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.
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DATES: In order to be considered, we must receive written comments on this NPRM on or before April 16, 2018.
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ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by [docket number and/or RIN number], by one of the following methods:
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• Federal eRulemaking Portal:
https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
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• Email: CBComments@acf.hhs.gov.
Include [docket number and/or RIN number] in subject line of the message.
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• Mail: Written comments may be submitted to
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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.

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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

Apr 032018
 
CAICW

The Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, an advocacy and ministry, was co-founded by Roland Morris, an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa tribe. Roland was born and raised on the Leech Lake Reservation in 1945 and spoke only Ojibwe until he started kindergarten. But he as an adult, he made a personal choice not to raise his children there.
Later in life, out of concern for things he had witnessed and experienced, he founded CAICW.

CAICW does not handle adoptions or place children in any homes. It has never been a social service agency or facilitated any kind of placement at all. It is simply an advocacy – an ear to listen, understand and assist as able.

As an advocacy, it has served families of all heritages and children of all ages – the oldest child being sixteen and held on a Michigan reservation against her will. The point has been to keep children in the homes where they want to be – in the homes they feel safe and loved, no matter the heritage. Sometimes this means the home of the birth parent. Sometimes it is the home of an extended family member. Other times, it is a foster or adoptive home that the child feels safest in. CAICW has served all families to this end, regardless of heritage, religion, income or location.

Most often, CAICW deals with children who have been taken to a reservation against their will. This is not because CAICW has a set standard against reservations. It is because that is the direction most children are pulled. According to the last two U.S. censuses – 75% of tribal members do not live in Indian Country. Many have never lived in Indian Country.
Sometimes abuse is what the child is afraid of on the reservation. Other times – it is simply that they don’t know anyone there and want to stay in the communities where they feel comfortable. Other times – the parents or grandparents have decided that they don’t want their children to live within the reservation system.

In the spring of 2017, CAICW assisted a birth mom enrolled at the Spirit Lake reservation by driving her to her visitations at Spirit Lake. CAICW also helped with her initial attorney’s fees. Her baby had been taken from her just after birth. She had told the county social worker that she did not want her baby taken to the reservation. She had chosen to leave Spirit Lake because she had been treated badly and didn’t trust the tribal government or the social services. Against the ICWA law – the county gave her baby to the tribal social services anyway.

A mother enrolled at Leech Lake asked for CAICW’s help in getting her 7-yr-old son returned from the custody of her half-brother, who had made untrue allegations and told her she could never have her son back again. This child was successfully returned to his mother.

There are also cases that involve non-tribal relatives. A grandmother in Colorado was told by the Warm Springs tribe that she could not keep her 7-yr-old grandson, who had lived with her for several years. They told her she could not keep him because she was ‘white.’ The grandson was not eligible for enrollment, but tribal government staff falsified a birth certificate, making it appear that the tribal grandmother was the mother – thus giving him more blood quantum. The county attorney and social workers told the family to give up. They were told they cannot win this.
Fortunately, CAICW was able to get the family a consultation with a very good attorney who gave them information they needed to represent themselves. They were able to prove the birth certificate was false – as well as educate the judge concerning what the ICWA said concerning grandparents. They won and retained custody of their grandson.

Two board members of CAICW are former ICWA children. Both, from two different reservations in two different areas of the country, fought to return to the homes where they felt loved and wanted after having been taken to a reservation. Both had been placed in the homes of relatives on the reservation where they were severely abused. Both tried running away but were prevented. One made it all the way back to her former home one rainy night – but was picked up by the police and returned again to the home where she was being abused. Their hearts go out to other children who are in situations similar to theirs.

Over half of CAICW’S clients are tribal members or the relatives of tribal members. All participants and members through the years have found CAICW online and requested assistance. CAICW does not look for clients or advertise for them.

CAICW has a limited budget and staff – and does what it can, when it can, for whom it can in the form of advocacy and guidance.
CAICW bases everything it writes and shares on documented facts – many of the facts coming directly from federal and tribal government entities and organizations. CAICW sites sources that include the U.S. Dept of Justice, the BIA, ACF, HHS, varied tribal governments, NICWA, and even Obama’s White House. CAICW encourages anyone who questions the facts to contact them directly. CAICW gladly shares source documents.

The work of this ministry/advocacy isn’t easy. It comes with a lot of abuse from opponents. Also, for a long period of time in 2013-2014, attacks to the website by hackers were frequent. A lot of volunteer time was wasted trying to prevent them or fix damage from successful hacks. This was resolved by blocking IP’s that attempted to login or made other clear indications of a hack attempt.

CAICW has no paid staff. There is no money involved in this advocacy. Everything is done volunteer. While not easy, this is preferred, given false claims by the opposition that CAICW is centered around making money. It is also preferred in that – there is no motivation to keep the status quo. CAICW wants things to improve and has no financial stake in keeping things the same.

In fact, should goals be met and there is no longer a need for this advocacy – staff would be very happy to close up and move on. There are so many things to do in this world – finishing this task to the end and knowing it is truly done would be an incredible blessing.

But as it is – people continue to contact CAICW and ask for help. As long as children need help – CAICW will continue, no matter what.

The appreciation from families who have been helped makes all the difficulties worth it.

Sep 122016
 
roland morris, james pipkin,

Here are five things you can do to help our efforts:

– Based on NICWA talking points –

1. Learn all you can about ICWA, and watch the news for latest developments.
• ICWA is a complex law and there are frequently new legal developments.
• CAICW has created this web site to house resources including articles, family stories, case law, and other important links – https://caicw.org
• Bookmark this Facebook page, and share it with your family and friends.

2. Ask your city, county, state, tribal and federal officials or organization’s governing body to officially pledge to defend the best interest of individual children, NOT the best interest of a political entity, and not acquiesce to any legislation that paints children with one brush, based solely on their heritage. This is the epitome of racism.
• Our opposition portrays Indian Country as totally united over ICWA, cherry picking the comments of a few Roland and his newborn, 1990and presenting them as evidence that ALL Native people are united behind ICWA.
• Waves of heart-felt resolutions defending the rights of children and families to choose their own political affiliations, community affiliations, worldviews, and spirituality, passed in cascading fashion across the United States would send a powerful message that there is indeed near-universal support for the rights and protection of children and families.
• CAICW has shared our resolution so that your community or organization can replicate it.

