal government that they are only demanding the right to their “own” children.  Tribal overreach has been affecting multi-racial children and families across the nation.  The current case, awaiting ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl, involves a child of 1.12% Cherokee heritage.  Her Hispanic mother had made a decision as to the best interest of her daughter, and our government turned around and robbed her of that decision.

But even parents of 100% tribal heritage have a right to decide to raise their children apart from Indian Country and tribal government. The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children is a fundamental right.

We, as an organization, are asking you to be proactive and put an end to this continuing violence against both children and adults.  We are asking you what steps you will be taking to ensure the best interest of children over politics here in America.

 

Jun 082013
 
Roland and his newborn, 1990

On June 9, 2013, as our family honors the June 9, 2004 anniversary of Roland J. Roland and Heidi, 1990 Morris, Sr.’s passing, I feel called to bring his memory and his brave actions to the attention of our newest members and supporters, many who may be unfamiliar with Roland’s legacy.

Roland and I founded CAICW in February 2004 to fill a critical need for all families affected by the ICWA and the destructive forces of reservation life. In my book, ‘Dying in Indian Country,’ I chronicle our family’s own struggles and losses as a result of Indian policy, our decision to leave and our ultimate redemption through Jesus Christ. Roland and I both believed then, as I still do now, that the solutions to the problems we seek to expose and resolve rest in the hands of God. Even on the hardest days, we must trust Him to provide the direction and the answers to our prayers. In the meantime, CAICW remains committed to our original Christian ministry to share His Word while advocating for families at risk of harm due to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Our efforts are judicial and educational, as well as a prayer resource for families and a shoulder to cry on.

Roland, of 100% heritage, spoke Ojibwe as his first language. He was born and raised on the Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota and spent his entire life watching friends and family die—physically, spiritually and emotionally—from the effects of alcoholism, drugs, violence and suicide. He himself was a survivor of these destructive behaviors and the more he came to know God, the more convinced he became that monumental change was needed to help his people.

He was especially concerned for the children and distressed by the lack of concern he witnessed by many adults within Indian country. He longed for the self-destruction to stop. God led Roland to step out and speak up for change in Indian country. It took great courage to do so then and it still does. Today, nine years after Roland’s passing, instead of hearing about positive change in Indian country, we continue to witness more of the same abuse and neglect, but on a much larger, more evil scale. And yet, tribal and federal government officials continue to turn a blind eye to the situation.

Roland was particularly concerned about the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), whose dictates perpetuate the abuse of children with Indian heritage by entrapping them in corrupt tribal systems. Instead of providing for the best concerns and welfare of children, this law has served to financially prop up corrupt tribal governments, more often serving the best interest of the tribe, social workers and federal officials than the children it is suppose to serve. The most high profile example of the complications and abuse of this law today are exemplified by the “Baby Veronica” case heard in April 2013, by the United States Supreme Court. In Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, two-year-old Veronica had been given for adoption as a newborn by her non-Indian mother, only to be later removed from the only home she ever knew on the basis of 1.12% Cherokee heritage.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down their ruling this month.

Not long before Roland’s passing, in April 2004, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published a series by Larry Oakes entitled, ‘The Lost Youth of Leech Lake,’ which chronicled many horrific accounts of destruction and despair happening to the children of Leech Lake. While the series initially caused a great stir, in the end it was not enough to bring about any significant change.

One of the victims highlighted in the series became an integral part of CAICW’s continued mission to expose the abuses in Indian country and urge action to bring positive change. Sierra Goodman, who was first given to a man to be used for sex at the age of ten, attempted to run away more than a dozen times to return to the only family she felt loved and safe with—a non-Indian foster family she had initially been placed with then taken away from because of the ICWA. After attempting to hang herself at the age of 16, Sarah was finally allowed to return to the family who loved her. This past February, Sierra joined CAICW in Washington, D.C. to personally tell her story to lawmakers and urge them to make changes to the ICWA by sighting the physical and emotional damage she has suffered as a result of the law.

As Roland spoke out against Indian policy, he appeared in numerous newspaper articles across the country. On May 14, 2004, Washington Times reporter Jennifer Lehner wrote:

“Mr. Morris said that once children are relocated to the reservations, they are subject to the corrupt law of the tribal government. Instead of preserving culture…the tribal leadership uses the ICWA to acquire funds provided through the legislation…ICWA is supposed to help children, but instead it helps tribal governments.”

Nine years later, tribal governments are no less corrupt, and the ICWA has become an integral funding source for all tribal issues. Lawyers, social service programs, social service workers, care providers, grant writers, foundations and tribal leadership are all getting rich as a result of this law. In the meantime, the children continue to suffer. In the past year, people we have seen new voices speaking to these concerns. The New York Times and Frontline’s Kind Hearted Woman documentary revealed these same issues and the abuses taking place on the Spirit Lake Reservation of North Dakota. Thomas Sowell penned the article, “Whose Welfare? The Injustice of the Indian Child Welfare Act,” in a January 2013 National Review Online article, while former Oglala Sioux Tribal Judge Patrick Lee recently wrote about the problems in his article “Why I filed a complaint against the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council.”

After attending a South Dakota conference in May that was aimed at hearing the grievances of reservation tribal members affected by the ICWA, native author David Rooks penned an article in the Rapid City Journal titled, “Rooks: Questions unasked, unanswered.” Rook is brave enough to write,

“Have there been problems with the implementation of ICWA? You bet. But while we’re gathered, let’s ask some additional questions. Questions, perhaps, no one wants to ask, like: Why are so many Native children winding up in foster care?”

He goes on to state,

“If we’re to be honest, we’ll look at each other and ask: What is going on with our families? What really is the problem? How do we restore our own cultural imperatives? How do we—not someone else—mend our own Sacred Hoop? Yes, children are sacred. Why is it so many of ours need to flee our people to be safe?”

Yes, like Roland did, people are finding their voices to bravely speak out and expose the truth, but after 13 Mandated Reports about the abuse of children on the Spirit Lake, ND reservation and NOT ONE SINGLE action being taken is it possible that change will never come to Indian country? Are the problems in Indian country just another long-running scandal the federal government is working 24-7 to keep in the dark? In honor of Roland, and most importantly for the sake of the children, I urge you to continue to vigilantly monitor and speak up about these atrocities. The U.S. Constitution defends the rights of all U.S. citizens and CAICW is calling on our government to equally protect children of all heritages.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In memory of Minnesota Chippewa tribal member Roland J. Morris, Sr., the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare is sponsoring an essay contest on June 9-15, 2013, to draw attention to the widespread and ongoing physical and sexual abuse of children living within Indian Country. The topic of the contest is ‘Why Children Are More Important Than Politics’ with a subtopic of ‘Why Is Our Federal Government Ignoring Ongoing Child Abuse?

The 800-1500 word submissions can be sent to [email protected].

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Other Stories:

Native Daughter: The Baby Ashlyn Story

A Tribe’s Epidemic of Child Sex Abuse, Minimized for Years

The Daily Republic: OUR VIEW: State wrongly demonized in ICWA debate

Native Mob takedown: a closer look at the charges [PHOTOS]

PLEASE pray with us Sunday evening at 9pm ET, 8pm CT, 7pm MT, and 6pm PT – This Sunday on our minds: remembering Roland’s passing and the children he left behind, a little girl struggling on his reservation, another little girl fighting to stay with the only family she feels safe with, and a little girl caught in the middle of a Supreme Court fight, ….and hope for God’s redemption in Indian Country.

If you feel led, please join us every Sunday evening, each of in our own space, praying for help, healing, and Ephesians 6: 10-20.

Please share this with others who may be interested in helping.

http://caicw.org/2013/05/05/please-pray-with-us-every-sunday-9pm-et-8pm-ct-7pm-mt-6pm-pt/

Apr 052013
 

Senator Hoeven,   

Spirit Lake Town Meeting, Feb 27 2013

Spirit Lake Town Meeting, Feb 27 2013

Thank you again for your concern for the vulnerable in our state. I have received a copy of the 13th mandated report from Mr. Thomas Sullivan of the Denver office of Administration for Children and Families. I have attached a copy.

According to Mr. Sullivan, the situation remains the same on the Spirit Lake Reservation and children continue to be abused while perpetrators go free. Further, he reports that we were lied to by the U.S. attorney on February 27 when those gathered at the Spirit Lake town hall meeting were assured that he was going to speak to the elderly woman who stood up last to tell her story. Mr. Larson will remember her, I am sure. She tried very hard to speak at that meeting but wasn’t allowed to. Tragically, because of the neglect of her story, the two children she tried to talk about – who obviously, desperately, need to be taken from that home immediately and given intense counseling, have been observed continuing the same behavior and another child was hurt. May God be with us – how is it that we as a state and nation allow this to continue?

It has also been inferred that Mr. Sullivan could lose his job if he continues to stand up for the families and children.

Lastly, this report supports and affirms Representative Cramer’s assertion that justice in the Spirit Lake tribal court is far from assured. I applaud Rep. Cramer for his courage.

Please insist on hearings as to how Spirit Lake is being handled. Please also protect Mr. Sullivan to the extent that you can, and continue to stand up for all of us.

If our opponents believe we will sooner or later get tired and go away, they are wrong. We will not. I have been trying to bring attention to these types of things since 1996 and it has only gotten worse. I am not going away.

Thank you.

Elizabeth Sharon (Lisa) Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)
http://caicw.org

———————– Page 1———————–

     March 29, 2013

This is my Thirteenth Mandated Report concerning Suspected Child Abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation. It is being filed consistent with the Attorney General’s Revised Guidelines.

