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

Washington DC, July 11, 2012 – BEST ICWA MEETINGS EVER!

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Jul 262012
 

Dr. William B. Allen and Sage I apologize that it took over a week for me to get this letter out to you. The meetings we had in DC this month were the best ever . I want to tell you that so much prayer went into this – and the answers to prayer were amazing. Not only did God give Grace for the compelling and intelligent discussions we were able to have, but He provided for so many to be able to come. Even when I felt discouraged and reluctant to go, God wouldn’t allow me to stand in the way of what he has put together. He is truly worthy of praise in this.

Further, I give credit and am so grateful for the many people who have come on board in the last six months, concerned about what happened to little Veronica and not wanting it to happen again to any other child. We mourn the horrific abduction that our government allowed to happen to a defenseless two-year-old – and are amazed by the attention it has brought to this insanity called the Indian Child Welfare Act. Veronica is not alone. As you and others have talked about her – other parents have come forward and told how the same thing has happened to them. Further, the Cherokee Nation has admitted that they have over 100 attorneys targeting 1500 children this year.

Further, – the New York Times published a horrific story about the Spirit Lake Reservation just two weeks ago. A few days later, another story, this time involving the death of an infant

While not every reservation handles their children in the way that Spirit Lake has, way too many do. Nothing in that story surprised me – it echoed the many things I myself have seen on my husband’s home reservation.

ABOUT DC:

 

Attorney Mark Fiddler gave a powerful presentation on the ICWA law and how and why it must be changed. He went through the notable problems with the law and gave clear instruction on what must be done to protect the children. Several family stories were told – including the Belfords, the Helmholz, and the Anderson’s.

Johnston Moore also gave a wonderful presentation on the problems ICWA has caused families, and Melanie Duncan did a very well researched presentation on attachment issues – and how, surprise, surprise, children of tribal heritage are no different than any other child in the world.

Dr. William Allen introduced Sage DesRochers, who as a thirteen-year-old was forcibly removed from the only home she knew & loved, and placed with her birth mother on the reservation. She spoke about the trauma she went through and the relief she had when she was finally “released” (her words) from the reservation a couple years later and allowed to return to her chosen family. To this day, twenty some years later, she is upset by what the gov’t and ICWA put her through. She asked her adoptive mother (her ONLY mother, says Sage) to join her on this trip to DC.

I told how my husband and I, as parents and granparents of enrolled children, have been affected and hurt by the Indian Child Welfare Act. Jessican Munday did an awesome job MC’ing and organizing the event

Again – this is about the right of individuals to determine their lives – not governments. Most tribal members have left the reservation system. Some move away but choose to continue close relationship with tribal gov’t. Many other persons – with both large and small amounts of tribal heritage – choose NOT to raise their own children within the limited cultural perspective that some tribal gov’ts and other entities define.

Many of us, knowing that our children are multi-heritage, choose to raise and teach our children within other world views, with knowledge of and appreciation for the wide diversity of culture here in the U.S. Many of our children, as American citizens, feel most comfortable within mainstream American culture, working and learning along side all other diverse American citizens. They appreciate ALL of their varied heritages. Neither tribal nor federal government have a right to dictate what culture should be most important to our children and grandchildren.

In the words of Dr. William Allen, Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights,

“… we are talking about our brothers and our sisters. We’re talking about what happens to people who share with us an extremely important identity. And that identity is the identity of free citizens in a Republic…”

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT! We could not be do this without you!!

Please continue to press in on our Congressmen – they need to hear your voice!!

CONTACTS:

Senator Akaka: Chairman of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Member of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Hawaii

CONTACT: Lotaka_Baptiste@akaka.senate.gov

Senator Inouye: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Member of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Hawaii

CONTACT: Kawe_Mossman@inouye.senate.gov

Senator Barrasso: Minority Leader; Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (Very interested in ICWA), Wyoming

CONTACT: Travis_McNiven@barrasso.senate.gov

Senator Crapo: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Idaho

CONTACT: Kathryn_Hitch@crapo.senate.gov

Senator Johanns: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Nebraska

CONTACT: Ally_Mendenhall@johanns.senate.gov

Senator Cantwell: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Washington State

CONTACT: Paul_Wolfe@cantwell.senate.gov

Senator Johnson: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Member of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, South Dakota

CONTACT: Kenneth_Martin@johnson.senate.gov

Senator Conrad: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Member of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, North Dakota

CONTACT: Jayme_Davis@conrad.senate.gov

Senator Hoeven: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, North Dakota (helped with Teach-In)

CONTACT: Ryan_Bernstein@hoeven.senate.gov

Senator Murkowski: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Member of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Alaska

CONTACT: Kristi_Williams@murkowski.senate.gov

Senator Tom Udall Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, New Mexico

CONTACT: Fern_Goodhart@tomudall.senate.gov

Senator McCain: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Member of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Arizona

CONTACT: Nick_Matiella@mccain.senate.gov

Senator Franken: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Minnesota

CONTACT: http://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=email_al

Senator Tester: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Montana

CONTACT: Mark_Jette@tester.senate.gov

_________________________________________

Senator Landrieu: Co-Chair of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Louisianna

CONTACT: Libby_Whitbeck@landrieu.senate.gov

Senator Inhofe: Co-Chair of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Oklahoma

CONTACT: Ellen_Brown@inhofe.senate.gov

Senator Coburn: Former Member of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (Very interested), Oklahoma

CONTACT: Michael_Schwartz@coburn.senate.gov

Senator Demint: Member of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, South Carolina

CONTACT: Laura_Evans@Demint.senate.gov

House Committee for Indian Affairs

Chris.Fluher@mail.house.gov – 202-225-2761

Honorable Representative Don Young – Chair, Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-5765, F 202-225-0425, (From the State of Alaska)

CONTACT: Mary.Hiratsuka@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Tom McClintock – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-2511, F 202-225-5444, (From the State of California)

CONTACT: Kristen.Glenn@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Jeff Denham – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-4540, F 202-225-3402, (From the State of California)

CONTACT: Ryan.Henretty@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Dan Benishek – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-4735, F 202-225-4744, (From the State of Michigan)

CONTACT: Tad.Rupp@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Kristi Noem – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-2801, F 202-225-5823, (From the State of South Dakota)

CONTACT: Renee.Latterell@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Paul Gosar – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-2315, F 202-225-9739, (From the State of Arizona)

CONTACT: Kelly.Ferguson@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Raul Labrador – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-6611, F 202-225-3029, (From the State of Idaho)

CONTACT: Jason.Bohrer@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Dan Boren – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-2701, F 202-225-3038, (From the State of Oklahoma, 2nd Dist.)

CONTACT: Hilary.Moffett@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Dale Kildee – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-2611, F 202-225-6393, (From the State of Michigan)

CONTACT: Erin.Donar@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Eni F. H. Faleomavaega – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-8577, F 202- 225-8757, (From the Territory of American Samoa)

CONTACT: Leilani.metz@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Ben Lujan – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-6190, F 202-226-1528, (From the State of New Mexico)

CONTACT: @mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Colleen Hanabusa – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-2726, F 202-225-0688, (From the State of Hawaii)

CONTACT: Josh.Dover@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Ed Markey – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-2836, (From the State of Massachusetts )

CONTACT: Jennifer.Romero@mail.house.gov

_______________________________________________

Congressional Coalition on Adoption

Honorable Representative Michele Bachmann – Co-Chair, Congressional Coalition on Adoption

P 202-225-2331, F 202-225-6475, (From the State of Minnesota)

CONTACT: Katie Poedtke

Honorable Representative Karen Bass – Co-Chair, Congressional Coalition on Adoption

P 202-225-7084, F 202-225-2422, (From the State of California)

CONTACT: Jenny.Wood@mail.house.gov

Join Us in DC July 10-13, 2012

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Jul 022012
 

Capitol Building, Washington DC January 2011.

We are gathering in DC in July – Come Add Your Voice to the Call to Protect Children from the Indian Child Welfare Act!

Why?

  • To protect the individual rights of Indian children and their families
  • To ensure they maintain the right to a safe, supportive and stable family
  • To request support for appropriate amendments to the ICWA

While said to have been established with good intentions, the ICWA has frequently hurt families and their children of Native American heritage. Federal dollars are being used to support adherence to this law; however in many cases, the law is destroying loving, stable families.

Though proponents of ICWA argue that the act has safeguards to prevent misuse, numerous multi-racial children have been affected by it. Children who have never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal customs have been removed from homes they love and placed with strangers chosen by Social Services.

