To Senators Hoeven & Udall Concerning Congressional Commission on Native Children

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Jul 282020
 

As a member of the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children, I am sharing with you my letter to the Chairman and Ranking member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs concerning the Commission on Native Children.

It is important that every Congressman, as well as the President of the United States, fully understand the points made in this letter.

I encourage you to share the letter or your own version of it with your elected officials as well.

——————————–

July 27, 2020

The Honorable John Hoeven
Chairman
U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
838 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Tom Udall
Ranking Member
U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
838 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Sent via e-mail

Re: Letter concerning an extension of time for the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children

Dear Chairman Hoeven and Ranking Member Udall,

Due to difficulties securing funding through the Department of Interior, followed by the threat of the Covid virus, the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children has not been able to maintain the necessary timeline for its work. As a member of this Commission, I am writing to you concerning S. 3948

As you know, a comprehensive study determining the effectiveness of all programs, grants, and supports available for Native children is absolutely necessary. Redundant, ineffective and detrimental programs cannot continue. Limited resources coupled with the severe need of a large number of children means attention needs to be on programs that are genuinely beneficial. After decades of government interventions, the difference between what has helped and what has not should be evident.

Of particular importance is recognition that children who have Native American heritage are diverse individuals, each with their own needs, experiences, and world view. Not only do the 500 different tribal communities each have their own diverse histories, traditions and culture, but not all the children live within tribal communities. They live within disparate environments and situations. Some live within the reservation system, some live in cities or suburbs, and some live on rural farms. Some live with financial wealth, some do not. Some live in safe and loving homes, other do not. Some decisively embrace traditional religion. Others do not as a matter of choice. The children live within all walks of life, and most do not live within Indian Country. Some reject the reservation system and do not want tribal officials making decisions for them.

It is vital this be recognized and that children not be treated as if cut from all the same cloth. Programs fail when they do not correctly address the true heart of a child, but instead make assumptions about what the child really wants and needs.

This makes wide-ranging and far-reaching research all the more important. This Commission needs time to ensure that the recommendations submitted to Congress are well informed and bring genuine understanding and respect for the individual needs of children.

I am submitting a letter of support for S. 3948. Thank you for your consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Morris
Commissioner
Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children

We will NOT be Intimidated – Send your Testimony for the Commission on Native Children

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Apr 012020
 
Phoenix Arizona

I never use alcohol or drugs – not in decades anyway – and have no intention of starting. While I struggle with ADD – which can definitely make situations more adventurous if not challenging – it hasn’t stopped me from ultimately doing what I need to.

If anyone wants a fuller listing of my faults, they can find them in the book ‘Dying in Indian Country.’ There are plenty of faults in there – (https://dyinginindiancountry.com/ ).

I have a job to finish with ICWA and fully intend to do so.

In fact – following recent events and the dishonest manipulations those events exposed – I have renewed motivation. We cannot leave our families at the mercy of those bent on political agendas, greed and/or personal power.

I have had less time to work with CAICW over the last five years or so because I was in school, working on my Master of Arts: Public Policy, then began my doctorate.

I had also toned down my work over the last three years because I had been nominated to the Commission on Native Children and was advised not to rock boats for a little while.

Well…“a little while” is done. I will no longer remain ‘toned down.’

As some of you know, we have filed Amicus briefs in the Brackeen case. With the Brackeen case and others along the pipes, we might see an end to this horrid law within a couple years. Praise God.

I have also published my Master thesis – which, at 350 pages, is a wealth of documented history from colonial times as well as legislative history and case law concerning various aspects of Indian law. You might be surprised by some of the facts that came out of that research.

“The Philosophical Underpinnings and Negative Consequences of the Indian Child Welfare Act”
https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/masters/591/

Further, there is the Commission on Native Children. I hope each and every one of you will SUBMIT TESTIMONY.

When you consider the testimony you will be sending to the Commission on Native Children – form it as the message you know CONGRESS needs to hear.

We need genuine talk from genuine people about the best interest of their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, siblings, students, foster children, playmates, neighbors, “2nd Cousin’s girlfriend’s grandma’s nieces”… anyone that has anything at all to say. We need to know: What things genuinely helped the children to grow – and which things did not.

We especially need testimony from young adults that have tribal heritage – explaining what they felt helped or hurt them.

The testimony from tribal entities and their supporters, which the writers of the final report will focus on and play up, is that participation in tribal programs, tribal services, language immersion, etc, are the only way our children can be healthy and happy.

To prevent Congress from continuing to sign the lives of our children over to these tribal entities, we need Congress to accept that there is a full range of possibilities for our children – not just the politically-favored viewpoint. If the other options and experiences are not mentioned to the Commission, they won’t be included in the data as acceptable and effective avenues of healthy growth for the children.

One does not need to mention tribal programs if tribal programs haven’t been a part of that child’s experience. That is fine. One could elaborate on what the child HAS experienced as a normal part of growing up. For example – how high school sports impacted a child, or learning jazz dance, or participation in school plays, or an interest in gardening, raising sheep, playing the harp, or the child’s relationship with the church or a particular school teacher.

However, it is also important to mention experiences that were detrimental to health and growth – including whether tribal programs or services were harmful. It is very important to include those experiences if the child has had them. Congress needs to accept that this has been a reality for many, many children.

Did the above make sense? For more information, including where to send your testimony – read this post on CAICW’S blog…

https://caicw.org/2020/03/13/tell-congress-how-to-best-meet-the-needs-of-native-children/?fbclid=IwAR2WTqWCQyNB4nRsldDmjvcRV0_puANlE-9I86M4ZR10cz0M2-wu7VPJFnY

Tell Congress How to Best Meet the Needs of Native Children

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Mar 132020
 
Little girl on trike

The Congressional Commission on Native Children wants to hear your experience as a child with tribal heritage or raising children who have tribal heritage. Too often, Commissions such as this have heard from only one segment of the population. However, this Commission – which is tasked by Congress to identify new strategies for lasting solutions and report back to them – wants to hear from ALL who have experience – no matter the relationship. Everyone matters.

If you are an individual with tribal heritage – what were some of the most beneficial experiences you had growing up? What programs, entities, or individuals helped your growth most? Which experiences were most hurtful or destructive? Again, you can do this anonymously if you choose.

If you are a parent, grandparent, other relative or foster/adoptive parent who is eligible for membership in a federal tribe but prefer to raise your child outside of the reservation system, please let the Commission know why. Your testimony can be anonymous and will help them to understand tribal members who choose not to be under tribal jurisdiction.
If you are a parent, grandparent, extended relative, or adoptive parent who is NOT eligible for membership, yet a tribe has interfered or attempted to interfere with your relationship with your child, please explain this to the Commission.

Written testimony is to be given just as much weight as oral testimony and CAN be anonymous.

To send signed testimony identifying you and the child – Send To: asbwsnc@gmail.com

See the bottom of the page for how to submit testimony anonymously.

“The Commission will focus its recommendations on solutions to issues that would improve the health, safety, and well-being of Native children, including: child welfare; physical, mental, and behavioral health; educational and vocational opportunities; school district policies and practices; access to cultural and extracurricular activities; juvenile justice; early education and development; wraparound services for Native children.”

It is important to tell your child’s story. Your honest opinion about any of what is described above is important. The Commission needs to know your observations and experience – good or bad. They won’t know the full spectrum of experiences if they continually hear only from the same sources.

Also – if your child has struggles in certain areas, let the Commission know why you think that might be and what methods have been used to try to resolve it.

One federal program, the Administration of Children and Families (ACF), has a budget of about 50 billion and “awards on the average $647 Million to Native Americans through programs like Head Start… TANF, LIHEAP,…and the Administration for Native Americans, to name a few.” Have any of these ACF programs benefited your child? Why or why not?

If your child is doing well physically, emotionally, academically, and/or spiritually – let the Commission know and tell them which factors you believe helped your child attain that well-being. Was there a close relationship that inspired them? A particular tribal, federal, school or church program? – OR no program at all – just stable, loving home life? If so, the Commission NEEDS to know this.

If a Commission hears only from Social Service professionals who continually say ALL Native Children suffer from (fill in the blank) and All NEED a certain social service program to get better… than that is what a Commission will believe. If you have a different story – please tell it. If the best outcome for a child is in a stable and loving home setting, independent of government programs, the Commission needs to know this. If it isn’t able to obtain this type of data, it will rely on the data social services, organizations and agencies give it.

You could also choose to include any other issue related to your child that you feel needs addressing, including any words or phrases commonly used by governments or organizations when referring to children of heritage that you feel diminish your child.

What are the thoughts and inferences behind those words? Do they paint an incorrect perception of your child? Are they paternalistic or condescending? Do they promote victimhood? Do you feel ‘triggered’ by any of the below words used and inferences made by government agents and policies, or do they seem correct to you?

  • “Stakeholders” (when used as a selective reference)
  • “The Wrongs We Are Doing Native American Children,”
  • “The protective role of Native American culture and language”
  • “Complex program requirements and limited resources stymie efforts to reduce the disparities among Native children.”
  • “Acts of Self-Determination Foster Strong Native Families and Communities”
  • “Native Language Holds Culture, Culture Holds Language, and Both Hold Wellness”
  • Data on all “Native children” is required “to see how well children are cared for” and that the “rights of children and families are adhered to.”
  • ICWA “protects the best interest of the Indian Child and promotes the stability and security of Indian tribes and families.”
  • “Part of ensuring the safety and security of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children is having basic data collected that provides information on their circumstances.”
  • Under the AFCARS Rule, agencies can collect and keep “information on children who are not enrolled.”
  • They will examine the “unique challenges Native children face”
  • They will build “on the strengths and leadership of Native communities, with the goal of developing a sustainable system that delivers wrap-around services to Native children.”
  • “Resources and supports for Native children are currently inappropriate, insufficient, or limited by bureaucracy so that they are ineffective.”
  • “The vision of Native children and youth who are resilient, safe, healthy, and secure requires many types of evidence, including a wide range of evaluation data, descriptive research studies, performance measures, innovative practice models, financial and cost data, survey statistics, and analyses of program administrative data; all contributing to shared strengths-focused narratives relevant and useful to tribal leadership and stakeholders.”