The two weeks following the submission of my Twelfth Mandated Report on February 22, 2013 were marked by a remarkably intense Public Relations campaign by both the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They sought to convince all that the children of Spirit Lake were safe, that all of the problems at Spirit Lake were well on the way to being fixed, that all allegations had been or were being investigated, witnesses had been interviewed and statements taken. The facts, however, do not support their misleading PR puffery.

Their puffery campaign took several different approaches, all calculated to raise questions about the credibility of my Reports:

1. Public statements were made that many of the allegations contained in my Reports were false. There are two problems with those self-serving statements. Even though innocent citizens of Spirit Lake have been beaten, raped and required hospitalization to recover from their wounds you folks claim there has been no crime because the investigation was done so unprofessionally, there was no investigation or the paperwork has been “lost”. When this occurs once or twice, it is an unfortunate error. When it occurs routinely as it does at Spirit Lake, it is nothing short of a corrupt abuse of power which DOJ and BIA apparently endorse since there appear to be no limits to their praise for Spirit Lake law enforcement..

Second, all of you ignored the statement of Tribal Chair Roger Yankton made on November 5, 2012 in a Tribal General Assembly, “I know of no lies in Sullivan’s Reports.” When Mr. Yankton made that statement I had filed Seven Mandated Reports containing 90 – 95% of the specific, unduplicated allegations I have made. The Tribal Chair was honest. The best that can be said of the DOJ and BIA leadership is that they were self-serving.

2. Another attempt to diminish the credibility of the allegations contained in my Reports was to refer to them as “second or third hand”. While I have not personally witnessed any of the incidents I have been reporting, they ———————– Page 2———————–

have been witnessed by Tribal Elders, a Nun, a former Tribal Judge, foster parents, parents, all enrolled members of the Spirit Lake Nation. None of these people have any reason to lie about what they were reporting on their Reservation. Some allegations come from individuals who are not enrolled members but who are former long term employees of the Tribe who have been reporting Tribal wrongdoing for years to the state, DOJ and BIA .

All of these sources, both enrolled Tribal members and non-enrolled, are furious their allegations have been ignored for years exposing the children of Spirit Lake to continued abuse and neglect. They believe even now they are still being ignored for the benefit of the addict, the predator and the corrupt.

All of my sources have been threatened by the supporters of the Tribal Council with loss of employment, jail, as well as physical harm to themselves or their families. While I have not been directly threatened, I have been told my persistence in this matter places me at the same risk as my sources. I am deeply offended that all of you refuse to defend the innocent of Spirit Lake when my sources and I are placing our physical safety on the line. Your cavalier dismissal of my reports which accurately reflect the stories of my sources is especially troubling.

3. Within this context it is hypocritical for the leaders of DOJ and BIA to now tell tribal members that “the most important thing they can do to protect children is to immediately report any criminal activity to law enforcement.”

The twelve year old who had just turned thirteen and was raped on September 29, 2012 by a 37 year old man reported the rape to police immediately. The name address and a description of the rapist were provided to the responding officers. No rape kit was collected. No charges were filed because the BIA/FBI decided the sex was consensual, in the 37 year old rapist’s words, “She wanted to have sex with me. What was I supposed to do?”  How naïve do you think we are that you believe we will swallow such patent nonsense? How does this decision protect children?

The Tribal Elder who observed two little boys engaging in anal sex in her yard did call police immediately. No one in law enforcement took her statement. She tried to tell her story at the February 27, 2013 Hearing but she was shushed by the US Attorney, the BIA leadership and all of those

———————– Page 3———————–

on the platform. The US Attorney did say publicly that he would speak to her privately after the Hearing concluded. He did not. Nor did anyone from his office take her statement. How did these actions protect children?

One day later, on February 28, 2013, these same two boys were observed by two little girls engaging in oral sex on a Spirit Lake school bus. The little girls reported this to the bus driver, their teachers and the school principal.

All of these responsible people kept quiet about this incident. None filed a Form 960 as required. How do these actions protect children?

On March 14, 2013 law enforcement went to the home of these two boys because one of them tried to sexually assault a three year old female neighbor who is developmentally delayed.

Police were called last summer when adults and very young children observed a 15 year old boy having intercourse with a 10 year old girl on the steps of the church in St. Michaels at mid-day. No one responded to the call. How did this non-response protect children?

How long must this horror continue? How many more children will be raped before one of you decides to do your job and protect these children? To carry out your sworn responsibility to enforce the law and to get these children the intensive therapeutic services they so desperately need?

4.  The US Attorney spoke in glowing terms about the high quality of law enforcement working on the Spirit Lake Reservation even though they routinely fail to conduct investigations, do lousy investigations and “lose” reports of investigations.  Is there anyone working for BIA on that Reservation who does not have a record of Domestic Violence?

Why has there been no  investigation of  my six month old complaint against  FBI Special Agent Cima?

Why has there been  no investigation of the seven month old charges of Domestic Violence against BIA’s Senior Criminal Investigator (CI) at Spirit Lake by his wife?

———————– Page 4———————–

Why has there been no investigation into the destruction of the Incident Report completed by the CI’s wife in the Devils Lake Mercy Hospital Emergency Room after a particularly vicious beating at the CI’s hands in mid-August 2012 by the current Director of Spirit Lake Victim Assistance?

Why has there been no investigation of the complete and total failure of the state, FBI and BIA to investigate charges that were credibly brought several years ago against each of these entities?

Why has there been no investigation into the withholding of critically needed intensive rehabilitative services from several Spirit Lake children who have been sexually abused and severely beaten? If the purpose of preventing these children from gaining access to this therapy is to prevent the names of those predators who damaged these children from being revealed to professionals who have a legal obligation to make this information known to law enforcement, is this obstruction of justice? If it is, the entire leadership of BIA’s Strike Team should be indicted.

Why has there been no investigation into the Spirit Lake school system’s retaliatory actions against two mandated reporters – firing one and giving the other a letter of reprimand, simply because they were attempting to help a young child having some difficulties in his foster home placement?

The bias reflected in all of these non-investigations and highly unprofessional investigations conducted by law enforcement at Spirit Lake may well rise to the standard set by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in their decision in the Oravec case.

5.  The US Attorney in a televised interview on Grand Forks television station, WDAZ, spoke about the fine job he and his office were doing protecting all North Dakota children especially those at Spirit Lake and said that the press releases on his website contained all of the information on every case he had brought to trial or conclusion during his tenure in office.

I could only access the last 15 months of these releases. They were quite informative. There were only two cases in which sexual assault was charged. Both of the victims were adult women. None were children.

On the Spirit Lake Reservation it has been credibly claimed there have been, on average 50 reported, investigated and confirmed cases of child

———————– Page 5———————–

sexual abuse or statutory rape annually in each of the last several years. These confirmed cases are routinely referred to the US Attorney for investigation and prosecution. Within this context it is troubling that the US Attorney has apparently not brought a  single case of child sexual abuse/statutory rape in the last 15 months.

If the residents of Spirit Lake report criminal activity when they see it, what good does it do if the US Attorney will not bring a case to court for prosecution?

6.  Most Registered Sex Offenders when they are released from prison are required by law to keep a specified distance from children. The Tribal Chair said on November 5, 2012 there were no lies in my reports and the placement of children  in the full time care and custody of known sex offenders was a major point in my First Report, filed more than nine months ago, well before that November 5, 2012 statement.

Why has the US Attorney failed to direct his crack FBI and BIA agents to investigate and charge those sex offenders and have them returned to prison for violating this provision of their release and have the children placed in safe foster homes?

7.  There are credible allegations that the Tribal Court decisions favor the addict and the sexual predator in practically every case brought before it. I have multiple examples of the Tribal Court’s bias in favor of the addict and predator. I will use only two here.

The placement of a four month old infant who was born addicted to meth and who had to remain in the hospital for one month after birth in order to shed all traces of that drug is a good example of this Tribal Court’s bias in favor of the addict and the predator. This infant was returned to the full time care and custody of his mother even though she had not completed the required, Tribal Court ordered drug treatment program.

The decision of the Court to return three children to the full time care and custody of their biological father who just a few months previously had beaten them with electric cords, choked them, raped them and made his children available to his friends for their sexual pleasure even though there was an outstanding criminal charge against him is another example of the Tribal Court’s bias in favor of predators. Their father is a close relation of the Tribal Chair.

———————– Page 6———————–

Why has none of this been investigated by either the BIA or FBI?

Why have no federal charges been filed against the father for his extraordinary abuse of his children? They have spoken about their abuse to therapists. Have these therapists failed to notify law enforcement about what they have  learned? Or is law enforcement ignoring these reports again?

Why is that infant still in the unsupervised care of his meth addict mother? How much damage has her neglect done to this child in the few months she has had full time care and custody of him?

Why has Tribal Court been allowed to endanger the children of Spirit Lake with impunity? What has law enforcement done to protect these children from the Tribal Court’s malfeasance?

The good people of Spirit Lake have every reason to believe that society has abandoned them when government leaders spend their time attempting to shore up their own reputations while refusing to protect those who are being raped and abused. Your persistent efforts at PR puffery, essentially denying the plain facts at Spirit Lake, betray your unwillingness to fulfill your sworn obligation to protect and defend. Your record of non-investigation and non-prosecution is now in the spotlight. What will you do?