Other children have been denied the security of stable home life in preference for a series of foster homes.

Issues of Concern:
— 1) Equal opportunities for adoption, safety and stability are not always available to children of all heritages.
— 2) Some families, Indian and non-Indian, have felt threatened by tribal government. Some have had to mortgage homes and endure lengthy legal processes to protect their children.
— 3) Some Children have been removed from safe, loving homes and placed into dangerous situations.
— 4) The Constitutional right of parents to make life choices for their children, for children of Indian heritage to associate freely, and for children of Indian heritage to enjoy Equal Protection has in some cases been denied

July 10 – Arrive in DC

7 p.m.
Welcome and Kick-Off Reception at the Capitol Hill Suites
Remind everyone of purpose of visit ~ Lobbying Skills 101 ~ Our message to Congress ~ Q&A time

July 11 – Advocacy and Education Day

9-11 a.m.
Raise Awareness on Capitol Hill
~ Visit Legislative Offices
~ Pass out invitations to the afternoon teach-in/luncheon

12 p.m.
Luncheon
~ Invite legislators and staffers
~ Speakers: Johnston Moore and Mark Fiddler

1-4 p.m.
Impact of the ICWA ‘Teach-in’

~ Speakers:

Dr. William B. Allen, former Chair, US Comm On Civil Rights (1989), Emeritus Professor, Political Science MSU
Johnston Moore, national speaker, adoptive and foster care father, and advocate about adoption and foster care. He has personally battled ICWA and can speak from personal experience regarding his two sons.
~ Families share their stories

July 12 – Lobby Day for Amendments

Participants meet one-on-one with members of Congress.

July 13 – Lobby Day for Amendments

Participants meet one-on-one with Congressional offices.

For more information – please contact us at CAICW.org!

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY!
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PLEASE HELP ICWA families with expenses for the DC trip – DONATE NOW   🙂

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Save Veronica Rose!

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Jan 122012
 

A terrible injustice that has occurred to a two-year-old South Carolina child named Veronica Rose and her adoptive parents. Two years ago Veronica’s Latina birth mother chose Matt and Melanie to love, nurture and raise her child. To this day, Veronica’s birth mother remains committed to her decision and Veronica has been a thriving, happy child residing in a stable, nurturing environment. On or around Jan. 4, 2010, the birth father signed papers agreeing to give up his daughter.

However, because Veronica has some Cherokee heritage from her birth father’s side of the family, the Cherokee Nation intervened in the adoption proceedings and argued that this happy, healthy two-year-old be transferred to her birth father. Because of a federal law known as the Indian Child Welfare Act, a family court judge ruled that she be immediately transferred to her biological father.


Psychologist who witnessed Veronica’s transfer comments on the detrimental effects –
Click Baby Veronica to hear an audio of the interview

The ruling placed the rights of the birth father and tribe above the best interests of this small child. Child-bonding experts agree that removing her from her home and family would be devastating and have long-lasting consequences. Numerous child psychologists stated this would be detrimental to any child. Yet on Dec. 31, Veronica was handed over to her biological father as if a possession without rights.

We believe that children need protection and should not be removed from loving, nurturing environments. We understand the premise of this law is to protect children; however, in Veronica’s case it has been used inappropriately.

Former U.S. senator Jim Abourezk (SD) authored ICWA. According to the Charleston Post and Courier, after reviewing Veronica’s story, Abourezk called the interpretation in this case “something totally different than what we intended at the time.”

“That’s a tragedy,” he said. “They obviously were attached to the child and, I would assume, the child was attached to them.”

According to the 2000 census, approximately 75% of people claiming to have American Indian or Alaska Native ancestry live outside the reservation. Further, interracial marriages are a fact of life. It is must be recognized that most children of heritage live off the reservation and have extended family that are non-tribal. Though supporters of the Indian Child Welfare Act say it has safeguards to prevent misuse, Veronica and numerous other multi-racial children across the U.S have been hurt by it. Children who have never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal customs are affected. The Cherokee Nation alone is currently tied up in about 1,100 active Indian Child Welfare cases involving some 1,500 children.

Tragically, under the Indian Child Welfare Act:

1) Some children have been removed from safe, loving homes and placed in danger
2) Equal opportunities for adoption, safety and stability are not always available to children of all heritages
3) The Constitutional right of parents to make life choices for their children, for children of Indian heritage to associate freely, and for children of Indian heritage to enjoy Equal Protection has in some cases been infringed upon.

We want more than anything for Veronica to be allowed to come home. As our elected representatives, we urge you to protect Veronica’s rights in all possible ways as well as make legislative changes that will prevent this from happening to any other child again. While we understand you are unable to interfere in court proceedings, we ask you to speak out on this issue and let your constituents know clearly where you stand. We also ask you to sponsor legislation and encourage fellow Congressmen to support the amending of the Indian Child Welfare Act to:

1. Guarantee protection for children of Native American heritage equal to that of any other child in the United States.
2. Guarantee that fit parents, no matter their heritage, have the right to choose healthy guardians or adoptive parents for their children without concern for heritage.
3. Recognize the “Existing Indian Family Doctrine” as a viable analysis for consideration and application in child custody proceedings. (See In re Santos Y, In Bridget R., and In re Alexandria Y.)
4. Guarantee that United States citizens, no matter their heritage, have a right to fair trials.
• When summoned to a tribal court, parents and legal guardians will be informed of their legal rights, including USC 25 Chapter 21 1911 (b)“…In any State court proceeding for the foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to, an Indian child not domiciled or residing within the reservation of the Indian child’s tribe, the court, in the absence of good cause to the contrary, shall transfer such proceeding to the jurisdiction of the tribe, absent objection by either parent…”
• Under the principles of comity: All Tribes and States shall accord full faith and credit to a child custody order issued by the Tribe or State of initial jurisdiction consistent within the UCCJA – which enforces a child custody determination by a court of another State – unless the order has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so under Article 2 of the UCCJA.

5. Include well defined protections for Adoptive Parents.
6. Mandate that a “Qualified expert witness” be someone who has professional knowledge of the child and family and is able to advocate for the well being of the child, first and foremost.
7. Mandate that only parents and/or legal custodians have the right to enroll a child into an Indian Tribe. Because it is claimed that tribal membership is a political rather than racial designation, we are asking that parents, as U.S. citizens, be given the sole, constitutional right to choose political affiliation for their families and not have it forced upon them.
• Remove the words “or are eligible for membership in” 1901 (3)
• Remove the words “eligible for membership in” from 1903 (4) (b), the definition of an ‘Indian child’ and replace with the words “an enrolled member of”

Save Veronica Supporters Worldwide
www.saveveronica.org
www.facebook.com/saveveronicarose
www.twitter.com/save_veronica

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Nov 222011
 

Washington DC Teach-In:

The goal of our meetings throughout the week in DC was to let people know what we are about and to invite them to the

Dr. William Allen, Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1989),

Dr. William B. Allen

Teach-in on Friday. We had wonderful speakers lined up for the event, including a mom who is on the verge of losing her daughter – a little girl of LESS than 1% heritage.

After years of practice, we’ve finally figured out that taking four days to visit Congressional offices is way to go. Monday, we focused on the Hart building, with some in Dirksen. Tuesday, Rayburn. Wednesday, Russell and Dirksen, and Thursday, Cannon and Longworth. LOTS less running around and back and forth, and we were able to take time to bop into various extra offices in between the scheduled meetings. We’ll make this into a science yet – (well, I suppose it was already made into an art by lobbyists long ago)

Sarah and I had four meetings scheduled the first day, Monday. While listing names and associations might seem dull, I want to give you all the information so you can make personal decisions about whether or not to contact someone. If you would like me to write more about my poor choice in motel, having to spend $30 in taxi fees a day just to get to a Metro station, or what it is like to ride the underground metro after the taxi driver letting you off tells you that he would never allow his mother to wait at this particular station alone, just let me know.

We began our day with Kawe Mossman-Saafi in Senator Inouye’s office. Senator Inouye (Hawaii) is on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) as well as the ‘adoption caucus’ – the Congressional Coalition on Adoption (CCA). The meeting with Ms. Mossman-Saafi went well. She had been unaware of these things happening to children under the Indian Child Welfare Act, was very kind and interested, and agreed something needs to be done.

We next met with Kathryn Hitch in Senator Crapo’s office (Idaho), who is also on the SCIA.  This meeting also went well and she told us she would be coming to the teach-in on Friday.