3. Meet with your state child welfare director, attorney general, and governor and request that your state sign on to ALL amicus briefs opposing ICWA in these court cases.
• Undoubtedly, these officials are being approached by pro-ICWA attorneys asking that they file briefs supporting ICWA.
• In Adoptive Couple, our opponent, NICWA quickly mobilized with this tactic, and garnered amicus support from 19 states.

4. Share ICWA stories of parents, children, foster families, and others.
• There is overwhelming need to share with the media, public officials, and each other YOUR stories of how ICWA has hurt you, your family, and your friends. Children have died. Families have been torn apart. Communities and relatives have come together to fight for the rights and protection of our children – only to be thwarted by the money and power of tribal leaders who don’t even know our children, let alone their wants and needs.
• Use social media to share your stories. Participate in our social media campaign – share from our facebook and twitter pages.
• Contact your State and Federal legislators to share your stories and our Setting the Record Straighter Fact Sheet. Encourage others to do the same.
• Send your story to CAICW to support the national work. (administrator@caicw.org)
• Develop a relationship with reporters – share with them stories of children and families hurt by ICWA on a regular basis. Also share new things happening in the courts or Congress related to ICWA.

5. Contribute to the work for justice and ask your community to contribute to the work for justice.
• Over the years, CAICW has built a strong coalition of advocates willing to defend Children. We do not ask for your money – only that you support by using the above four points. If we need to go to DC, we will let you know. Otherwise, we do just fine in the home office, eating oatmeal and hard boiled eggs.
• Donate to families who need legal help (here if you wish) as well as the Goldwater Institute, which has filed a class-action, constitutional lawsuit concerning the rights of our children.
• Simply put, our staff is 100% volunteer and we are able to use our limited resources creatively and work effectively for under $7000 a year. Primarily, we covet your prayers to help us with this critical work. Please pray today.

And Share.

Sep 122016
 
ICWA rules, CAICW

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHTEST
The Indian Child Welfare Act Fact Sheet
FROM CHRISTIAN ALLIANCE FOR INDIAN CHILD WELFARE

In direct response to a “fact” sheet published by the National Indian Child Welfare Association in September, 2015.

The Truth about ICWA

Recently, some extremely well-funded ICWA groups have been promoting a campaign of misinformation rooted in the most egregious negative stereotypes about non-tribal social services and families. With the support of a coalition of national Native nonprofit organizations – including the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) – certain tribal entities have been turning truth on its head.

ICWA has lowered the bar of child welfare practice to the point of neglect for Native children. ICWA is proudly promoted as righting the wrongs of the past – but playing “pay-back time” with the lives of today’s children is a horrendous excuse for a law and, if truly one of ICWA’s purposes, amounts to a gross exploitation of children. ICWA is also said to address the current injustices that AI/AN children and families still face, but again, subjecting children to prolonged abuse and neglect under the justification that racial injustice exists is a horrendous excuse for a law and – if truly one of ICWA’s purposes – amounts to gross neglect of children. The rampant abuse children are subjected to in Indian Country has been well documented for many years by NICWA and other organizations:

• “Neglect endangers AI/AN children 4 times more often than physical abuse and results in numerous child fatalities” (NICWA, 1999).
• “I would venture to say over 80 percent of our children are traumatized at an early age; and so, therefore, their ability to learn and comprehend is affected very severely” (Green Bay, WI) (NIEA 2006, 23).
• “Many of the perceptions provided by tribal professionals in this survey are supported by recent data gathered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Office of Justice Services from 96 Indian country law enforcement agencies that suggests meth is the greatest threat in their communities. These law enforcement agencies also identified increases in domestic violence, assaults, burglaries, and child abuse and neglect cases with the increased use of meth” (Roe Bubar 2007, 10).
• “… They also expressed an awareness of increases in child abuse allegations and out-of-home placements involving a meth-related investigation” (Roe Bubar, 2007, p. 10).
• “…The almost 40 children returned to on-reservation placements in abusive homes, many headed by known sex offenders, at the direction of the Tribal Chair. These children remain in the full time care and custody of sexual predators available to be raped on a daily basis. Since I filed my first report noting this situation, nothing has been done by any of you to remove these children to safe placements” (Sullivan, 2013).
• “The 45 children who were placed, at the direction of Tribal Social Services (TSS), BIA social workers, BIA supervised TSS social workers and the BIA funded Tribal Court, in homes where parents were addicted to drugs and/or where they had been credibly accused of abuse or neglect. Since I filed my first report noting these placements, nothing has been done to remove these children to safe placements. I trust the Tribal Court, with the recent resignation of a judge who failed a drug test, will begin to be responsive to the children whose placements they oversee” (Sullivan, 2013).
• “The 25 cases of children most of whom were removed from physically and sexually abusive homes based on confirmed reports of abuse as well as some who still remain in those homes. Neither the BIA nor the FBI have taken any action to investigate or charge the adults in these homes for their criminally abusive acts. Many, of the adults in these homes are related to, or are close associates of, the Tribal Chair or other Council members” (Sullivan, 2013).
• “…at least two children a day were victims of crime. That is astronomical. That is off of the charts compared to the co-occurrence of child maltreatment and domestic violence in the mainstream” (Hallie Bongar White 2014, 26).
• “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).
• “…in 2010, 40 percent of children seen at Child Advocacy Centers for child sexual abuse were Alaska Native, even though we only represent 15 percent of the entire population in the state of Alaska. That is just strictly unacceptable” (Hallie Bongar White 2014, 27-28)
• “…it is estimated that 35 percent of children exposed to domestic violence will develop trauma-related difficulties (Moretti et al., 2006). …Similarly, it is estimated that between 42 percent and 90 percent of child victims of sexual abuse will develop trauma-related difficulties (De Bellis, Spratt and Hooper, 2011). …statistics related to both these issues are thought to be underestimates (Leventhal, 1998; Wilt and Olson, 1996). It is therefore likely that the actual prevalence of PTSD stemming from both childhood sexual abuse and exposure to domestic violence is greater than stated above. More difficult to estimate is the number of children repeatedly exposed to or even directly threatened by various forms of neighborhood violence” (Richard G. Dudley 2015, 9).
• “According to this data, 11 AI/AN children died in 2012 due to child abuse and neglect (DHHS, 2013). This data reflects only those child fatalities that have been reported to state authorities. However, because incidents of child maltreatment that occur under a tribe’s exclusive jurisdiction and where tribal services are provided are not necessarily reported to the state and included in national data systems, this number is likely a slight underestimate (Earl, 2001, p. 8)” (NICWA 2015).

