Sep 282018
 
OPEN LETTER to SENATOR HEITKAMP

Senator Heitkamp,
 
As a North Dakota constituent, I am very concerned by your silence during these Senate hearings concerning Judge Kavanaugh. I, along with many North Dakotans, am disturbed by the inappropriate disruptions by protestors and discourteous, insulting behavior of Democratic senators on the committee.
 
I am wondering how you would feel if you were in honorable Judge Kavanaugh’s position, or how you would feel if the shoe were on the other foot as a committee member having to endure this level of rudeness.
 
I am wondering why you haven’t made a statement calling for civility and respect. Do Democrats want the developing chasm between Americans to continue to widen? Or do you, Senator Heitkamp, value unity and respectful dialogue?
 
This is a very important question for me, personally. I will be attending hearings as a member of your Congressional Commission – the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children over the next couple years. Having attended contentious hearings in the past with my husband, I am very aware of the potential for angry, insulting behavior directed at me during these hearings – especially if I ask a question someone might not like. I remember an angry, packed, out-of-control hearing in Billings that frightened even my husband so much that he decided against openly testifying. He handed his written testimony to a staff person and we left. My husband was afraid of being physically hurt at that hearing – and that was in the late 90’s or so when things were a lot more civil than they are today.
 
I am a human being. I get hurt, I bleed, just like everyone else. Courteous behavior in the public square used to be normal and anticipated. I want to know that manners and civility are not only expected but insisted upon at public hearings of any type, anywhere in this country. I want to know – I NEED to know – that I will be physically SAFE at the meetings I attend.
 
If you are refusing to stand up for civility and safety at a hearing inside a Congressional building in DC – at the hearing for a Supreme Court Justice no less – how can I expect you to stand up for my safety at hearings across the country? Will you stand up for my safety?
 
Despite your campaign claim that you value all voices and prioritize standing up “for North Dakotans and making sure that their voices are heard in the halls of Congress” and that you “make it a point to meet with, listen to, and fight for North Dakotans every day” – this is not how I have ever been received by your staff. Despite several attempts to schedule direct meetings with you over the years, I have yet to have even one meeting with you.
In late 2013, I actually felt ridiculed by your DC staff when attempting to meet with an aide.
 
Watching you sit silently now while Judge Kavanaugh’s children are escorted out of the hearing for their safety – I have no confidence you will be a voice of protection for me, one of your constituents, at the hearings I will be attending as member of your commission.
 
Senator Heitkamp – please show your mettle and take a stand for what is right. Please show us that you value all voices as you say you do – and make a statement against the out-of-control behavior currently exhibited during the Kavanaugh hearings. Please make it clear that respectful, considerate behavior – including from members of the committees – is expected at any and all government hearings.
 
It is impossible for our nation to come together and reach any kind of consensus without it.
 
 
Elizabeth Sharon (Lisa) Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)

Jun 202018
 
Opening doors. Commission on Native Children

Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children

On Monday, May 21, 2018, Elizabeth Morris, Chairwoman of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, was appointed by Speaker Paul Ryan to the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children. We deeply appreciate and thank him for opening this door. It is an opportunity to communicate the experience and wisdom of a large demographic of persons of tribal heritage whose views are rarely surveyed or acknowledged.

The Commission has been tasked with conducting a comprehensive study of Federal, State, local, and tribal programs that serve Native children, including an evaluation of

(A) the impact of concurrent jurisdiction on child welfare systems;
(B) the barriers Indian tribes and Native Hawaiians face in applying, reporting on, and using existing public and private grant resources, including identification of any Federal cost-sharing requirements;
(C) the obstacles to nongovernmental financial support, such as from private foundations and corporate charities, for programs benefitting Native children;
(D) the issues relating to data collection, such as small sample sizes, large margins of error, or other issues related to the validity and statistical significance of data on Native children;
(E) the barriers to the development of sustainable, multidisciplinary programs designed to assist high-risk Native children and families of those high-risk Native children;
(F) cultural or socioeconomic challenges in communities of Native children;
(G) any examples of successful program models and use of best practices in programs that serve children and families;
(H) the barriers to interagency coordination on programs benefitting Native children; and
(I) the use of memoranda of agreement or interagency agreements to facilitate or improve agency coordination, including the effects of existing memoranda or interagency agreements on program service delivery and efficiency.

We appreciate your prayers for this commission and its work.

