Jun 082017
 

by Thomas F. Sullivan

For generations, the residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation have lived with unemployment and poverty rates that have never been seen in the majority community even during the Great Depression.

According to an MSNBC Report on Pine Ridge on May 29, 2014, “Roughly four out of five residents are unemployed and well over half live in deep poverty…… Life expectancy is just 48 years old for men and 52 for women….. About 70 percent of the students will drop out of school before they graduate.”

That last statistic is especially troubling and is inconsistent with the claim frequently stated by tribal leaders that “Our children are sacred”.

According to that same MSNBC Report, “In a startling new draft report, issued in April 2014 by the Bureau of Indian Education which oversees 183 schools on 64 reservations in 23 states, focuses attention on BIE’s inability to deliver a quality education to its students. BIE schools are chronically failing. BIE operates ‘one of the lowest-performing set of schools in the country.’ During the 2012 – 2013 school year, only one out of four BIE-funded schools met state-defined proficiency standards and one out of three were under restructuring due to chronic academic failure…. BIE students performed lower on national assessment tests than students in all but one other major urban school district.”

Given these conditions which have persisted for generations as well as the almost total absence of any economic activity on the reservation, it is not surprising that there is a high level of dysfunction as well. This dysfunction is exemplified by the following health and social welfare measures:

* The infant mortality rate at Pine Ridge is one of the highest in the nation at 3 times the national average;
* The incidence of diabetes is 8 times the national average;
* Eight out of every ten people at Pine Ridge are alcoholics. Given this fact it is highly likely that most newborns on this reservation are born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), a severe developmental delay. Care of children with FASD requires an extended time commitment, great patience and resilience, none of which is in abundant supply in most reservation homes:
* Drug use and abuse, both prescription and illegal, is rampant;
* The teenage suicide rate is 150 percent of the national average. In the first 8 months of 2015. There were 19 completions by youth between the ages of 9 and 24 and more than 100 attempts by children from the same age group. Within the last week, a 12-year-old girl hanged herself on a tree behind the Sue Anne Big Crow Youth Center. Shortly before a 14-year-old boy recently completed, he was being counseled by one of his teachers. She told him that Lakota tradition teaches that a spirit set free by suicide is doomed to wander the earth in lonely darkness. “You don’t want that, do you?” His response was chilling, “Anything is better than here”.
* The level of domestic violence is at epidemic levels. In CY 2014 the Tribal Department of Public Safety prosecuted 470 cases of domestic violence. During the same period one of the Tribe’s domestic shelters reported they had responded to more than 1,300 cases of domestic violence:
* In CY 2016 there were 17 homicides on Pine Ridge, a rate 4 times the current homicide rate in the city of Chicago:
* For the last several years, the Pine Ridge reservation child protection staff has been investigating, relying on rigorous standards, every case of reported child sexual abuse and confirming, on average, 2 ½ cases per week for every week during each of those years. Considering that most estimates are that 10 percent or less of such abuse is ever reported, the seriousness of this level of child sexual abuse cannot be overstated.
* Research data are clear, children who are sexually abused are 2½ times more likely to attempt and/or complete suicide than children who have not been sexually abused.

On May 1, 2015, in the New York Times Ron Cornelius, the Great Plains Director of the Indian Health Service is quoted as saying, that “the recent suicides were an incredibly sad situation that IHS was committed to working with the tribe to address this heartbreaking problem.” It is not clear to me from the public record available to me just what the IHS has done to fulfill this commitment. At that time I was the ACF Regional Administrator in Denver and heard from friends on and around Pine Ridge, “There are a lot of ‘suits’ traveling to Pine Ridge. They are not meeting with anyone from the Reservation. They spend all of their time in a conference room talking with each other. They seem to make it a point to avoid any tribal members.”

However, former Pine Ridge Tribal Judge Saunie Wilson, in a power point presentation to a west coast conference on youth suicides in early 2017, described the 20 professionals sent to Pine Ridge by IHS to “solve” the reservation suicide epidemic in the following terms, “They had, No background checks, No licenses to work in South Dakota and No knowledge of reservation culture, mores or society.” Unfortunately, this is the same inept approach IHS used when there was a comparable burst of youth suicides on Montana’s Fort Peck Reservation several years earlier. I was invited by the Tribal Chair to sit in on the IHS meetings with Tribal staff as an impartial observer for the Tribe. As a result, I could observe what IHS was doing in response to the youth suicide burst on that Reservation. They were clearly not effective then. How could they believe they would be effective several years later?

On April 5, 2017, at a meeting of the Pine Ridge Tribal Law and Order Committee, the following statement was made by Richard Little Whiteman, a Council member and Chair of this Committee, “I haven’t seen this level of violence since the 1970s”. The Committee also heard reports that the number of law enforcement officers, once numbering more than 100 sworn officers, now was little more than 20, had the impossible task of policing a geographic area comparable in size to the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined 7 days a week, 24 hours every day.

What is especially puzzling is the deafening silence from both the media, those who by their titles and their government positions have direct responsibility to correct such problems and those who claim they are advocates working on behalf of the welfare of women and children.

