Dec 312012
 

From Tragedies – to Transformation…

Just why would a family decide that reservation life is not what they choose for their family? The reasons are many, but some of the reasons are shocking.

Dying in Indian Country is one family’s story of  hope.

What 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.

An amazing transformational story, Dying in Indian Country, by Elizabeth Sharon Morris, provides a real glimpse into some of these unacceptable conditions. Dying in Indian Country tells a compelling true story of one family who 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  –  then tells how, by the Grace of God, they came out of it.

 

A true story of pain, hope, and transformation –

“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)

Dying in Indian Country is available at:   http://dyinginindiancountry.com

 

 

So. Carolina High Court Rules in favor of Cherokee Nation in Baby Veronica Case

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Jul 262012
 

Veronica RoseCharleston, SC [7/26/12]

by Jessica Munday, Trio Solutions:

The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled today that the 2-year-old adoptive daughter of Matt and Melanie Capobianco will remain with her biological father Dusten Brown. After seven months of living without her, the Capobiancos of Charleston, SC received word that South Carolina’s high court ruled in favor of the Indian Child Welfare Act, the federal law that allowed Brown and the Cherokee Nation to retain custody of the child on New Year’s Eve 2011.

Despite public outcry that the child should be returned to her adoptive parents, the federal law granted the Cherokee Nation, of which Brown is a registered member, the ability to argue that the child is best served with her father’s tribe.

The law was originally intended to preserve Native American culture by keeping Indian children with native families as opposed to non-Native American families. Even though Brown would not be considered a parent by state law because of his lack of support to the birth mother during and after the pregnancy, Christina Maldonado of Oklahoma, the federal law trumps her wishes to select a non-Native family to raise her child.

Brown filed for paternity and custody four months after the child was born in September 2009. He filed for custody with Oklahoma family court. The case was dismissed and jurisdiction was granted to South Carolina. Brown eventually utilized the Indian Child Welfare Act to remove Veronica from her adoptive family on New Year’s Eve. The Capobiancos immediately appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

After learning about the Capobianco’s case, the author of the law, former U.S. Senator Jim Aborzek of South Dakota, was quoted in Charleston’s daily newspaper The Post and Courier as saying this situation is “something totally different than what we intended at the time.” Additionally, he said, “That’s a tragedy. They obviously were attached to the child and, I would assume the child was attached to them.”

The adoption case caught national attention on New Year’s Eve when the Capobiancos were forced to hand over the toddler to Brown. The way the family court handled Veronica’s transfer sparked outrage from child advocacy and mental health communities around the country. Prior to the transfer, the 2-year-old had never met Brown. He refused offers for a transition period, placed the toddler in a pick-up truck and drove more than 1,100 miles from the only family the child had ever known.

Oral arguments were heard on April 17. The court hearing was closed to the public. All parties involved in the case remain under a gag order until clearance from their legal team.

Contact: Jessica Munday

jessica@trio-solutions.com

843-708-8746

Haley Hernandez Reports on the Veronica Petition – 20,000 Signatures

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Jan 262012
 


Reporter Haley Hernandez followed @Save_Veronica to Columbia today, look who they spoke with about the Indian Child Welfare Act … http://ping.fm/MWk43

Delivering the Petition with 20,000 signatures to South Carolina leaders –

By: Haley Hernandez | WCBD

On New Year’s Eve, Jessica Munday watched helplessly as her close friends, Matt and Melanie Capobianco were forced to hand over their adopted little girl, Veronica, to her birth father.

Now Munday and Stephanie Brinkley (a Charleston adoption attorney) are on a mission to “save Veronica.”

“Rather than sit on the sidelines and just say ‘how sad’, I wanted to say ‘how sad, what can I do?’” Binkley said.

Tuesday they went from one government office to another, starting in Charleston and driving up to the State House in Columbia, delivering a petition from supporters of the organization.

Kathy Crawford, the district director at Congressman Tim Scott’s office said it’s a shock that this could happen to a family, “a child could be taken away from the only mom and dad that they’ve ever known and you know, we hope that the courts will do the right thing.”

The organization delivered the petition to lawmakers with more than 20,000 signatures. In an unscheduled visit, Governor Haley spoke with Munday and Brinkley and empathized with the Capobiancos.