We had a little time before the next meeting, so we dropped into Senator Bingaman’s office and visited with Casey O’Neil. If you live in New Mexico, please call him and tell him about ICWA. He was very nice but needs some help understanding the issue.

Jayne Davis was the aide for Senator Conrad, ND. (SCIA & CCA) She read up on us before hand and had a good idea of why we were there. She was very friendly and agreed to come on Friday.

We thought we had good meeting with Kenneth Martin and Sarah Butrum in South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson’s office (SCIA & CCA). Although he said there is no stomach in Congress to change ICWA, he assured us that either he or his aide, Sarah, would be at the Teach-in on Friday.

That day we also made unscheduled visits to the offices of Senator Akaka (SCIA & CCA), Lieberman (CCA), Rubio, Barrasso (SCIA), Murkowski (SCIA & CCA), and Franken (SCIA).

The aide for Senator Barrasso (WY),Travis McNiven, was extremely friendly and surprisingly apologetic. He said he had intended to get hold of us for an appointment but hadn’t had a chance. He was glad that we had stopped in and asked us to send him a legislative draft, which I did when I got back to the motel that evening.  Senator Rubio’s aide, Jonathan Baselice was also very friendly.

In all, we went to eleven offices on Monday. At a few of the unscheduled visits, there was no aide to meet with so we briefly explained that the Teach-in is an opportunity to discuss the ICWA problems as a community, and then left some information and an invitation to the event.

We started Tuesday meeting with Michele Bachmann’s staff at 10am. Rep. Bachmann’s office is extremely supportive of our efforts and has said they will co-sponsor legislation that will protect children better. Katie Poedtke was our contact this day, and gave us the list of members of the adoption caucus (CCA), which was great to use for unscheduled visits. Rep. Bachmann co-chairs the CCA.  She is not, however, on the House Subcommittee on Indian/Alaskan Native Affairs (SIANA)

We stopped in at offices for Rep’s Don Young (SIANA), Denny Rehberg, Dan Boren (SIANA), Dale Kildee (SIANA), Ed Markey (SIANA) and Jim Sensenbrenner (CCA).

On Wednesday it was back to the Senate offices. This was our day to meet with Senator Hoeven’s staff.  They had been very helpful in assisting us to set up the Teach-in and were very attentive during our this meeting. Deputy Chief of Staff Ryan Bernstein asked several very good questions about ICWA. Sara Egeland, our contact for setting up the Teach-in, was also at there.

Unscheduled visits included Senator’s Burr (CCA), McCain (SCIA & CCA), Snowe (CCA), Blunt (CCA), Rand Paul, and John Thune (CCA). Per the request of one mom, we made sure to drop a packet of letters for her Senator, Jim DeMint (SC).  He is also a member of the CCA.  I was able to meet with Senator Inhofe’s aide, Ellen Brown, briefly.  Senator Inhofe (OK) is another co-chair to the CCA. Ms. Brown was very nice, as was John Zimmer from Senator Mike Johanns’ office (NE) (SCIA).

The one that surprised me the most was Jackie Parker, from Senator Carl Levin’s office. (MI) (CCA).  She was very glad we dropped in but was in a hurry to another meeting, so asked me to walk with her and tell her more about the issue.  She wants to stay in contact and asked for ideas and potential tweeks to the law.

Senator Coburn’s Chief of Staff, Mike Schwartz was incredibly welcoming. He remembered us from our visit in 2007 and was still just as supportive. Mr. Schwartz urged us to visit Senator Landrieu’s office as well. He said that not only is she a co-chair for the CCA, she is a wonderful person and a good friend of his.  I stopped by her office and picked up contact information for a couple of her aides.

One of our Mom’s flew in Wednesday night with her son. Debra had lost a 2-year old to ICWA a few years ago. So we started Thursday with a meeting with her Senator, Maria Cantwell. (WA) (SCIA). Senator Cantwell’s aide, Paul Wolfe, was wonderful and we look forward to corresponding with him more.

We then visited with Todd Ungerecht, an aide to a Representative from Debra’s State.  Rep. Doc Hastings (WA) is the Chair to the Natural Resource Committee, which the House Indian Affairs is a subcommittee of. He was very good to meet with.

At this point, Sarah took Debra and her son sight seeing, and I went on to my Representative’s office, Rick Berg.  There I met with Danielle Janowski. Rep. Berg’s office has got to be the one most on the ball on Capitol Hill, because they had a Thank You card already in my mailbox by the time I got home.

While waiting for another parent, Johnston Moore, to arrive for a meeting with his Representative, I dropped into as many additional offices as I could, including the offices for Rep’s Benishek (SIANA), Gosar (SIANA), Flake, Thompson, Hunter, Denham (SIANA),  Lujan (SIANA), Hanabusa (SIANA), and Speaker John Boehner. I simply explained that we wanted to start a conversation about what is happening to children and families affected by ICWA as well as leave some information.

The staff person for Representative Kristi Noem of South Dakota was not as welcoming this time as she had been last January.  She basically told me that pushing for a change in the ICWA right now would be too difficult. I was very disappointed as their office had seemed so helpful the last time we had been there.  It is important for us (especially families from South Dakota) to continue speaking to Rep. Noem about this as she is on the SIANA. It could be that the NPR series on ICWA, which aired the very week we were in DC and was very condemning of South Dakota’s foster care system, has frightened them.

We had good meetings in the offices of Raul Labrador (SIANA), Tom McClintock (SIANA), and an interesting one in the office of Karen Bass (Co-chair of the CCA).

By Thursday evening, we had visited the offices of every member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, every member of the House Committee on Indian Affairs, and many of the members of the adoption caucus. I went in to several additional offices as well, just to tell the front desk about the Teach-in, why we are having it, and inviting members of their staff to come – especially if I thought that particular Congressman had a heart for the Constitution.

Now the five of us walked a couple blocks to one of our favorite restaurants, a deli called “Cosi,” and enjoyed getting to know each other a little better.  We’ve spent years talking on the phone and had never before met face-to-face.

Waiting for the taxi to come to take us to Capitol Hill the next morning – my stomach was tied up in knots. “Lord Jesus, please be with us as we speak and interact with our guests. Help us to remember that this is all about you – not about us – and all we want is what You want – to care for the children. Lord, in the name of Jesus, please help us to speak as we ought to speak, with wisdom and grace… Amen”

Friday’s presentation was wonderful. The information given by Dr. Allen, Yale Lewis, Johnston Moore, and the mothers who came to tell their stories, Debra and Melanie, was incredible. I can’t say enough about the compelling effort and testimony given. Please keep Melanie and her family in prayer right now.

Congressman Tim Scott from South Carolina, Senator Hoeven from North Dakota, Congressman Faleomavaega from American Samoa, and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota all sent staff to attend the event. Jayne Davis from Senator Conrad of North Dakota also attended for a short time.  A representative from a national adoption council also attended and was very interested.

There were certain Legislative Aides who were quite interested during meetings earlier this week who had already told us they would be unable to attend. Senator Barrasso’s office, Senator Levin’s office, Senator Inhofe’s office, and Senator Tom Coburn’s office, in particular.

While disappointed in the low turnout, the message was phenomenal and we look forward to sharing portions of the video tape. People who hear the stories are always surprised this is happening to children and supportive of efforts to ensure their best interest. To get the attention of Congress, the rest of America needs to know what is happening. We are discussing ways to use the video tape to get the story out.

We have begun posting portions to YouTube. We also want to make a short version for use in churches and speaking events. The wrap up by Dr. Allen is particularly incredible. If you would like to share the video or portions of it in your area, please let us know. You might be able to decide better after we get a couple more things up on YouTube.  Again – if there is anyone that is able to help with this type of thing, we embrace volunteers.

We Won!!

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Sep 292011
 

It’s been a long and difficult two years, but God is good and faithful.  Thank you for your prayers and support. Also thank you for telling us about [the attorney]. We will forever be indebted.

