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/

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.

Jun 112016
 

RE: Lexi, the little girl torn from her family in California after being labeled ‘Indian’ and subjected to a racist law; a law which as of June 8, 2016 – when the BIA published new, stricter rules – has become manifold worse for dissident and even non-Indian families.

Lexi is NOT alone. It is very important you know that. This is happening and has happened to many children across America. Two of our CAICW board members are former ICWA children and have told their story in the hope someone will listen.

This racist law is said to have been enacted to protect children – but we have a long list of testimony from families and former ICWA children stating the contrary.

We strongly believe the real reason for ICWA was never about protecting children – but about the fact that so many tribal members over the decades have taken their families and left the reservation system. According to the last two U.S. censuses – 75% of tribal members DO NOT live in Indian Country. People have been leaving for decades – – many times voluntarily as the incidence of crime and corruption on many reservations has grown.

ICWA, as written, fixes the membership drain – bringing back children and grandchildren of families who had left. It would not have been written to include unenrolled children, or children who have never had connection to Indian Country, if it wasn’t about taking back the children of dissident families. That is why tribal leaders have been so against the “Existing Indian Family Doctrine.” It is all about dissident families who have been deliberately keeping a distance.

Claiming that children have been kidnapped by social services – (while there was some historical truth to this to a certain extent) – has been a talking point meant to pull at the heart strings of America. Far more children have left the reservation system with their parents and extended family than have ever been taken by social services.

And many in our federal govt are helping the tribal leaders do this. The Tribal Justice Dept at the DOJ has made it clear on many occasions that they are not there to help individuals, they are there to support tribal governments. The BIA and the ACF do the same.

It appears the federal government has decided that tribal members themselves are expendable to the larger wishes and demands of tribal leadership. Any child with even a small amount of tribal heritage is less important than children of other heritages. They are deliberately left out of laws that protect other children.

These children apparently exist to be bandied about at the will of strangers within tribal governments – who have been granted the right to claim ownership over any child they choose…

The child’s best interest or feelings in the matter are apparently of no concern to the federal government or tribal leaders, who rake more federal dollars per head.

The new rules published by the BIA on June 8 make it even worse.

Who is factually benefiting from the demand that any child ‘in need of care’ who the tribal government decides to claim should be handed over to them?

The AG for the Cherokee Nation stated in 2012 that they had over 100 attorneys targeting 1500 children across the US – many of whom had less than 25% blood quantum and had never been near the tribe.

Why are they doing this?

Follow the money. Numerous federal agencies dole out funds to tribal governments based on the U.S census counts, tribal enrollment, and what is known as “child counts.”

QUOTE from the Federal Register: May 9, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 90): (Note – this is just ONE example of funding…)

    “Title IV-B 1 funding is a per-capita formula based on Tribal population under 21. Tribal allotments are deducted from the State’s total IV-B 1 allotment for that fiscal year.

    “Title IV-B 2 funding is a 3% set-aside of the total Title IV-B 2 budget for State and Tribes. The formula is based on a ratio of the number of children (under age 21) in the Tribe to the total number of children in all Tribes with approved plans.

    “Why apply? Title IV-B funds are very flexible and may be used to meet the unique child welfare needs of your community. Tribes determine their own priorities in developing goals and strategies.”

…That said… right now – at least 60 tribal governments are considering changing their constitutions to do away with “blood quantum” and go with lineage – so they can grow their numbers as the Cherokee Nation has – claiming children with as little as 1% heritage.

Follow the money.

WHEN we as citizens take our federal government back from those who have been using it as their personal playground and cash machine – can we get some help in ensuring ALL citizens – and children – are able to receive equal protection under the law?

One thing that MUST be done – is to STOP giving tribal leaders money on a ‘per head’ basis. STOP using our children as chattel – and a lot of this problem will go away.

(NOTE: NONE of the treaties promise funds based on number of children. In FACT – Most of the treaties only promised funds for a certain number of years – most often twenty years – and on a depreciating scale, while also providing goods and services during that time to help the reservation develop an economy. There is NO wording that funds will go on as long as the “grass grows.”)

People need to start actually reading the treaties.

FACT: MY children and grandchildren were never a treaty promise to the tribal government.

Mar 302016
 

Bismarck, ND – On March 21, a 6-year-old girl of 1/64 Choctaw ancestry was taken crying from her home by social services, placed in a car, and driven to another state.