ICWA does not provide the high standards and accountability required to protect children – as evidenced by numerous documented reports from tribal government entities and their supporters, as well as much anecdotal evidence from witnesses, including affected children and families. As to statements by NICWA concerning the benefits of ICWA, NICWA claims that:

• ICWA “asks social workers and courts to examine whether the use of intensive in-home services would be just as, or more, effective in protecting a child’s safety and best interest, rather than simply resorting to a de facto removal of the child as the first option.” – – In-home services that were truly intensive could be effective. Yet, even if the question has been asked and a truly intensive in-home program has been implemented, statistics do not appear to reflect evidence that this intervention has been effective.
• ICWA “encourages the use of culturally specific services that are more likely to successfully strengthen AI/AN families and help AI/AN children stay safely at home.” – – Culturally specific services can be effective if the service offers the culture of the individual child and family. But again, despite current efforts to provide culturally specific services, statistics appear to show drug, alcohol, and violence issues getting worse within reservation boundaries.
• ICWA “also helps States secure tribal assistance and ensures that experts are present in the courtroom when important decisions about the child are made.” – – ‘Tribal experts’ are often hired and paid by tribal governments and their supporting organizations. Many of these experts are there to protect tribal sovereignty and the best interest of tribal government. They frequently do not actually know the child or the child’s family – especially if the child and family have never lived in Indian Country. Many tribal experts are not testifying to the actual upbringing, culture and worldview of the child and the child’s family, but to a cultural picture preferred by tribal government. Many are not necessarily testifying to what the child’s culture is, but to what the tribal government thinks the child’s culture should be.

ICWA violates and denies children’s and parents’ constitutional rights. ICWA provides procedural and substantive safeguards that protect the assumed sovereignty of tribal governments. In the process of protecting tribal sovereignty, the constitutional rights of children and families have been violated. NICWA claims ICWA recognizes “a parent’s constitutional right to care for their child and the child’s corresponding right to family integrity,” but many dissident tribal members and non-tribal extended family say their rights have been violated and their children harmed by the ICWA.

Almost all children fare better when placed with family, in community, and connected to the culture they feel most at home with. This is true for children of every heritage, as long as their family is healthy, loving and safe. Children do not fare better in homes where they are neglected or abused.
If it is unsafe for a child to stay in their families’ home, we agree with NICWA that the second best place for children is within their community and connected with the culture they are most familiar with. This is why it is so terrible when tribal leaders rip children out of their communities and culture and force them into situations that feel totally foreign to them. Children who have never been in Indian Country should not be forced into Indian Country.
However, it is also true that due to varied circumstances, not all children who have been raised in Indian Country can go home to their family or community.

• “Furthermore, these professionals believe that meth involvement increases the difficulty of family reunification” (Roe Bubar, 2007, p. 10).

Further, varied communications to CAICW and other anecdotal evidence reveal that not all children who live in Indian Country want to be there. Some children want to go live with relatives off the reservation. Some simply want out. Some have tried to run away off the reservation, only to be taken back by tribal police.

ICWA promotes connection to Indian culture, elders, and community. That is good. But some children do not want to live there. Not all children who fall under the jurisdiction of ICWA have been raised within Indian culture or community. Tribal culture and the reservation system is foreign to many, if not most, of the children who fall under the jurisdiction of ICWA. Further, some reservation communities are simply not safe, period. Congress does not have a right to force a particular culture or religion on an individual – and most certainly has no right to force culture or community on a child simply due to race or even political affiliation. When a law or program promotes a dogma with no regard for the factual needs of the individual child, that law or program is NOT promoting the best interest of that child – it is promoting the best interest of a political agenda or entity.
While ICWA does include language allowing state court judges to deviate from the requirements of ICWA when there is “good cause,” the ability to do so is severely limited by the 2016 BIA rules, which state:

• “Without a causal relationship…evidence that shows only the existence of community or family poverty, isolation, single parenthood, custodian age, crowded or inadequate housing, substance abuse, or nonconforming social behavior does not by itself constitute clear and convincing evidence or evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that continued custody is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child” (BIA, 2016, p. 23.121(d)).
• Further, “In determining whether good cause exists, the court must not consider” whether the child has already bonded with the family he/she is currently living with or whether the child has ever had any connection to the tribe” (BIA, 2016, p. 23.118(c)).
• Finally, “… In determining whether ICWA applies to a proceeding, the State court may not consider factors such as the participation of the parents or the Indian child in Tribal cultural, social, religious, or political activities, the relationship between the Indian child and his or her parents, whether the parent ever had custody of the child, or the Indian child’s blood quantum” (BIA, 2016, p. 23.103(c)).

In other words, tribal governments and the court system “can force children with even a slight Indian heritage into environments where poverty, crime, abuse, and suicides are rampant” (Flatten 2015). These truths are evidence that ICWA does NOT “balance the need for flexibility and individualized case-based decisions,” as NICWA claims.

ICWA itself is not based on race. ICWA applies to children who are eligible for political membership in a federally recognized tribe – and, as NICWA has noted, “does not apply to individuals who merely self-identify as American Indian or Alaska Native.”