Where do I start? As you probably remember our story started with a baby girl born out of wedlock to an Indian father and Caucasian mother. The mother chose us to adopt (non-native) and the father agreed at the time. Now to bring you up to speed since our last letter Nov ’09. We waited until the bio-father was out of jail in hopes to meet with him and his family about the adoption. It was our understanding that the only reason the tribe intervened in November ’09 was because they believed the paternal family wanted to adopt her and that the father changed his mind. We felt that waiting was our only option because our attorney at the time was not supportive of us. He felt that we would never win regardless of what we did. We wanted our attorney at the time to co-counsel with [the attorney], but our attorney was very negative, made it sound like it was going to cost us thousands and it would all be a waste of time anyways. We didn’t believe that so like I said we waited. Eight months later we met with the father and family. They all agreed to the adoption. After that conversation we believed we would be able to adopt without the tribe interfering (they had originally released us to adopt).  So we hired a new attorney to handle the adoption. We were talking with the father and hoping to finalize in Feb 2011. In Dec ’09 we had asked the father to come for a Christmas visit. He accepted. But the day arrived and he didn’t show up, no call or anything. The next thing we know our attorney receives a letter from the tribe that stated that the father came into the tribal attorney’s office refusing to agree to the adoption and the tribe was intervening. Unfortunately, our case was one of our attorney’s last cases because he was retiring. So needless to say we had to find a new attorney to take our now contested case. We were blessed to find ————. She was willing to co-counsel with [the attorney] and they made an awesome team. Both of them fight for the child’s rights with honesty and dignity. They made our case bullet proof and we won… The tribe still has 42 days to appeal the decision, but —– talked to the tribal attorney and he said that he is recommending that the tribe DOES NOT intervene. Like I said our attorneys made our case bullet proof so it would be unlikely for the tribe to win even in the Supreme Court. We will wait out the 42 days and finalize the adoption after [in] October…

[We] are still in a state of shock or disbelief. Maybe it will hit us when we sign the final papers.

Again, thank you for all of your support and prayers. We truly believe that we would not be holding our precious forever daughter without your guidance to the right attorney, your encouragement and your website to educate us. We have directed others to your website and have been able to educate others because of it. We were surprised how many people including Natives that are not aware of ICWA.

As I have promised in the past I will do what I can to help support you and the people you help as soon as this is over.

Many blessings,

CONGRATULATIONS for Successful Adoptions!

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Sep 292011
 

TO FIVE WONDERFUL FAMILIES –

Who in the last two months have either successfully completed their adoptions or will be completing them shortly –

To the three awesome families in Texas, one in California, and the beautiful family in Idaho – CONGRATULATIONS!

Please also give a very special thanks to a wonderful attorney who ministered for most of these children in very wise and beneficial ways – as well as Johnston Moore and Andy Reum, two board members who were willing and available to speak to and encourage a couple of the families.

AND a VERY SPECIAL THANKS – To all those who have been praying faithfully for these families as well as the many others who contact us!! God Bless all you awesome prayer warriors!

Indian Children: Citizens, not Cultural Artifacts

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Sep 292011
 

Washington DC, Friday, October 28, 2011

Indian Children: Citizens, not Cultural Artifacts: Supporting the Best Interest of Children –

CAICW will be holdging an ICWA “Teach-In” Friday, October 28, 2011, 9am – 1pm, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Hearing Room, Wash, DC.
The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed in 1978 in effort to help prevent Native-American tribes and families from losing children to non-Native homes through foster care and adoption. Though well-intentioned, the Act is now harming children all across the country as courts and tribes place culture and tribal sovereignty above children’s basic needs for permanency and stability.

Come hear real stories of children whose lives have been impacted by the Indian Child Welfare Act. Listen to legal experts and scholars discuss the constitutionality of an Act that limits placement options and delays permanency for many of our nation’s most vulnerable children.

The sessions will include:

Initial Overview – The Mandate of Congress
a. Enforce the 14th Amendment
b. First, Do no Harm
c. Remedy Past Injustices

Session 1. ICWA is unconstitutional –
a. Dr. William B. Allen, Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU, will discuss Cohen v. Little Six; Granite Valley v. Jackpot Junction, Kiowa v. United Technologies, Choctaw v. Holyfield, and more.

Session 2. Congressional Intent –
a. Attorney O. Yale Lewis will discuss the legislative history of the ICWA and the changing history of the federal / Indian relationship.

Session 3. Political Status Claims threaten Citizenship –
a. Panel of affected families will share their family experience
b. Case studies on coerced enrollment will be presented.

Session 4. Cultural Heritage is a Data Point in Adoption Cases, not a Trump –
a. Who Decides when a citizen is an Indian; can race be politically attributed?
b. Restoring best interests of child as a consideration in adoptions.

Keynote: Dr. William Allen – Why We Must Act Now

JOIN US in support of the ‘Best Interest’ of Children — and THANK YOU!!
CONTACT LISA at WRITEUS@CAICW.ORG

Learn More about How ICWA is Hurting Children!

 Comments Off on Learn More about How ICWA is Hurting Children!
Aug 222011
 
Thank you for your continued support and prayers!!

Come join us for an ICWA “Teach-in” on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28th, 9am to 1pm in the Senate Committee for Indian Affairs hearing room in Washington DC.

Dr. William B. Allen will be our main speaker and we expect the information and material offered to be exceptional. Dr. Allen is a Professor in Political Science, the former Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights under Ronald Reagan, and a strong opponent of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

Remember – the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW) is the ONLY national organization advocating for families who have lost or are at risk of losing children due to application of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and has been advocating for families since 2004.

Feb 26, 2011— “We need help! This child will be dead in this woman’s hands. We feel the good fight to do what’s right but fear this child will be severely marred.”
April 7, 2011— “I have no were else to turn. My girls and i are in desperate need of help. If there is anyway you can help us please contact me as soon possible day or night…”
May 18, 2011—”our kids were taken yesterday. The pain is difficult to bear. We love these kids so much. This will be there third family placement since coming into foster care almost 2 years ago.”

ALL are welcome to come join and support us there. Come on Wednesday prior and spend a couple days visiting with the offices of your Senators and Representatives – and invite their staff to come attend the Teach-in!
Please share this post with friends and relatives that might be interested!

Also – We have SAMARITAN Discount cards available for sale to help with expenses  😉
Contact LISA at administrator@caicw.org if you would like one or would like a few to share some with friends!
Twitter: http://twitter.com/CAICW ( @CAICW )

DONATIONS NEEDED for Teach-in expenses! Thanks!!! 🙂   – Click this Link for direct donations to CAICW, a 501c3 non-profit

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WE NEED HELP!

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Jun 072011
 

Hey wonderful peoples – with school out, does anyone have extra time?

We could really use your help – prayer wise as well as hands on.

I am the administrator of CAICW – but only a volunteer in a one man office – and have to work as an RN to support my family. So I am doing the best I can, but it ends up being slow – much too slow. It breaks my heart that I can’t move any faster than I am.

Right now:
1) An attorney in the Twin Cities is working on draft legislation to present to Congress
2) We are setting up a seminar for Congressmen, teaching reality of ICWA.
3) We NEED help fundraising – Families NEED a Legal Defense Fund!
4) We NEED website work on caicw.org
5) We NEED help monitoring this facebook page
6) We NEED another newsletter out

– I appreciate anything you can do – Thanks so much for your prayers –

I am Elizabeth (Lisa) Morris, Administrator
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)
PO Box 253, Hillsboro ND 58045
administrator@caicw.org
https://caicw.org/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/CAICW
To Donate:
https://npo.networkforgood.org/Donate/Donate.aspx?npoSubscriptionId=1004119&code=Email+Solicitation

Dec 212010
 

At 7 am, Wednesday Dec. 15th, my 18-year-old son, Timothy, and I

Senator-elect John Hoeven

Senator-elect John Hoeven

 headed out to Bismarck to meet with Sen. Elect Hoeven’s Chief of Staff, Don Larson at 11 am. Although the sky was cloudy, the roads were clear. About half way into the trip, I became a little concerned as light flurries began. But the weather report indicated things should get better, so we kept going. From there, the roads varied between light snow-pack and wet. About an hour later, as I topped a slight hill, the bright red brake lights of a semi truck confronted me. Stepping on my brakes, our car began to slide on slick black ice. Pumping and counter turning, it began to fishtail. Not wanting to go into a spin, I avoided the semi and let us skid into the ditch.

Timothy says he’s just glad he wasn’t the one that was driving.

About a half mile ahead of us, a mini-van had spun out of control and flipped. To avoid hitting it, a semi jack-knifed and blocked the road. A second semi managed to stop, and that’s the one we came up behind.

I got out of our tiny Saturn, which was deep in snow and now pointing back east, and went to the road to wave the cars coming up the hill to slow down. Several drivers, seeing the wreck ahead of them, thought traffic would be stuck there for a couple hours. I have to admire North Dakota response. The police and a sanding dump truck took only minutes to arrive. The dump truck immediately assisted in moving the semi and managed to get it off the road. A path was cleared for traffic to move in less than fifteen minutes. It was amazing.