For example, if either the city of Cambridge, MA or Berkeley, CA, each with a total population of approximately 100,000, had the same level of youth suicide completions as Pine Ridge, the following would be occurring:

1. There would be youth suicide completions just about daily in each of these communities.
2. There would not be enough curb space to park all of the media trucks providing a direct link to the community for their viewers. After all the media had ignored multiple detailed, factual reports about the dysfunction in these communities and predictions about what would follow from that dysfunction. Recognizing their prior error in not covering all of the dysfunction, media outlets were competing to provide the most offensive coverage. They characterized their coverage as “presenting the facts.”
3. Members of Congress would be convening hearings in these communities in an attempt to elicit some hints as to the cause of such dysfunction even though they had never mentioned these communities until the funerals began to be held when the dysfunction in these communities could no longer be ignored. Based on past experience the best that the local congressional delegation will be able to do is to appoint a study committee charged with reporting back on the cause of all the suicides within three years. No action would have to be taken to assist these communities until the study report was produced.
4. Advocates would be elbowing their way to get in front of any operating TV camera to push their unique solutions to such dysfunction even though they had not only known about the extreme dysfunction in these communities but they had also been silent about it until the funerals began.
5. State, county, and local officials would point at each other, claiming they had little or no responsibility to correct these problems. It was the responsibility of that “other guy” (whoever that unidentified person was) until federal funds were made available. Then the competition would be cut-throat. Each would cite their “expertise” on matters of this kind even though each had just established an extensive written record claiming they knew nothing about such matters in their efforts to avoid any responsibility (political punishment for refusing to deal with the dysfunction in their communities until the funerals began) for what was happening in these communities.
6. Federal officials whose organizations had been widely praised for formally adopting mission statements claiming they were responsible for the well-being of every citizen in their service area would initially deny any responsibility for such dysfunction, pointing at state, county or local officials as the parties responsible for addressing and correcting such behavior. When and if Congress appropriates funds to address and correct these problems, these same federal officials will distribute those funds without first establishing performance measures to determine the effectiveness of how these funds are spent. If the past is any guide, it will be several years before performance measures will be put in place.

If this is the response to the massive dysfunction and resulting epidemic of youthful suicides in communities like Cambridge or Berkeley, can anything better be expected at Pine Ridge?

Pine Ridge is a small, Isolated, rural community with little political power. They have been ignored and will continue to be ignored.

The sexual abuse of American Indian children should have resulted in a high-level commitment to stop the abuse once it had been uncovered years ago.

During the last two Administrations, I brought the twin epidemics of child sexual abuse and child/youthful Tom Sullivan - Regional Administrator ACFsuicides in Indian Country to the attention of the political leadership of the Administration for Children and Families and the Department of Health and Human Services with multiple, detailed, factual, written presentations. These presentations detailed the pervasive extent of the abuse, the long-term impact on the abused individuals, their families and the community at large and the substantial public cost of such abuse. They had no effect. It was as if they had never been read.

Until one is prepared to focus on and widely and continuously publicize the hypocrisy of those who know the facts and who deny or ignore them, thereby allying themselves with those who abuse children, nothing will be done to correct this barbaric situation. Until those who have chosen silence in the face of widespread child sexual abuse are publicly identified and shamed in all major media outlets for their alliance with sexual predators, attempting to stop the barbarism is a fool’s errand.

Thomas F. Sullivan is a former Regional Administrator for the Administration of Children and Families under the federal HHS.  He was forced out of his job in May, 2016, after defying his DC superiors by repeatedly reporting on child abuse on several reservations. 

——————————

From Elizabeth Morris, Chair of CAICW:

For more information concerning our federal government’s handling of federal Indian policy, watch this 20-minute video:

Apr 292017
 

The Goldwater Institute filed their notice of appeal to the 9th Circuit in the Arizona ICWA class action case.

Download (PDF, 89KB)

A.D. v. Washburn (Goldwater Litigation)
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Case No. 17-15839

https://turtletalk.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/1-1_scheduling-order.pdf

The parties shall meet the following time schedule.
If there were reported hearings, the parties shall designate and, if necessary, cross designate the transcripts pursuant to 9th Cir. R. 10-3.1. If there were no reported hearings, the transcript deadlines do not apply.
Wed., May 3, 2017 Mediation Questionnaire due. If your registration for Appellate ECF is confirmed after this date, the
Mediation Questionnaire is due within one day of receiving the email from PACER confirming your registration.
Wed., May 24, 2017 Transcript shall be ordered.
Fri., June 23, 2017 Transcript shall be filed by court reporter.
Wed., August 2, 2017 Appellant’s opening brief and excerpts of record shall be served and filed pursuant to FRAP 32 and
9th Cir. R. 32-1.
Fri., September 1, 2017 Appellees’ answering brief and excerpts of record shall be served and filed pursuant to FRAP 32 and 9th Cir. R. 32-1.
The optional appellant’s reply brief shall be filed and served within fourteen days of service of the appellees’ brief, pursuant to FRAP 32 and 9th Cir. R. 32-1.

Failure of the appellant to comply with the Time Schedule Order will result in automatic dismissal of the appeal. See 9th Cir. R. 42-1.
Case: 17-15839, 04/26/2017, ID: 10411309, DktEntry: 1-1, Page 3 of 4
(3 of 17)
FOR THE COURT:
MOLLY C. DWYER
CLERK OF COURT
By: Janne Nicole Millare Rivera
Deputy Clerk
Ninth Circuit Rule 27-7

Apr 142017
 

Three-yr-old Lauryn Whiteshield was murdered a little over a month after her arrival to her grandfather’s home in the spring of 2013.
This twenty minute video examines the effect of federal Indian policy on the lives, liberty, and property of U.S. citizens across America.
Although the last two U.S censuses show that 75% of tribal members do not live within Indian Country and many have never had any association with the reservation system, federal policies mandate tribal government jurisdiction over individuals of lineage in several areas.
1) Across America, children who have never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal customs – including multi-racial children with extremely minimal blood quantum – have been removed from homes they love and placed with strangers. Some children have been severely hurt in the process.
2) Women victimized by violence can be denied the option of county court, regardless whether they believe justice cannot be obtained in tribal court.
3) Further, the Department of Interior holds title to the property of millions of individual tribal members. Adult citizens are not allowed to sell or use their property as collateral without permission.
This study looks at the practical impact and documented repercussions of policies that, based solely on a person’s lineage, set limitations on what they may do with their lives, children, and property.