OPTIONAL Adoption/Foster care Questions: [Wording is pulled from the conclusions of a 1998 pilot study report]
1. Does placing American Indian children in foster/adoptive non-Indian homes puts them at great risk for experiencing psychological trauma leading to the development of long-term emotional and psychological problems in later life?
2. Are there unique factors of Indian children being placed in non-Indian homes that create damaging effects in the later lives of the children?
3. Do American Indians have a cognitive process different from non-Indians – a cognitive difference in the way Indian children receive, process, integrate and apply new information—in short, a difference in learning style”?
a. Is the difference in learning style a cognitive difference in race, a familial difference, an issue unique to your child, or a symptom of fetal alcohol effects?
4. Are the ties between Indian children and their birth families and culture extremely strong, and the ties between Indian children and non-Indian foster/adoptee families only “foster parent-tie-to-Indian child, not Indian child-ties-to-foster parent?”
5. Do American Indian adults who were adopted into non-Indian families as children have greater problems with self-identity, self-esteem, and inter-personal relationships than do their peers from non-Indian and Indian homes?
6. Do Indian adoptees, regardless of age at placement, list identity with their family and their tribe as their first priority, and the sorrow of not knowing their culture, language, heritage and family as a life-long, often emotionally debilitating anguish?

Encourage as many people as possible to send in their testimony. There has been a long history of misinformation concerning children who have heritage, and it will take the stories of quite a few people to begin to correct the mind-view of government agencies.

Signed testimony can be given to a CNC Commissioner to deliver as anonymous to the full Commission. Elizabeth Morris, chair of CAICW, is a CNC Commissioner. Elizabeth will keep your signed copy in a protected file in her office and deliver the anonymous copy to the Commission.

You can submit your testimony to Elizabeth Morris at:
administrator@caicw.org

or mail through USPO to:
PO Box 460, Hillsboro, ND 58045

Heartbeat at 22 days: Students for Life will show colleges the truth about early abortions

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Feb 252020
 

Lifesite News – Tue Feb 18, 2020 – 12:07 pm EST

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Students for Life of America announced today their latest campaign, which will educate college students about babies killed by abortion early in pregnancy.

Every semester, Students for Life of America (SFLA) does a campus “tour” display – an interactive, educational banner setup about a specific life-related topic, depending on the current national conversation. 

This semester, SFLA created a new display – the Heart to Heart Tour – launching this week in Kansas. Taking the pro-life conversation to students outside the beltway, SFLA will engage in conversations about human development and the impact of abortion on infants in the womb. These conversations will be added to SFLA’s goal of having pro-life conversations with students this year, addressing the human rights issue of our day with the generation targeted by the abortion industry. No organization has more face-to-face pro-life conversations than Students for Life of America. 

The “Heart to Heart” tour takes on one of the most controversial of the abortion issues today – the impact of abortion early in pregnancy. Ninety-one percent of abortions happen in the first trimester, and the largest demographic getting abortions is, so SFLA says acknowledging the humanity of first trimester babies is vital for any meaningful discussion of how abortion impacts real people. 

Abortions by pill (chemical abortions), usually taking place earlier in pregnancy, account for almost 40 percent of all lives ended in the womb. 

“Right now, legislators are preparing to debate protections for babies born during botched abortions or abortions on viable infants in the womb who can experience great pain. Both of these are important and represent the bare minimum of legal protections we can all agree on,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “But we must talk with this generation about the fact that abortion stops a beating heart even early in pregnancy. Where there is a heartbeat, there is life. This fact can lead us to common ground in addressing the needs and rights of living human beings in the womb.” 

READ MORE – https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/heartbeat-at-22-days-students-for-life-will-show-colleges-the-truth-about-early-abortions

Lawmakers Pressure U.S. Indian Health Service to Release Sex Abuse Report

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Feb 252020
 
Stanley Patrick Weber

By Dan Frosch and Christopher Weaver
Updated Feb. 24, 2020 8:03 pm ET

Lawmakers who oversee the U.S. Indian Health Service are demanding the health care agency release a report on its mishandling of a pedophile doctor that it wants to keep confidential, saying the agency must be held accountable.

On Monday, Sen. Tom Udall, (D., N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said in a statement that the IHS ran the risk of an “appearance of a desire to avoid accountability” if it didn’t disclose “as much of the report as is possible, as soon as possible.” The report focused on the IHS’s failure to protect children during the nearly 30-year-career of staff pediatrician, Stanley Patrick Weber, who was later convicted of sexually abusing Native American boys.

Also on Monday, Sen. Steve Daines (R., Mont.), in a letter to Alex Azar, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the IHS, wrote: “I am concerned over the lack of transparency with this report, and I strongly urge you to make this report public.”

The IHS commissioned the independent investigation last May, months after The Wall Street Journal and the PBS series Frontline jointly reported that IHS employees ignored warnings about Weber’s abuse of Native American boys for years and shuffled him from one reservation to another despite suspicions.

Last week, the agency said it wouldn’t release the report prepared by contractor Integritas Creative Solutions LLC, because it considered its findings confidential under a 2010 law. That stance prompted anger from victims’ families, former employees and tribal officials.

Mr. Udall said that IHS, which provides health care to about 2.6 million Native Americans, needed to provide a detailed justification to Congress of any legal barriers it was using to keep the report confidential.

Mr. Daines said the agency could release the report but make “appropriate redactions” to protect the privacy of patients and Weber’s victims.

The IHS said it is committed to transparency and is following the law in keeping the report confidential. “Staff are encouraged to participate in these reviews and to be as transparent as possible with the understanding that the goal is to improve the system, not to take punitive action,” the agency said.

The IHS also said it would release a report to Congressional committees overseeing the agency with certain redactions “as soon as possible.”

Other lawmakers joined Messrs. Udall and Daines in urging more transparency from the IHS after its contractor completed the report last month.

“Montanans, and all Americans, expect accountability from their government, perhaps no more so than when a government agency has deeply failed the people it is intended to serve,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.), in a statement.

READ MORE – https://www.wsj.com/articles/lawmakers-pressure-u-s-indian-health-service-to-release-sex-abuse-report-11582586359?mod=hp_lista_pos3

Open Letter to Chairman John Hoeven, Feb 8, 2017 –

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Mar 092017
 
child abuse

Honorable Chairman John Hoeven,

On June 30, 2014, then U.S. President Barack Obama stated in a letter to Speaker John Boehner that children crossing our southern border are an urgent humanitarian situation and the U.S. has a legal and moral obligation to make sure they are appropriately cared for. Today, Americans across the nation are vilifying President Donald Trump out of concern for refugees across the world.

The federal government, which has claimed Native American children and their parents as wards, has an even greater legal and moral obligation to alleviate the humanitarian crisis within our reservation system. “…there is no resource that is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children and that the United States has a direct interest, as trustee, in protecting Indian children who are members of or are eligible for membership in an Indian tribe…” (Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978)

Many across the world have also been outraged by the legal route chosen for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Despite clear facts outlined in the District Court ruling in September, 2016, an unsettling number of people have protested the danger youth of Standing Rock would face if at some point the water would become polluted.

Yet, most of these people have been silent concerning the number of murdered children on many reservations, as well as the epidemic of teen suicide. Albeit – many do not know about the violence. Much of the media that has been trumpeting unsubstantiated #NoDAPL claims, has ignored the documented reports of child abuse on many reservations.

Very few news outlets have reported on children such as 18-month-old Jastin Ian Blue, who, after having been removed from his mother due to neglect and abuse, was murdered by her in October, 2014, after Standing Rock officials returned him to her.

In 2014, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association reported, “… research shows that while the US child mortality rate for children ages 1 to 14 has decreased by 9% since 2000, it has increased by 15% among AI/AN children.” And the Center for Native Youth reported, “Violence, including intentional injuries, homicide and suicide, account for 75% of deaths for AI/AN youth age 12 to 20” (SAMHSA). (Center for Native American Youth 2014). “Types of crimes that Native Americans are likely to be victimized by include: murder, assault, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and gang violence” (Tighe, 2014).(Hyland 2014, 4).

Worse, reservation child abuse is frequently underreported. It is common for those witnessing abuse to say nothing, as illustrated by the seven currently facing federal charges after Pine Ridge law enforcement found two toddlers in November, 2016, weighing 13 pounds each. The girls were so severely malnourished that a pediatrician compared them to World War II concentration camp prisoners. It appears many were aware of the girls’ condition, but said nothing.