Thomas F. Sullivan
Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver

Apr 042013
 
U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer

U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer

When an elected official shows not only class and dignity, but a sincere desire to uphold Constitutional rights, some of us tend to feel a little shocked.

Below is the apology delivered by Representative Kevin Cramer following a disagreement at a meeting of the North Dakota Council on Abused Women in late March.

First – from what I understand of what happened, he did not need to apologize. He was standing up for me, my daughters, my granddaughter.  He was standing up for Due Process and our Constitutional rights.  This is exactly what I want him to do.  But he did apologize, even though he didn’t need to, and for that, I think he has class.

———————————————————————-

“I recently met with members of the North Dakota Council on Abused Women Services regarding the new Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization, and my passion concerning some of the problems I fear may exist with this legislation. Critics of this Act have expressed due process concerns in regard to some of its provisions.  I therefore voted in favor of an amendment designed to address this potential harm.

Unfortunately, my efforts were not supported by my Congressional colleagues.

Because VAWA protects victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking by streamlining grants, improving investigation, prosecution and victim services, as well as enhancing penalties against offenders, I voted in favor of this legislation. I am quite open about my passion regarding helping those within our society that are exposed to violence. I believe my Congressional floor speech concerning VAWA, in particular, demonstrates my personal connection to this issue, as well as my apprehension in regard to the legislation I helped pass.

Certain statements I recently made regarding my frustrations with VAWA are under scrutiny.  This is deserved as, in hindsight, my tone and rhetoric was better suited for active debate in Congress (or a floor speech) rather than my true intention; requesting guidance from the peers of this important issue. I apologize.

My intent was not to disparage anyone. I want to end violence. I truly appreciate Ms. Merrick’s statements, specifically relating to this issue, because it is a pointed reminder of what I love most about my country; equal protection, balance of power, due process. And, most importantly, unfettered free speech, which is ot only unopposed in its ability to humble its leaders, but its capacity towards inspiring debate.

But, I want to make clear that successful court challenges to all, or parts, of this legislation are always adjudged by our Constitution, notwithstanding the best intentions of its proponents. Overturned convictions will revictimise the very people we are trying to protect. I am encouraged by the considerable energy available to fix the serious, societal problem of violence (against all victims).

It is my hope that improving lives is always our upmost focus.

Since VAWA 2013 is only the beginning, I look forward to working with all stakeholders to improve it“.

______________________________________________

What was most uplifting for me was that Rep. Cramer understands the harm caused by the recently passed version of the Violence Against Women Act, forcing women into tribal court whether they want to be there or not.   Well… actually, the law forces women to choose between asking for justice in front of potentially corrupt tribal courts – or keeping ones mouth closed and not seeking justice at all.

Representative Cramer not only gets it, but it matters to him.  He wants to improve it.

Thank you, Representative Cramer.  We are here to help you do that, anyway that we can.  You are my hero.

 

 

Feb 282013
 

.

On February 12, 2013, a horrid violence against women was committed when Mother holding babythe ‘Violence against Women Act’ was passed by the U.S. Senate by a 78-22 vote with all amendments intact.  Women across the nation were thrown under a bus.

On February 28, 2013, the U.S. House repeated the violence with 87 Republicans joining 199 Democrats to pass the bill 286-138. God only knows if this callous assault on women can be stopped. The measure now heads to Obama’s desk.

Obama said in a statement. “Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk.”

Does no one actually read these things? We are discussing women and young girls who have been vulnerable and already victimized – being forced into further victimization.  Where is the language in the VAWA that tribal government can only have jurisdiction under informed consent and absent objection of the victim?

If there is none, is this Act protecting the rights of women, or the rights of tribal government?

I asked this question to both Ms. Tracee Sutton and Ms. Gail Hand from Senator Hetkamp’s office. Both were silent in response.

I understand that most of our Congressmen on the Hill have never been in the situation of being a victim within Indian Country. I understand that they might not be aware the ramifications these amendments will have on tribal and non-tribal women.  Reading the recent report by Mr. Thomas F. Sullivan, Administration of Children and Families in Denver of the severe corruption and abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation might shed some light on the problem. If even a portion of what he is saying is true, our Congress has no right for mandating tribal jurisdiction over U.S. citizens.

Never assume that simply because a woman is of tribal heritage, she wants her case to be heard in tribal court. A person does not know the meaning of “Good ol’ Boy’s Club” until one has dealt with some of the tribal courts.  On top of this, our government has given all tribal courts full faith and credit, meaning once the case is ruled on in tribal court, the victim can’t go to the county or state for justice.

And while many enrolled women will be upset when told their options have been limited, please realize that multi-racial marriages and relationships are very, very common in Indian Country and non-member women are no small number in domestic violence cases within reservation boundaries.

Further, it is interesting that in the language in section 4(A) below, describing under what conditions in which there would be an exception to tribal jurisdiction, the defendant is addressed more than the victim. It doesn’t matter what heritage the woman is – that isn’t the deciding factor for tribal jurisdiction. The language below addresses the perp’s relationship to Indian Country as the deciding factor.

In fact, under this section, ‘victim’ is defined and limited to only women who have obtained a protective order.  In other words, women who DON’T have a protective order would NOT be considered victims under the exception section, and thus, no matter what, are subject to tribal jurisdiction.

FURTHER – the words, “in the Indian country of the participating tribe” are used over and over. Do you know what this means? I will tell you what it doesn’t mean. It DOESN’T mean inside reservation boundaries.  But I can’t tell you what it DOES mean as far as how many miles outside the boundaries it extends – because, apparently, that is up the tribal government and BIA.

Yes, friends.  A woman, off the reservation, who is assaulted by a person whom she might not even be aware is a tribal member (we talked about multi-heritage relationships, right?) might find herself fighting for justice in a tribal court.

… But trying to read the legalese in section 4, I have to ask, if both the victim and perp are non-Indians, but the victim doesn’t have a protective order…? (Who writes this stuff?)

It appears that the language has been written to protect the defendants, specifically enrolled men, from state and federal jurisdiction.  They might come down hard on a non-member, but given the track history of many tribal courts – do not doubt that this bill will end up protecting certain men and further victimizing many women.

This type of language throws women of all heritages under the bus.  Not only could enrolled women be forced into a court predominantly run by her ex’s relatives, but non-tribal women, viewed as outsiders no matter how long they have lived in ‘Indian Country’, could be forced to share their horrific story and plea for justice in a room full of potentially hostile relatives and friends of the defendant.

How many women will simply suffer in silence rather than attempt to be heard in tribal court?  How do laws like this seriously protect an already victimized woman?  What can be done to ensure that victims know they have the option to refuse tribal jurisdiction and seek justice elsewhere?

Further – could you please tell me in what manner women who would be affected by these amendments were consulted?  During the discussion of these amendments, what non-tribal entity or organization represented and advocated for needs of women who live within Indian Country?

 

PLEASE URGE PRESIDENT OBAMA NOT TO SIGN THIS HORRIBLE VERSION OF THE VAWA!

 

`SEC. 204. TRIBAL JURISDICTION OVER CRIMES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

`(4) EXCEPTIONS-

`(A) VICTIM AND DEFENDANT ARE BOTH NON-INDIANS-

`(i) IN GENERAL- A participating tribe may not exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over an alleged offense if neither the defendant nor the alleged victim is an Indian.

`(ii) DEFINITION OF VICTIM- In this subparagraph and with respect to a criminal proceeding in which a participating tribe exercises special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction based on a violation of a protection order, the term `victim’ means a person specifically protected by a protection order that the defendant allegedly violated.

`(B) DEFENDANT LACKS TIES TO THE INDIAN TRIBE- A participating tribe may exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over a defendant only if the defendant–

`(i) resides in the Indian country of the participating tribe;

`(ii) is employed in the Indian country of the participating tribe; or

`(iii) is a spouse, intimate partner, or dating partner of–

`(I) a member of the participating tribe; or

`(II) an Indian who resides in the Indian country of the participating tribe.
Elizabeth Sharon Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)

Author

Dying in Indian Country
PO Box 253
Hillsboro, ND 58045
[email protected]
http://caicw.org

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CAICW   ( @CAICW )
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fbCAICW.org

 

Feb 062013
 
Washington DC, February 2013

Where to begin? We met with staff members from seven DC Senate offices on Monday. We had come to talk about the Indian Child Welfare Act and how it infringes on the right of children and parents.

But sitting next to this young woman, who comes from the same reservation as my husband… I realized there is so, so much more we all need to talk about.

She told how she was abused and used sexually as a child. She said she was first given to a man at the age of ten. Her sisters were also given to men. She told how she begged to be allowed to return to the only family she had ever felt safe with – the foster family that the tribe, through ICWA, had taken her from. She told how she tried to run away over a dozen times – to get back to the foster home where she knew she was loved. She told how the home where the tribal govt placed her made her destroy pictures of the family she loved, and how they had cut a rope to save her when she had tried to hang herself. It was only then that they finally allowed her to return to her true home.

The feeling in Congress and across much of America is that the tribal leaders can’t be messed with. Don’t you dare step on their toes.

Holy cow. I mean, literally, ‘holy cow.’

Enough with the trepidation about messing with tribal sovereignty. I told our family’s story in the book “Dying in Indian Country” – and apparently, I didn’t even tell the half of it. I knew that things had gotten worse to an extent – but I had no idea how really, really bad it was now. The prostitution of young girls has become common place. You want to talk about sex-trafficking? Don’t forget to look at many of the reservations as well. I should say – don’t be AFRAID to look at many of the reservations as well.