Please share this with your friends.

PLEASE also share with YOUR Congressmen. MANY of them take a stand on all kinds of things – from orphans in Russia to immigrants and refugees from overseas. DEMAND that they take a strong stand for children in the United States – CITIZENS subject to abuse by a law they – Congress – created and MUST remove.

Most especially – share your thoughts on this video with the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs – Senator John Hoeven.

Find your State’s Senator and Congressmen here:
https://www.senate.gov/
https://www.house.gov/

Thank you – and PLEASE Share….

Learn More.

http://DyingInIndianCountry.com

https://www.facebook.com/CAICW.org/

Mar 092017
 

Honorable Chairman John Hoeven,

On June 30, 2014, then U.S. President Barack Obama stated in a letter to Speaker John Boehner that children crossing our southern border are an urgent humanitarian situation and the U.S. has a legal and moral obligation to make sure they are appropriately cared for. Today, Americans across the nation are vilifying President Donald Trump out of concern for refugees across the world.

The federal government, which has claimed Native American children and their parents as wards, has an even greater legal and moral obligation to alleviate the humanitarian crisis within our reservation system. “…there is no resource that is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children and that the United States has a direct interest, as trustee, in protecting Indian children who are members of or are eligible for membership in an Indian tribe…” (Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978)

Many across the world have also been outraged by the legal route chosen for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Despite clear facts outlined in the District Court ruling in September, 2016, an unsettling number of people have protested the danger youth of Standing Rock would face if at some point the water would become polluted.

Yet, most of these people have been silent concerning the number of murdered children on many reservations, as well as the epidemic of teen suicide. Albeit – many do not know about the violence. Much of the media that has been trumpeting unsubstantiated #NoDAPL claims, has ignored the documented reports of child abuse on many reservations.

Very few news outlets have reported on children such as 18-month-old Jastin Ian Blue, who, after having been removed from his mother due to neglect and abuse, was murdered by her in October, 2014, after Standing Rock officials returned him to her.

In 2014, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association reported, “… research shows that while the US child mortality rate for children ages 1 to 14 has decreased by 9% since 2000, it has increased by 15% among AI/AN children.” And the Center for Native Youth reported, “Violence, including intentional injuries, homicide and suicide, account for 75% of deaths for AI/AN youth age 12 to 20” (SAMHSA). (Center for Native American Youth 2014). “Types of crimes that Native Americans are likely to be victimized by include: murder, assault, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and gang violence” (Tighe, 2014).(Hyland 2014, 4).

Worse, reservation child abuse is frequently underreported. It is common for those witnessing abuse to say nothing, as illustrated by the seven currently facing federal charges after Pine Ridge law enforcement found two toddlers in November, 2016, weighing 13 pounds each. The girls were so severely malnourished that a pediatrician compared them to World War II concentration camp prisoners. It appears many were aware of the girls’ condition, but said nothing.

There are varied reasons for this. There is a culture of silence on many reservations. You do not turn family in. Other witnesses may be afraid to come forward because they had been complicit or even participatory in the early stages of the abuse. Others say abuse must be kept quiet to prevent challenge to and weakening of tribal sovereignty and the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Whatever the reason, with few seeming to care about the abuse and trafficking on many reservations, children end up feeling trapped and hopeless. A report from President Obama’s office stated, “Suicide is the second leading cause of death—2.5 times the national rate—for Native youth in the 15 to 24 year old age group” (Executive Office of the President 2014, 5), while NICWA reported, “Native teens experience the highest rates of suicide of any population in the U.S.—at least 3.5 times higher than the national average.11 (NICWA, SAMHSA 2014)

Data concerning the extent of child abuse within Indian Country abounds. Some of the reports given by tribal entities and organizations have phrased the data to make it appear that these dangers are connected to heritage. But the data is flawed. There might, in fact, be a higher percentage of children hurt within the reservation system than currently thought, and it is not about heritage. The cited statistics most often include the number of those self-reporting heritage on the U.S. census. But most of those reporting heritage on the census live outside of Indian Country and are not having the same issues those living with reservation boundaries are experiencing.

According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75% of U.S citizens with tribal heritage live outside of Indian Country. This includes persons of 100% heritage who choose not to be involved with the reservation system. Some have moved away to protect their children from the high incidence of crime and corruption. Others have never lived on a reservation. In fact, most enrollable citizens have less than 50% tribal heritage, have mainstreamed, and are well-connected with non-native relatives. Some have not been connected to the reservation system for over two generations.

Further, many dissident families living away from the reservation system may or may not have been experiencing the levels of abuse and violence that children within the reservation system experience. The data on their health doesn’t always make it to the reporters of tribal health and welfare statistics. Some of these families living outside the reservation system may self-report elements of their heritage to the U.S. census, but that does not mean they are eligible for federal Indian benefits, are served by tribal resources, or have any connection with Indian Country. Many of them are uncountable in the statistics gathered by Indian Health Services or other reporters.