There are varied reasons for this. There is a culture of silence on many reservations. You do not turn family in. Other witnesses may be afraid to come forward because they had been complicit or even participatory in the early stages of the abuse. Others say abuse must be kept quiet to prevent challenge to and weakening of tribal sovereignty and the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Whatever the reason, with few seeming to care about the abuse and trafficking on many reservations, children end up feeling trapped and hopeless. A report from President Obama’s office stated, “Suicide is the second leading cause of death—2.5 times the national rate—for Native youth in the 15 to 24 year old age group” (Executive Office of the President 2014, 5), while NICWA reported, “Native teens experience the highest rates of suicide of any population in the U.S.—at least 3.5 times higher than the national average.11 (NICWA, SAMHSA 2014)

Data concerning the extent of child abuse within Indian Country abounds. Some of the reports given by tribal entities and organizations have phrased the data to make it appear that these dangers are connected to heritage. But the data is flawed. There might, in fact, be a higher percentage of children hurt within the reservation system than currently thought, and it is not about heritage. The cited statistics most often include the number of those self-reporting heritage on the U.S. census. But most of those reporting heritage on the census live outside of Indian Country and are not having the same issues those living with reservation boundaries are experiencing.

According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75% of U.S citizens with tribal heritage live outside of Indian Country. This includes persons of 100% heritage who choose not to be involved with the reservation system. Some have moved away to protect their children from the high incidence of crime and corruption. Others have never lived on a reservation. In fact, most enrollable citizens have less than 50% tribal heritage, have mainstreamed, and are well-connected with non-native relatives. Some have not been connected to the reservation system for over two generations.

Further, many dissident families living away from the reservation system may or may not have been experiencing the levels of abuse and violence that children within the reservation system experience. The data on their health doesn’t always make it to the reporters of tribal health and welfare statistics. Some of these families living outside the reservation system may self-report elements of their heritage to the U.S. census, but that does not mean they are eligible for federal Indian benefits, are served by tribal resources, or have any connection with Indian Country. Many of them are uncountable in the statistics gathered by Indian Health Services or other reporters.

The reported data concerning ‘Native American child abuse’ consequently pertains more to children within Indian Country who use the benefits and services and are under the auspices of tribal governments, the federal Administration of Children and Families, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other federal ‘help’ agencies – than it does to children in the mainstream who are unconnected to Indian Country.

Clearly – all this considered – emotional and physical dangers for children are much greater within Indian Country than they are without. Violence is higher for many reasons – including (but not limited to) the inability of State law enforcement to make arrests, the prevalence of gang activity, alcohol and drug abuse, and alcohol related birth defects. Yet, despite the many hearings, reports and billions of dollars spent to improve quality of life within the reservation system, the situation appears to be only getting worse.

Unfortunately, ICWA statistics – including how many children are affected by the ICWA every year, what percentage of those affected were taken from long term homes where they felt safe and loved – then placed into tribal foster homes and been hurt, what percentage had never lived within Indian Country or been acquainted with the culture prior to being subjected to ICWA, and what the long-term emotional and physical health outcomes for the children have been – are not readily available. But that doesn’t dismiss the value of common sense and logic.

The theoretical implication of the large amount of available data on Native American child abuse – data that has been reported as true by tribal government entities, their supporters, and the Obama administration – is that children who are taken from homes known and proven to be safe, stable, and emotionally and physically healthy outside of Indian Country, and placed into a home within Indian Country, are more likely to be placed into situations less safe, stable, and emotionally and physically healthy than the home they have been taken from.

Further, these theoretical implications should be obvious to tribal and federal governments as well as organizations servicing Indian Country, as they are the ones reporting the data.

Therefore, children who fall under the jurisdiction of the Indian Child Welfare Act – meaning children who a tribal government has deemed to be members and who have been brought before a judge for a custody hearing, regardless of whether they and their families have been connected to Indian Country – are being consciously placed into potentially dangerous living situations by tribal, state, and/or federal government officials who know – or should know – the potential for harm.

Nevertheless, a concerned community does not wait for additional studies to act on an obvious and immediately known danger. We don’t wait for a study to rush a child out of a burning building. When a child is bleeding to death, we know to immediately put pressure on the wound and get the child to a hospital. Unwillingness to deal effectively with the immediate needs of children suffering extreme physical or sexual abuse from their extended family or neighborhood casts doubt on tribal and federal government assertions that the best interest of the children is of paramount importance.

The real racism – is the attitude that the documented and immediate needs of certain children of a particular heritage can wait a few more years so as to not interfere with the desires and demands of political leadership. While claiming to be “raising the standard” for children of heritage by allowing them to stay in a documented dangerous environment, or to return to a dangerous family setting prematurely, or to take them from an environment known to be safe and deliberately place them in danger – federal and tribal officials have been in fact lowering the standard to the point of cruel negligence. Many children of tribal heritage are, in fact, not being given protection equal to what other children are legally mandated to receive.

https://caicw.org

The twin of murdered toddler Lauryn Whiteshield, is currently threatened with removal from her home in Bismarck – to be placed back on the Spirit Lake reservation where she watched her sister die. We can only imagine the horror the foster parents are feeling right now, not to mention how this now six-year-old will feel when the transfer takes place. In the Spring of 2013, the three-year-old twin sisters were taken from the safe, loving home in Bismarck where they had lived most of their lives. and were placed with their grandfather and his girlfriend, a woman known to have been abusive to children in the past. Lauryn was murdered within a few weeks. This happened during a period when both the BIA and U.S. Attorney’s office had taken over law enforcement and social services on the Spirit Lake Reservation due to a rash of uninvestigated child homicides and were supposedly monitoring placements to prevent further murders. The non-native foster mom the girls were taken from read a victim’s impact statement for the sentencing of the murderer of Lauryn. The federal government, she said, allowed it to happen, and “ICWA can be an evil law when twisted to fit the tribes wants or needs.”

The Goldwater Institute wrote concerning Lauryn, “The forced transfer from a safe, loving foster family to a home that posed great and obvious danger to the girls did not happen in a third-world country but in the United States. It did not happen 40 or 60 years ago but in 2013. And it did not happen because the court ignored the law but because it followed it. Had any of the child custody laws of the 50 states been applied, in all likelihood Lauryn would be alive today. That is because state laws require consideration of the “best interests of the child” in determining termination of parental rights, foster placements, and adoptions. That bedrock rule protects all American children – except children of Native American ancestry, like Lauryn. Although she had never lived on a reservation, because of Lauryn’s ancestry, she was made subject to the Indian tribe’s jurisdiction, which determined it was better to “reunify” her with a grandfather with whom she had never lived instead of the non-Indian foster family who had raised her from infancy and wanted to adopt her.” (Bolick 2015).

While adoption isn’t the only or best answer for every situation in Indian Country, it is notable that on January 1, 2013, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed S. Res. 628, expressing disappointment over the Russian law banning adoption of children by American citizens.

Senator James Inhofe, one of the two Senate Co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, rightly stated, “It is extremely unfortunate and disheartening that the Russian Duma and President Putin would choose to deprive the children, the very children that they are entrusted to care for, the ability to find a safe and caring family that every child deserves…It is nothing more than a political play…that ultimately leads to greater hardships and more suffering for Russian children who will now be denied a loving family.”

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Members also sent a bi-partisan letter to President Putin urging him to veto the legislation, stating, “…Nothing is more important to the future of our world than doing our best to give as many children the chance to grow up in a family as we possibly can.”

Americans have continually expressed concern over Vladimir Putin’s adoption ban. As recently as in the last couple weeks, evangelical ethicist Russell Moore and Kay Warren, wife of Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, have blasted the ongoing restrictions and called on Christians to pray for abandoned babies and children in that country. It is admirable that Americans feel the pain of Russian children deprived of love and stability and want to help. Americans need to be made aware of children with comparable needs here in America.

The argument against ICWA goes further than just adoption, though. Speaking as the birth mother of several enrollable children – it is also important to recognize that many birth families don’t want tribal governments to have jurisdiction and control over their children.

Children who had never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal customs, some with extremely minimal blood quantum – as well as some with maximum quantum – have been removed from homes they know and love and placed with strangers chosen by tribal social services. Although it is often said that the ICWA has safeguards to prevent misuse, stories concerning the trauma of ICWA on families – including multi-racial families – abound across America. Abuses are rampant on many reservations because the U.S. Government has set up a system that allows extensive abuse to occur unchecked and without repercussion.

It appears some within our federal government have reduced our children to the status of a mere “resource’ – choosing to please political leaders rather than save children’s lives. This, while denying tribal members the right to oversee and manage their own physical property and resources. Children, it seems, are a demanded “resource” – and personal, private property is disregarded and ignored as an economic resource. When one boils down the entirety of federal Indian policy – just how does our federal government view tribal members? Indeed, why are children treated as assets, and adults treated as children?

The ability to use your personal property as leverage – to collateralize your assets – is an important economic principle. Yet this principle is denied to individual tribal members despite the extreme level of poverty within Indian Country. It is undeniably a direct result of the infringement of federal Indian policy on individuality, liberty and property that many tribal members continue to struggle in poverty.

Allowing property rights for individual members – while removing the financial incentive for tribal leaders to use children as property, supporting law enforcement, and upholding full constitutional rights and protections for all citizens – would vastly improve the economy, attract more members back to Indian Country, and potentially lessen the financial incentive for tribal leaders to use children as a financial resource. Allowing individuals to freely use their personal resources as financial leverage would preserve to citizens their God-given right to individuality, liberty, and property.

It’s time to stop listening to those with a vested financial interest in increasing tribal government power. Every time power to tribal leaders is increased, tribal members – U.S. citizens – are robbed of civil freedoms under the constitution of the United States. Equal Protection is a constitutional right. More power given to tribal leaders means less freedom and constitutional rights for tribal members.