Have you heard yet that the BIA had to go in and take over children’s services on the Spirit Lake Reservation?

– Have you heard about the “Native Mob” now active on reservations in three states?

One of the Senate staff members said her Senator would like to do hearings concerning Spirit Lake. I would love to see that happen – as well as inquiries into the gang activity and harm to children occurring on many reservations. Spirit Lake is not isolated. Leech Lake, Red Lake, White Earth, Pine Ridge – and more.

PLEASE CONTACT your Senators and encourage/support them in taking action. Many Senators are very afraid of stepping on the toes of tribal government – but while they cringe, girls as young as ten are being prostituted.

What this girl said today matches what I was told by another Leech Lake family last week. What they shared with us is horrific.

We NEED to let our Senators know that this is not OK in America. They MUST make is stop!

Children need to be protected. For our family, that also means getting rid of ICWA. You might not want to take that drastic a stand on the ICWA – but our family must. But at the very least – please press your Senator for hearings on the issue of child welfare and protection in Indian Country.

Please – especially press your Senator to do this if he/she is on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

1) ASK YOUR SENATOR to contact Senator Cantwell’s office – to tell Senator Cantwell that ICWA needs to be on her agenda for this session. They are preparing and setting this sessions agenda RIGHT NOW. If ICWA is NOT put on her agenda for the session – it will not be discussed for changes this year nor probably next. WE NEED AS MANY SENATORS AS POSSIBLE – ALL OF THEM – TO CALL SENATOR CANTWELL and ask that ICWA be on Senator Cantwell’s Indian Affairs Committee agenda!

2) ASK YOUR SENATOR to contact Senator Cantwell’s office and press for hearings on Spirit Lake and other reservations were abuse of children is rampant!

3) PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR THE CHILDREN, FOR US – AND FOR THE WORK IN FRONT OF US!

 

Dec 312012
 

From Tragedies – to Transformation…

Just why would a family decide that reservation life is not what they choose for their family? The reasons are many, but some of the reasons are shocking.

Dying in Indian Country is one family’s story of  hope.

What cannot be denied is that a large number of Native Americans are dying from alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide and violence. Further, scores of children are suffering emotional, physical and sexual abuse as a result – and the Indian Child Welfare Act is trapping more and more children into this unacceptable system.

While many tribal governments continue to fund congressional candidates who promise to increase tribal sovereignty, the voices of the children who are at the mercy of corrupt government continue to go unheard.  The truth is that some tribal governments are not protecting the children in their “custody.”  Instead, they are gathering children where they can because federal funding allocations are based on the U.S. census and tribal rolls.

An amazing transformational story, Dying in Indian Country, by Elizabeth Sharon Morris, provides a real glimpse into some of these unacceptable conditions. Dying in Indian Country tells a compelling true story of one family who after years of alcoholism and pain, comes to realize that corrupt tribal government, dishonest Federal Indian Policy, welfare policy, and the controlling reservation system has more to do with the current despair than the tragedies that occurred 150 years ago  –  then tells how, by the Grace of God, they came out of it.

 

A true story of pain, hope, and transformation –

“Dying in Indian Country is a compassionate and honest portrayal… I highly recommend it to you.” Reed Elley, former Member of Parliament, Canada; Chief Critic for Indian Affairs in 2000, Baptist Pastor, Father of four Native and Métis children

“He was a magnificent warrior who put himself on the line for the good of all…I can think of no one at this time, in this dark period of Indian history, who is able to speak as Roland has.”  Arlene,Tribal Member

“…truly gripping, with a good pace.” Dr. William B. Allen, -Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1989)

Dying in Indian Country is available at:   http://dyinginindiancountry.com

 

 

Dec 242012
 

.
First of all, I want to thank you for your faithful support. Over the years, CAICW has helped many people, but that doesn’t mean we ever forget anyone who has helped make that possible. You are one of those people. It doesn’t matter whether you have given $5 or $5,000 in the past—it takes all kinds of thread to make a quilt.

A quilt—a patchwork of material sewn together into a blanket—what an apt comparison to what we do here at CAICW. Families whose lives have been ripped apart, made whole again through the generosity of people like you.  Families like those of Matt & Melanie Capobianco, the parents of baby Veronica.

CAICW first heard about Veronica’s situation in late summer of 2011. At the time, we were organizing a Washington DC ‘Teach-in’ for October 2011. Through cash and in-kind donations, we were able to raise the money needed for the event and Melanie was invited to join us and speak to Congressmen about the impending tragedy.  Later, in January 2012, “Save Veronica” became an official  fundraising campaign of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare.  Together, with your help, well over $40,000 was raised for their legal fees.

Which brings me to the main point of this letter.  Please consider a Tax-Deductible End-of-Year Donation

  • The “Save Veronica”Campaign – currently appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
  • Legal Fund for additional families in need
  • The Roland J. Morris Sr. Home, and regular operating expenses to maintain communications.
  • Washington DC trip: Educating new and old Congressmen in DC, February 4-8, 2013 – 6 weeks away.

If your heart leads you to do so, please consider an additional gift to any of the projects outlined here. The children and families affected thank you

If you’re online, go to our website http://caicw.org/donate-now/ and click on the “Donate Now” button to make sure your donation counts toward the double impact.

You can also send a donation by mail to:

CAICW
PO Box 253
Hillsboro, ND 5804

Once again, thank you for your continued support, and know that the Capobianco’s and many families like theirs would not have the legal funds they need were it not for you.

The Roland J. Morris Sr. Home
In response to the needs, experiences and tragedies we have witnessed in our own families, the CAICW seeks to open a Christian, long-term care home (One year to 18 months) that will reach out to parents and grandparents in pain from addictions. The goal is to offer the love of Jesus Christ and assistance for families to grow to health. We will also offer tools and knowledge for them to gain employment and perfect their parenting skills. Our vision is to pattern the home after Teen Challenge, but also allow families to bring their children along so that everyone stays connected and learns together a new and better way to live in a family setting. We have been discussing and praying about this vision for a long time. We welcome your ideas and donations as we feel the time is coming to bring this dream to fruition.

Ebay Auction Benefits CAICW
An adoptive mother who has been affected by the ICWA has adopted CAICW on ebay. To date, sales from her boutique have garnered us about $400. Her auction is on ebay, but you can also visit her on Facebook at: http://stores.ebay.com/safford-hall

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Sharon Morris
Administrator

Dec 192012
 

As demonstrated by the “Save Veronica” case, this REAL War on Women comes in the form of the Cherokee Nation’s affirmation that single mothers of all heritages must fear tribal interference if they give a child up for adoption without knowing for certain whether the birth father has even a single drop of Cherokee blood.

During the Thursday, October 18, 2012 segment of the Dr. Phil show, Cherokee Nation attorney Chrissi Nimmo refused to admit Veronica had only a drop of Cherokee blood, but she also didn’t deny it. She did not answer this question because she is well aware of the implications…she knows people will be stunned at the realization. Instead, Ms. Nimmo tried to make the argument that the issue is not about blood quantum or how a child looks, but that they have a right to be part of the Cherokee tribe. The real issue is the fact that with the help of the ICWAthis “right” is being forced on not only this child, but also many children and families all across the U.S.

This argument, and the law, ignores many basic Constitutional rights. Not all enrollable individuals WANT their children to be forced into political affiliation with tribal government, and not all enrollable or enrolled parents want their children to be raised on or near a reservation. In fact, manyenrolled fami-
lies have purposefully made a choice to raise their children outside the reservation. Is it the tribe’s right, or the individual parent’s right to choose where to live and raise their children?

The following example illustrates how the ICWA is negatively affecting the
decisions and rights of enrolled tribal members. At a home for unwed mothers in Bismarck, South Dakota, several enrolled women told State Representative Lee Kaldor that even though they wanted to give their babies up for adoption, they were afraid that tribal government would interfere. Although they honestly didn’t feel they were able to properly raise and nurture their babies, they decided against adoption because they wouldn’t have the right to make decisions on behalf of their unborn babies. With adoption not an option, some of them contemplated abortion.

Interestingly enough, tribal governments don’t interfere in a mother’s decision to have an abortion, but they are increasingly interfering in the rights of a mother tochoose adoption, and placement of their children.

Ms. Nimmo’s argument also ignores the rights of the Latino birth mother in question, and ANYmother of any race who chooses adoption for their child. While it’s bad enough that enrolled Indian mothers don’t feel a freedom of choice in deciding what is best for their children, the Veronica case illustrates how a Hispanic mother, who was carrying a child with only a tiny percentage of
tribal heritage, had her rights and wishes superseded by a tribal government.

What a nightmare for any pregnant single mother contemplating adoption—a minute amount of known, or potentially unknown, Indian heritage gives a tribal government the legal right to interfere.

A further example of how the ICWA is negatively affecting women’s rights is the increasing trend of tribal governments moving to exercise their right to adjudicate in custody hearings.  Because of the ICWA, a tribe has the right to have representation at all custody hearings involving offspring of children of enrolled members, even if the child is not enrolled, or only has a small
percentage of Native blood. In many cases, the custody hearings are required to be held in tribal court, even at some distance from where the child is currently residing. The non-Indian parent is stripped of their rights to an unbiased hearing because they are not permitted access to council of
their choice. In at least one case, a non-Indian mother was threatened with bodily harm by the tribal judge and police, and by order of the judge, her young daughter taken from her and placed with an abusive father.