Unfortunately, we, the only car in the ditch, weren’t among the vehicles leaving.

By the time we were pulled out, it was too late to make the meeting. But I had called by quarter to and made arrangements for a conference call the next day.

So what of all the prayers people were praying for us concerning the meeting that day? Timothy and I are fine. The car is fine. Considering we could have ended up a fixture on the rear of a semi, that’s answer to prayer.

And – prior to the call the next day, I had a chance to relax and go over in my mind what I wanted to say… what I wanted Senator Hoeven to gain from this meeting.

I began by introducing myself and giving him my background as the wife and mother of enrolled members of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

I stated the issue concerning us, and then said, “While the Indian Child Welfare Act is embraced by tribal government, it has hurt many multi-racial children and families across the United States.”

I then quoted from a parent letter, told him a couple stories, and went on from there. I had talking points in front of me, and was able to go point by point quickly and easily. No stuttering, no flusters. Mr. Larson was attentive and kind.  The call went very well. I followed up with an email to him, thanking him for the call and attaching additional information for him, including our legislative draft.

Hmmm… Maybe I should do all our meetings by conference call…

Thanks so much for your support!

To help spread the word – Please also share these important links:


Letters from Families: https://www.caicw.org/familystories.html


Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/fbCAICW.org


Home Website: https://www.caicw.org


Cause page: http://www.causes.com/causes/537834


TWITTER: http://twitter.com/CAICW


EMAIL: administrator@caicw.org

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Indian Kids treated like Second Class Citizens

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Dec 142010
 


Mickey came home an hour early from classes one day.

“What are you doing home?” I asked him.

“My advocate let me out.”

“What do you mean, ‘let you out’?”

“Well, I didn’t like my art teacher, so a month or so ago my Indian advocate let me drop the class and go to study hall in his office instead. He’d ask me a couple questions and stuff, but I wasn’t really doing anything there so now he just lets me come home instead.”

I called the advocate. “In the first place,” I told him, “I don’t agree with letting him drop art. He has to work out his problems with his teacher. But in the second place, Mickey got two ‘F’s’ last quarter! How come you’re letting him cut out of school?”

“What are you worried about?” the advocate, also a tribal member, responded, “He’s got three years of school left. He’s got time to catch up.”

About ready to blow up and getting nowhere with this man, I called the principal, who agreed Mickey shouldn’t be leaving school early. It was too late to get Mickey back into the art class, so placed him into the real study hall. Unfortunately, the principal didn’t have the cojones to fire the advocate for being the idiot he was.

Later, Mickey confided that the Indian advocate had told him the following day, “Don’t listen to Beth, all white people talk like that.”

‘What a jerk,’ I thought angrily, ‘why isn’t that so-called advocate helping Mickey apply himself? Don’t they think an Indian kid can be expected to work hard? Do they lookl down on Indian kids that much? If anybody dares treat Andrew that way when he gets to school, expecting less of him just because he’s Indian, I’ll knock em to the moon!

Many places do still treat kids of tribal heritage with lower expectations. Worse, the attitude is encouraged and propagandized by tribal government itself.

One tribal attorney in an Arkansas court just 3 yrs ago – while fighting to take 2 children from a safe, loving home where they were well-cared for and place them in an overcrowded, troubled (documented issues) home that had connection to the tribe – said that Indian children shouldn’t be expected to live by “European standards.” He said Indian children are used to sleeping on floors – and that was okay.

Who is he kidding? Why is tribal government allowed to make racist statements like that? I can tell you with absolute certainty that given the choice, every single child I raised, as well as every relative child that I know, would choose a good bed over a floor. What a bunch of garbage.

The propaganda that children of heritage are somehow different than other kids is in effort, we believe, to keep jurisdiction (and power) over them. The idea put forward is that kids of heritage have an intrinsic attachment to the reservation and will be spiritually destroyed if detached from it.

An article ten years ago said something about looking into the eyes of an Indian child and seeing ‘past generations.’ Was that writer able to look into the eyes of children of other heritages and see the same thing? Why not?

It’s so easy to put one’s own expectations and romanticisms onto a child. People do it all the time. And in doing so – they neglect who the child really is – his/her individuality.

I’m very tired of what boils down to racist rhetoric.

Personally, I looked into the eyes of the nine I raised and saw THEM. I want the ‘powers that be’ to quit pretending these kids are somehow different than others. It’s an excuse to control them as if they are chattel.

This brings us to the Indian Child Welfare Act. It’s a terrible law. Current laws governing placement of children of other heritages already cover the need to keep families connected if possible. At the same time, they protect children from being subjected to abusive and neglectful family, which is something the ICWA does NOT do well because it gives tribal governments the right to decide placement, and they have a conflict of interest. I have seen children placed in inadequate, if not downright terrible situations for the sake of keeping the kids within the system,

The real purpose of ICWA as far as we can tell has nothing to do with the ‘welfare’ of children. It has everything to do with the ‘welfare’ of tribal government. The last census showed that a majority of enrollable people now live off the reservation. Some are still connected, but many no longer choose to be part of the system. But as people move away and don’t enroll their kids in the tribe, tribal governments lose federal money. They also lose people over whom they can rule. That’s the bottom line for ICWA.

This is why the ICWA includes language that claims jurisdiction over “enrollable” children, not just “enrolled” children. They are also free to decide their own membership criteria. For the Cherokee tribe, all that is required is a direct line to the Dawes rolls.

Put those two facts together, and federal government has created a terrible situation for children. Example: Six years ago, a firefighter in Texas, with his wife, took in a newborn baby boy to adopt. After a few weeks, during the process of adoption, it was discovered the child had less than 2% heritage in the Cherokee tribe. The tribe then decided it wants the child, who is more than 98% non-tribal. The child is still unadopted as of today, and the family has spent years and tens of thousands of dollars fighting for him. We have many stories like that.

It’s a genuine crime against these kids.

For more info:

CAICW Facebook ‘Cause’ page: (Advocacy, Petition, support for families) http://www.causes.com/causes/537834

The “Fund Attorney Retainers for 10 Families” Drive began on National Adoption Day, November 20, 2010 ~ and ends on December 31, 2010.~ The Fund website can be found through FirstGiving.com at ~ http://www.firstgiving.com/caicw/Event/AdoptionRetainerFund

Follow CAICW on TWITTER:   http://twitter.com/CAICW

EMAIL: administrator@caicw.org

CAICW – Christian Evangelism and Ministry – Gal. 2:10, “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

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Read Letters from Families: https://www.caicw.org/familystories.html

UPDATE TO: “They just took my baby after 3 years…her sobbing is forever etched in my soul”;

 Comments Off on UPDATE TO: “They just took my baby after 3 years…her sobbing is forever etched in my soul”;
Dec 092010
 

From Lisa Morris
Administrator
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)

UPDATE!  November 18, 2011

Friday One Year Ago: – A 3-year-old girl was taken from the only home she knew and loved and placed with strangers – extended family who had never bothered to visit her or get to know her.  Her adoptive parents fought for her in court and experts said she would be traumatized by the forced move, but the court decided that was okay and moved her anyway.

Almost five months later, on APRIL 13TH, the adoptive parents got a call to come and get their little girl right away.  There was a problem, and she had to be moved from the home she had been placed in.  They left immediately, driving a couple hours to get her.  When she saw them, she ran into their arms and said she was ready to go “home” – “Can I go home?” she asked –  Adoptive mom wept – but daughter held her tears until after they had left the building, then wept freely.  The people she had been with had told her that her adoptive parents were wolves, and would eat her –

Fortunately, she wasn’t physically hurt during the five months. But she was, indeed, emotionally traumatized.  She was NOT okay.  She had been told there were monsters in the closet who would come eat her if she cried, and she reported that she had been locked in a storage shed.  She was only three so it’s still hard to say what actually happened, but it is known that things were not well – as evidenced by the emergency request by social services for the adoptive parents to go after her.

TODAY – A YEAR TO THE DAY she was taken from them  – the Adoption was finalized and no one can take her away again!

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION  – Kids of tribal heritage need protection EQUAL to any other child in the U.S. – PLEASE sign this White House Petition.  If we can get 25,000 signatures by mid-December, the White House will review the petition and give a response!