Apr 062018
 
ICWA rules, CAICW

RE: ABSENCE OF DATA ON OUTCOMES FOR CHILDREN TRANSFERRED UNDER ICWA: In an April, 2016, interview with The Chronicle of Social Change, Administration on Children, Youth and Families Commissioner Rafael López confirmed the absence of ICWA data, stating, “Not being able to articulate very clearly what’s happening to all children, let alone American Indian and Alaskan Native children, is unacceptable.’ (Kelly 2016).

In 2015, the ACF initiated database collection for all children of tribal heritage who present before a court for foster care, but decided it didn’t go far enough. “HHS had determined that it did not have jurisdiction to collect information on Native American youth through the enforcement authority regarding ICWA and, therefore, was not able to make the requested changes or additions to the AFCARS data elements regarding ICWA” (Kelly 2016).

However, since then, “…legal counsel re-examined the issue and determined it is within ACF’s existing authority to collect state-level ICWA-related data on American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children in child welfare systems…” (Kelly 2016).

All 50 States have now received guidelines pertaining to the data they are to keep. Obviously, it will take time for the ACF to collect and evaluate the data. Complicating matters, several tribal entities are now claiming “data sovereignty,” with the right to govern how data concerning their membership is collected and used, leaving an open question of manipulation and accuracy.

NOTE – tribal entities and the ACF are claiming the right to data collected concerning ALL children in need of care – regardless of heritage – not to mention regardless of parental decisions to distance themselves and their families from tribal governments.

That all said, if the data MUST be taken from all these independent, free citizens, it should be open for study and verification by ALL stakeholders – meaning, not just the entities that the BIA and ACF claim to be stakeholders – but EVERYONE who is deemed under the jurisdiction of ICWA – or under this rule.

AND because the BIA’s ICWA rules mandate that each and every child presented to court in need of care – no matter presumed heritage – be evaluated for geneology and forced to participate in this data collection – ALL children who are in need of care and those involved with them are affected by this rule.
This is regardless of the fact that MOST children in need of care do not have any tribal heritage or connection to a tribal government.

Children and their families – who may have no tribal heritage at all – are still evaluated for geneology ‘just in case’ – and are potentially delayed in their process and ability to quickly find permanency, as well as potentially prevented from being with the family they have emotionally chosen.

BUT this personal, family data collected within this rule will ONLY be given to a federal agency – the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to assist its work with tribal entities to benefit tribal governments.

This rule affects citizens of all heritages and communities – BUT most people and non-tribal organizations will not have direct access to the data.

This private, family data – if it must be collected – needs to be open to everyone for study and research – as it involves children unrelated to tribal or BIA jurisdiction and needs eyes that DO NOT have a vested interest in twisting data to secure an agenda involving other people’s children.

THAT said – one attorney has additional comments concerning it.

According to one of the best ICWA attornies in the nation – … the proposed rule is a waste of time… determining when a child is in “Indian child” can be a process! Agencies must send time-consuming notices and inquiries to the tribes to determine whether or not a child is eligible for membership — even when that’s not relevant (because the parent isn’t a current member). Here is what the actual rule requires:

In paragraph (b)(3), we require that the state title IV-E agency report whether the state title IV-E agency researched whether there is reason to know that a child is an “Indian Child” as defined in ICWA by: Inquiring with the child, the child’s biological or adoptive parents (if not deceased), the child’s Indian custodian (if the child has one), and the child’s extended family; indicating whether the child is a member or eligible for membership in a tribe; and indicating whether the domicile or residence of the child, parent, or the Indian custodian is on an Indian reservation or in an Alaska Native Village. This is similar to paragraph (i)(3) as proposed in the 2016 SNPRM, however we moved data elements related to ascertaining the tribal membership status of the child’s parents to section 1355.44(c)(3) and (c)(4), and we added, in response to comments discussed later, a data element for inquiring with the child’s extended family in paragraph (b)(3)(iv).

From the attorney – “This is asking the agency to inquire into irrelevant questions! And how many checkboxes does an agency have to complete in order to answer every single one of the questions above? I simply don’t see the pay off for answering those questions.”

PLEASE TELL THE HHS/ACF THAT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RULE MUST BE DELAYED UNTIL ALL THIS CAN BE PROPERLY CONSIDERED.

TO ADDRESS THIS RULE BY APRIL 16th –

SUMMARY: The Children’s Bureau proposes to delay the compliance and effective dates in the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) 2016 final rule for title IV–E agencies to comply with agency rules for an additional two fiscal years. We propose to delay the compliance and effective dates at the same time we seek public comment through an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, on suggestions to streamline the AFCARS data elements and remove any undue burden related to reporting AFCARS.
.