• “According to the 2010 Census, there are approximately 5.2 million self-identified American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) living in the US, of whom 2 million qualify for federal services” (Center for Native American Youth 2014). The enrolled, federally recognized AI/AN population is not 5.2 million, but only an estimated 2 million – those being the ones eligible for federal services.

Tribal governments are the sole determiners of the membership criteria. However, the membership criteria of most – if not all – tribal governments is based on heritage. If a tribal government has determined that blood lineage with a distant ancestor is all that is necessary for membership, the ICWA applies, regardless if the child, the child’s parents, or the child’s extended family want the tribal government to be involved in their lives. This child is therefore placed under ICWA’s jurisdiction due to their heritage – in other words, due to their “race.”
Further, while the ICWA itself states that it is not to be used in custody battles between parents, in practice, enrolled family members are frequently chosen over non-enrolled family members in custody battles; ie: a tribal parent is chosen over the non-tribal parent, or a tribal grandparent or aunt over a non-tribal relative. This has occurred even in cases where the tribal parent or relative has a criminal record and the non-tribal relative does not. In addition, many non-tribal parents and relatives have been threatened with ICWA by their tribal counterparts. In other words, tribal courts have not always followed the ‘word’ of the ICWA law, but instead, have followed what many believe to be the ‘heart’ of the ICWA law. Abundant anecdotal evidence of rulings in favor of tribal relatives at the expense of non-tribal relatives furthers the race-based impression of ICWA.

Tribal governments claim in congressional testimony and to the general public that they care deeply about the safety and well-being of their children and families. Yet, statistics, reports and documentation from tribal governments and their supporters, as well as anecdotal evidence from witnesses, show repeated placements of children into physically and emotionally dangerous environments, as well as repeated disregard for the factual needs of individual children.
To build a better future for children of every heritage, the experience, insight, and wisdom of those who factually know and love the individual children must be respected and included, and State child protection laws must be applied equally for children of every heritage.

• “…incidents of child maltreatment that occur under a tribe’s exclusive jurisdiction and where tribal services are provided are not necessarily reported to the state and included in national data systems” (NICWA 2015).
• “American Indian and Alaska Native populations have seen a 164% increase in the number of drug-related deaths from 3.9% in 1979-1981 to 10.3% 1998. The North Dakota Drug Threat Assessment of 2002 concluded that meth use and distribution was a problem in all reservations within the state” (U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center”(NDIC, 2002). (Roe Bubar 2007)
• “Wallace and Bachman (1991) found that almost half of Native American youth under the age of 17 drank alcohol or smoked marijuana, with a higher substance abuse rate for boys than for girls” (Roe Bubar 2007).
• “The addition of meth-exposed children to an already strained network of social services in tribal communities almost guarantees additional complications in educational, social, and medical services on the reservation” (Doney, 2006; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights [USCCR], 2003) (Roe Bubar 2007, 15-17).
• “According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 16 percent of students at Bureau of Indian Affairs schools in 2001 reported having attempted suicide in the preceding 12 months” (Center for Native American Youth 2011).
• “Recent 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 (National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association)” and “Alcoholism mortality rates are 514% higher than the general population” (Center for Native American Youth 2014).
• “…a study of Native American sixth graders from one reservation found that 75% had clinically significant levels of PTSD” and “Researchers have reported a 14% prevalence rate of Major Depressive Disorder among AI/AN adolescents” (NICWA, SAMHSA 2014).
• “Indian children experience post-traumatic stress disorder at the same rate as veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and triple the rate of the general population” (Flatten 2015).
• “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).
• “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).
• “These figures must be considered alongside the data describing child fatalities and incidence of child maltreatment in AI/AN families. This data is in line with data showing that AI/AN families are more likely to have child welfare involvement due to neglect and suggests a unique risk factor specific to AI/AN child fatalities. Given the multitude of potential responders, differences in how entities may determine child fatalities, and limited framework in Indian Country for investigating child fatalities, questions arise as to whether some of these accidents may be related to child neglect as opposed to tragic accidents” (NICWA 2015, 5).

ICWA is unworkable. It never has been workable; it never will be – because it forces itself on children and families who don’t want it, and we are United States citizens who love our children and will fight back to protect them. This is not a matter of the simple “noncompliance” tribal governments refer to. It is a matter of pure rebellion. We will never “comply” in handing over our defenseless children to a situation we know will hurt them. This is not “noncompliance,” it is civil resistance, and includes not only dissident persons of heritage and their extended families, but also certain attorneys, courts and social workers. This is not “noncompliance,” in the case of social workers and others hiding the heritage of a child; it is civil disobedience, and it will never stop because we love and care about children. It is a matter of families and people of good sense fighting back against a terrible law that is hurting our children. It is a matter of people pushing back out of true love and concern for children we know – children who have been victimized by this over-reaching, incomprehensible mandate. It is people attempting to protect the children they love from a bureaucracy and a political entity that do not know or love our children, but are using them as pawns in a political game. It is time for this particularly unjust social experiment to stop. ICWA is totally unworkable and will never work the way tribal governments want it to. They will end up going back to the federal government and again and again, trying to make the ICWA worse for us – but this will never stop us from fighting for our children.

Congress has unique authority over this issue. Tribes are legally ‘domestic dependents’ within the larger United States. Matters regarding tribes and tribal members are within the purview of the federal government. It is under Congressional authority that ICWA has been legislated.

The BIA rules and regulations are also Congressionally authorized. ICWA rules published in the federal register in June, 2016, by the BIA were based on the authority granted by Congress which states: “the Secretary shall promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter.” Therefore, it is Congress’ responsibility to right this egregious wrong and protect our children.

“AI/AN children currently appear less likely to be adopted compared to White children. This positive finding, reported by CWLA (1999), may be due to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA)” (Indian Country Child Trauma Center 2005).

Birthed by the biological parents of enrollable children, the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare was founded in February 2004. CAICW is a national non-profit Christian ministry and family advocate, which has ministered with music and teaching at churches in the U.S. and Canada as well as a children’s home and street ministry in Mexico. CAICW is both a judicial and educational advocacy for families at risk of – or hurt by – the Indian Child Welfare Act, as well as a prayer resource for families and a shoulder to cry on.