Children such as the child in this story have no voice – there are many organizations advocating for ICWA, but no other national organization advocates for Children and families who, although U.S. citizens, do NOT have the right to say “No” to tribal government.  Please help by bringing their needs to the attention of those who can change the law.

It is a little complicated to sign this petition – it is on a White House Website and Lord knows they can’t make anything uncomplicated.  But we need your help to do this – Please click the below link, register, and SIGN this petition and ask others to as well!  – Thank you!

http://wh.gov/bvZ

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Event Took Place Friday, November 19, 2010

Dec. 9, 2010

CAICW Friends;

An adoptive mother made her first contact with CAICW on Facebook about 1am Saturday morning, November 20, 2010, only hours after she had lost her little girl…

“They just took my baby after 3 years…her sobbing is forever etched in my soul. She wanted us to save her and we couldn’t..devastated.”

She then wrote to friends:

“Please sign this petition..the despair on her face pushes me to help destroy this law. She didn’t want to go and was looking for us to protect her and we couldn’t…I can’t remember ever feeling so worthless.”

Saturday, November 20th, 2010, was National Adoption Day. On this day, a small girl, denied the right to be adopted by the only mother she’d ever known, spent the first day in her memory in foster care, frightened and alone amongst strangers. She was denied the right to be adopted solely because of her heritage. In America, having even a small bit of Indian heritage can mean not having the same rights and opportunities for adoption that other children receive.

Saturday, November 20th, was also her adoptive mother’s birthday. Her mother wrote on Facebook, thanking her friends for their love and prayers, and said that the best gift was people signing the petition.

We will be taking the petition with us when visiting Congress in DC at the end of January. The purpose of the Petition is to show Congressmen that people are concerned about this law and want it changed to reflect the best interest of children, not government expediency. We want to the rights of parents and children respected. We encourage families that have been affected by ICWA to join us.

If you aren’t able to join us in DC, I urge everyone to obtain the legislative drafts we have available and talk to as many of your US Senators and Representatives and you can, as well as you legislators on the State level. We need to be pushing our representatives on both the federal and state levels to pass protective legislation for these children. No more pretending that what they have decided to do with children of heritage is acceptable or even constitutionally legal.

Finally – CAICW needs financial support. Please help us to:

* Stay in Contact with Families,
* Publish the Newsletter,
* Research Case Law,
* Update & maintain the CAICW.org Website,
* Develop a legal Defense Fund,
* Continue to Educate Federal and State Officials,
* Educate the Community through Facebook and Twitter,
* Speak to and Connect with family-oriented Organizations

All Children need to feel safe. Help CAICW to Advocate, Educate, Assist, & Defend.

https://www.caicw.org/pleasedonate.html

– Please see these sites for more information, and please share these important links:

Read Letters from Families: https://www.caicw.org/familystories.html


How You Can Help: https://www.caicw.org/HowYouHelp.html

Follow CAICW on TWITTER: http://twitter.com/CAICW

Join CAICW on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fbCAICW.org

EMAIL: administrator@caicw.org

Thank you all for your prayers and support –

Lisa Morris
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)
PO Box 253
Hillsboro, ND 58045

CAICW – Christian Evangelism and Ministry – Gal. 2:10, “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

Jul 012010
 

Roland John Morris, Sr.
July 1, 1945 – June 9, 2004           

Roland Morris, Sr., 58, ascended to heaven on Wednesday, June 9th after a four year fight with cancer. Roland, a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, was born July 1, 1945, in Cass Lake, MN. Ojibwe was his first language, and he grew up fishing, hunting, and gathering wild rice with family and friends. He also played intramural basketball, worked hard in the woods, spent time in a foster home and various jails, drank, smoked, and played guitar with friends at various bars.

Roland went to college in Kansas and was a draftsman for a short time before becoming an upholsterer. While he struggled with many difficulties in his early years, he was a perfectionist with upholstery and throughout his life performed his craft well.

After a life changing spiritual experience with Jesus in 1988, Roland moved his second family to Ronan, Montana to be near his cousin and Christian evangelist, Frank (Scotty) Butterfly. There, in 1992, Roland and his wife, Elizabeth, created Montana’s first patient transportation service, Mission Valley Medicab. They also helped instigate the Montana Passenger Carriers Association and the charitable organization, Valley Missions, Inc., all without tribal assistance.

Roland taught his children about wild ricing, hunting, fishing, and a little of the Ojibwe language. But the biggest, strongest desire of his heart was that his children, grandchildren, and entire extended family come to the saving knowledge and acceptance of Jesus Christ. Having watched many friends and relatives die physically, spiritually, and emotionally from alcoholism, violence, and suicide, Roland could no longer stand aside and do nothing. He was concerned for the children and felt distress at the attitudes of many adults within his community. He wanted the self-destruction to stop.

Roland’s relationship with Jesus coupled with his conviction that much of the reservation system was harmful led him to some amazing life experiences. Actively opposing much of federal Indian policy, Roland served as President of the Western Montana organization All Citizens Equal, was a board member and Vice-Chairman of the national organization; Citizens Equal Rights Alliance, was the Secretary of Citizens Equal Rights Foundation.

He also ran as a Republican candidate for the Montana House of Representatives in the 1996 and testified before the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in April,1998, the Minnesota Attorney General in 2000, and numerous Mont. State committees. With his family, he also had a private meeting with a member of the President’s Domestic Policy Council May, 2002 in Washington DC.

As time progressed, Roland became more convinced of the importance of Jesus in his life. So in 2000 he attended a year of training at the Living Faith Bible College, Canada. Over the last three years, he and/or his family went on mission trips in Canada and Mexico. During a 2003 trip to a children’s home in Juarez, Mexico, he fixed most of their dining hall chairs, taught 6 boys how to upholster, donated materials, and preached a Sunday street service.

Through the years, he has appeared in numerous newspaper articles across the country. The last article he appeared in was on Friday, May 14th, in the Washington Times. Reporter Jennifer Lehner wrote, “the ICWA [Indian Child Welfare Act] protects the interests of others over [Mr. Morris’] grandchildren,” and “Mr. Morris said that once children are relocated to the reservations, they are subject to the corrupt law of the tribal government. Instead of preserving culture, he said, the tribal leadership uses the ICWA to acquire funds provided through the legislation.” Ms. Lehner quoted Mr. Morris as saying that the law is “supposed to help children, but instead it helps tribal governments.”

Finally, in February, 2004, he and his wife founded the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare. The purpose of this was to encourage preaching, teaching and fostering of the growth of the Christian Faith in all places, encourage accountability of governments to families with Indian heritage, and educate the public about Indian rights, laws, and issues.

Roland praised God to the very end. When his final struggle began, several of his friends and family were praying with him. When those present sang old-time hymns, he raised his hand in the air for as long as he could. When “I Surrender” was sung, he sang the echo. While Pastor Kingery sat next to Roland, holding his hand, Roland looked him straight in the eyes and pointed his other hand up to heaven. When he passed on to greater life, his good friend Marvin Bauer was softly playing Gospel songs for him on his accordion.

Roland is survived by his wife, nine children, twelve grandchildren and a great grandson. Also important to his heart was his “special” son, Jesus Garcia, in Juarez, Mexico. Surviving brothers include Harry Morris and Steven Jones; and sisters include Clara Smith, Bernice Hurd, Sharon Goose, and Christine Jones, as well as numerous nephews and nieces and his great cousin, Scotty Butterfly.

Roland was preceded in death by his parents, Jacob and Susan Jones; siblings Thomas and Wallace Morris, Robert, Martin, Caroline, Frances, Barbara and Alvina Jones, Loretta Smith, and grandson Brandon Kier.

Roland’s loving friend, Jim Ball, crafted a beautiful casket for him as a gift. Funeral services were at the CMA Church in Ronan, MT, on Sunday, June 13, 2004 and the CMA Church in Cass Lake, MN, Tuesday, June 15. Internment was at Prince of Peace Cemetery. He is strongly remembered for his strength, character, and love for the Lord Jesus.

Roland, our husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend; We Love you and Miss you so very much. You are with God now.

Gi gi wah ba min me na wah

Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare
Independent Indian Press
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Jewish relative keeps custody of Indian kids

 Comments Off on Jewish relative keeps custody of Indian kids
May 092010
 

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But it’s not always a slam-dunk…

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/80121_grandmom26.shtml

Jewish relative keeps custody of Indian kids
Friday, July 26, 2002
By PAUL SHUKOVSKY

The state Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a Jewish grandmother will be allowed to continue raising her Native American grandchildren in her Tacoma home despite assertions from the mother that the children should be with her.