Congress passed the ICWA in 1978 in response to the alarmingly high number of Indian children being removed from their homes by both public and private agencies. The intent of Congress under the ICWA was to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families” (25 U.S.C. § 1902). ICWA sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings involving an Indian child who is a
member of, or eligible for membership in, a federally recognized tribe.
The real question now is whether the ICWA is really working to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families,” or whether the law is being abused to protect ONLY the best interest of tribes, and in doing so is denying both children and adults equal protection and representation as provided under the U.S. Constitution.
Dec 262010
 

Stock Photo - Kids successfully adopted, now siblings

Stock Photo - Kids successfully adopted, now siblings

All identifying information has been  removed

Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2010 12:56:10 -0500 (EST)

To: [email protected]

Dearest Lisa,

I wanted to drop you a note the let you know we won our court case against the tribe …. We went to court in Aug. 2009 and in Sept. the judge ruled that the kids should stay with us. But, of course the tribe appealed his decision the day before the deadline… The State Court of Appeals heard the case… this year and ..they affirmed the judges decision. … It cost us $10,000.00 and a lot of worry but we are finally proceeding with the adoption. Our family would like to thank you so very much for your organization and all the help it provides families like ours, without the information on your web site I don’t know if our lawyer could have made such a good case using other state case law. You provide an invaluable service to children hurt by ICWA and God will lead you to do even better things. I received your newsletter yesterday and vow to get as many signatures as I can to sent back to you. I wish I could do more but I will pray for you everyday. If you want to know more or if there is anything I can do from here… please contact me. Our family is forever in your debt. Again, thank you for all you do, and have a Happy Holiday, WE WILL.
Sincerely,
– a very happy MOM

Dec 162010
 

A friend wrote:

“Lisa you can and are free. Free to go on, free to thank God for your life with Roland…free to learn from the craziness and free to take what you can and to leave the rest in God’s hands.”

How beautiful, wonderful, comforting those words are.

But it was worse than just craziness. It had been horrific. Over twenty years earlier, I stepped into the closet where Michelle, who was taller then I, had hanged herself that morning. The wooden rod from which clothing hung just touched the top of my head. She could have saved herself simply by standing up. How could she have hated herself that much? How could anyone hate themselves that much? How deep her despair must have been! Oh, why didn’t any of us realize the extent of her suffering? That beautiful girl! Why didn’t we visit her? Why didn’t I just come and talk to her, be her friend, take her to get her driver’s license as I had promised her? Something?

That very same evening, we got a call from a detective in the emergency room at the medical center. Owen had been stabbed in the chest.

“Oh, No,” I said to the detective. “His sister Michelle just died!”

“Michelle died?” The detective asked, “Do we know how Michelle died?”

“Oh, yes. She was upset about their sister Brenda’s accident and she hanged herself”.

“Brenda?” He asked hesitantly, “And do we know what happened to Brenda?”

“Yes, she fell down a flight of stairs in a wheelchair and reinjured her back”.

The detective paused.

“Do we know how Brenda fell down the stairs?”

“Yes. She was upset that Michelle hadn’t wanted to help her down the stairs. So she threw herself down.”

At this point the detective must have been wondering if there were some kind of conspiracy against the family. I think, in some backward way, many of us hoped there was. It was too much to imagine that all this could happen to one family in one week’s time. Worse – that they had all done it to themselves. It would have been a morbid comfort to have some other explanation.

And this was just one of many “Days of out lives.”

But after some thought, I respond to my friend: “You are right – the memories pain me, but even so, I do thank God for my life with Roland. He actually asked me before he died how I felt about our life together. And I actually had an answer ready—because I’d been thinking about it for awhile.

I told him that we had traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We’ve lived in Canada and helped out at a Children’s home in Mexico. We’ve owned businesses and we’ve been on welfare. At times we had little or no food – and other times we ate at some of the finest restaurants. We have slept on dirty floors with dirty blankets in tribal housing, and we have stayed in upscale hotels on Capitol Hill in Washington DC and in Windsor, BC. I told him our life had been full. He seemed to relax into his pillow upon hearing me say it.

We felt just as comfortable talking to a drunk on Franklin Ave. as we did talking to a US Senator. I’ve called a US Senator looking for my husband, who was in his office at the time. The Senator made a real joke of it, as he handed Roland the phone, about how I can track him down anywhere. And…I’ve had an impossible time finding my husband on the reservation just after our son was born. No one would hand the phone to him then, as they were drinking with him.

A law professor and a state legislator both helped carry Roland’s casket. A retired US Navy Submarine officer carried Roland’s body back to the reservation in the back of his pickup.

Who would I have been without all those experiences?

It’s the truth, isn’t it? Who would I have been if I had married an average man and lived with two cars and 2.5 kids in the suburbs? Really – would I even be a Christian right now? Because it was Roland that essentially led me to Christ.

And …as I correspond with the various families that write to CAICW…how would I even begin to understand them and their fears if I hadn’t been there myself? I am able to write two simple words that mean the world to them… “I understand.”

And it is with that background: the birth mother to five members, the adoptive mother of one, the legal custodian of three, the step mother to four, and aunt to innumerable members of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe – and as a former licensed Day care provider, foster care provider, as well as registered nurse – I am able to ‘withstand the barbs of the enemy’ and stand tall whenever anyone tries to call me a racist for speaking up on this issue.

I can unashamedly stand up and say what many others can’t bring themselves to say – because I don’t care what names they call me. And I can speak loudly. And I can help that no more children be treated as chattel for the benefit of a corrupt tribal government.

The idea some have that children “belong” on the reservation is racism at its core. It ignores who the child might factually be, who the child is connected to, what the child really wants and, importantly, what the child’s best interests are. It’s well known to everyone that the high school drop out rate, drug abuse, crime, fetal alcohol rate, child abuse, corruption, child neglect, sexual abuse, violence and suicide, etc. is so high on many reservations that no Congressman would ever willingly send their own child to live there…yet everyone is supposed to just go along with the lie that children of heritage must live with it because tribal and federal government say so. It’s not only insane but criminal.

I’m not going to diplomatically dance around so as not to step on toes. Kids are dying. Beautiful Michelle hanged herself in a simple closet, where all she had to do was stand up to save herself.

Others have died of overdose, accident, and violence.

So you are right. I have a job to do, and it is because of my life with Roland that I am able to do it.

– to be the loud-mouthed, angry witch that I am.

Bless you My Friends, you’ve been so good to hang in there with us through all these tough years.

Read “Dying in Indian Country”

Letters from Families, asking for Help – Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare

Dec 142010
 


Mickey came home an hour early from classes one day.

“What are you doing home?” I asked him.

“My advocate let me out.”

“What do you mean, ‘let you out’?”

“Well, I didn’t like my art teacher, so a month or so ago my Indian advocate let me drop the class and go to study hall in his office instead. He’d ask me a couple questions and stuff, but I wasn’t really doing anything there so now he just lets me come home instead.”

I called the advocate. “In the first place,” I told him, “I don’t agree with letting him drop art. He has to work out his problems with his teacher. But in the second place, Mickey got two ‘F’s’ last quarter! How come you’re letting him cut out of school?”

“What are you worried about?” the advocate, also a tribal member, responded, “He’s got three years of school left. He’s got time to catch up.”

About ready to blow up and getting nowhere with this man, I called the principal, who agreed Mickey shouldn’t be leaving school early. It was too late to get Mickey back into the art class, so placed him into the real study hall. Unfortunately, the principal didn’t have the cojones to fire the advocate for being the idiot he was.

Later, Mickey confided that the Indian advocate had told him the following day, “Don’t listen to Beth, all white people talk like that.”

‘What a jerk,’ I thought angrily, ‘why isn’t that so-called advocate helping Mickey apply himself? Don’t they think an Indian kid can be expected to work hard? Do they lookl down on Indian kids that much? If anybody dares treat Andrew that way when he gets to school, expecting less of him just because he’s Indian, I’ll knock em to the moon!

Many places do still treat kids of tribal heritage with lower expectations. Worse, the attitude is encouraged and propagandized by tribal government itself.

One tribal attorney in an Arkansas court just 3 yrs ago – while fighting to take 2 children from a safe, loving home where they were well-cared for and place them in an overcrowded, troubled (documented issues) home that had connection to the tribe – said that Indian children shouldn’t be expected to live by “European standards.” He said Indian children are used to sleeping on floors – and that was okay.

Who is he kidding? Why is tribal government allowed to make racist statements like that? I can tell you with absolute certainty that given the choice, every single child I raised, as well as every relative child that I know, would choose a good bed over a floor. What a bunch of garbage.

The propaganda that children of heritage are somehow different than other kids is in effort, we believe, to keep jurisdiction (and power) over them. The idea put forward is that kids of heritage have an intrinsic attachment to the reservation and will be spiritually destroyed if detached from it.

An article ten years ago said something about looking into the eyes of an Indian child and seeing ‘past generations.’ Was that writer able to look into the eyes of children of other heritages and see the same thing? Why not?

It’s so easy to put one’s own expectations and romanticisms onto a child. People do it all the time. And in doing so – they neglect who the child really is – his/her individuality.

I’m very tired of what boils down to racist rhetoric.

Personally, I looked into the eyes of the nine I raised and saw THEM. I want the ‘powers that be’ to quit pretending these kids are somehow different than others. It’s an excuse to control them as if they are chattel.