The reported data concerning ‘Native American child abuse’ consequently pertains more to children within Indian Country who use the benefits and services and are under the auspices of tribal governments, the federal Administration of Children and Families, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other federal ‘help’ agencies – than it does to children in the mainstream who are unconnected to Indian Country.

Clearly – all this considered – emotional and physical dangers for children are much greater within Indian Country than they are without. Violence is higher for many reasons – including (but not limited to) the inability of State law enforcement to make arrests, the prevalence of gang activity, alcohol and drug abuse, and alcohol related birth defects. Yet, despite the many hearings, reports and billions of dollars spent to improve quality of life within the reservation system, the situation appears to be only getting worse.

Unfortunately, ICWA statistics – including how many children are affected by the ICWA every year, what percentage of those affected were taken from long term homes where they felt safe and loved – then placed into tribal foster homes and been hurt, what percentage had never lived within Indian Country or been acquainted with the culture prior to being subjected to ICWA, and what the long-term emotional and physical health outcomes for the children have been – are not readily available. But that doesn’t dismiss the value of common sense and logic.

The theoretical implication of the large amount of available data on Native American child abuse – data that has been reported as true by tribal government entities, their supporters, and the Obama administration – is that children who are taken from homes known and proven to be safe, stable, and emotionally and physically healthy outside of Indian Country, and placed into a home within Indian Country, are more likely to be placed into situations less safe, stable, and emotionally and physically healthy than the home they have been taken from.

Further, these theoretical implications should be obvious to tribal and federal governments as well as organizations servicing Indian Country, as they are the ones reporting the data.

Therefore, children who fall under the jurisdiction of the Indian Child Welfare Act – meaning children who a tribal government has deemed to be members and who have been brought before a judge for a custody hearing, regardless of whether they and their families have been connected to Indian Country – are being consciously placed into potentially dangerous living situations by tribal, state, and/or federal government officials who know – or should know – the potential for harm.

Nevertheless, a concerned community does not wait for additional studies to act on an obvious and immediately known danger. We don’t wait for a study to rush a child out of a burning building. When a child is bleeding to death, we know to immediately put pressure on the wound and get the child to a hospital. Unwillingness to deal effectively with the immediate needs of children suffering extreme physical or sexual abuse from their extended family or neighborhood casts doubt on tribal and federal government assertions that the best interest of the children is of paramount importance.

The real racism – is the attitude that the documented and immediate needs of certain children of a particular heritage can wait a few more years so as to not interfere with the desires and demands of political leadership. While claiming to be “raising the standard” for children of heritage by allowing them to stay in a documented dangerous environment, or to return to a dangerous family setting prematurely, or to take them from an environment known to be safe and deliberately place them in danger – federal and tribal officials have been in fact lowering the standard to the point of cruel negligence. Many children of tribal heritage are, in fact, not being given protection equal to what other children are legally mandated to receive.

http://caicw.org

The twin of murdered toddler Lauryn Whiteshield, is currently threatened with removal from her home in Bismarck – to be placed back on the Spirit Lake reservation where she watched her sister die. We can only imagine the horror the foster parents are feeling right now, not to mention how this now six-year-old will feel when the transfer takes place. In the Spring of 2013, the three-year-old twin sisters were taken from the safe, loving home in Bismarck where they had lived most of their lives. and were placed with their grandfather and his girlfriend, a woman known to have been abusive to children in the past. Lauryn was murdered within a few weeks. This happened during a period when both the BIA and U.S. Attorney’s office had taken over law enforcement and social services on the Spirit Lake Reservation due to a rash of uninvestigated child homicides and were supposedly monitoring placements to prevent further murders. The non-native foster mom the girls were taken from read a victim’s impact statement for the sentencing of the murderer of Lauryn. The federal government, she said, allowed it to happen, and “ICWA can be an evil law when twisted to fit the tribes wants or needs.”

The Goldwater Institute wrote concerning Lauryn, “The forced transfer from a safe, loving foster family to a home that posed great and obvious danger to the girls did not happen in a third-world country but in the United States. It did not happen 40 or 60 years ago but in 2013. And it did not happen because the court ignored the law but because it followed it. Had any of the child custody laws of the 50 states been applied, in all likelihood Lauryn would be alive today. That is because state laws require consideration of the “best interests of the child” in determining termination of parental rights, foster placements, and adoptions. That bedrock rule protects all American children – except children of Native American ancestry, like Lauryn. Although she had never lived on a reservation, because of Lauryn’s ancestry, she was made subject to the Indian tribe’s jurisdiction, which determined it was better to “reunify” her with a grandfather with whom she had never lived instead of the non-Indian foster family who had raised her from infancy and wanted to adopt her.” (Bolick 2015).

While adoption isn’t the only or best answer for every situation in Indian Country, it is notable that on January 1, 2013, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed S. Res. 628, expressing disappointment over the Russian law banning adoption of children by American citizens.

Senator James Inhofe, one of the two Senate Co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, rightly stated, “It is extremely unfortunate and disheartening that the Russian Duma and President Putin would choose to deprive the children, the very children that they are entrusted to care for, the ability to find a safe and caring family that every child deserves…It is nothing more than a political play…that ultimately leads to greater hardships and more suffering for Russian children who will now be denied a loving family.”