CAICW is not an adoption agency or a legal aide office, and 100% of staffing is volunteer.

References

BIA. (2016, 6 14). Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Proceedings. THE FEDERAL REGISTER, 25 CFR 23; RIN 1076-AF25(Document Citation: 81 FR 38777), 38777-38876 (100 pages). Retrieved 6 15, 2016, from FEDERAL REGISTER: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/06/14/2016-13686/indian-child-welfare-act-proceedings

Center for Native American Youth. (2011). Fast Facts on Native American Youth and Indian Country. Washington DC: Aspen Institute.

Center for Native American Youth. (2014). Fast Facts on Native American Youth and Indian Country. Washington DC: Aspen Institute.

Executive Office of the President. (2014). Native Youth Report. Washington DC: The White House.

Flatten, M. (2015). Death on a Reservation. Phoenix: Goldwater Institute. Retrieved 6 22, 2016, from http://goldwaterinstitute.org/en/work/topics/constitutional-rights/equal-protection/death-on-a-reservation/

Hallie Bongar White, J. L. (2014, April 21). INTERSECTION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND CHILD VICTIMIZATION IN INDIAN COUNTRY. Retrieved July 28, 2016, from Justice.gov: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/defendingchildhood/legacy/2014/04/21/intersection-dv-cpsa.pdf

Indian Country Child Trauma Center. (2005). Demographics. Oklahoma City: Indian Country Child Trauma Center. Retrieved July 27, 2016, from icctc.org: http://www.icctc.org/demographics-1.asp

NICWA. (2015). Testimony of Sarah L. Kastelic. Washington DC: Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities.

NICWA, SAMHSA. (2014, April). Native Children: Trauma and Its Effects. Trauma-Informed Care Fact Sheet. Portland: National Indian Child Welfare Association.

Richard G. Dudley, J. M. (2015, July). Childhood Trauma and Its Effects: Implications for Police. New Perspectives in Policing, pp. 1-22.

Roe Bubar, M. W. (2007). Perceptions of Methamphetamine Use in Three Western Tribal Communities: Implications for Child Abuse in Indian Country. West Hollywood: Tribal Law and Policy Institute.

Sullivan, T. (2013). 12th Mandated Report. Denver: ACF.

Sep 122016
 
CAICW

Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare Board of Directors Resolution 2016

WHEREAS, the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare was established in 2004 and is the oldest national organization defending the rights of children and families against the overreaching and unconstitutional Indian Child Welfare Act; and

WHEREAS, we, the members of the CAICW Board of Directors, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and

WHEREAS, Congress, working with tribal nations, tribal leadership, and advocates for tribal sovereignty – but with little input from enrollable individuals and families who have rejected the reservation system; enrollable individuals and families who have rejected tribal government jurisdiction; un-enrolled birth parents and extended families of all heritages; abused children without voice within the reservation system; and other stake-holders directly affected by the law – passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978 under the premise of stopping a “wholesale removal of Indian children by public and private agencies, taking 25-35% of all Indian children from their homes, families, and communities;” and

WHEREAS, families, social workers, medical professionals, government officials, law enforcement and abused children have reported to CAICW board members that there are frequently not enough safe homes to place children on many reservations, and when lacking a safe home, some tribal leaders have opted to place children in dangerous homes rather than place them off the reservation; and

WHEREAS, more than 75% of persons with tribal heritage do NOT live in Indian Country according to the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census’, and many tribal members have taken their children and purposefully left Indian Country due to the high incidence of crime and corruption within the reservation system; and

WHEREAS, it is held by CAICW that more children have left the reservation system in the company of their families who had made a personal decision to leave than have been removed by social services; and

WHEREAS, once off the reservation, many families consider themselves dissidents and do not want their children returned to the reservation system or to be under the jurisdiction of what they know to be a corrupt tribal government; and

WHEREAS, a coalition of leading national child welfare organizations has agreed it is in every child’s best interest to be protected from harm and to prevent the unnecessary trauma that occurs when children are removed from their family, culture, and community; and

WHEREAS, tribal leaders have demanded the removal of many children from their families, culture and communities off the reservation, under the premise they are better off on the reservation even if they have never lived there before, have never been part of the tribal community there, and don’t know anyone there; and

WHEREAS, many organizations, state governments, members of Congress, and tens of thousands of AI/AN individuals have opposed ICWA and repudiate the claim it is an essential and effective policy that protects the best interest of AI/AN children; and

WHEREAS, early application and consistent compliance with state laws governing child protection and family unity – without any application of or concern for ICWA – prevents frivolous removals of AI/AN children from their family by tribal governments and promotes stable placements for AI/AN children in loving, permanent homes, connected to the factual family and factual culture in which they have been raised and/or are most comfortable; and

WHEREAS, early application and consistent compliance with state laws governing child protection and family unity allows for the best probability of equal protection for children of every heritage as well as an increased probability that children will be able to remain within the factual family, culture and community the child is most familiar with and/or most comfortable with, whatever form that culture and community that might be; and

WHEREAS, current research shows that family, culture, and community promote resiliency and healthy development in AI/AN youth and in all youth of every heritage; and it is in their best interest to remain within the culture and community they have been raised in and/or feel most comfortable with; and

WHEREAS, AI/AN children continue to be taken from the only homes they know by tribal governments at alarming rates, often against the wishes of the child’s birth family, and due largely to misapplication, ignorance, or willful non-compliance with the mandates of ICWA by many tribal governments, tribal social services, and tribal courts, including § 1903 (2) – the definition of extended family member, which does not mandate tribal heritage; and § 1903 (1)(iv) – where ICWA is not to be used to award custody to one of parent against the other, and most notably, as the base reason for choosing an enrolled parent over an un-enrolled parent; and

WHEREAS, a 16-yr-old girl called CAICW from a Michigan reservation stating she felt trapped and neither the tribal police nor judge would allow her to leave her father’s home and go live with her mother off the reservation; and