This brings us to the Indian Child Welfare Act. It’s a terrible law. Current laws governing placement of children of other heritages already cover the need to keep families connected if possible. At the same time, they protect children from being subjected to abusive and neglectful family, which is something the ICWA does NOT do well because it gives tribal governments the right to decide placement, and they have a conflict of interest. I have seen children placed in inadequate, if not downright terrible situations for the sake of keeping the kids within the system,

The real purpose of ICWA as far as we can tell has nothing to do with the ‘welfare’ of children. It has everything to do with the ‘welfare’ of tribal government. The last census showed that a majority of enrollable people now live off the reservation. Some are still connected, but many no longer choose to be part of the system. But as people move away and don’t enroll their kids in the tribe, tribal governments lose federal money. They also lose people over whom they can rule. That’s the bottom line for ICWA.

This is why the ICWA includes language that claims jurisdiction over “enrollable” children, not just “enrolled” children. They are also free to decide their own membership criteria. For the Cherokee tribe, all that is required is a direct line to the Dawes rolls.

Put those two facts together, and federal government has created a terrible situation for children. Example: Six years ago, a firefighter in Texas, with his wife, took in a newborn baby boy to adopt. After a few weeks, during the process of adoption, it was discovered the child had less than 2% heritage in the Cherokee tribe. The tribe then decided it wants the child, who is more than 98% non-tribal. The child is still unadopted as of today, and the family has spent years and tens of thousands of dollars fighting for him. We have many stories like that.

It’s a genuine crime against these kids.

For more info:

CAICW Facebook ‘Cause’ page: (Advocacy, Petition, support for families) http://www.causes.com/causes/537834

The “Fund Attorney Retainers for 10 Families” Drive began on National Adoption Day, November 20, 2010 ~ and ends on December 31, 2010.~ The Fund website can be found through FirstGiving.com at ~ http://www.firstgiving.com/caicw/Event/AdoptionRetainerFund

Follow CAICW on TWITTER:   http://twitter.com/CAICW

EMAIL: [email protected]

CAICW – Christian Evangelism and Ministry – Gal. 2:10, “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

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Read Letters from Families: http://www.caicw.org/familystories.html

May 112010
 

.Holyfield – the first case in which the federal high court has construed ICWA,

Mississippi Choctaw Indian Band v. Holyfield, 490 US 30 (1989) Docket No. 87-980, Argued January 11, 1989, Decided April 3, 1989, CITATION: 490 U.S. 30, 109 S.Ct. 1597, 104 L.Ed.2d 29 (1989),

DISCUSSION: I A The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), 92 Stat. 3069, 25 U.S.C. 1901-1963, was the product of rising concern in the mid-1970’s over the consequences to Indian children, Indian families, and Indian tribes of abusive child welfare practices that resulted in the separation of large numbers of Indian children from their families and tribes through adoption or foster care placement, usually in non-Indian homes.

Dissenting footnotes: STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and KENNEDY, J., joined.

[ Footnote 8 ] The explanation of this subsection in the House Report reads as follows: “Subsection (b) directs a State court, having jurisdiction over an Indian child custody proceeding to transfer such proceeding, absent good cause to the contrary, to the appropriate tribal court upon the petition of the parents or the Indian tribe. Either parent is given the right to veto such transfer. The subsection is intended to permit a State court to apply a modified doctrine of forum non conveniens, in appropriate cases, to insure [490 U.S. 30, 61] that the rights of the child as an Indian, the Indian parents or custodian, and the tribe are fully protected.” Id., at 21. In commenting on the provision, the Department of Justice suggested that the section should be clarified to make it perfectly clear that a state court need not surrender jurisdiction of a child custody proceeding if the Indian parent objected. The Department of Justice letter stated:

“Section 101(b) should be amended to prohibit clearly the transfer of a child
placement proceeding to a tribal court when any parent or child over the age of
12 objects to the transfer
.” Id., at 32.

Although the specific suggestion made by the Department of Justice was not in fact implemented, it is noteworthy that there is nothing in the legislative history to suggest that the recommended change was in any way inconsistent with any of the purposes of the statute.

[ Footnote 9 ] Chief Isaac elsewhere expressed a similar concern for the rights of parents with reference to another provision. See Hearing, supra n. 1, at 158 (statement on behalf of National Tribal Chairmen’s Association)

(“We believe the tribe should receive notice in all such cases but where the
child is neither a resident nor domiciliary of the reservation intervention
should require the consent of the natural parents or the blood relative in whose
custody the child has been left by the natural parents. It seems there is a
great potential in the provisions of section 101(c) for infringing parental
wishes and rights”).

But when an Indian child is deliberately abandoned by both parents to a person off the reservation, no purpose of the ICWA is served by closing the state courthouse door to them. The interests of the parents, the Indian child, and the tribe in preventing the unwarranted removal of Indian children from their families and from the reservation are protected by the Act’s substantive and procedural provisions. In addition, if both parents have intentionally invoked the jurisdiction of the state court in an action involving a non-Indian, no interest in tribal self-governance is implicated. See McClanahan v. Arizona State Tax Comm’n, 411 U.S. 164, 173 (1973); Williams v. [490 U.S. 30, 64] Lee, 358 U.S. 217, 219 -220 (1959); Felix v. Patrick, 145 U.S. 317, 332 (1892).


In Bridget R. –In re Bridget R. (1996) 41 Cal.App.4th 1483 (Bridget R.). January 19, 1996 , LLR No. 9601041.CA, Cite as: LLR 1996.CA.41 – The Pomo Twins

[33] As we explain, recognition of the existing Indian family doctrine is necessary in a case such as this in order to preserve ICWA’s constitutionality. We hold that under the Fifth, Tenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, ICWA does not and cannot apply to invalidate a voluntary termination of parental rights respecting an Indian child who is not domiciled on a reservation, unless the child’s biological parent, or parents, are not only of American Indian descent, but also maintain a significant social, cultural or political relationship with their tribe.

[145] *fn11 We note in passing that Congress in 1987 failed to approve amendments to ICWA which were described in materials considered by the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs as having the effect of precluding application of the existing Indian family doctrine. (See Hearings before the Senate Select Com. on Indian Affairs, United States Senate, 100th Cong., 1st Sess. on Oversight Hearings on the Indian Child Welfare Act, Nov. 10, 1987, Appendix B, pp. 167-171.)

In re Alexandria Y.
(1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 1483, –

which applied the “existing Indian family doctrine” to a proceeding to terminate parental rights and implement a pre-adoptive placement.

…., the Fourth District held that “recognition of the existing Indian family doctrine [was] necessary to avoid serious constitutional flaws in the ICWA” (In re Alexandria Y., supra, 25 Cal.App.4th at p. 1493), and held that the trial court had acted properly in refusing to apply the ICWA “because neither [the child] nor [the mother] had any significant social, cultural, or political relationship with Indian life; thus, there was no existing Indian family to preserve.” (Id. at p. 1485.)

The court observed that not only did neither the mother nor the child have any relationship with the tribe, but also that the father was Hispanic, and that the child was placed in a preadoptive home where Spanish was spoken. “Under these circumstances,” the court commented, “it would be anomalous to allow the ICWA to govern the termination proceedings. It was clearly not the intent of the Congress to do so.” (Id. at p. 1494.)


From Santos y,
In re SANTOS Y., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law, In re Santos Y. (2001) , Cal.App.4th [No. B144822. Second Dist., Div. Two. July 20, 2001.]

“Application of the ICWA to a child whose only connection with an Indian tribe is a one-quarter genetic contribution does not serve the purpose for which the ICWA was enacted, “to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families” (25 U.S.C. § 1902).”

The court paid “particular attention to In re Bridget R., and quoted from Bridget R.’s due process and equal protection analysis at relative length.”

They also said, “We do not disagree with the proposition that preserving Native-American culture is a significant, if not compelling, governmental interest. We do not, however, see that interest being served by applying the ICWA to a multi-ethnic child who has had a minimal relationship with his assimilated parents, particularly when the tribal interests “can serve no purpose which is sufficiently compelling to overcome the child’s right to remain in the home where he . . . is loved and well cared for, with people to whom the child is daily becoming more attached by bonds of affection and among whom the child feels secure to learn and grow.” (In re Bridget R., supra, 41 Cal.App.4th at p. 1508.)”

Finally, Santos states, “Congress considered amending the ICWA to preclude application of the “existing Indian family doctrine” but did not do so.”

RE: Santos Footnotes, – Existing Family Doctrine:

¬FN 15. Accepting the doctrine: Alabama (S.A. v. E.J.P. (Ala.Civ.App. 1990) 571 So.2d 1187); Indiana (Matter of Adoption of T.R.M. (Ind. 1988) 525 N.E.2d 298); Kansas (Matter of Adoption of Baby Boy L. (Kan. 1982) 643 P.2d 168); Kentucky (Rye v. Weasel (Ky. 1996) 934 S.W. 2d 257); Missouri (In Interest of S.A.M. (Mo.App. 1986) 703 S.W.2d 603); New York (In re Adoption of Baby Girl S. (Sur. 1999) 690 N.Y.S. 2d 907); Oklahoma (Matter of Adoption of Baby Boy D. (Ok. 1985) 742 P.2d 1059); Tennessee (In re Morgan (Tenn.Ct.App. 1997) WL 716880); Washington (Matter of Adoption of Crews (Wash. 1992) 825 P.2d 305).