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Members also sent a bi-partisan letter to President Putin urging him to veto the legislation, stating, “…Nothing is more important to the future of our world than doing our best to give as many children the chance to grow up in a family as we possibly can.”

Americans have continually expressed concern over Vladimir Putin’s adoption ban. As recently as in the last couple weeks, evangelical ethicist Russell Moore and Kay Warren, wife of Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, have blasted the ongoing restrictions and called on Christians to pray for abandoned babies and children in that country. It is admirable that Americans feel the pain of Russian children deprived of love and stability and want to help. Americans need to be made aware of children with comparable needs here in America.

The argument against ICWA goes further than just adoption, though. Speaking as the birth mother of several enrollable children – it is also important to recognize that many birth families don’t want tribal governments to have jurisdiction and control over their children.

Children who had never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal customs, some with extremely minimal blood quantum – as well as some with maximum quantum – have been removed from homes they know and love and placed with strangers chosen by tribal social services. Although it is often said that the ICWA has safeguards to prevent misuse, stories concerning the trauma of ICWA on families – including multi-racial families – abound across America. 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.

It appears some within our federal government have reduced our children to the status of a mere “resource’ – choosing to please political leaders rather than save children’s lives. This, while denying tribal members the right to oversee and manage their own physical property and resources. Children, it seems, are a demanded “resource” – and personal, private property is disregarded and ignored as an economic resource. When one boils down the entirety of federal Indian policy – just how does our federal government view tribal members? Indeed, why are children treated as assets, and adults treated as children?

The ability to use your personal property as leverage – to collateralize your assets – is an important economic principle. Yet this principle is denied to individual tribal members despite the extreme level of poverty within Indian Country. It is undeniably a direct result of the infringement of federal Indian policy on individuality, liberty and property that many tribal members continue to struggle in poverty.

Allowing property rights for individual members – while removing the financial incentive for tribal leaders to use children as property, supporting law enforcement, and upholding full constitutional rights and protections for all citizens – would vastly improve the economy, attract more members back to Indian Country, and potentially lessen the financial incentive for tribal leaders to use children as a financial resource. Allowing individuals to freely use their personal resources as financial leverage would preserve to citizens their God-given right to individuality, liberty, and property.

It’s time to stop listening to those with a vested financial interest in increasing tribal government power. 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. More power given to tribal leaders means less freedom and constitutional rights for tribal members.

This said, we are asking you, Senator Hoeven, to include these issues in the 2017-2018 Senate Committee on Indian Affairs agenda:

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 will 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…”

E. Include well defined protections for Adoptive Parents.
F. Mandate that a “Qualified expert witness” be someone who has professional knowledge of the child and family – not merely knowledge of the tribe or traditional customs – and is able to advocate for the well-being of the child, first and foremost.
G. Mandate that only parents and/or legal custodians have the right to enroll a child into an Indian Tribe. It is claimed that tribal membership is a political rather than racial designation, therefore, parents, as U.S. citizens, should be the sole decision makers in regard to political affiliation for their families. Political membership should not be forced upon children or families.

• 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”

H. Secure to all American citizens their individuality, liberty and property. “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws [for the protection of them] in the first place.” (Frederic Bastiat, The Law, p. 5-6.)

These requests can be summarized as an insistence that all American citizens, no matter their heritage, be allowed full benefit of their constitutional rights. We can expand on any of these points and provide documented reasoning upon request.

In the words of Dr. William Allen, Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, when speaking at the ICWA forum, October, 2011, in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs chambers:

“… We are talking about our brothers and our sisters. We’re talking about what happens to people who share with us an extremely important identity. And that identity is the identity of free citizens in a Republic…”

Thank you,

Elizabeth Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

READERS: Three of the children in this attached photo were murdered after being placed by the Indian Child Welfare Act into homes that were or should have been KNOWN to be very dangerous.

Another child shown here was beaten after being taken from his very safe, loving Latino grandparents and placed with his maternal grandmother on the Ute reservation. The maternal grandmother had a recorded history of child abuse. Her daughter – the mother of this child – was removed from her care due to abuse. That daughter did NOT want her children placed with her mother – she KNEW the children would be abused. The State of California and the Ute reservation did it anyway – resulting in permanent brain damage to one of the children within three weeks.

The fifth child in this photo was taken at the age of six from the only home she knew and loved. She had an extremely small percentage of heritage – but was still considered the property of the tribal government and subject to their abuse of law.

Please share this with your friends.

PLEASE also share with YOUR Congressmen. MANY of them take a stand on all kinds of things – from orphans in Russia to immigrants and refugees from overseas. DEMAND that they take a strong stand for children in the United States – CITIZENS subject to abuse by a law they – Congress – created and MUST remove.

Find your States Congressmen here:
https://www.senate.gov/
https://www.house.gov/

Thank you – and PLEASE Share….

Mar 012017
 
http://caicw.org

3-yr-old Laurynn and her twin, Michaela, were thrown down an embankment. The woman caring for her – their grandfather’s wife – then told her children to go down and beat them senseless. They did. When they were done, both girls were alive, but Laurynn was “not right.” Her eyes were funny.

Following the beating that day in June 2013, the family took the twins home, gave them a bath, and put them to bed. Sometime later that night, lying on the bed next to her twin, Laurynn died.

3-yr-old Michaela was the first to see her sister dead. She remembers waking up and finding her (in her words) “blue, and gray.” She also still remembers the beatings. It had happened more than once.