“If you have a child you know that’s just like the precious part of your life and so my heart breaks for them, I will be happy to take this,” Gov. Haley said taking the petition. “The federal delegation and I communicate about a lot of things, because it is a federal issue doesn’t mean I can’t at least say “what are y’all doing about this?” so I’ll be happy to ask the questions, be happy to see what’s going on if anything.”

“I’m thankful that she was so receptive to us being there and so compassionate about what’s happened,” Munday said after speaking with the governor.

“This is a matter that affects the people they represent, it represents a South Carolina couple and a South Carolina child and that child needs to be heard so it’s great that they are receptive that we’re trying to be a voice for Veronica when she can’t represent herself,” Brinkley said about lawmakers listening to their concerns.

SaveVeronica.org is still taking signatures for their petition. Lawmakers said they will try to get a copy to the Senate committee that will hear the case.

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My Question: When is the Senate Committee going to hear it? I doubt they have any plans to put it on their agenda – we will need to do lots of pushing to get it there – and lots more to get a fair hearing!

Someone on the ‘Save Veronica page’ asked what one would ask the President about ICWA if one had the chance. As a birth mother, I have had several questions. These are questions that my husband and I felt disturbed by ever since our children were small:

– “Mr. President, what part of the Constitution gave Congress the right to give jurisdiction over OUR children to another government when my husband chose to raise our children apart from that government, and I have had no part in that government?

– Why is it that if I should die, another government would have the right to take our children and place them in a home neither my husband nor I would approve of?

– Why is it that strangers within that government would have more right to raise my flesh and blood children than my flesh and blood brother or sister have?” –

The bottom line is – both my husband and I had always held that OUR Children were NOT the tribal government’s children – as the NICWA logo attests. They aren’t the federal government’s children, either.

My husband did not feel his reservation was a safe place to raise children and thus raised them elsewhere. Further, we are not alone. Many tribal members have left the reservations on purpose and taken their children with them. As U.S Citizens, we have a right to choose how and where we want our children raised. We had personally chosen the friends and family we would have liked to be guardians should the need arise.

The ICWA law is poorly thought out – stepping on the lives of U.S. Citizens in order to benefit tribal leaders, not children. Which is why it is continually misapplied and has been as hurtful as it has been to many children and families – and why there are so many parents writing to you on this page wondering why they aren’t getting help to keep their kids. They mistakenly believe that ICWA was actually meant to help them.

For those who are concerned that the Veronica case involves a birth father – let me clarify:

The adoption wasn’t finalized because the tribe had intervened, but M&M were ‘parenting’ Veronica from the moment she was born. They were at the birth. The bio-dad was not. Matt cut the umbilical cord – the bio-dad did not. Melanie stayed in a room at the hospital where she could parent/mother Veronica right away. The bio-dad did not. The bio-dad made no effort during the pregnancy or after birth to contact or support the mother, and made no real effort or request to see the little girl at any point in her life. She had never met him up until the evening she was handed over to him in the attorney’s office. The judge had allowed only ½ hour for Veronica to meet this man before he was free to take her. But it took two hours for the transfer to complete because she kept crying for M&M every time they tried to leave the room.

Matt and Melanie are the only parents she has ever known.

Had South Carolina law been applied to this case, the bio-dad would not have had any standing. By state law, he has essentially abandoned her and would not have had any parental rights. He had also signed a paper sometime after her birth giving up any claim to her. But after Veronica had been with M&M for four months, he changed his mind. And because he has a small percentage of Cherokee heritage, he was able to get the tribal attorney involved.

Veronica wasn’t the only one in tears. Matt & Melanie are emotionally devastated.

And this family isn’t a rare case. This actually happens quite often, especially when dealing with the Cherokee Nation; it’s just that for some unknown reason, this time it got attention. Read letters from more families – and how they were hurt by ICWA at https://caicw.org/family-advocacy/letters-from-families-2/ and watch the story of James on the CAICW YouTube Channel ~

This does not need to happen to another child. Please Call your Congressmen and tell them this has to stop.