Rejecting the doctrine: Alaska (Matter of Adoption of T.N.F. (Alaska 1989) 781 P.2d 973); Idaho (Matter of Baby Boy Doe (Idaho 1993) 849 P.2d 925); Illinois (In re Adoption of S.S. (Ill. 1995) 657 N.E.2d 935); New Jersey (Matter of Adoption of a Child of Indian Heritage (N.J. 1988) 111 N.J. 155, 543 A.2d 925); South Dakota (Matter of Adoption of Baade (S.D. 1990) 462 N.W.2d 485); Utah (State, in Interest of D.A.C. (Utah App. 1997) 933 P.2d 993.)
United States Code Title 25 – Indians Chapter 21 – Indian Child Welfare

§ 1911. Indian tribe jurisdiction over Indian child custody proceedings(b) Transfer of proceedings; declination by tribal Court: In any State court proceeding for the foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to, an Indian child not domiciled or residing within the reservation of the Indian child’s tribe, the court, in the absence of good cause to the contrary, shall transfer such proceeding to the jurisdiction of the tribe, absent objection by either parent, upon the petition of either parent or the Indian custodian or the Indian child’s tribe: Provided, That such transfer shall be subject to declination by the tribal court of such tribe.

(Ftn 1) “The 2000 Census indicated that as much at 66 percent of the American Indian and Alaska Native population live in urban areas,” the Senate Indian Affairs Committee wrote in a views and estimates letter on March 2 2007. http://www.indianz.com/News/2007/001803.asp
(ftn2) 14th Amendment, Section 1: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and therefore have all the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

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Apr 292010
 

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Contrary to the belief of those that want control over our children, the Indian Commerce Clause did not give Congress the right to enact a law giving those entities that control.

Professor Rob Natelson, Constitutional Law Professor at the University of Montana, Missoula, researched the issue in 2007. The results of his study were documented in a lead article published in vol 85 page 201 of Denver University Law Review (85 Denv. U. L. Rev. 201 (2007)

According to Professor Natelson, “the U.S. Constitution gives Congress only limited powers, and it says nothing about legislating for “Indian child welfare.”

So what gives Congress the power to pass a law like the ICWA?

Some say the Founding Fathers intended to give Congress that power by a section in the Constitution allowing Congress to “regulate Commerce with the Indian Tribes.” But is that true? Are laws like ICWA really constitutional as regulating “Commerce with the Indian Tribes?”

His answer: Absolutely not.

Professor Rob Natelson is one of the country’s top experts on the original meaning of the Constitution. He concluded that the purpose of the section giving power to Congress to regulate commerce with the Indian tribes was to allow Congress to regulate trade between Indians and whites – no more. Foster care, adoption, parental rights, etc. were be governed by state law, not federal law.

Professor Natelson documented his findings in a lead article published in Denver University Law Review. He also examined other claimed bases for laws like the ICWA, including the “Indian trust doctrine” – and he found they didn’t have any merit, either.

“There is not much doubt on the question,” he said. “At least according the Founding Fathers, Congress had absolutely no authority to adopt the ICWA. Eventually, the courts may see their error and strike it down as unconstitutional.”

This article – and some of Professor Natelson’s other research – can be found at www.umt.edu/law/faculty/natelson.htm

The Original Meaning of the Indian Commerce Clause – 85 Denv. U. L. Rev. 201 (2007)

The Legal Meaning of “Commerce” In the Commerce Clause – 80 St. John’s L. Rev. 789 (2006)
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May 182015
 
USAG Eric Holder 2014

Attorney General Eric Holder Delivers Remarks During the White House Tribal Nations Conference
Washington, DC
United States
~
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Good morning. I want to thank you all for such a warm welcome. And I would like to thank President Obama for hosting this important White House conference.

It is a pleasure to be here today, and a privilege to join so many distinguished public servants, passionate activists, dedicated leaders, and good friends as we celebrate vital achievements, discuss critical challenges, and renew our shared commitment. All of the leaders in this room – and so many others across the country – are indispensable partners in our efforts to fulfill the promise of the U.S. government’s relationships with sovereign tribes. You are critical allies in our ongoing work to move this country closer to its most treasured ideals: of equality, opportunity, and justice under law. And you continue a proud tradition of tribal leaders who have stepped to the forefront of efforts to preserve cultural values, to enforce treaty obligations too often ignored, and to secure the rights and benefits to which all American Indians and Alaska Natives are entitled.

I know this responsibility has rarely been easy. But it is a solemn obligation that you and your ancestors have carried for generations – through injustice, violence, and deprivation; through broken promises, deferred action, and denial of rights. Over the years, you’ve seen avenues into prosperity foreclosed by bigotry. You’ve seen opportunities curtailed by deplorable discrimination. And you’ve held firm even at times – in past decades – when the federal government insisted that the men and women of tribal nations forsake their culture and their heritage, and be slowly, painfully, grudgingly assimilated, while their tribal governments were neglected—or even terminated.

Together, you and your predecessors faced down tremendous adversity to safeguard your lands, protect your cultures, and strengthen your ability to choose your own future. And, particularly in the last half-century, your commitment has finally been met by a U.S government that’s prepared to acknowledge the failures and injustices of the past – and to work with and empower you to chart a new course.

That is why, during the earliest days of the Obama Administration – in 2009 – I traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota, for a historic Tribal Nations Listening Session, to hear directly from tribal officials about the actions we could take together to build a relationship of coexistence and cooperation. I was joined at the time by roughly 100 Department of Justice officials representing more than 20 different components, as well as more than 400 tribal leaders and representatives from around the nation – some of whom are here in the audience today. We discussed the epidemic of violence that cut a vicious path through Indian Country, where violent crime rates reached two, four, and sometimes over ten times the national average. We spoke about the vital needs of women on tribal lands, who faced a shocking reality in which 1 out of every 3 American Indian or Alaska Native women would be raped in her lifetime. And we spoke about children who were brought up in poverty, in the midst of uncertainty and rampant abuse.

As I listened, during that visit, I heard the pain in the voices of the people I was meeting with – people whose parents and grandparents had made indelible contributions to this country, but who had been shut out of the process of self-determination, and denied access to opportunities for success. I felt, even then, a deep and powerful comprehension of the magnitude of discrimination that tribal communities have faced – discrimination that bore a distressing resemblance to the experience of millions of people of color throughout our history, including those brave pioneers I remember watching as a young child, on a black-and-white television in the basement of my family’s home in New York City, as they marched for equality and rallied for the opportunities that should have been their birthright.

I recognized, on a basic, human level, the desire for empowerment, and the need for mutual trust and understanding, that I encountered during my listening session in Indian Country. And I left St. Paul both inspired and invigorated by a firm commitment to the work we must do together.

After that conference, I announced not only an intention to work closely with you to move in a positive direction, but a desire to take concrete steps forward – and to implement a fundamentally new approach that emphasized collaboration between sovereign tribes and the federal government. I announced the creation of a Tribal Nations Leadership Council to advise me on matters critical to Indian Country – a council made up of men and women not selected by the federal government, but elected by their own peers. I stated my determination to work with Congress to pass important legislation like the Tribal Law and Order Act in order to provide tribal governments with more of the authority, resources, and information they need to appropriately hold to account those who commit crimes in Indian Country. I directed the department to increase the engagement of United States Attorney’s Offices with tribes in their districts and work to expand Indian Country prosecutions. And I called for the swift reauthorization of a revised and strengthened Violence Against Women Act, including provisions recommended by the Justice Department that would, for the first time in decades, protect and empower Indian women against abuse by non-Native men.

I am proud to say that, thanks to the hard work and dedication of many of the men and women in this room today, every single one of these goals has been met. And all of these commitments have been fulfilled.

In every instance, progress was made possible by our shared determination to overcome the effects of what my predecessor, former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, once called the “tragic irony” of American Indian oppression, and to work together to forge an enduring, positive, collaborative relationship between the federal government and sovereign tribes. And I am pleased to note that, over the last six years – by committing to this new and necessary approach – together with President Obama and our colleagues throughout the Administration, we have expanded on our initial groundbreaking efforts and helped to launch a new era of empowerment and opportunity.

Through cooperation between tribal justice leaders and U.S. Attorney’s Offices – including new tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys, who prosecute Indian Country cases in federal and tribal courts alike – we have dramatically strengthened interactions between federal and tribal law enforcement and prosecutors, and transformed a dysfunctional process that too often allowed domestic violence cases in Indian Country to languish and disappear—the sad result of a system in which the federal government and tribal officials would too rarely communicate, let alone collaborate. Every U.S. Attorney’s Office with Indian Country jurisdiction is now required to engage with the tribes in its district to develop operational plans to improve public safety and prevent and reduce violence against women and girls. A review of FY 2013 cases filed against defendants in Indian Country showed a 34 percent increase from 2008 numbers—the year before the department’s Indian Country initiative began. And since the bipartisan passage of the landmark Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act in 2013, the Justice Department has announced three pilot projects to begin early implementation of special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction, which extends tribal prosecution authority over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence for the first time in more than 35 years. As a result, more than 20 non-Indians have been charged by tribal prosecutors – and more than 200 defendants have been charged under VAWA’s enhanced federal assault statutes. This total includes more than 40 cases involving charges of strangulation or suffocation, which are often precursor offenses to domestic homicide.

We’re building on this work through targeted programs like the American Indian/Alaska Native Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Sexual Assault Response Team Initiative – under the leadership of our Office for Victims of Crime – which is designed to strengthen the federal response to sexual violence in tribal communities. Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with the Initiative’s Coordination Committee. I received their formal report and concrete recommendations on improving federal agency response to sexual violence in tribal nations.