But she has forgotten the actual people she was living with. They are mercifully gone from her memory.

She hasn’t had to see them for three years. She was thankfully allowed to return to an off-reservation foster home she and her sister had lived in the first two years of their lives – where they both had felt safe and loved. We will call this the “Loved Home.”

They had only lived in their grandfather’s house a few weeks. In May 2013, they were taken from the “Loved Home” they had lived in since they were babies, and – despite Spirit Lake services being under the oversight of the BIA and US Attorney Tim Purdon – were placed with their grandfather and his wife – who had her own children removed from her in prior years due to neglect and child abuse.

Let this sink in. Under the oversight of federal gov’t agencies, the twins were removed from a safe and loving home they had lived in for over two years and were placed with a woman known to be physically abusive.

Let us also remember why the BIA and US Attorney Tim Purdon were asked to be there, doing oversight at Spirit Lake. It is because so many children were being abused, raped, and murdered, that tribal elders (NOT the tribal council) were very upset and ASKED the federal gov’t to come help.

The child abuse came to a head after a little boy and his sister were both raped and had their throats slit. Nothing had been done about their murders for over a year.

That is why tribal elders asked the BIA to take over tribal social services and law enforcement. That is why US Attorney Tim Purdon and the FBI were supposed to do oversight. All this was already in place when it was decided to take the twins from the Loved Home and put them into a dangerous home.

Spirit Lake Town Meeting, February , 2013
Had Tim Purdon and others done their jobs, perhaps Lauryn would still be alive today. Had he and others listened to tribal members at a February 2013 town-hall meeting, where tribal members made it very clear to Tim Purdon, the tribal council, the BIA and Congressional representatives that things are very, very bad at Spirit Lake and they want SOMEONE to take real action – perhaps Lauryn would still be alive today.

Instead, Tim Purdon basically accused the membership of exaggerating, accused former ACF Director Tom Sullivan of lying about the child abuse, and went on doing nothing to stop the child abuse. The Tribal Council also ignored the pleas of the membership.

Initially, after Laurynn died, the Spirit Lake government decided to keep Michaela on the reservation. Despite the trauma of the beatings and murder, tribal social services ignored the request of the Loved Home to resume care of Michaela, and moved her to another house she was unfamiliar with. The Loved Home was told they would never get her back.

Fortunately, the tribal govt soon changed its mind and quietly allowed her to return to the Loved Home.

But that isn’t the end of the story. Three years later – (meaning at this time) – tribal social service has returned and is intent on moving Michaela to live with her birth mother, whom she barely knows. While mom might have genuine feelings for her daughter, she tested positive for drugs on the day she showed up for a recent visit – one of the first visits in a long time.

I normally never get involved in a situation unless directly asked by a parent, primary caregiver, or close extended family.

I was not given any of the intimate details concerning Michaela by the Loved Home. I have never been to the Loved Home. I have never met anyone who lives at the Loved Home. I was never asked to get involved by anyone at the Loved Home.

There are many people – in more than one community – who know what is going on, including tribal employees who worked at Spirit Lake at the time of Laurynn’s murder. Lots of people want Michaela to be left alone, untouched by the Spirit Lake tribal government.

I know these details to be accurate but will not say how I know. I am doing this – and will continue fighting for Michaela using her real name – because this is the most horrendous thing I have ever heard a tribal government do to a child.

Michaela is terrified of going back to Spirit Lake. Michaela wants to stay at the Loving Home. What caring person in their right mind would find that surprising? She woke up next to her murdered sister, after enduring weeks of abuse together.

The Loving Home has been the only home she has ever felt safe in – and she has lived there most of her 6-years. Only extremely cold, emotionally disconnected hearts empowered by dysfunctional social service policy could ever even dream of moving her from there.

Self-interest and narcissism at its worst.

PLEASE –
– SHARE this post with your friends
– CALL your Senators and Congressmen and ask them to write a letter to the Spirit Lake Tribal Chair respectfully asking her to ensure everything is done in Michaela’s best interest.

– Please especially contact the new Chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs – Senator John Hoeven –

Hoeven, John – (R – ND)
338 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2551
Contact: www.hoeven.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-the-senator

– FURTHER – ask your Senators and Congressmen to introduce legislation to clarify the Indian Child Welfare Act – so that NO child ever again goes through what Michaela has gone through and is still going through. Please INSIST this stops. Please insist to your Congressmen that Michaela Whiteshield be left alone, as she wishes to be, permanently – and INSIST the law be changed to make the protection of children a priority over politics.

Find the contact information for your Congressmen at

http://Senate.gov
http://House.gov

BTW – Tim Purdon resigned as US Attorney a couple years ago in order to work for tribal leaders in the Dakotas.

– Maybe ask your Congressmen to have Purdon’s activities investigated as well.

Feb 202017
 

Over the years, we have seen so many distraught families – panicked over what was happening to their children, unsure what to do to protect them, and unable to get help.

Many times, especially in light of the new ICWA rules and guidelines published by the Obama admin in 2016, …there has been little a family could do.