Many realize current federal Indian policies are hurting people. What many don’t know is the extent. Dozens of children across the nation currently face the same situation Lexi faced – if not worse.

To date, Lexi’s removal caused the biggest public ICWA reaction ever as the presence of dozens from within her community initially delayed her from being taken, then personally witnessed her removal in tears. Hundreds of thousands saw the video clips and reacted for a child 98% non-native, removed from her home solely due to the Indian Child Welfare Act. The resulting petition garnered signatures from 100 countries around the world.

According to the last two U.S censuses, 75% of persons eligible for tribal membership do not live in “Indian Country.” Over the last few decades, many families of heritage have left the reservations due to the level of corruption and crime. As families left, tribal leaders – panicked by declining membership – pushed Congress for increased control over children of heritage.

This includes children who are multi-heritage, who’ve never been near Indian Country, and whose only connection is a dissident great-grandparent who purposefully left the system decades ago.

Worse, some tribal governments refuse to allow kids to live in foster homes off reservation – even if there are no safe homes currently available on the reservation.

As reported by Tom Sullivan, Regional Director for ‘Administration of Children and Families,’ this has resulted in
Tom Sullivan - Regional Administrator ACF children being placed where ever available – including homes of known child abusers and sex offenders. Mr. Sullivan reported this multiple times to his DC superiors, who told him to cease reporting it, and after he refused, recently began the process of firing him.

Despite documented deaths of children and mass exodus from Indian Country, federal government consistently looks the other way while tribal leaders claim to speak for everyone and demand additional funds and increased control over children.

NICWA, NARF, the Casey Foundation and Tribal leaders do NOT speak for everyone, nor do they know what is best for every individual child of heritage – no matter whether that child is 100% or 1%. Rhetoric otherwise is the epitome of racism.

Unfortunately, federal government has literally made the decision to protect tribal sovereignty at all cost – even the cost of our children. In fact, the BIA is preparing additional rules to strengthen ICWA. Roland and his newborn, 1990

America is already angry with government over corrupt bureaucracies, lack of protection for citizens, and inaction by Congress.

CAICW is asking Americans to contact their Congressmen to oppose the new BIA rules, rescind the Indian Child Welfare Act, and protect a brave public servant – whistleblower Tom Sullivan.

###

Elizabeth Morris is Chair of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare and author of “Dying in Indian Country.” is both a ministry and advocacy group. CAICW has also been advocating since February 2004 for families at risk of harm from the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Our advocacy has been both judicial and educational, as well as a prayer resource for families and a shoulder to cry on.

Mar 202016
 

URGENT PRAYER: A little 6-yr-old girl was torn from her home Monday, 3/21/16 – taken from the only home she has known and loved to be placed with strangers.

This is due to the Indian Child Welfare Act – which pushes the false and racist notion that children of even a small amount of heritage are somehow different from other children – and do not bond, love or thrive in homes outside of Indian Country.

Tribal governments – which receive more federal money per head – claim it is in the genes.

This racist notion is pushed by media and even our Congress – although no such gene has been shown to exist – and despite testimony of myriad children, adults, and families of heritage across the nation that they are content, happy and thriving in their homes outside of Indian Country.

Many families have left Indian Country because they DO NOT want to be chattel for tribal governments.
– The family of the author of this post is one of them.


Sign petition here:
https://www.change.org/p/keep-lexi-home
Read More Here:
https://www.facebook.com/saveourlexi/

.

Mar 162016
 
Sunset on the Rez

Whistle-blower Thomas Sullivan, the one HHS/ACF official who has stood up against the rampant sexual abuse on many reservations, is about to be fired by his DC Superiors.

They have come up with several accusations against him, but if you have followed his work and the threats they have made against him over the last three years – you know that all he has ever done is defy their orders to shut up about the overwhelming abuse of children, and release his reports to the public when his DC superiors ignored them.

Tom Sullivan - Regional Administrator ACF

Tom Sullivan is a hero – working to protect our children fromleaders who simply use and abuse them for purposes of power and money.

The following is the latest letter – a 6 page list of accusations from his superiors…

On the last page, you see a handwritten note from his superior that says;

Employee refused to sign document before having an opportunity to review it.
Mishaela Duran 3-10-16

(Why shouldn’t a man be allowed to review a document before he signs it?)

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

Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-1

Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-2

Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-3

Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-4

Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-5

Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-6

May 282015
 

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 182015
 

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