And I pledged then – and reiterate today – that these recommendations will serve as a solid basis for robust action as we seek to gain the trust of assault survivors; to break the culture of shame that prevents far too many victims from coming forward; and to build upon the exemplary work that tribal authorities, law enforcement leaders and victim advocates across the country are doing every day to help us turn the tide against sexual violence.

We are also expanding our work with tribal governments to protect children in Indian Country through the Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence. Since it was established last year, the Task Force has already made important progress, led in part by the outstanding work of its distinguished Advisory Committee co-chairs, former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan and Grammy-winning artist – and member of the Iroquois Nation – Joanne Shenandoah. As the Task Force moves ahead, they will continue to coordinate closely with federal leaders to support and strengthen the work all of you are leading throughout tribal lands.

Beyond these efforts, we have taken a collaborative approach to break the gridlock on issues that have been a source of contention between tribal nations and federal Administrations for decades.

In 2010, the Obama Administration reached a historic settlement – totaling $3.4 billion – that resolved Cobell v. Salazar, a class-action lawsuit on trust accounting and mismanagement that had been pending for fifteen years. Since October of that year, the United States has settled the trust-mismanagement claims of 81 federally recognized tribes, putting an end to decades of bitter litigation and providing over $2.6 billion to tribes across the country. These settlements – which place no conditions on the use of funds – have spurred tribal investments in long-term economic development initiatives, infrastructure, and expansion of tribal government services. And as part of the agreements, we established procedures for improving communication and avenues for alternative dispute resolution – so that, in the future, we can more effectively collaborate to resolve issues involving trust funds and assetswithout costly and long-running litigation.

More broadly, we’ve worked to protect water rights and natural resources on tribal lands. And we’ve vastly expanded our outreach to – and cooperation with – Indian tribes across the continent, institutionalizing ways to seek input on environmental concerns and gaining critical insights into the environmental needs of tribal nations from coast to coast. Today, I can announce that we are releasing a revised Environmental Justice Strategy and Guidance, outlining how we will work to use existing environmental and civil-rights laws to help ensure that all communities, regardless of their income or demographics, are protected from environmental harm. Across the board – from our collaboration with and funding of the Intertribal Technical-Assistance Working Group, or ITWG, which uses peer-to-peer education to enhance effective prosecution practices in Indian Country, to our formal conversations with sovereign tribes to discuss ways to expand and enforce the voting rights of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including a proposal to require state and local election administrators whose territory includes tribal lands to place at least one polling site in a location chosen by the tribal government – this Administration is standing up for tribal sovereignty, tribal self-government, and tribal power. We are defending the rights of men and women in Indian Country to execute their own laws, to implement their own practices, and to perform their own civic services. And we will do everything in our power to ensure that, in the future, efforts like these will become standard practice.

To that end, last year, I announced that the Justice Department would take steps to draft and adopt a new Statement of Principles to guide all of the actions we take in working with federally recognized Indian tribes. Developed in consultation with the leaders of all 566 tribes, that Statement of Principles was meant to codify our intention to serve not as a patron, but as a partner, in Indian country – and to institutionalize our efforts to reinforce relationships, reform the criminal justice system, and aggressively protect civil rights and treaty rights. I am proud to say that our Statement of Principles is now complete. It has taken effect. And it will serve as a guide for this Administration – and every Administration – as we seek to build the more perfect Union, and the more just society, that every individual deserves.

All of these achievements are vital – and many of them are nothing short of groundbreaking. But, like all of you, I recognize that the longevity of our accomplishments depends not only on the strength of our convictions, but on the ability and the willingness of those who come after us to build upon the progress that we have set in motion.

After all, for everything that’s been achieved so far, a great deal of important, life-changing work remains to be done. That’s why the Department of Justice is committed to programs like the Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship—named for a beloved and extraordinary member of our DOJ family, and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Indians, who worked tirelessly to advance the federal government’s relationships with sovereign tribes and to defend the interests of Indian and Alaska Native communities from coast to coast. Although Gaye passed away this summer, the fellowship that bears her name is creating a new pipeline of legal talent with expertise and deep experience in federal Indian law, tribal law, and Indian Country issues. I’m proud to say the very first Indian country fellow has been selected, and Charisse Arce [sha-REESE AR-see], of Bristol Bay, Alaska, will be appointed to a three-year term position in the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Arizona, where she will be assigned to the district’s Indian Country Crime Section. She will also serve a portion of her appointment in a tribal prosecutor’s office or with another tribal legal entity within the district.

In addition to establishing this vital fellowship, the Department of Justice is reinforcing and increasing staff for the Office of Tribal Justice—including experts with a deep understanding of the laws impacting Indian Country—to make certain that Indian men, women, and children will always have a voice in the policies and priorities of the Justice Department. And we are redoubling our support of the Indian Child Welfare Act, to protect Indian children from being illegally removed from their families; to prevent the further destruction of Native traditions through forced and unnecessary assimilation; and to preserve a vital link between Native children and their community that has too frequently been severed – sometimes by those acting in bad faith.

Today, I am pleased to announce that the Department of Justice is launching a new initiative to promote compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Under this important effort, we are working to actively identify state-court cases where the United States can file briefs opposing the unnecessary and illegal removal of Indian children from their families and their tribal communities. We are partnering with the Departments of the Interior and Health and Human Services to make sure that all the tools available to the federal government are used to promote compliance with this important law. And we will join with those departments, and with tribes and Indian child-welfare organizations across the country, to explore training for state judges and agencies; to promote tribes’ authority to make placement decisions affecting tribal children; to gather information about where the Indian Child Welfare Act is being systematically violated; and to take appropriate, targeted action to ensure that the next generation of great tribal leaders can grow up in homes that are not only safe and loving, but also suffused with the proud traditions of Indian cultures.

Ultimately, these children – and all those of future generations – represent the single greatest promise of our partnership, because they will reap the benefits of our ongoing work for change. In the last six years, we have worked together in a shared effort to end misunderstanding and mistreatment, and to bring about a triumph of vision over the status quo; of ingenuity over incapacity; and of progress over stagnation. We have laid an enduring foundation as we strive to empower vulnerable individuals, and give them the tools they need not to leave their communities, but to bolster them; not to abandon their ways of life, but to strengthen them.

Of course, there are many more challenges still before us. And we’ve seen all too clearly that the barriers erected over centuries of discrimination will not be surmounted overnight. But we face a brighter future today because we have placed our faith not in conflict or division, but in cooperation and respect; in the understanding that, though we live in different cultures, with different traditions, we share the same values. We believe that sovereign nations have the right to protect their citizens from harm, and that no perpetrator of domestic violence should be granted immunity because of the color of his skin. We understand that promises of autonomy have meaning, and should not be overturned through the changing desires of different federal Administrations. And we recognize that any child in Indian Country – in Oklahoma, or Montana, or New Mexico – is not fundamentally different from an African-American kid growing up in New York City. And neither child should be forced to choose between their cultural heritage and their well-being.

From the assurance of equal rights and equal justice, to the power of democratic participation and mutual aid, we are joined together by principles as old as time immemorial – principles embodied both by men and women whose ancestors lived on this continent centuries ago, and by those who have newly arrived on our shores. This is my pledge to you – here, today: that, because of our partnership – because of the record we’ve established; because of the foundation we’ve built – no matter who sits in the Oval Office, or who serves as Attorney General of the United States, America’s renewed and reinforced commitment to upholding these promises will be unwavering and unchangeable; powerful and permanent.

That is the legacy of our work together – not only the groundbreaking accomplishments I have described today, but the historic dedication to partnership that has made them possible. Although my time in this Administration will soon come to an end, we have embedded a commitment to tribal justice in the fabric of the Justice Department that I know will continue long after my departure. I will always be proud of the enduring, positive, and collaborative relationship we have built; of the life-changing work we have completed; and of the new era of progress that we have begun. It is my sincere hope that as the history of this Department of Justice is written, great attention will be paid to our accomplishments in interacting with our Native brothers and sisters. This has been a personal priority for me.

I want to thank you all, once again, for your passion, your perseverance, and your steadfast devotion to the work of our time. I am humbled to stand with you, today and every day. I am grateful for your friendship. And I look forward to all that we will achieve – together – in the months and years ahead.
Thank you.
Topic:
Tribal Justice
Component:
Office of the Attorney General

The United States Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs, Justice News –
http://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-eric-holder-delivers-remarks-during-white-house-tribal-nations
Accessed Dec 4, 2014, 5 pm

May 182015
 
http://www.iheartdesi.org/submission.html

Afraid to Comment in the new ICWA rules? We’ve been told the BIA has approved an opportunity to anonymously submit comments on the BIA ICWA rules.

Make a statement and simply preface it with this statement:

“Because of fear of retribution from my tribe or others, I am submitting my comments anonymously.”

If you want to state your tribal affiliation or of the children in the situation you are discussing, you may. But you don’t have to. You don’t have to mention the state, either.

Your comments don’t have to be long or formal. Even handwritten from children would is great.
Then upload them at http://www.iheartdesi.org/

Click on photo of Desi at lower right hand side of page and upload your file.
If you have trouble with that, we have an email address for tribal members afraid to testify against the ICWA rules. Message us privately to get the email address.

http://www.iheartdesi.org/

ANONYMOUS TRIBAL MEMBER COMMENTS MUST BE SUBMITTED BY TONIGHT – MAY 18 – TO ‘iHEARTDESI.ORG’ IN ORDER FOR THEM TO COMPILE THEM BY TOMORROW –