In a legal battle that balanced cultural protections for Indian families and tribes with the best interests of the children, the court ruled that transferring custody to the mother “would likely result in serious emotional and potentially physical damage to the children.”

In 1992, Rebecca Johnston, an Alaskan Indian, and her boyfriend, Mark Mahaney, were living in Anchorage and both were struggling with the ravages of alcohol abuse, according to court documents. That March, they sent their two toddlers to live with their grandmother Erika Mahaney, also of Anchorage. The next year, they gave temporary legal custody to the grandmother, who moved with the youngsters to Tacoma.

The girl, now about 14, and the boy, about 12, have been living with their grandmother ever since and have been raised Jewish, attending Hebrew school and taking Yiddish lessons. The girl, according to court records, describes herself as being Jewish.

Over the years, Rebecca Johnston has made several attempts to regain custody of her children, asserting that she can give them a stable home environment.

An attempt to regain custody in 1994 failed when Erika Mahaney obtained, in Pierce County Superior Court, a temporary non-parental custody order.

Erika Mahaney told the court that the children suffered from “the effects of sexual abuse, domestic violence, general neglect and abandonment” while under their mother’s care.

Johnston denied allegations that she used illegal drugs, and accusations from the girl that she sexually abused her. Johnston admits that she saw her younger brother sexually molest both children. In addition, she spent time behind bars after convictions for driving while intoxicated.

The children have been diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and other behavioral disorders associated with sexual abuse.

The court ordered that it was in the best interest of the children for the grandmother to retain custody.

Johnston brought her custody battle to the state Court of Appeals in 1999, asserting that under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, the Superior Court had not evaluated the evidence against her using the “clear and convincing standard” listed in federal Bureau of Indian Affairs guidelines.

And she said that under the law, an expert versed in Indian culture should have been involved in evaluating the evidence against her.

The Indian Child Welfare Act was enacted in 1978 “to promote the security and stability of Indian tribes” while protecting the best interests of Indian children. The law gives a clear preference for keeping Indian children with their families and placing Indian children who must be removed from their homes within their own families or Indian tribes.

The appellate court agreed with the mother and overturned the trial court ruling. The grandmother then brought the case to the Supreme Court.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed Mahaney a victory by overturning the court of appeals ruling.

Saying that the guidelines of evaluating the evidence by a clear and convincing standard do not have the effect of law, the court held that the Indian Child Welfare Act does not replace the mandate of Washington state law requiring that the best interests of the child be paramount.

“Even where there is no showing of present parental unfitness … the court may take into consideration emotional and psychological damage from prior unfitness. Moreover, in the case before us, the court is entitled to examine the lack of a bond to the parent and the presence of a bond to the children’s grandmother, who has been their parent figure for most of their lives.”

The court also noted that under the Indian Child Welfare Act, placement with a grandmother, even a non-Indian, is contemplated as appropriate.

The justices quoted the trial lawyer who said that “transferring custody to (the mother) would likely result in serious emotional and potentially physical damage to the children.”
The high court also held that there is no need for an expert witness to have special knowledge of Indian life if the testimony does not inject cultural bias or subjectivity into the proceedings.
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Two more families ask for help

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Jun 082009
 

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We recieved two more letters this last week asking for help.

One is from an aunt of an enrollable child. The other is a foster / pre-adoptive home. They both need lots of prayer and good legal advice.

I am still having trouble finding time to update our website with letters. I don’t think I’ve updated it in a year. But that doesn’t mean the letters have stopped coming. It just means I’m overwhelmed with the children in my home, and trying to provide for everyone.

The problems with ICWa continue to exist and are hurting children across the country.

I pray for time to update the many letters we’ve recieved.
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Reality of Taking in Kids With FAS

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Jun 052009
 

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To the Foster and Adoptive Parents who are loving and in love with babies exposed to alcohol:

Yes, all children need love and being loved does make a huge difference in the life of every human being.

However, if you have other children in your home, you need to think this through very carefully. Especially if the children are around the same age.

All the love you can give the child affected by alcohol and drugs will not necessarily erase all the damage done in utero. Yes, we can pray and God does heal. But God is also sovereign and has the right to decide to allow some afflictions to continue and exist.

I had been raising four affected children for the last 13 years, along with five of my birth children. The two oldest have become adults and are no longer in the home. The two that were babies when I recieved them are still in the home.

I do believe the oldest of the four was a terrible, terrible influence on several of my children. Looking back, remembering how he was giving the younger boys weed when they were only 10 and 11 years old while at the same time appearing to be so charming and cooperative – one can see now that he was a master at being two different people.

People without a conscience have the ability to be appear completely charming and innocent because they have no conscience or guilt.

I was talking to someone the other day and began remembering all the different things; not just drug and alcohol abuse, but sexual issues, lying, stealing, conning, attempting to break into someone’s home, trashing another home, and much more. We had been fighting his worst behavior for seven or more years, but kept giving him more chances – keeping him in the home and around other children – because he was so convincing about being sorry or even innocent. There were also many things I didn’t find out about until much later.

Now I am looking around and seeing the fruit of that 13 years of work. Not only have the two oldest returned to their birth families and are abusing drugs and alcohol, (the oldest to the worst degree, as if he had never been raised any other way) I am also expriencing deep issues with most of my birth children.

Remember that group called Al-anon? That group exists because of the universal emotional hardship of living with someone that is an alcoholic. Living with and loving a person that is dishonest, manipulative and has the ability to make you believe that everything wrong is your fault takes a huge emotional toll.

Do not fool yourself into thinking that your birth children will not be affected by living with someone that has fetal alcohol issues. Children with fetal alcohol struggle with understanding cause and effect. They tend to think of things in terms of immediate gratification, are very self-oriented, and they frequently lack what we call a conscience.

I am now left wondering if what one pastor had told me is true – that I sinned when I took in extra children and neglected my own.

I had one of the two boys that are still in my home taken to a facility two nights ago, and a doctor there is recommending and in-patient treatment for him. We are still waiting to see if Medicaid will pay for it. I might have to bring him home again tonight if we don’t get a response from Medicaid today. If Medicaid doesn’t okay the treatment, I’m not sure what my next step will be. I’ve got to begin thinking about my two birth children who are also still home and start making them a priority – for the first time.
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Another Win Against ICWA

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May 152009
 

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A child and his family won in court at 2 pm Friday May 8, 2009. The child won the right to be adopted by the family his birth parents had chosen. The tribe lost. Praise God.

The child’s grandmother by birth wrote, “Thanks to everyone for all the prayers and support during the past two years. It has been quite the battle and I know this is but one small victory over ICWA. Thanks again.”

This may seem like a small victory to this humble grandmother, but for the child, it is a huge victory. Again, Praise God.
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ICWA Continues to hurt Famlies

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Apr 132009
 

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We get at least three letters a month at http://www.CAICW.org from families that need help. The Indian Child Welfare Act is hurting them and their kids. But we don’t have much for staff at CAICW. It’s a volunteer org made up of busy parents. We care, we pray, we encourage, we tell our stories. We try to connect people that can help each other.

But the Tribes have the money and attorneys. Tribal government leaders want our children to bolster their memberships, bring them more money, and help them to keep their little kingdoms. They don’t really care about what’s good and right for our kids. All our kids are to them is warm bodies that bring federal dollars.

And what would the BIA be if all tribal members left the tribal system? The BIA doesn’t want to lose its purpose – and people that work for the BIA don’t want to lose their government jobs.

Lord Please help us. It’s a tribal industry and our kids are pawns in a game.
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May 032008
 

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Wake up America. Tribal Government’s should not be given jurisdiction over our children simply because they claim the right. I understand that tribal government jurisdiction over Indian children sounds like common sense. It seems like a no brainer when tribal governments approach the federal and state governments and say, “They are our children and we have a right to raise them.” Everyone just nods their head and says, “Sure, no problem!”

Heavens, everyone’s afraid they’ll be accused of racism if they take the time to really think the issue through.

Wake up. These aren’t the tribe’s children. The ones in my home, for example, happen to be MY children, and we have no intention of living within the reservation system. Other parents across the country feel the same. According to the last census, most enrolled tribal members live off the reservation. Many, just like our family, left because they don’t want their children raised amid the dangers and dysfunction on the reservation. As American citizens, we have the right to make that choice for our families. And as well-intended as some in government are, they haven’t the ability to know what is best for my family or for the many other families that have left to live a different life.