WHEREAS, a 12-yr-old girl from a Minnesota reservation stated she has been abused and wants to leave, but feels trapped, and the tribal social services has sided with her care-taker; and

WHEREAS, a mother living on a Washington State reservation told CAICW she feels trapped with her children on the reservation and unable to leave without the tribe’s ICWA social worker taking her children away from her, as had been done to her in the past; and

WHEREAS, a North Dakota mother has stated to CAICW she does not want to go before the tribal judge as she does not believe she will obtain justice; and

WHEREAS, hundreds of individuals and families have contacted CAICW since 2004 with their personal stories concerning what they felt was abuse by tribal government and/or feeling trapped within Indian Country as a result of the ICWA, and these individuals and families have represented multiple backgrounds and heritages from across the nation; and

WHEREAS, the Cherokee Nation Attorney General stated in 2012 they have over 100 attorneys targeting over 1000 children across the nation, and many of these children had little if any factual connection to the Cherokee Nation, other than a distant relative generations past; and

WHEREAS, despite these troubling numbers, calls for action from across the nation, and consistent and shocking reports of widespread abuse and even murder of children who had been moved from their safe and loving homes and placed into dangerous homes under the auspices of ICWA, federal agencies have recently and inexplicably acted to increase ICWA implementation against Indian children and families; and

WHEREAS, appropriate opposition to ICWA has risen in the form of litigation, information campaigns with Congress, and attempts to draw media attention to increasingly tragic events and as well as the racist nature of the ICWA, which, despite claims it is not based on race, targets children of heritage; and

WHEREAS, those in opposition to ICWA are advocating on behalf of Indian children and for the best interest of Indian children – who are many times their very own children from within their very own birth families, extended families and communities – and therefore rightfully and thoroughly refuse counsel or permission from overreaching, self-professed ‘Indian Country experts,’ national Native organizations, or any individual tribe that does not have direct connection and personal knowledge of their children and families or been invited to participate in the custody action; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that CAICW recognizes and firmly supports the full repeal of ICWA and opposes any further federal or State efforts to force ICWA compliance and implementation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that CAICW pledges to work hand-in-hand with every AI/AN family and non-Indian family that presents to CAICW requesting assistance, and all supporters, to vigorously fight ICWA in the courtroom, state house, and Congress to protect AI/AN children and their families from the harmful effects of arrogant and autocratic tribal governments and ICWA; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that this resolution shall be the policy of CAICW until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.

CERTIFICATION. The members of the Board of Directors of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare do hereby adopt the foregoing resolution and direct that this resolution be entered in the record of board work. The foregoing resolution was adopted by the CAICW Board of Directors through electronic vote on this day 5 of September, 2016.

Jun 122016
 
CAICW

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Our office doesn’t need much. We take pride in the fact there is no monthly overhead. There are no salaries or huge office expenses.

We work out of our homes – on the computer. The biggest expense is when we travel to DC once or twice a year. We have figured out how to do it on about $25 a day (after travel expenses to get there). We keep expenses down by not staying in motels, not eating restaurant food, and not taking taxis. We also don’t party or spend money on politicians or their aides.

The second greatest office expense is paper, toner, envelopes and stamps. Once or twice a year, the general fund contributes to the cell phone bill or internet service. Other than that – we simply don’t need much.

The people with the real financial need are the families affected by ICWA. Many do not have the money to pay for good attorneys. So we have set up a small legal fund that has successfully helped a few families. What we do with the legal fund is pay for consultations with expert ICWA attorneys. The consultation can be between the expert ICWA attorney and the family, or the ICWA attorney and their local attorney, or both. Many local attorneys just need a little guidance.

One family in Colorado, however, used the consultation to educate and prepare themselves to represent themselves, as they could not afford a local attorney. They were successful. To the surprise of many, the grandmother, who had been told she can not keep her grandson if the Warm Springs Tribal government out of Oregon wanted him – won the right to adopt her grandson. The adoption went through two years ago, so it can be discussed now. The grandson is safe.

One thing they were able to prove in court was that the Warm Springs gov’t had falsified a birth certificate in order to make it appear the boy was eligible for membership. They also educated the judge on what the ICWA actually says about grandparents having custody of their grandchildren. The ICWA does NOT say the grandparents have to be tribal members. The Warm Springs gov’t had told the judge that this grandmother could not have her grandson because she was white. The Grandmother’s family was able to show the judge the truth – and they were able to do so because of the guidance they had received in a simple consultation.

Admittedly, things are more difficult now that the BIA has issued new rules with the express purpose of ensuring tribal governments win custody of other people’s children. They closed what they called “loopholes” – but were actually common sense protections for families. That said, in the case of the Colorado grandmother, it was the actual wording of the ICWA law itself that saved her grandson. This is why consultations with expert ICWA attorneys are so necessary.

You can contribute to their legal fund through here.

If you want still want to help the office, the absolute best way is through Amazon when you order things for yourself online. Amazon has a program called “Amazon Smile” – which is still all the same Amazon: you order the exact same things you usually order through them, for the exact same prices, yet a tiny percentage of the purchase price goes to a charity of your choice. It is absolutely pain free – the easiest way ever to donate. You can even set it up to do the donation automatically every time you shop. Amazon will remember and apply it for you.

Go to smile.Amazon.com to check it out.

But only donate if you feel led. Frankly, as contentious as our work has been, under frequent attack with many untrue things printed about us over the last twenty years and with so little progress – we go through cyclic soul-searching. We really do need periodic assurance that this is the battle He still wants us to be fighting.

Watching him provide is both an adventure and an assurance.

That said – if you feel led to donate directly to us – use this link:

Contribute

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OTHER WAYS TO HELP


Ministry:

Would you like to physically help?