Find information for contacting Congressmen at SaveVeronica.org

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Dying in Indian Country: A True Story

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Nov 102010
 

Roland John Morris, Sr.The True story of a family Living and Dying in Indian Country in the 1980’s-  90’s.

What made a full-blooded American Indian want to work against Tribal government and federal Indian Policy?

Need a close-to-home example of how socialist policies within our government currently affect U.S. citizens? Read Roland Morris’ story. Read about his family: A beautiful 16-year-old niece who hanged herself in a closet, another dying of a drug overdose in a public bathroom. A brother was stabbed to death on the reservation, a 4-yr-old was left alone for a whole night at a dangerous inner city park while her Dad drank, and a 2-yr old was beaten to death by her mother. Those examples are just starters. Find out why this tribal elder traveled to DC over and over again to fight tribal jurisdiction over his family – as well as the well-compensated Congressmen who support it.

Roland J. Morris Sr. kept his tribal culture at heart as he taught his children about wild ricing, hunting, fishing, family history and some Ojibwa language. He did this, despite having lost all trust in the reservation system. He’d watched too many family members die tragic, violent deaths and had come to believe that current federal Indian policy and the reservation system itself was responsible.

Tribal leaders tell the public that the reservation system must be maintained or all will be lost. They claim that no one understands Indians, and this system has to be preserved as the only viable way for tribal members to exist in happiness. While they are saying this, violence, crime, child neglect, drug and alcohol abuse, and Fetal Alcohol effects are epidemic on the reservations. Further, at the hands of their own governments, tribal members experience denial of civil rights: freedom of speech, press, religion and assembly. They experience cohortion, manipulation, cronyism, nepotism, criminal fraud, ballot box stuffing and have even been robbed of their own children.

We are all aware this is happening, but refuse to admit out loud. For some reason, it’s much easier to blame white America, history, and poverty for the problems.

Many tribal members continue in this life, complaining in private but not willing to protest. They keep silent in part because of they have tribal jobs or housing – and rocking the boat will affect not just them, but extended family. Those that do speak up are vilified. In addition, for the most part, tribal members don’t like to discuss reservation problems with outsiders. They may be dying, but they are dying compliantly.

Read Dying in Indian Country – A Family Story – http://dyinginindiancountry.blogspot.com/
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“ICWA for Dummies” – Illegality of ICWA for Those That Can’t Think

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Dec 212008
 

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Okay, some people can’t wrap their brains around why what happened last week to the tiny baby who was taken away from a safe and loving home, the adoptive home of Clint and Heather Larson, and given to a foster family on the dysfunctional and dangerous Leech Lake Reservation was totally and utterly wrong.

Let me say it very slowly and clearly for those with brain dysfunction….

My husband’s family is from Cass Lake, a major town on the Leech Lake Reservation. Leech Lake is very, very Dangerous to live in.

The Tribal Government …(Get ready for this) …Does Not Own My Children.
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Thus, this related concept:
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The Tribal Government …(Get ready for this) …Does Not Own Anyone’s Children.
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Now, I know that many have missed the news over the last couple years. But some might still remember names and issues in the back of their heads. Names like… Abramoff and Conrad Burns, and others that, along with Illinois Governor Blagojevich, believe in the “Pay to Play” concept.
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Okay, so now I’ll say this slowly.
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Tribal Governments… Get More Money Per Head. (I will post some of the many federal programs tied to tribal census figures later.)
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Thus, they Want More Heads.
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The Last Census Indicates that Many Enrollable Families are Moving AWAY From the Reservations.
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MEANING – Tribal Governments NEED Bodies in order to have Their “Sovereign Nation.” If Bodies move away, they Need Some Way to Regain their Population.
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Tribal Governments…(Are you Ready?) have been spending more and more on buying Senators over the last thirty years, and currently Contribute Millions of Dollars to Federal Campaigns. (See the Open Secrets web site for documentation)
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Tribal Governments have contributed large amounts of money to federal campaigns, including those of several on the Senate Committee for Indian Affairs. Former Senator Conrad Burns is one great example of a corrupt Senator changing his mind for a price. In the 1990’s, the tribes considered him one of their opponents as he rightly tried to introduce legislation to limit tribal jurisdiction over non-members. He supported our stand on ICWA. He also tried to keep the National Bison Range as a national jewel, where people of every race would have opportunity for employment.
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However, after the tribes derided and embarrassed him over the jurisdiction issue at a Billings meeting, he changed his mind. He began taking money from the tribes and was involved with Abramoff. He did a total Flip Flop on the Bison Range issue. When we went back to him about ICWA, his staff said he would never support new Indian policy legislation unless all 500 tribes agreed to it.
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We lived in Montana at the time and helped to vote him out of office, but not before he’d done damage. At any rate, he’s just one example of one of our great Senators who loved money a little too much. There are many more.
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And The Tribes Have Lots of Money to Give. Research Tribal Campaign Contributions.