This said, we are asking you, Senator Hoeven, to include these issues in the 2017-2018 Senate Committee on Indian Affairs agenda:

A. Guarantee protection for children of Native American heritage equal to that of any other child in the United States.
B. Guarantee that fit parents, no matter their heritage, have the right to choose healthy guardians or adoptive parents for their children without concern for heritage.
C. Recognize the “Existing Indian Family Doctrine” as a viable analysis for consideration and application in child custody proceedings. (See In re Santos Y, In Bridget R., and In re Alexandria Y.)
D. Guarantee that United States citizens, no matter their heritage, have a right to fair trials.

• When summoned to a tribal court, parents and legal guardians will be informed of their legal rights, including USC 25 Chapter 21 1911 (b) “…In any State court proceeding for the foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to, an Indian child not domiciled or residing within the reservation of the Indian child’s tribe, the court, in the absence of good cause to the contrary, shall transfer such proceeding to the jurisdiction of the tribe, absent objection by either parent…”

E. Include well defined protections for Adoptive Parents.
F. Mandate that a “Qualified expert witness” be someone who has professional knowledge of the child and family – not merely knowledge of the tribe or traditional customs – and is able to advocate for the well-being of the child, first and foremost.
G. Mandate that only parents and/or legal custodians have the right to enroll a child into an Indian Tribe. It is claimed that tribal membership is a political rather than racial designation, therefore, parents, as U.S. citizens, should be the sole decision makers in regard to political affiliation for their families. Political membership should not be forced upon children or families.

• Remove the words “or are eligible for membership in” 1901 (3)
• Remove the words “eligible for membership in” from 1903 (4) (b), the definition of an ‘Indian child’ and replace with the words “an enrolled member of”

H. Secure to all American citizens their individuality, liberty and property. “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws [for the protection of them] in the first place.” (Frederic Bastiat, The Law, p. 5-6.)

These requests can be summarized as an insistence that all American citizens, no matter their heritage, be allowed full benefit of their constitutional rights. We can expand on any of these points and provide documented reasoning upon request.

In the words of Dr. William Allen, Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, when speaking at the ICWA forum, October, 2011, in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs chambers:

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

Thank you,

Elizabeth Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

READERS: Three of the children in this attached photo were murdered after being placed by the Indian Child Welfare Act into homes that were or should have been KNOWN to be very dangerous.

Another child shown here was beaten after being taken from his very safe, loving Latino grandparents and placed with his maternal grandmother on the Ute reservation. The maternal grandmother had a recorded history of child abuse. Her daughter – the mother of this child – was removed from her care due to abuse. That daughter did NOT want her children placed with her mother – she KNEW the children would be abused. The State of California and the Ute reservation did it anyway – resulting in permanent brain damage to one of the children within three weeks.

The fifth child in this photo was taken at the age of six from the only home she knew and loved. She had an extremely small percentage of heritage – but was still considered the property of the tribal government and subject to their abuse of law.

Please share this with your friends.

PLEASE also share with YOUR Congressmen. MANY of them take a stand on all kinds of things – from orphans in Russia to immigrants and refugees from overseas. DEMAND that they take a strong stand for children in the United States – CITIZENS subject to abuse by a law they – Congress – created and MUST remove.

Find your States Congressmen here:
https://www.senate.gov/
https://www.house.gov/

Thank you – and PLEASE Share….

Jan 232017
 

In June 2016, a little girl was beaten and left to drown in a bucket in the shower.

(See the Star & Tribune – http://www.startribune.com/foster-father-accused-in-girl-s-death-had-criminal-record/383206481/)

Had a new law governing background checks been in place earlier – this little girl would not have died. Nathan Daniel Jackson, the man who murdered this beautiful little girl, had a criminal record of fifth-degree assault and theft would have prevented him from being a care provider.

This new law – which was sponsored by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and Representative Kevin Cramer (R-ND) – requires tribal members on the reservation to have background checks before becoming foster-care parents. (These checks were not required prior). Senator John Hoeven

Senator Hoeven is now the new chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Please thank him for caring about what was happening to children at Spirit Lake four years ago, and writing this law.

The reality is that it is not uncommon for Leech Lake Social Services, Spirit Lake Social Services, Red Lake, White Earth, Pine Ridge, Cheyenne River and others to place children into dangerous homes. Children are placed in dangerous homes on a consistent basis. Every month or so we hear of another child hurt or dead. Further, tribal members tell us that we aren’t even hearing about all the children who die. There isn’t always publicity when it happens.

Nevertheless, Leech Lake has consistently placed children in homes with criminal records and drug issues. That is because of the extremely high percentage of homes in Leech Lake that have criminal records and drug issues. So they didn’t bother doing background checks – because they didn’t really want to know or have to put in their records – because then they would have to look for another home. It’s too much work to find homes.

When Leech Lake placed four children with my husband and I almost 20 years ago, they did not do any back ground check at all. They never even visited our home until a year after the children were placed with us, and then they only visited for an hour. That was it. That was the last we saw of them – and we raised the kids to adulthood.

Leech Lake continues to operate this way today. We hear numerous stories of children placed into homes known to be dangerous. We are grateful for and praying that Senator Hoeven’s bill mandating background checks will make a profound difference. But we worry that there is no oversight to ensure the background checks are being done, and no consequences to a tribe if something happens due to their not doing background checks.

We need to encourage Senator Hoeven to strengthen the law to ensure compliance.

Lastly – even if a home is not dangerous – social services should be trying to place children into homes that make sense. Hennipen County called me repeatedly throughout 2013 to ask me to take another infant nephew from Leech Lake. I hadn’t had contact with Leech Lake tribal social services in almost 20 years and had never given them indication that I wanted to take care of children again, but a niece had given them my name soon after her son was born. My newborn nephew had never lived in her home – he had gone straight to foster care. I was called soon after. I told them I can’t – and Leech Lake spent over year trying to find a home, occasionally calling and asking me again.

When the ICWA worker from Leech Lake called me about this little boy in December, 2013 – he was already over a year old. Ironically, when Leech Lake’s ICWA office called me that Dec. morning, I was in fact in Washington DC, speaking against the ICWA law. (Needless to say, I found that kind of ironic.)

I had said no to them several times over the year – but this time, they said if I didn’t do it, they would place him in the home of “Xxxxx” – who, according to Leech Lake, they felt was dangerous. Knowing the home she referred to, I had to agree. (Note: according to the worker, they WOULD place him into a home they knew was dangerous if I did not take him. – – trying to make me feel guilty, while at the same time, admitting they are willing to do it, and thus don’t have any real, genuine standards against placing a child in a dangerous home.)

So now I was in a quandary.

I cared deeply what was happening to my nephew, but I was not the right home for him. I have already said – I was not the right home for the four I had raised earlier. They all needed a home with parents TRAINED to deal with their FAS, ADHD and other issues. I was NOT that mom, but I was all Leech Lake would give them. YOU SEE? Leech Lake did great disservice to them by not allowing them to go to a home outside of family – a home that could genuinely meet their needs.

I felt pushed into taking four children twenty years earlier. I cared about the kids – that is why we agreed to do it. – But unlike so many of my great foster and adoptive mother friends – I never really wanted to raise anyone else’s kids. That is the sad truth. As a result, I never did settle down to feel comfortable with the situation. (Further, those were four kids with FAS – and no one had told me that – nor had anyone told me how to deal with it.)

So… was I going to be forced into this corner a second time? How is that fair to my nephew? How is that good for him?

THIS is another part of what ICWA does. We aren’t the only ones who have felt this way. Some families feel forced into a corner – not wanting to take in kids, but feeling guilty if they don’t. ICWA doesn’t give lot of options to the children OR families involved.

Families of other heritages have more options.

Further – at this point, I was a widow over 50. What a crime to this innocent child – to be forced into a situation with an elderly widow. I told Hennipen County this little boy deserved a healthy home with both a mother and a father in their 30’s who were looking for a child such as him – NO MATTER anyone’s heritage!

Look for the RIGHT home for HIM – don’t just put him into ‘any old’ home based on ICWA! Quit making things all about race! Start to care what is BEST for the baby!

The fact is – my nephew needed more than I could give him, and he shouldn’t be forced to settle for me. He deserved to be raised with a healthy Dad in the home. So after much thought and prayer, I said, “no.”

I asked Hennipen County to promise me that my nephew would go to a good home. The Hennipen County worker promised, and said he would let me know the outcome. He said I had a right to know, as I was family. (The baby did not go to Xxxxx’s home.)

But now see? THIS is how some kids end up in dangerous homes. Leech Lake Social services gives up trying to find a good home, and then rather than admit they don’t have a good home and allow the child to go to an appropriate home outside of Indian Country – they go ahead and place the child anywhere. ANYWHERE. And then claim it is in the child’s best interest.

THIS is how that happens. THIS is how the little girl in the attached story ended up in the home of a man with a criminal record.

ICWA – as a law – is horrid. In the first place, it is based on lies. Every time NICWA, NARF, and the Casey Foundation make a claim about what kids of heritage want and need – about how badly they need to be connected to Indian Country – they are lying. I have raised many children who have NOT needed to be connected to Indian Country.

NICWA, NARF, tribal governments and the Casey Foundation do NOT know what every child of heritage wants and needs. They can’t possibly know. To assume all persons of a certain heritage think and feel the same way is RACIST.

Lastly, my children are NOT a ‘treaty right’ for tribal government.
I don’t care what faux laws are passed or what rogue agencies like the BIA and ACF try to shove down our throats – there is NOTHING in any treaty that allows a tribal government to own our kids.

The world can see how Leech Lake Social Services chooses homes for children. Why would I want them to have any say over children of mine?