  • 1. PRAY WITH US.
  • Every Sunday evening at 8 pm Central time, we try to post prayer requests and standard prayer issues on our Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/fbCAICW.org/

  • 2. Volunteer to:
  • Share Jesus Christ and pray
  • Encourage and Advocate for Families
  • Educate Legislators – VERY important for you to contact your Senators and Congressmen!
  • Write Articles
  • Monitor Social Networks
  • Help Maintain the Website
  • Research Case Law

DONATIONS TO THE GENERAL FUND:

If you decide you would like to donate – your Donation will:

Help Educate and Inform by:

  • Enabling us to Continue Publishing our Newsletter
  • Enabling us to Keep our Website Updated
  • Assisting us to Research Statistics
  • Enabling us to educate the public as well as elected officials about Indian rights, laws, and issues

Minster To Families by:

  • Helping us to stay in contact with families
  • Supporting and encouraging individuals and families to Trust God, Look to Him, and Pray.
  • Supporting Equal Protection for children
  • Supporting the right of parents to choose guardians for their children without regard for heritage.
  • Supporting and Encouraging families to combat alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual abuse, child abuse and child neglect
  • Encouraging Families to Stand Up Together, Pray for Each Other, and Support Each One Another.

Defend Parental and Civil Rights by:

  • Assisting us in the research of Case Law, Legislative History, and significant Secondary Authority and make it freely available
  • Encouraging accountability of governments to families with Indian heritage
  • Seeking Justice and defending the cause of families in need.
  • Advocating the use of the Existing Indian Family Doctrine
  • Advocating for Fair Trials for all US citizens, no matter their heritage
  • Defining protections for Adoptive Parents

Assist and Support Christian Churches in their local Ministries by:

  • Supporting and encouraging prayerful volunteerism in local church Ministries and Missions.
  • Encouraging the work of Evangelism

 

 

OTHER WAYS TO DONATE:

– Through Ebay’s Giving-Works, ‘MissionFish’

– Mail Your Check or Money Order to:

Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare
PO Box 460,
Hillsboro, ND 58045 – 0460

You can request that mailed funds be applied to specific accounts.
(Please don’t send cash through the mail)

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– Or use this link –

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Contribute

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Thank you for considering a U.S. tax deductible contribution to the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, a U.S. 501c(3)

Jan 022015
 
Meet Paula Van Dyk - our Compassionate Prayer Warrior

Paula Van Dyk – beautiful, wonderful, kind, loving, prayerful friend, has gone to be with the Lord yesterday, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Paula leaves behind her gentle, patient husband John.

Rest in peace, blessed sister.

January 2, 2015 –

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

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

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

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

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

Sep 142013
 
FAMILY, 2000

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

This are my responses to her six questions:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roland and Senator Conrad Burns, 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is much benefit in enjoying ones heritage and culture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Washiington DC, February 2013

Washiington DC, February 2013

 

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

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

 – A birth mom stands up for herself:

http://www.xojane.com/issues/my-uterus-will-not-be-used-to-fill-your-tribal-rolls-i-fought-the-icwa-and-won?utm_medium=facebook

 – An official report from Thomas Sullivan, Regional Director of the ACF, Denver office, concerning the abuse at Spirit Lake.  There is a link to his 12th report as well.

https://caicw.org/2013/04/05/13th-mandated-report-re-spirit-lake-child-abuse/

Jose Rodrigues 2005

Removed from Hispanic grandparents home due to ICWA, he was beaten at maternal grandmothers home for speaking Spanish.

 – This family wrote to us recently and asked me to post their story  –

https://caicw.org/2013/09/08/like-veronica-this-child-is-hurt-by-icwa/

 – Rebuttal to the NPR series:

https://caicw.org/2011/11/21/rebuttal-to-nprs-icwa-series-from-the-mother-of-enrolled-children/

 – Other evidence of harm:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/us/focus-on-heritage-hinders-foster-care-for-indians.html?_r=2&

 – Two years ago – I had the letters from various families arranged much better on our website. Some people decided to help me with it and it’s not quite as I like it anymore… I still have to find time to arrange it my way again…  But this is a link to many stories…    https://caicw.org/family-advocacy/letters-from-families-2/

There are many, many more.  I think its’ been a good two years since I have been able to put newer letters up.

 

5.        How has the Baby Veronica case shed light on ICWA?

Some wonder why Capobianco supporters don’t side with a father whose child is being taken from him. Some have even questioned the authenticity of Christians who would support the Capobiancos. (Forgetting that even Jesus was raised by an adoptive father.)

One must understand that many Capobianco supporters have been there since the day they first saw, either in person or on video, the horror of not only having one’s child taken, but –

1) taken without the benefit of a caring transition, and –

2) taken solely due to 1% heritage, (as the father’s admitted abandonment of the child would have prevailed otherwise.)

Matt, Melanie & Veronica Capobianco

Matt, Melanie & Veronica Capobianco

Just 1.12% heritage. 

Since then, the Cherokee Nation has put on a show, shaking signs that claim “genocide” and claiming that “white people” are stealing “Indian” babies.

1.12% heritage.

If a C supporter brings up the 1% heritage, their statement is twisted and they are accused of racism – despite that it was the Cherokee Nation that brought the 1% into issue.

1.12% heritage.

As much as the Cherokee Nation, ‘Indian Country Today’, NICWA, NARF, and others want to spin it as a “citizen” issue – it is not spinning. Very few people – including many tribal members in Oklahoma and elsewhere – are falling for the “citizen” claim – especially when “citizenship” is being forced on children.

At 1.12% heritage.

Ardent supporters of the Cherokee Nation, either purposefully spinning for PR or snowed by their own rhetoric, fail to see how disgusted many others are by the claim that “white people” are stealing “Indian” babies.. Many Americans can see that claim for the dishonesty it is – but few have wanted to speak it. While it is okay for a tribal entity to speak in terms of race and percentages, it is deemed “racist” for anyone else to. But I will say what is on the hearts of many. This was no Indian Child being stolen by “White” people.

It was a Caucasian/Hispanic child, stolen by a tribe.

That is the bottom line.