Watching several families struggle at this current time, we have come to a decision:

Whereas, up to half of Americans believe sanctuaries from federal law are a good and reasonable necessity – where people, fleeing oppression from their home nation, can hide from federal law that would send them back to that home nation;

And Whereas; most American citizens believe federal laws that target, isolate, and separate children and families on the basis of heritage are unconstitutional and should not be allowed;

And Whereas, for decades in America, many Christian church buildings have served as sanctuaries, and while there is no law defining a sanctuary or mandating it be respected, the federal government has often declined to enter and forcibly remove people from a declared Christian Sanctuary;

And Whereas, federal authorities have shown their willingness to ignore state and federal law for the last two years when they declined to enter the Cheyenne River Reservation to remove two little girls who were taken from North Dakota by their non-custodial mother when their non-tribal fathers were granted legal custody; and federal authorities have also shown their willingness to ignore federal law in several cases during the 1980’s when Guatemalan illegal-immigrants sought sanctuary in various church buildings around the country;

And Whereas; many children of tribal heritage, even in teen years, have expressed their desire to stay with their chosen families and not be uprooted by tribal governments, but were ignored by tribal, state and/or federal officials;

And Whereas; many birth parents have objected to tribal jurisdiction over, or involvement in, their families, and have made it clear they do NOT want their children on the reservation or their custody case heard in tribal court, but were ignored by tribal, state and/or federal officials;

And Whereas; many extended family, of varied heritages, have had children removed from them by tribal officials for no other reason than that the tribal officials did not like that branch of the family, or the family was non-Indian, or there were friends or family of tribal officials that wanted the child;

And Whereas; there are many documented instances of tribal courts practicing corruption and nepotism in their choice of homes for children, despite clear evidence of harm to children in those homes;

And Whereas; an untenable number of children have been sexually abused, seriously injured or murdered as a result of placement in homes under the Indian Child Welfare Act;

And Whereas; there is solid legal argument concerning the unconstitutionality of the ‘Indian Child Welfare Act,’ and Justice Clarence Thomas intimated as much in his concurrence in the case, “Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl;

And Whereas; once a child has been placed in the custody of a tribal government, particularly within reservation boundaries, it can be extremely difficult to remove the child;

The Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare does hereby from this day forward declare itself a ‘Sanctuary for Children and Families Threatened by the Indian Child Welfare Act.’

Families will need to show:

1) It is in the child’s clear best interest to remain with them; or that while best interest might yet be unclear, the child needs more time for all aspects to be studied and for true best interest to be made clear; and
2) They are in imminent danger of being forcibly removed by tribal authorities and/or local police under the direction of tribal authorities.
3) They intend to tirelessly work a plan of action to prove and win the best interest of the particular child or children;
4) Understand the CAICW sanctuary they would stay in is a Christian home – where Jesus Christ is Lord.

Lastly, we fully respect President Trump’s position concerning federal funds – and can proudly guarantee we will not be requesting or requiring any federal funds for this Sanctuary.

Families can contact us by messenger or email.

PLEASE – share this message freely.

__________________________________________________

– – Those who object to this and see things from a progressive perspective can explain why they feel it is okay for sanctuaries to shield people of some heritages from some federal laws, but not people of other heritages from other federal laws.

– – Those who see things from a conservative perspective and object to any instance where a person is shielded from federal law… We can only beg your understanding that these children are American citizens, and the federal law in question does not provide equal protection. Please ask your Senators and Congressman to act quickly on repealing this law, so that no child of tribal heritage will need a sanctuary.

Feb 102017
 

Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978 to protect Indian children from removal from their tribes and assure tribal governments the opportunity to raise Indian children in a manner reflecting “the unique values of Indian culture” (25 U.S.C. § 1902). However, while some children and families faced with foster care, adoption or child custody disputes have felt protected by the law, others have felt forced into relationship with tribal governments. The national dilemma has become whether an individual’s right to privacy and choice is of less priority than tribal sovereignty and the future of the tribe.

In 2013, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas noted, “In light of the original understanding of the Indian Commerce Clause, the constitutional problems that would be created by application of the ICWA here are evident” (Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl 2013).

Further, some tribal attorneys assert a right to claim any child deemed a member. Supporting a case involving a child of 1% heritage, Chrissi Nimmo, Attorney General for the Cherokee Nation has stated, “… we repeatedly explained that… tribes can choose members who don’t have any Indian blood” (Rowley 2015).

In light of the constitutional issues inherent in the law and its damaging overreach, the ICWA needs to be repealed.

Download (PDF, 612KB)

Jan 232017
 

In June 2016, a little girl was beaten and left to drown in a bucket in the shower.

(See the Star & Tribune – http://www.startribune.com/foster-father-accused-in-girl-s-death-had-criminal-record/383206481/)

Had a new law governing background checks been in place earlier – this little girl would not have died. Nathan Daniel Jackson, the man who murdered this beautiful little girl, had a criminal record of fifth-degree assault and theft would have prevented him from being a care provider.

This new law – which was sponsored by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and Representative Kevin Cramer (R-ND) – requires tribal members on the reservation to have background checks before becoming foster-care parents. (These checks were not required prior). Senator John Hoeven

Senator Hoeven is now the new chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Please thank him for caring about what was happening to children at Spirit Lake four years ago, and writing this law.

The reality is that it is not uncommon for Leech Lake Social Services, Spirit Lake Social Services, Red Lake, White Earth, Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River and others to place children into dangerous homes. Children are placed in dangerous homes on a consistent basis. Every month or so we hear of another child hurt or dead. Further, tribal members tell us that we aren’t even hearing about all the children who die. There isn’t always publicity when it happens.

Nevertheless, Leech Lake has consistently placed children in homes with criminal records and drug issues. That is because of the extremely high percentage of homes in Leech Lake that have criminal records and drug issues. So they didn’t bother doing background checks – because they didn’t really want to know or have to put in their records – because then they would have to look for another home. It’s too much work to find homes.

