– Federal statistics have shown that for years that children that live on or near reservations die at about twice the national rate. Quoted in a Dec. 7th edition of the Oregonian, Jon Perez, a director of behavioral health at the federal Indian Health Service, stated, “What you have are developing countries right in the heart of the United States. Each has a history of neglect and a legacy of trauma that explains these disparities. We need this history not as excuses for the disparities but as a need to intervene.”
Yet, Federal Indian policy and tribal governments keep telling everyone that the reservations are the best places for children of tribal heritage, and mandates that tribal government has juridiction over children in cases where they are in need of care. Why? Are their lives less important than other children’s?
The Minneapolis Star and Tribune, on April 25, 2004, offered the following statistics for one Reservation county:
*Cass County, where most of the reservation’s people live, ranked last among 77 Minnesota counties in a 1999 government study that measured the health and safety of children.
*In 2002, Cass County had the state’s highest percentage of children living in foster homes and other county-supervised care. Most of them were Indians from the reservation, taken away from their parents, or given up by them, because of abuse, neglect or delinquency.
*A statewide study of ninth-graders in the mid-1990s found that Cass County had the highest rate of heavy drug and alcohol use and the highest.
Yet, in 2009, a baby boy was taken by the government from his safe, loving adoptive home in Utah and placed into the care of this very reservation. Why? Who benefited from that move? Certainly not the little boy!
And if a child’s heritage is as important as tribal governments keep claiming it is, why does the federal government believe that only a child’s tribal heritage is important? Most enrollable children are less than 50% Indian heritage! Why does the tribe have a right to interfere with children that are living in homes that better reflect their full heritage?
The statistics, after ten years, must be even greater now for interracial marriage…and interracial co-habitation and interracial flings….
But this isn’t about drawing a line to decide how much pedigree is necessary for tribal government to lay claim in a child. Any American citizen, no matter what percentage of tribal heritage, has a right to say “no” and choose not to be involved in the reservation system. Blood Quantum should not rob anyone of that right.
Roland John Morris, (passed away) was 100% Minnesota Chippewa, but did NOT believe in the Reservation system or federal Indian policy. He believed the reservation is killing people, emotionally, spiritually, and through that – physically. Drug addiction, alcoholism, abuse, etc.
He believed Men need to feel needed by their families, and as long as government taking care of everyone – helplessness and despair reign.
He DID fight system politically. He spoke out against federal Indian policy, the reservation system, and in particular, the Indian Child Welfare Act. For that, he was called a racist.
– The 2000 census told us that there were 4,119,301 American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States and 562 federally funded tribes. Approximately 75% live outside the reservation, with about 55% residing in metropolitan areas. Only about 25% of tribal members live on reservations. Most have chosen to leave.
– Further, reservations are not populated by just tribal members. As of the 2000 Census, as much as 45% of reservation residents are non-Indian. In fact, on 30% of the reservations, the number of non-members is equal to or greater than the number of tribal members. The incidence of inter-racial marriage is high. The Montana Supreme Court, in Skillen v. Menz, wrote, “…interracial marriages are a fact of life, and, as with other marriages, so are interracial divorces and custody disputes over the children of those marriages.
The Indian Child Welfare Act is a travesty of Justice and needs to be rescinded.
Visit Independent Indian Press – Conservative tribal members, speaking their minds