Now, ask yourself two questions:
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#1) WHY have so many enrollable members moved off the reservation? As for our family and many of our relatives, the answer is that The Reservation Is No Place to Safely Raise Your Children.

Some will try figure out some way to blame it on the “white man.” Only trouble is, MOST Enrollable members are more white than Indian. Can you Understand that? It’s easy math. Most tribes require only 1/4 blood quantum to be enrollable. SOME TRIBES have much LESS. And the Cherokee Tribe has NO required blood quantum. We have a case where tribes has been interfering with an adoption of a child with less than 2% blood quantum. (https://www.caicw.org/familystories.html)
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#2) If the Tribes have so much money to pay Congressmen with, as well as attorneys to chase children down with, why aren’t they instead spending that same money on infrastructure and job growth on the reservation? What are the true priorities? Why not just develop resources and make an honest effort to move away from the federal dole? If the reservations were cleaned up, wouldn’t more people want to stay there and live? How can a government call itself Sovereign when it is constantly running to the US Congress and demanding more money? Sounds like a bunch of teenagers!
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So, let me wrap this little lesson up by pointing out the obvious to those that don’t understand the obvious. I will use my family as an example in order to get the point across.
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The Tribe Does NOT Own My Family – and in Particular, MY Children.
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My Children are 50% Minnesota Chippewa, but they are also 1/4 German, Jewish, and a spattering pf Irish Catholic. They have OTHER relatives than just those on the reservation.
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MOST enrollable children have relatives of other heritage.
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In fact, my enrollable children have German Jewish relatives that died at Auschwitz.
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So tell me Brainiacs. why my children’s Native American heritage is more important than their Jewish, Irish, or Scottish heritage. Tell me why in the world the state of Minnesota has passed a law last year that says that suggests tribal heritage is more important, and that the Minnesota tribes have jurisdiction over any enrollable child, even if the child and his family don’t want to be involved with the tribe and has never had any contact or relationship with the tribe.
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That law affects not only my children but my grandchildren, who will all be at least 1/4 Minnesota Chippewa.
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For every non-Indian screaming about how we have to honor Leech Lake’s tribal sovereignty…why don’t you move your families to Cass Lake, Minnesota. Enroll your kids in school there. Encourage them to go play at the housing tracts.
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Go ahead, hypocrites. You know darn well you wouldn’t‘ want your children raised there. So get your nose out of my family, and quit making stupid statements as well as laws that state that MY Children belong there.
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A commenter had the nerve in an earlier post to suggest the Larson’s had “kidnapped” this baby. Excuse me? Who the heck are the ones doing the kidnapping, but the tribes themselves that push federal and state legislators to give them all the rights to Our Children!
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Possible Incentives for ICWA –

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Dec 182008
 

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Congressional Indulgence of Tribal Government?

In 2002, Senator Max Baucus wrote in reference to a bill concerning federal recognition of tribes, “I am forced to disagree…this amendment…requires the implementation of…adversarial hearings at the request of any interested party.”

In other words, Senator Baucus, a top recipient of Indian Gaming funds at the time, wasn’t interested in hearing any point of view other than that of the tribal government.

Two of former Senator Conrad Burns’ aides (R-MT) also stated in meetings a year apart that Senator Burn’s will not change any Indian law unless all 500+ tribes agree to it.

Since that time, it has been discovered that Senator Burns was deeply involved with lobbyist Jack Abramoff and funds coming from tribal entities.

Several other Senators have been linked to Abramoff and/or tribal funds.

Unfortunately, many families affected by ICWA can’t afford to buy themselves a Senator.
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