As the Cherokee Nation continues to encourage and assist Mr. Brown in defying state and federal law, it is an overtly obvious fact. And that is why the Cherokee Nation and tribal governments in general aren’t getting the traction on their genocide spin (outside of  ‘Indian Country Today’) that they somehow thought they would.

When you are talking about OUR children – which this child was – NOT an Indian child – you should expect hostility when trying to claim that child as the Tribe’s.

BIA - DCAND if 60 more tribal governments attempt to lower their membership criteria – as 60 are talking about doing – to CN levels and begin to target children of minute heritage – as the Cherokee Tribe has – they should not expect to get sympathy. They should expect a strong push back.

They should expect push back because now, due to the Veronica horror – a whole lot of Americans who would have otherwise remained oblivious to the issue, have woken up to what is happening and are outraged by the ICWA stories they are hearing. Many now want ICWA to be repealed.

Americans’ are not buying the rhetoric that tribal governments should have jurisdiction over children of 1% heritage. It is hard enough to justify ICWA jurisdiction over a child who is 25% tribal heritage – as the child is still 75% another heritage. Even children of a parent who is 100% – such as my own – have a right to be free from tribal government jurisdiction. Even individuals of 100% heritage have a right to be free of tribal government interference in their lives and families – if that is what they choose.

So do we feel angry? Yup.

Is there a Christian purpose and righteousness in that anger? Absolutely.

– “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” (Mark 10:13-16 ESV)

Having raised nine tribal members, five of whom are my birth children, and seen much tragedy, child abuse, sexual abuse, suicide, and other horrors on more than a few reservations – and having an advisory board and membership of parents who have raised, adopted and witnessed the same – we know far too much about tribal governments seeking children for the federal dollars, then showing little or no interest in what happens to them once they have been “retrieved” for the tribe and placed with a member. We won’t be bullied or intimidated.

We have known of far too many kids abused in ICWA homes, and some even murdered.

(Don’t even try to argue that point with me; I had been an ICWA approved home myself for 17 years. I know how little the tribal social services paid attention.)

So, concerning this particular case, in summary – for those who are flabbergasted that we would not be supporting the father – understand this: from the get-go,

1) Mr. Brown has been seen as an extremely selfish man.

2) The Cherokee Nation has been seen as an extremely selfish organization – using this child as a political pawn.

What appalls us is that not only were Mr. Brown and the Cherokee Nation willing to hurt this child deeply the first time a transfer took place – by taking her without any concern for her need of a transition – but even worse, Mr. Brown and the Cherokee Nation are now willing to do it to her a 2nd time.

How in the world are we expected to sympathize with people who do that?

https://caicw.org/2013/09/01/taking-veronica-from-a-loving-father/

 

6.      Anything else you’d like to add?

Mr. James Anaya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples,urges “relevant authorities” to maintain Veronica’s “cultural identity” and “maintain relations with her indigenous family and people.” The fact is that Veronica’s family is primarily of European descent and that is therefore much more of her “cultural identity” then her 1% Cherokee ancestry.

Veronica Capobianco's RightsIf Mr. Anaya  really cared about Veronica’s rights – he would advocate for her right to be an individual with freedom to choose her own identity. But he doesn’t honestly care about Veronica’s rights. He cares only for tribal sovereignty and the “right” of government to subjugate people.

In a press release, Mr Anaya stated,

“Veronica’s human rights as a child and as member of the Cherokee Nation, an indigenous people, should be fully and adequately considered in the ongoing judicial and administrative proceedings that will determine her future upbringing,” Mr. Anaya stressed. “The individual and collective rights of all indigenous children, their families and indigenous peoples must be protected throughout the United States.”

Never mind the “individual and collective rights of all United States citizens.” Never mind the children’s families and equally important heritage.

This is racism at its worst – regardless of the spin about it being about citizenship and political affiliation. Those are just fluff terms to gloss over the racial discrimination evident every time a supporter of tribal sovereignty states that “White people” are stealing tribal children, or that “White people” are guilty of genocide every time they adopt.

The claim that “White people” can’t possibly raise a “Native American Child” is especially offensive – in that most enrollable children are multi-heritage, primarily Caucasian.

Wake up people – hundreds of thousands of “Native American Children” have been and are currently being raised successfully by their own “White” birth parents.

If I can successfully raise my own birth children – so can my sister and my best friend.

You are absolutely right that this is about politics, not “race,” Mr. Arayo. If I had to choose between a friend (no matter the heritage) and someone with your political bias to adopt and raise my children – you lose.

We are not interested in honoring the racial prejudice of the Indian Industry supporters. A stranger from my conservative Church community (no matter the heritage) is preferable to a stranger beholden to Tribal government.

Keep politically biased, predatory, self-serving and profiting hands off of our kids. Period.

 

 

LASTLY – re: All the belly-aching about how “Un-Christian” we are being:

If certain groups want to believe it is “Un- Christian” to side with individuals, families, and human rights over horrific Government oppression – than so be it. I am tired of hearing the accusation that we aren’t being “real” Christians.

  1. Are they suggesting that Jesus threw money-changers out of the temple and called Pharisees “Dogs” because he was timid and didn’t want to offend anyone?
  2. Or that he was hung from the cross because everyone loved hearing what he had to say?

No, actually, this is what being Christian is about:

Ps. 82:3-4 (Psalmist to the kings) ”Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the week and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Prov. 29:7 “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”

Prov. 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Isa. 1:17 “learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the fatherless , plead the cause of the widow.”

Isa. 10:1-3 (God, through Isaiah, to the Israelites) ”Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?

Jer. 22:16-17 “He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ Declares the Lord, ‘but your eyes are set on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.”

Acts 5:29 “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!”

Jn. 15:18-21 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world., That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.”

Matt 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Col. 3:24 “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

My husband and I prayed for years about what we were saying and doing and long ago came to the solid conclusion that it was the right thing to do before God. This org can’t be bullied about it now.  We are past it.

Roland Preaching a Sermon in Juarez, Mexico

Roland Preaching a Sermon in Juarez, Mexico, June 2003

Baptism in Leech Lake, 2007

Baptism in Leech Lake, 2007