DATES: In order to be considered, we must receive written comments on this NPRM on or before April 16, 2018.
.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by [docket number and/or RIN number], by one of the following methods:
.
• Federal eRulemaking Portal:
https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
.
• Email: CBComments@acf.hhs.gov.
Include [docket number and/or RIN number] in subject line of the message.
.
• Mail: Written comments may be submitted to
.
Kathleen McHugh
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Director, Policy Division
330 C Street SW, Washington, DC 0024.

Please be aware that mail sent in response to this ANPRM may take an additional 3 to 4 days to process due to security screening of mail.

Instructions: When commenting, please identify the topic, data element, or issue to which your comment pertains. All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number or Regulatory Information Number for this rulemaking. All comments received will be posted without change to https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

.

WRITE AGAIN TO THE SAME ABOVE ADDRESSES BEFORE JUNE 13 TO DISCUSS THE REASONS THE RULES SHOULD NOT BE IMPLEMENTED OR SHOULD BE CHANGED TO BE LESS INTRUSIVE, AND/OR SHOULD BE CHANGED TO CCESSIBLE TO ALL INTERESTED PARTIES.

SUMMARY: ACF is seeking public suggestions, in particular from state and tribal title IV–E agencies and Indian tribes and tribal consortiums and other stakeholders, for streamlining the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data elements and removing any undue burden related to reporting AFCARS.

DATES:Comments on this advance notice of proposed rulemaking must be received by June 13, 2018.

READ the posted PDF from the Federal Register/ Vol. 83, No. 51 / Thursday, March 15, 2018 / Proposed Rules Page 11450

BIA taking comments re ICWA data March 2018

Mar 282018
 
ICWA

.

SUMMARY: The Children’s Bureau proposes to delay the compliance and effective dates in the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) 2016 final rule for title IV–E agencies to comply with agency rules for an additional two fiscal years. We propose to delay the compliance and effective dates at the same time we seek public comment through an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, on suggestions to streamline the AFCARS data elements and remove any undue burden related to reporting AFCARS.
.

DATES:In order to be considered, we must receive written comments on this NPRM on or before April 16, 2018.
.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by [docket number and/or RIN number], by one of the following methods:
.
Federal eRulemaking Portal:
https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
.
Email: CBComments@acf.hhs.gov.
Include [docket number and/or RIN number] in subject line of the message.
.
Mail: Written comments may be submitted to
.
Kathleen McHugh
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Director, Policy Division
330 C Street SW, Washington, DC 0024.

Please be aware that mail sent in response to this ANPRM may take an additional 3 to 4 days to process due to security screening of mail.

Instructions: When commenting, please identify the topic, data element, or issue to which your comment pertains. All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number or Regulatory Information Number for this rulemaking. All comments received will be posted without change to https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

READ the posted PDF from the Federal Register/ Vol. 83, No. 51 / Thursday, March 15, 2018 / Proposed Rules Page 11450
BIA taking comments re ICWA data March 2018

Mar 282018
 
ICWA

.

SUMMARY: ACF is seeking public suggestions, in particular from state and tribal title IV–E agencies and Indian tribes and tribal consortiums and other stakeholders, for streamlining the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data elements and removing any undue burden related to reporting AFCARS.

DATES:Comments on this advance notice of proposed rulemaking must be received by June 13, 2018.

.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by [docket number and/or RIN number], by one of the following methods:
.
Federal eRulemaking Portal:
https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
.
Email: CBComments@acf.hhs.gov.
Include [docket number and/or RIN number] in subject line of the message.
.
Mail: Written comments may be submitted to
.
Kathleen McHugh
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Director, Policy Division
330 C Street SW, Washington, DC 0024.

Please be aware that mail sent in response to this ANPRM may take an additional 3 to 4 days to process due to security screening of mail.

Instructions: When commenting, please identify the topic, data element, or issue to which your comment pertains. All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number or Regulatory Information Number for this rulemaking. All comments received will be posted without change to https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

READ the posted PDF from the Federal Register/ Vol. 83, No. 51 / Thursday, March 15, 2018 / Proposed Rules Page 11449
BIA taking comments re ICWA data March 2018

Apr 142017
 
child abuse

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.

https://DyingInIndianCountry.com

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

Mar 092017
 
child abuse

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.

To Honorable Chairman John Hoeven, Feb 8, 2017 -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.

https://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
 
https://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.

Spirit Lake plans to take the twin sister of murdered Laurynn