We are very grateful for the right step taken by Senator Hoeven and Congressman Cramer in pushing for background checks for ALL foster caregivers and EVERY adult living in the home. THANK YOU – to both of them.

But this battle will never be over until ICWA is repealed.

– See http://www.startribune.com/foster-father-accused-in-girl-s-death-had-criminal-record/383206481/

Foster Care Exec Gives PC Excuse for Support of BIA Rules

 Comments Off on Foster Care Exec Gives PC Excuse for Support of BIA Rules
May 282015
 

This is the response by an executive on the board of more than one Foster Care Association after a tribal member – from a family terribly hurt by ICWA – asked why her association had signed on in support of the unconstitutional, ill-thought and emotionally destructive BIA Rules for ICWA.

This executive’s response does not address the concerns brought to her attention by the tribal member. It reflects the rhetoric pushed by tribal leaders, NICWA, NARF and the Casey Foundation, with little thought or regard for fact and the true needs of individual children. It appears that expediency – making her job and that of others in the industry easier – is much more important than addressing the individual and critical needs of hurting children.

This is the type of rhetoric that needs to be brought to light and shown for what it is – in order for persons in this woman’s position to begin to correct themselves and look at children of heritage as something other than expendable.

Placing children into safe homes – meeting their immediate needs in a timely and nurturing manner – a manner equal to that of children of every other heritage – is never “inappropriate.”

For people in her position to assume that any child with even the smallest amount of tribal heritage “needs” to be under tribal government jurisdiction and control – overlooking the reality of non-tribal relatives, lack of existing relationship with Indian Country, and even strong familial opposition to tribal government’s world-view – is the epitome of racism.

But – this is an example of the type of response commonly received from many who sit in similar positions.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Date: May 28, 2015 at 1:24:16 PM CDT
Subject: NFPA Response
From: Irene Clements

Dear Ms. XXXXXX,
Thank you for contacting the National Foster Parent Association.

The National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) believes that children belong with their birth families (parents or relatives) whenever safely possible and when that is not possible, that the children are served in family foster homes and/or placed into adoption when appropriate. NFPA does not endorse group or congregate care that is not short-term or treatment related.

NFPA signed on to a letter of general suppoprt to proposed regulations/guidelines developed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) because the current ICWA regulations were passed in 1979 and are in desperate need of revision. Regulations that are nearly 40 years old are not current nor do they reflect current child welfare best practice in general. We support that new regulations/guidelines are important and necesary at this point in time.

Part of the problems over the past years hav been created by some states not following current ICWA laws and not doing due diligence on children as they are identified as members of a tribe and need out of home placement. Also, the tribes have historically not had appropriate funding to implement adequate foster care services. At this time, Title IV-E funds are available to assist tribes in this endeavor.

We believe if there is a proper due diliegnce provided by the state prior to a long term placement of tribal children, there will be less disruptions for the child. We hope that the new regulations will stop the inappropriate placement of children until all possible birth or kinship families within the tribe are explored.

Irene Clements
Executive Director, National Foster Parent Association
Public Policy Chair, Texas Foster Family Association
Chair, EveryChild, Inc Board of Directors
Foster Care Consultant

Background Checks in Indian Country Passes Committee

 Comments Off on Background Checks in Indian Country Passes Committee
Feb 042015
 
Senator John Hoeven

Senator Hoeven’s bill “To amend the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act to require background checks before foster care placements are ordered in tribal court proceedings” passed its 3rd reading and will be headed to the floor. It might take a little while to get there as so many other things are being discussed and worked on right now.

Please read the bill and comment. If you have questions, please contact your Senator and ask. It is important for your Senators to know this bill is important to you. If they don’t know anything about the bill, ask them to contact Elizabeth Frei in Senator Hoeven’s office to find the answers you need.

We are concerned about the two year wait to have child protection implemented…but look forward to hearing your thoughts.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Direct Link:

https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/s184/BILLS-114s184is.pdf

[Congressional Bills 114th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[S. 184 Introduced in Senate (IS)]

114th CONGRESS
1st Session
S. 184

To amend the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act
to require background checks before foster care placements are ordered
in tribal court proceedings, and for other purposes.

_______________________________________________________________________

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

January 16, 2015

Mr. Hoeven (for himself and Mr. Tester) introduced the following bill;
which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs

_______________________________________________________________________

A BILL

To amend the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act
to require background checks before foster care placements are ordered
in tribal court proceedings, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the “Native American Children’s Safety
Act”.

SEC. 2. CRIMINAL RECORDS CHECKS.

Section 408 of the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence
Prevention Act (25 U.S.C. 3207) is amended by adding at the end the
following:
“(d) By Tribal Social Services Agency for Foster Care Placements
in Tribal Court Proceedings.–
“(1) Definitions.–In this subsection:
“(A) Covered individual.–The term `covered
individual’ includes–
“(i) any individual 18 years of age or
older; and
“(ii) any individual who the tribal social
services agency determines is subject to a
criminal records check under paragraph (2)(A).
“(B) Foster care placement.–The term `foster care
placement’ means any action removing an Indian child
from a parent or Indian custodian for temporary
placement in a foster home or institution or the home
of a guardian or conservator if–
“(i) the parent or Indian custodian cannot
have the child returned on demand; and
“(ii)(I) parental rights have not been
terminated; or
“(II) parental rights have been terminated
but the child has not been permanently placed.
“(C) Indian custodian.–The term `Indian
custodian’ means any Indian–
“(i) who has legal custody of an Indian
child under tribal law or custom or under State
law; or
“(ii) to whom temporary physical care,
custody, and control has been transferred by
the parent of the child.
“(D) Parent.–The term `parent’ means–
“(i) any biological parent of an Indian
child; or
“(ii) any Indian who has lawfully adopted
an Indian child, including adoptions under
tribal law or custom.
“(E) Tribal court.–The term `tribal court’ means
a court–
“(i) with jurisdiction over foster care
placements; and
“(ii) that is–
“(I) a Court of Indian Offenses;
“(II) a court established and
operated under the code or custom of an
Indian tribe; or
“(III) any other administrative
body of an Indian tribe that is vested
with authority over foster care
placements.
“(F) Tribal social services agency.–The term
`tribal social services agency’ means the agency of an
Indian tribe that has the primary responsibility for
carrying out foster care licensing or approval (as of
the date on which the proceeding described in paragraph
(2)(A) commences) for the Indian tribe.
“(2) Criminal records check before foster care
placement.–
“(A) In general.–Except as provided in paragraph
(3), no foster care placement shall be finally approved
and no foster care license shall be issued until the
tribal social services agency–
“(i) completes a criminal records check of
each covered individual who resides in the
household or is employed at the institution in
which the foster care placement will be made;
and
“(ii) concludes that each covered
individual described in clause (i) meets such
standards as the Indian tribe shall establish
in accordance with subparagraph (B).
“(B) Standards of placement.–The standards
described in subparagraph (A)(ii) shall include–
“(i) requirements that each tribal social
services agency described in subparagraph (A)–
“(I) perform criminal records
checks, including fingerprint-based
checks of national crime information
databases (as defined in section
534(f)(3) of title 28, United States
Code);
“(II) check any abuse registries
maintained by the Indian tribe; and
“(III) check any child abuse and
neglect registry maintained by the
State in which the covered individual
resides for information on the covered
individual, and request any other State
in which the covered individual resided
in the preceding 5 years, to enable the
tribal social services agency to check
any child abuse and neglect registry
maintained by that State for such
information; and
“(ii) any other additional requirement
that the Indian tribe determines is necessary
and permissible within the existing authority
of the Indian tribe, such as the creation of
voluntary agreements with State entities in
order to facilitate the sharing of information
related to the performance of criminal records
checks.
“(C) Results.–Except as provided in paragraph
(3), no foster care placement shall be ordered in any
proceeding described in subparagraph (A) if an
investigation described in clause (i) of that
subparagraph reveals that a covered individual
described in that clause has been found by a Federal,
State, or tribal court to have committed any crime
listed in clause (i) or (ii) of section 471(a)(20)(A)
of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 671(a)(20)(A)).
“(3) Emergency placement.–Paragraph (2) shall not apply
to an emergency foster care placement, as determined by a
tribal social services agency.
“(4) Recertification of foster homes or institutions.–
“(A) In general.–Not later than 2 years after the
date of enactment of this subsection, each Indian tribe
shall establish procedures to recertify homes or
institutions in which foster care placements are made.
“(B) Contents.–The procedures described in
subparagraph (A) shall include, at a minimum, periodic
intervals at which the home or institution shall be
subject to recertification to ensure–
“(i) the safety of the home or institution
for the Indian child; and
“(ii) that each covered individual who
resides in the home or is employed at the
institution is subject to a criminal records
check in accordance with this subsection,
including any covered individual who–
“(I) resides in the home or is
employed at the institution on the date
on which the procedures established
under subparagraph (A) commences; and
“(II) did not reside in the home
or was not employed at the institution
on the date on which the investigation
described in paragraph (2)(A)(i) was
completed.
“(C) Guidance issued by the secretary.–The
procedures established under subparagraph (A) shall be
subject to any regulation or guidance issued by the
Secretary that is in accordance with the purpose of
this subsection.
“(5) Guidance.–Not later than 2 years after the date of
enactment of this subsection and after consultation with Indian
tribes, the Secretary shall issue guidance regarding–
“(A) procedures for a criminal records check of
any covered individual who–
“(i) resides in the home or is employed at
the institution in which the foster care
placement is made after the date on which the
investigation described in paragraph (2)(A)(i)
is completed; and
“(ii) was not the subject of an
investigation described in paragraph (2)(A)(i)
before the foster care placement was made;
“(B) self-reporting requirements for foster care
homes or institutions in which any covered individual
described in subparagraph (A) resides if the head of
the household or the operator of the institution has
knowledge that the covered individual–
“(i) has been found by a Federal, State,
or tribal court to have committed any crime
listed in clause (i) or (ii) of section
471(a)(20)(A) of the Social Security Act (42
U.S.C. 671(a)(20)(A)); or
“(ii) is listed on a registry described in
clause (II) or (III) of paragraph (2)(B)(i);
“(C) promising practices used by Indian tribes to
address emergency foster care placement procedures
under paragraph (3); and
“(D) procedures for certifying compliance with
this Act.”.