When Leech Lake placed four children with my husband and I almost 20 years ago, they did not do any back ground check at all. They never even visited our home until a year after the children were placed with us, and then they only visited for an hour. That was it. That was the last we saw of them – and we raised the kids to adulthood.

Leech Lake continues to operate this way today. We hear numerous stories of children placed into homes known to be dangerous. We are grateful for and praying that Senator Hoeven’s bill mandating background checks will make a profound difference. But we worry that there is no oversight to ensure the background checks are being done, and no consequences to a tribe if something happens due to their not doing background checks.

We need to encourage Senator Hoeven to strengthen the law to ensure compliance.

Lastly – even if a home is not dangerous – social services should be trying to place children into homes that make sense. Hennipen County called me repeatedly throughout 2013 to ask me to take another infant nephew from Leech Lake. I hadn’t had contact with Leech Lake tribal social services in almost 20 years and had never given them indication that I wanted to take care of children again, but a niece had given them my name soon after her son was born. My newborn nephew had never lived in her home – he had gone straight to foster care. I was called soon after. I told them I can’t – and Leech Lake spent over year trying to find a home, occasionally calling and asking me again.

When the ICWA worker from Leech Lake called me about this little boy in December, 2013 – he was already over a year old. Ironically, when Leech Lake’s ICWA office called me that Dec. morning, I was in fact in Washington DC, speaking against the ICWA law. (Needless to say, I found that kind of ironic.)

I had said no to them several times over the year – but this time, they said if I didn’t do it, they would place him in the home of “Xxxxx” – who, according to Leech Lake, they felt was dangerous. Knowing the home she referred to, I had to agree. (Note: according to the worker, they WOULD place him into a home they knew was dangerous if I did not take him. – – trying to make me feel guilty, while at the same time, admitting they are willing to do it, and thus don’t have any real, genuine standards against placing a child in a dangerous home.)

So now I was in a quandary.

I cared deeply what was happening to my nephew, but I was not the right home for him. I have already said – I was not the right home for the four I had raised earlier. They all needed a home with parents TRAINED to deal with their FAS, ADHD and other issues. I was NOT that mom, but I was all Leech Lake would give them. YOU SEE? Leech Lake did great disservice to them by not allowing them to go to a home outside of family – a home that could genuinely meet their needs.

I felt pushed into taking four children twenty years earlier. I cared about the kids – that is why we agreed to do it. – But unlike so many of my great foster and adoptive mother friends – I never really wanted to raise anyone else’s kids. That is the sad truth. As a result, I never did settle down to feel comfortable with the situation. (Further, those were four kids with FAS – and no one had told me that – nor had anyone told me how to deal with it.)

So… was I going to be forced into this corner a second time? How is that fair to my nephew? How is that good for him?

THIS is another part of what ICWA does. We aren’t the only ones who have felt this way. Some families feel forced into a corner – not wanting to take in kids, but feeling guilty if they don’t. ICWA doesn’t give lot of options to the children OR families involved.

Families of other heritages have more options.

Further – at this point, I was a widow over 50. What a crime to this innocent child – to be forced into a situation with an elderly widow. I told Hennipen County this little boy deserved a healthy home with both a mother and a father in their 30’s who were looking for a child such as him – NO MATTER anyone’s heritage!

Look for the RIGHT home for HIM – don’t just put him into ‘any old’ home based on ICWA! Quit making things all about race! Start to care what is BEST for the baby!

The fact is – my nephew needed more than I could give him, and he shouldn’t be forced to settle for me. He deserved to be raised with a healthy Dad in the home. So after much thought and prayer, I said, “no.”

I asked Hennipen County to promise me that my nephew would go to a good home. The Hennipen County worker promised, and said he would let me know the outcome. He said I had a right to know, as I was family. (The baby did not go to Xxxxx’s home.)

But now see? THIS is how some kids end up in dangerous homes. Leech Lake Social services gives up trying to find a good home, and then rather than admit they don’t have a good home and allow the child to go to an appropriate home outside of Indian Country – they go ahead and place the child anywhere. ANYWHERE. And then claim it is in the child’s best interest.

THIS is how that happens. THIS is how the little girl in the attached story ended up in the home of a man with a criminal record.

ICWA – as a law – is horrid. In the first place, it is based on lies. Every time NICWA, NARF, and the Casey Foundation make a claim about what kids of heritage want and need – about how badly they need to be connected to Indian Country – they are lying. I have raised many children who have NOT needed to be connected to Indian Country.

NICWA, NARF, tribal governments and the Casey Foundation do NOT know what every child of heritage wants and needs. They can’t possibly know. To assume all persons of a certain heritage think and feel the same way is RACIST.

Lastly, my children are NOT a ‘treaty right’ for tribal government.
I don’t care what faux laws are passed or what rogue agencies like the BIA and ACF try to shove down our throats – there is NOTHING in any treaty that allows a tribal government to own our kids.

The world can see how Leech Lake Social Services chooses homes for children. Why would I want them to have any say over children of mine?

We are very grateful for the right step taken by Senator Hoeven and Congressman Cramer in pushing for background checks for ALL foster caregivers and EVERY adult living in the home. THANK YOU – to both of them.

But this battle will never be over until ICWA is repealed.

– See http://www.startribune.com/foster-father-accused-in-girl-s-death-had-criminal-record/383206481/