Further, MOST children falling under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and other tribal jurisdiction laws have relatively small amounts of Indian heritage. Did you read that right?

Tribal governments decide their own membership and most have decided ¼ blood quantum is all that’s necessary. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma goes further and claims jurisdiction over any child with ancestry tracing back to the Dawes Rolls no matter how minute the blood quantum.

Now, the ICWA defines an Indian child as any “enrollable” child. Think it through.

Parents can’t avoid ICWA and other jurisdictional laws by not enrolling their children.

Therefore, many children with 1/4 or less heritage and no connection to Indian Country fall under ICWA. And that is actually most of the affected children.

It’s plain as day. Think of a pyramid. Children of 100% heritage are the least common. They are at the tip. The largest number of children are the ones with little heritage. They make up the base. But being of little heritage also means they are primarily non-tribal and have a large percentage of relatives that are also non-tribal.

Don’t misunderstand. I am not noting this because I think the non-tribal heritage is of primary significance. There is no blood quantum of any heritage is of primary importance over another. All of my children’s heritages are interesting and valuable. I hate the idea of referring to a percentage of a child’s heritage in the same way one refers to the pedigree of a dog. How demeaning. Or worse, it is abhorrent to focus a preference on one blood heritage in the same way 1940’s Germany scrutinized the heritages of millions. The only point of noting blood quantum is to note that children with less than 100% heritage have more than one history and more than one set of interesting and important relatives.

What I am pointing out is that ICWA and other jurisdictional laws affect millions of people – and most aren’t even aware of it.

Until something comes up.

January 2008, the Navajo Nation sent for a 6-year-old girl in Texas. The little girl had been living with her father most of her life. Now, the birth mother wanted custody. Normally, there is a hearing, an attorney looking out for the child’s interests, and a transition period if there is to be a change of custody. Normally, both parents get equal opportunity to state their case. But this wasn’t normal, and the Texas County police, thinking the Navajo court order was enough, helped the tribe pick the little girl up from her day care without a Texas Court order. The little girl and her father wept, and then she was gone. He has seen her only once since, at a hearing in Navajo Tribal Court. Again, they held on to each other and wept.

That was in late March. He hasn’t been able to see or speak to her since. He hasn’t been given an address or phone number to contact her and the guardian ad litem hasn’t been able to locate her. He has no money, and the attorney he hired has put him on notice. No funds, no help.

A man in Oklahoma has fought to keep his baby girl. The tribe took custody right after the child’s birth and refused to even tell him her name let alone see her. Two years ago, a tribal court judge told him that because he is white, he had no rights to his baby. At one point he won custody. However, the tribe has appealed it, and his lawyer told him he needs about $30,000 to fight the appeal. He doesn’t have the money.

As unbelievable as it seems, some parents have lost custody of their children because they couldn’t afford a lawyer.

A three year old girl in Oregon hasn’t seen her birth mom in over two years. The last time she saw her mom was when the tribal police took her out of her mother’s arms at a tribal court hearing that was only supposed to be about getting a DNA test. The mom tried to hang on to her, but the judge ordered the police to take the baby by force, so they put pressure on her arms until she let go. Since then, she tried to get her back but couldn’t to find a lawyer to help. In 2007, she wrote:

“… Last year was very hard for me, and the constant let down of not being able to see or speak to my baby has tore me apart. I have spoken to the … father and he informed [me] that it is final that I will never be able to see my little girl again as long he has anything to do with it. So I have taken it very hard. I did write the tribal court judges, and asked for another hearing at least for visitation, and my pleas were denied. …. There is probably not a day that goes by that I don’t cry for my baby. I feel like the life I once had no longer exists.”

She isn’t alone. A mother in Wisconsin is trying to keep her 4-year-old daughter off the reservation. She said she has spoke to dozens of lawyers and can’t find anyone to help her.
ICWA doesn’t apply to custody battles between parents. Nonetheless, many tribal courts claim jurisdiction over all children, even in custody battles. Non-tribal parents with limited knowledge or funds find themselves in situations they can’t do anything about, commonly facing discrimination in the tribal courts.

ICWA does apply in foster and adoptive cases, but the next two stories are examples of how the law can harm even these children. It is also an example of how the law reaches out to affect children with limited tribal heritage.

A Texas fireman and his wife offered to take custody of a baby whose mother was considering abortion. She agreed. Later, after the baby was in their home for several weeks and adoption procedures had begun, the father wrote,

“… it was discovered she [the birthmother] is 1/128th Cherokee. That makes my son 1/256 or .0039% Native American and 99.9961% not…. His mother…was very adamant about the Cherokee Nation NOT raising her child and the court records show this. In April of 2006, we were notified of the Cherokee Nation’s intent to take us to court and remove our son from our home… Since then, we have been in a constant state of panic…”

To this date, in May 2008, this family is still fighting to complete this adoption. They have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on the effort, but will continue to fight to the end because of their love for this little boy.

A couple in Arkansas had custody of two little girls for 5 years. Late one night in February, 2007, as the adoptive parents were getting their two girls ready for bed, police arrived at their door. The 10-year-old twins already were in pajamas, but brandishing a court order, the police took the frightened girls and drove them 60 miles to the home of the other relative. They weren’t able to even tell friends good-bye.

Background: In October, 2002, the birth mother, a distant cousin, had arranged for the couple to adopt the twins. However, after signing the papers, an elderly relative who had four of the twins’ siblings began custody action. Although everyone agrees the adoptive parents kept a loving and stable home, the elderly relative won custody with the Tribe’s support. But within months, all of the children were removed from that home due to neglect. However, the twins weren’t returned to their adoptive parents. All the children were instead places back with the birth mother.

Interestingly, neither the birth mother, the adoptive family, NOR the relative were Indian, so why was the tribe involved?

Because the twins’ natural father is an enrolled member. And although the court said that he had “undisputedly abandoned the children,” his status made him “relevant to this case.” This gave the tribe jurisdiction under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The tribe wanted the twins placed with the siblings, “irrespective of the fact that many other full and half-siblings are scattered among several other states.” And irrespective of the children’s other various heritages.

Again, why take children from the only safe, nuclear family they’d ever had, and place them in unstable homes?

Power. Citing a 1974 Congressional hearing statement, “there is no resource … more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children…,” an appeals court found that the “best interest” of the child wasn’t the only issue for a court to consider. Citing ICWA, the court found that “maintaining the integrity of the Nation, its culture, its children, and its progression through time not to become extinct” also had to be considered.

In other words – (stop and re-read what this appeals court actually said) this law is for the benefit of the tribal entity and tribal government. It is not designed for the benefit of individuals or families.

Be that as it may, neither the Tribe nor Arkansas explained how moving the girls from the potential adoptive parents and non-tribal home they loved to a foster situation in a non-tribal home they were strangers to would help preserve the tribe.

According to Mississippi v. Holyfield, ICWA’s original goal was to combat “abusive child welfare practices” that took children from tribal communities and placed them in unfamiliar environments with strangers. The trauma that Indian children suffered from, among other things, being forced to enroll in far-off boarding schools is undeniable. But today the reverse is happening. Children that have never been near a reservation are being removed from environments they love and forced to live with strangers chosen by tribes.

Tribal authorities argue they are most qualified to decide the best interest of enrollable children. Are they? Arguments aside as to how ICWA has safeguards to prevent misuse, stories affecting black, Hispanic, Norwegian-American and other families reflect this reality. Letters from birth parents, grandparents, pre-adoptive families, and tribal members themselves can be read at https://www.caicw.org/familystories.html

Three years ago, two boys of 50-50 heritage were taken from their paternal, Mexican grandparents in California and sent to their Ute grandmother in Utah. Their home in California was loving and safe. They were sent to Utah only because social workers decided that ICWA required it. In a matter of weeks, 3-year old Emilio Rodriguez and his brother, Jose, 4-years-old, were beaten so severely that they both suffered severe concussions and Jose ended up in a coma. Why were they beaten? It was reported in the Utah papers that their maternal grandmother didn’t like that they were speaking Spanish.

The boys and their sister are now back with their Mexican grandparents who recently won a million dollar lawsuit against the United States for removing the boys and placing them with the Utah grandmother. The Utah grandmother is in jail.

If there is any case that illustrates just how bad the ICWA is, this one would be it. Wake Up, America. Do away with this law that primarily benefits governments, not people.