Dec 052014
 

U.S Attorney General Eric Holder Vowed to give Permanent Jurisdiction of Multi-racial Children Across the Nation to Tribal Governments on Wednesday, December 3, 2014.

In reference to the Indian Child Welfare Act, he stated,

…“We are partnering with the Departments of the Interior and Health and Human Services to make sure that all the tools available to the federal government are used to promote compliance with this important law.”
And “… because of the foundation we’ve built – no matter who sits in the Oval Office, or who serves as Attorney General of the United States, America’s renewed and reinforced commitment to upholding these promises will be unwavering and unchangeable; powerful and permanent.”

(READ his remarks in full here – https://caicw.org/2015/05/18/attorney-general-eric-holders-dec-3-2014-remarks-in-full/#)

He made this vow in remarks during the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, DC. Below is a response from a Parent – the Chair of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare.

Attorney General Eric Holder;

Re: Your statement during the White House Tribal Nations Conference, Dec. 3, 2014, in regards to the Indian Child Welfare Act.

What is consistently left out of the ICWA discussion is the civil rights of United States citizens of every heritage – those enrolled in tribal communities and those who are not – who do not want tribal government interference in their families. Shortsighted placation of tribal leaders ignores these facts:

1. 75% of tribal members do NOT live in Indian Country
2. Most families falling under tribal jurisdiction are multi-racial, and
3. Many families have purposefully chosen to raise their children with values other than those currently popular in Indian Country.

Federal government does not have the right to assign our children to political entities.

Further, federal government does not have the right to choose which religion, customs or traditions a child should be raised in. This holds true for children who are 100% a certain heritage, let alone children who are multi-heritage. It holds true because we are a nation that respects the rights and freedoms of every individual citizen – no matter their heritage.

Please recognize that while we agree with you that “any child in Indian Country – in Oklahoma, or Montana, or New Mexico – is not fundamentally different from an African-American kid growing up in New York City” – neither is any child fundamentally different from a Hispanic Catholic, German Jewish, or Irish Protestant child growing up in any U.S. city or rural town. In fact, most enrollable children in America have Caucasian relatives – and many live with their Caucasian relatives. My own enrolled children are no different from their fully Caucasian cousins or their cousins with Filipino heritage. Children are children – with fundamentally the same emotional and physical needs. We agree 100% with you.

We also agree no child “should be forced to choose between their cultural heritage and their well-being.” Tragically, that is the very thing federal and tribal governments are doing to many of these children.

Enrollable children – and at times even children who are not enrollable but are targeted by a tribal government anyway – are currently forced to accept what is purported to be their cultural heritage – at the expense of their safety and well-being. This has even been done under the watchful eye of the Justice Department, as in the case of 3-year-old Lauryn Whiteshield, murdered in 2013.

Concerning your directive regarding cultural heritage, the federal government does not have the right to mandate that my children and grandchildren – or any of the children whose families we represent – be raised in a home “suffused with the proud traditions of Indian cultures.” As parents, my husband and I had a right to decide that our children’s Irish Catholic, German Jewish, and “American” Evangelical heritage is all equally important. It is the parent’s choice, not the government’s, as to how our children are raised (Meyer vs. Nebraska, 1923; Pierce vs. Society of Sisters. 1925)

My name is Elizabeth Sharon Morris. I am the widow of Roland John Morris, a U.S. citizen of 100% Minnesota Chippewa heritage who was born and raised on the Leech Lake Reservation, speaking only Ojibwe until he started kindergarten. I am the birth mother, grandmother, foster and adoptive mother to several enrolled or eligible members, and an aunt and sister-in-law to dozens. Our home was an accepted ICWA home for 17 years and we raised over a dozen enrolled children in it.

I am also the Chairwoman of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, a national non-profit founded by my husband and myself in 2004. CAICW represents children and families across the nation who’ve been hurt by federal Indian policy – most notably ICWA – and who, as U.S. citizens, do not want tribal government control or interference in their families.

The facts are:

1) According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75% of tribal members DO NOT live in Indian Country. Many, like our family, have deliberately taken their children and left in order to protect their families from the rampant crime and corruption of the reservation system. These families do NOT want their children turned over to tribal authorities under any circumstances – and having made a decision to disassociate, should not have to live in fear of their children being placed on the reservation if the parents should die.
2) The abuses at Spirit Lake in North Dakota are well known, but it is also known that Spirit Lake is just a microcosm of what’s happening on many reservations across the country.
3) Gang activity involving drugs is heavy and rampant on many reservations. My husband’s grandson was shot and left for dead at Spirit Lake in July, 2013. To date, your Justice Department, which you’ve highly praised for its work in Indian Country, has not charged anyone for the shooting despite family knowledge of who was involved in the altercation. Many children have been dying within Indian Country whose names don’t make it to the media – and for whom justice is never given.
4) These abuses are rampant on many reservations because the U.S. Government has set up a system that allows extensive abuse to occur unchecked and without repercussion.
5) Many, many times more children leave the reservation system in company of their parents, who have been mass exiting – than do children who have been taken into foster care or found a home in adoption. But tribal leaders won’t admit many parents consciously take their kids out of Indian Country in attempt to get them away from the reservation system and corrupt leaders. It makes a better sound bite to blame evil social services
6) There are many documented cases of children who have been happy in homes outside of Indian Country and who have fought being moved to the reservation, and who have been severely traumatized after being forced to do so. Many in federal government are aware of these children but, as done with the reports of ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan, have chosen to ignore them.

It is claimed the cause of crime and corruption in Indian Country is poverty and “Historical Trauma,” and that additional funding will solve the problems. Yet, crime and corruption are never made better and can never be made better by giving those responsible for the crime and corruption more money.

It’s time to stop listening to those with vested financial interest in increasing tribal government power, and admit the physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of tribal members by other tribal members and even many tribal leaders.

Every time power to tribal leaders is increased, tribal members – U.S. citizens – are robbed of civil freedoms under the constitution of the United States. Equal Protection is a constitutional right.

To better protect children, we need to:

A. Guarantee protection for children of Native American heritage equal to that of any other child in the United States.
B. Guarantee that fit parents, no matter their heritage, have the right to choose healthy guardians or adoptive parents for their children without concern for heritage.
C. Recognize the “Existing Indian Family Doctrine” as a viable analysis for consideration and application in child custody proceedings. (See In re Santos Y, In Bridget R., and In re Alexandria Y.)
D. Guarantee that United States citizens, no matter their heritage, have a right to fair trials.

    • When summoned to a tribal court, parents and legal guardians need to 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…”
    • Further, parents involved in any child custody proceeding should have a right to object to tribal jurisdiction. Many tribal members don’t take things to tribal court because they don’t expect to get justice there. For the Justice Department to deny this reveals the Justice Departments willingness to ignore how many tribal courts factually work.
    • 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.

E. Include well-defined protections for Adoptive Parents equal to protections afforded families of every heritage.
F. 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 – not tribal government.
G. Because it is claimed that tribal membership is a political rather than racial designation, parents, as U.S. citizens, should have the sole, constitutional right to choose political affiliation for their families and not have it forced upon them. Only parents and/or legal custodians should have the right to enroll a child into an Indian Tribe.

    • 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”

Thank you for your willingness to hear our concerns and take action to protect our children and grandchildren from further exploitation.

Elizabeth Sharon Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)

Cc: Tracy Toulou, Director, Tribal Justice
Members of Congress

Aug 132014
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEogtESN5Wo

Sage was 4-years-old and one of the first children to be hurt by the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978. She was 6-years when she and the family she loved went on the run to protect her from the law that intended to force to live with an abusive birth parent. She was 13 when she was finally forcibly taken from her family to be placed on the reservation with the birth mother who had almost killed her.

She tells her story of going on the run with her chosen parents, her trauma of being taken from them, and ultimate relief when she was finally released from the reservation and allowed to return home. To this day, thirty-some years later, she is upset by what the government and ICWA put her through.

– http://youtu.be/TEogtESN5Wo

PRES. OBAMA DESCRIBES CHILDREN ESCAPING RAMPANT CRIME AND CORRUPTION IN THEIR NATIVE LANDS AS AN “URGENT HUMANITARIAN CRISIS!”

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Jun 032014
 

Wait… whoops… I am so SO sorry! That’s NOT what he said today… rats, that’s the wrong story. It’s from a June 3rd article about the surge of immigrant children from Central America

So, so sorry. I’ll find an article describing President Obama’s speech at Standing Rock… I am certain he will have said the same thing – citing the same urgency. Certainly, I am sure of it…

I mean – there wouldn’t be a contradiction in what feds and tribal officials claim to be absolutely necessary for NA kids – as opposed to what is absolutely necessary for Central American kids, right?

Quoting the June 3rd article – “More than 90 percent of those sheltered by the government [were] driven north by pervasive violence and poverty in their home countries. They are held in agency-contracted shelters while a search is conducted for family, a sponsor or a foster parent who can care for them through their immigration court hearings, where many will apply for asylum or other special protective status…

“Rampant crime and poverty across Central America and a desire to reunite with parents or other relatives are thought to be driving many of the young immigrants.”

Quote another article — “The children, mostly teenagers from Central America, are among the more than 47,000 unaccompanied minors taken into custody at the border since October. Fort Sill is one of three facilities where the children are being held. The others are in Texas and California.”

————-
Friends – we need to know why rhetoric is constantly spewed as to how NA children will suffer from separation from Indian Country – and how they are “resilient” – able to withstand untold abuse and stress because they aren’t like those soft “European” children…yet – we are assured that the kids from Central America WILL suffer and die if returned to their native home.

We need to hear from every tribal official and Congressman as to why it is okay to warehouse children from Central America (non-US citizen) in military facilities, with plans to eventually put them in foster homes (with “Sponsors”) – rather than immediately reunite them with their “culture and extended family” in Central America.

(Tribal leaders, explain to us. Why is a warehouse better for them then their ancestral home?)

Or – tell us the reverse – why it is okay to force Native American (US citizen) children to live amid rampant crime and corruption – with known abusers and sexual offenders, instead of allowing them to live in homes off the Rez that they know, love and feel safe in. I’m not even talking warehouses – but real homes and families.

Why are we spending millions of dollars to keep many NA kids IN dangerous and abusive environments – while at the same time spending millions of dollars to warehouse CA children to keep them OUT of dangerous and abusive environments.

(I am actually thinking we have a flipped thing going on here. It makes a LOT more sense to repatriate non-US citizens with their home land and allow their government to see to their care, than it does to force US citizen children with no connection to tribal government onto a reservation where many have never been before.)

Make up your collective federal mind – and have one policy – an “Equal Protection” – concerning the safety and welfare of children.

http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2014/06/03/extra-14-billion-needed-to-care-for-flood-migrant-children-crossing-border/

Tom Sullivan rebukes his DC Superiors for their negligence of children on Indian reservations

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Apr 042014
 
Tom Sullivan - Regional Administrator ACF

> From: “Sullivan, Thomas (ACF)” > Date: April 4, 2014 at 10:45:46 AM CDT
> To: “Mcmullen, Marrianne (ACF)”
> Cc: “Greenberg, Mark (ACF)” , “Chang, Joo Yeun (ACF)” , “Sparks, Lillian (ACF)” , “Kennerson, Marilyn (ACF)” , “Murray, James (ACF)”
> Subject: CB team to Spirit Lake
>
> Ms. Mcmullen:
>
> Thank you for your email response to my questions.
>
> You have assembled quite an impressive team to go to Spirit Lake. I am confident that team will be able to put together equally impressive “guidance to the tribe on what steps they need to take to establish a functional child welfare system.”
>
> Two aspects of this effort are of concern to me. First, it is unfortunate that this effort comes almost 22 months after my First Mandated Report was filed on June 14, 2012. Spirit Lake Social Services (TSS) was in disarray then and has not improved its capacity to respond to the child welfare needs of its youngest citizens in the interim despite claims to the contrary by the state, BIA, DOJ and the leadership of ACF.
>
> Second, there is no mention of any effort to evaluate the current condition of those 100+ children I wrote about in that First Report who had been placed in the full-time care and custody of abusers, addicts and rapists. That number has probably more than doubled in the intervening 22 months as more children were removed from their biological homes by TSS or BIA staff. How many of these 200+ children are being tortured in the same manner as the six children removed from their grandmother’s home in Grand Forks and reported in the online edition of the Grand Forks Herald on the evening of March 20, 2014? How many are being raped like that 13 year old little girl who I first brought to your attention more than 100 days ago? That young girl’s claims of rape have still not been investigated by the BIA more than 3 months after this situation was first reported to the Spirit Lake tribal chair and council, the BIA and you. It is my understanding this little girl remains in the same placement available to be raped daily by a Level Three Registered Sex Offender. Why is the statutory rape of this little girl, an enrolled tribal member, allowed to continue by the tribal chair and council?
>
> The delays in removing these children from those abusive homes have been caused by the libel and slander directed at my sources and me. These delays are unconscionable because they required and continue to require all of these Spirit Lake children to remain in the care and custody of abusers and rapists, available to be tortured and/or raped daily. Are there any people at Spirit Lake or in North Dakota with a conscience?
>
> One former senior tribal employee has recently reported to one of my sources that when she started working for the tribe she was told by her supervisor that everything we were reporting were lies. She told my source, “Now, I not only know you weren’t lying, but I also know that all of you have been understating the facts. It is far worse for kids at Spirit Lake than anything you have been saying.”
>
> I understand this former senior tribal employee briefed the tribal chair in these same terms several weeks ago. Since he knew our reports were being characterized as “understatements” and that, “It is far worse for the kids at Spirit Lake than anything (we) have been saying.”, why has he taken no action to help those Spirit Lake children escape the grip of those who abuse and rape them?
>
> The second paragraph of your March 31, 2014 email seems to seek to minimize ACF’s role at Spirit Lake.
>
> ACF’s 2014 Strategic Plan released almost a month ago states on page one, “….we seek to advance a set of key goals:” followed by five statements of goals, which read:
>
> * “Promote economic health and social well-being for individuals, families and communities;
> * Promote healthy development and school readiness for children, especially those in low income families;
> * Promote safety and well-being of children, youth and families;
> * Support underserved and underrepresented populations; and
> * Upgrade the capacity of ACF to make a difference for families and communities.”
>
>
> Minimizing ACF’s role at Spirit Lake within the context of this statement contradicts the entire purpose of ACF’s 2014 Strategic Plan and makes no sense unless you are attempting to avoid addressing the epidemic of child sexual abuse and child/youthful suicide at Spirit Lake. Why would any responsible government leader wish to avoid dealing with such widespread dysfunction that is well-known to have disastrous consequences for children, their families and communities? To do so would effectively negate every one of the “key goals” from ACF’s own 2014 Strategic Plan, at least at Spirit Lake. Is that what you intend?
>
> You ask for some information from me to assist you as you prepare for this visit.
>
> I find this especially ironic since when you were claiming I was misrepresenting the facts at Spirit Lake, that conditions there were not nearly as bad as I claimed and that the BIA and DOJ claims they had investigated every one of my allegations and most were unfounded or false, no one from ACF asked me for any information to corroborate my Reports or provided me with an opportunity to rebut those self-serving claims.
>
> First, you ask for a list of the steps I have taken to assist the tribe to improve their child welfare system.
>
> When I first learned that all tribes in North Dakota were operating their child welfare systems with caseload ratios of as few as 50 – 60 cases per worker to as many as 100 – 120 cases per worker, I met with the child welfare directors from four of the reservations in North Dakota and encouraged them to begin moving closer to a caseload ratio of 20 – 30 cases per worker. They claimed they had been trying to move in that direction but were refused funding every time the subject came up. They realized they were, in many cases, not compliant with state and federal regulations due to inadequate staffing and were quite fearful of the potential financial penalties that might follow if they did not become compliant.
>
> Because of the criminal corruption which continues to dominate the Spirit Lake Child Welfare program, attracting qualified social workers will be next to impossible. Until the leadership of Spirit Lake convinces the public that their CW program is operating and will continue to operate with integrity and transparency, social worker recruitment will be extremely difficult. Only by prosecuting all of those who are abusing, neglecting and raping Spirit Lake children will the public understand that Spirit Lake CW program is no longer controlled by the criminally corrupt. Until that image is implanted in the public perception of Spirit Lake, TSS and BIA will be forced to attempt to address these significant issues with few, if any, qualified social work staff.
>
> I regularly met with the leadership of the ND Department of Human Resources to encourage them to increase their support for their tribal child welfare programs. While these meetings were friendly, the Department was unwilling to increase the money made available to the tribes for any purpose. In late 2010 I met with the Spirit Lake Tribal council members, pointed out the problem with inadequate funding for their child welfare operations and encouraged them to lead an effort to increase tribal funding for their CW operations. They took no action that I am aware of and elections soon replaced the tribal Chair with Mr. Yankton.
>
> In 2008 Spirit Lake’s director of social services told me he had 46 cases of reported, investigated and confirmed child sexual abuse that had been referred to the US Attorney. He said “None are being investigated and none are being prosecuted.” I encouraged him that, as difficult as it was, he should keep referring confirmed cases to the US Attorney for prosecution. I understand he did but there was no action from that US Attorney or his successor to correct this failure to investigate and prosecute serious crimes..
>
> I have filed 13 Mandated Reports, many of which dealt with the inadequate response of law enforcement to crime on Spirit Lake. I would have filed many more if Acting Assistant Secretary Sheldon had not illegally prohibited me from doing so and if Acting Assistant Secretary Greenberg had not, by his silence, apparently endorsed Mr. Sheldon’s actions.
>
> I have reached out to partner with non-governmental entities in the development and presentation of educational programs focused on the recognition of, prevention of and rehabilitation from child abuse in Indian Country. These programs have been targeted to child welfare staff working on reservations. The National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse (NCPCA) has been especially generous with their time and resources. They have already provided or will be providing, at no cost to either ACF or DHHS, multi-day training sessions on this subject matter in the following Indian Country locations all across this country: Casper, WY; Browning, MT; Aberdeen, SD; Nampa, ID; Albuquerque, NM; Tulalip, WA; Santa Fe, NM; Pojoague, NM; Yankton, SD; Houghton, MI; and Muscatine, IA. Of the 11 locations identified where presentations will be made, only four are in Region 8, less than 40% of these sessions. While concerned about conditions in Region 8, my efforts have also been focused on the larger community in need of training. Those who have participated in these sessions have been very complimentary about their skill development following their participation in these sessions.
>
> Before limitations were placed on my ability to address issues like the twin epidemics of child sexual abuse and child/youthful suicide in Indian Country by the leadership of ACF, I spoke frequently to groups in North Dakota, in the other states in this region and all around this country about these issues. In fact, until I first spoke about these issues in 2006, no one had ever dared mention the subject publicly. Convinced the silence protected the predators and harmed children, I decided to make this an issue whenever I could. American Indian audiences were initially put off by my frankness but as they understood my efforts were focused not on stigmatizing them but on finding ways to address these epidemics, bringing resources to begin correcting this situation and bringing healing to their children, I began to receive more invitations to speak on these topics.
>
> Since those limitations were placed on me requiring me to get clearance from ACF leadership for any speech I wished to give and since that clearance always involved censorship, removing all substance from my proposed speeches, I have refused to accept speaking engagements where I could not speak honestly about conditions in Indian Country.
>
> Second, you ask me to provide a summary of anything I have learned “from other tribes…. that faced similar challenges….List any best practices for establishing a strong child welfare system and any contacts I have that could be resources for……Spirit Lake”
>
> That is a mouthful and would take essentially a Doctoral dissertation to answer completely. Unfortunately, I do not have time to do that if I am to meet your deadline. I plan, however, at a later date and on my own time to write several books.
>
> Every reservation I have been on, and I have been on most in this region as well as several others outside of this region, are characterized by crushing poverty, many times higher than the rate for the general population. Unemployment levels for generations have been and continue to run at levels not seen in the majority community even during the Great Depression. Alcohol and drug use and abuse are rampant. This abuse is so prevalent that many reservation residents around the Bakken formation cannot qualify for oil field employment because they cannot pass pre-employment drug and alcohol screening. Law enforcement is, on most reservations, non-existent with few officers, little training and little or no professionalism. Domestic violence and rape are rampant. Because children are placed in foster homes of uncertain safety, many children removed from their biological parents when they were drunk, have been placed in homes where they are raped daily, not just at Spirit Lake but on every reservation in this country. What do rapists have to fear when there is no effective law enforcement? Many of these sexually abused children, seeing no hope to escape this horrific abuse realizing the adults who are supposed to protect them will not, choose to end their own lives. On every reservation service needs are high and resources available to respond to those needs are limited.
>
> I am not aware of any “best practices for establishing a strong child welfare system”. I am confident Ms. Kennerson and the leadership of the Children’s Bureau are fully aware of such “best practices” if any are in place. Child safety should be emphasized in every decision made in any child welfare system. Nearly three year old Laurynn Whiteshield died at the hands of an abusive, step grandmother whose history of abuse of her own children was well-known to the BIA caseworkers who placed Laurynn and her twin sister in that home. I understand that another young man died in that same home less than two weeks ago. The step grandmother is reported to be in prison serving a lengthy sentence. Who is responsible for this young man’s death?
>
> Third, you ask for “a list of national and local partners….who could provide financial, training or technical assistance to Spirit Lake moving forward”.
>
> May I suggest all of the members of your team read my 13 Mandated Reports. If you had, you would understand that on pages 5 and 6 of my First Mandated Report, filed on June 14, 2012, at items D – H there is a list of some of those organizations and my suggestions on how they might be used to begin addressing the issues at Spirit Lake.
>
> The former Executive Director of the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse, Ms. Suzanna Tiapula, should also be involved in any effort to address the criminal corruption at Spirit Lake.
>
> Fourth, you ask for a “list of stakeholders or advocates who can be brought to the table to help Spirit Lake protect their children.”
>
> On January 20, 2014 I provided Ms. Kennerson, by email, with detailed contact information for my primary sources at Spirit Lake. I did so at her request and with the understanding she would be contacting some or all of them during her trip to Spirit Lake scheduled to take place before the end of January. In speaking with my sources, none have been contacted by her. I assume Ms. Kennerson still has that email and can make this information available to you.
>
> Whether my sources will be willing to speak with any of you remains to be seen after the disrespectful manner you treated one of them on a telephone call two weeks ago. That was bad enough but then, in a subsequent email, you lied not only about what you said and did but also about what my source said and did during that telephone call.
>
> It would be well for you to consider the words of Marvin Bower, Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company for almost twenty years who, in the ‘Will to Lead’ wrote, “Leadership scholars are virtually unanimous in putting trustworthiness at the top of the list of qualities required by any leader. Trustworthiness is integrity in action….Integrity is honesty carried…….into action so that the person is completely honest. That kind of integrity I put above all else as an essential of leadership.”
>
> I do not “…feel that (my) previous emails regarding Spirit Lake have not been answered”. I know it for a fact. In a later email I will provide chapter and verse on each of those unanswered emails.
>
> Thomas F. Sullivan
>
> Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver
>
> From: Mcmullen, Marrianne (ACF)
> Sent: Monday, March 31, 2014 11:52 AM
> To: Sullivan, Thomas (ACF)
> Cc: Murray, James (ACF)
> Subject: RE: CB team to Spirit Lake
>
> ACF is looking forward to a productive visit to Spirit Lake next week. Joo Chang will lead a team that includes Lillian Sparks, Marilyn Kennerson and me, and it is our goal to provide guidance to the tribe on what steps they need to take to establish a functional child welfare system.
>
> As you know, our jurisdiction here is limited. ACF, through the Children’s Bureau, provides funding and guidance to states, tribes and localities for child welfare agencies. States and Tribes have legal jurisdiction over their courts and agencies and we have no jurisdiction to intervene on individual cases.
>
> We do want to do everything we can within our defined role, however. To that end, we need your assistance to prepare for this visit.
>
> Specifically, please:

> – Provide a detailed list of the steps you have taken as Regional Administrator to assist the tribe to improve their child welfare system. Please include the status of each action and any outcomes of those actions.
>
> – Provide a summary of anything you have learned from other tribes you may have had contact with that faced similar challenges. List any best practices for establishing a strong tribal child welfare system, and any contacts you may have that could be resources for Spirit Lake.
>
> – A list of national and local partners (philanthropies, universities, etc.) who could provide financial, training or technical assistance to Spirit Lake moving forward.
>
> – A list of any other stakeholders or advocates who can be brought to the table to help Spirit Lake protect their children.
>
> Please send this report by noon Eastern time on Friday, April 4 so that it can be included with briefing materials for the team. Please also include your primary point of contact at Spirit Lake, or any other contacts there we should be aware of.
>
> I am sorry you feel that your previous emails regarding Spirit Lake have not been answered; that is not what my records reflect.
>
> After the ACF team visit to Spirit Lake, I will let you know of any need for follow-up on your part.
>
> From: Sullivan, Thomas (ACF)
> Sent: Friday, March 28, 2014 5:35 PM
> To: Mcmullen, Marrianne (ACF)
> Subject: Re: CB team to Spirit Lake
>
> Ms. Mcmullen:
>
> Thank you for your email notification about the Childrens Bureau team visit to Spirit Lake on April 9 – 11, 2014.
>
> I have some questions concerning this visit: 1. What are the names of those who will be part of this team? 2. Who will be the team leader? 3. What will be the expected outcome of this team’s visit to Spirit Lake? 4. What written instructions will be provided to that team? 5. May I receive a copy of those instructions?
>
> I have raised many questions about Spirit Lake to you over the last 21 months, all documented in agency email. Few, if any, have been answered. I trust I will not have to add this email to the “unanswered” file.
>
> Thomas F. Sullivan
> Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver
>
>
> From: Mcmullen, Marrianne (ACF)
> Sent: Friday, March 28, 2014 04:27 PM
> To: Sullivan, Thomas (ACF)
> Subject: CB team to Spirit Lake
>
>
> Hello Tom:
>
> I wanted to let you know that the Children’s Bureau is planning a team visit to Spirit Lake April 9-11. The ACF team will talk to various stakeholders, tribal child welfare staff, judges and others. They will use the information gathered to provide clear guidance to the Tribe on what steps need to be taken to establish a successful child welfare agency.
>
> Marrianne McMullen
> Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs
> Administration for Children and Families
> U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
> 901 D. St., SW, Washington, DC 20447
> (202) 401-9215
> marrianne.mcmullen@acf.hhs.gov
> www.acf.hhs.gov

April – National Child Abuse Month. NICWA & Child Abuse

 Comments Off on April – National Child Abuse Month. NICWA & Child Abuse
Apr 012014
 
Jose Rodrigues 2005 - a Victim of the Indian Child Welfare Act

While we appreciate most efforts do something to address the severe abuse and neglect occurring on many reservations, we do not believe NICWA is willing to address the core of the problems. “Raising awareness” by sending packets to ICWA offices isn’t going to change anything – and hasn’t to date.

Further, continually blaming non-Indians – from past, present and future – will never stop child abuse. It is more likely to increase the abuse, because it allows abusers to play the victim and point the blame at someone else. As long as an abuser never has to take personal responsibility, they have no reason or impetus to change.

Reading the information NICWA has put on the website concerning their minor efforts to combat child abuse – while at the same time spouting additional misinformation and blame – it appears to be nothing more than a “fluff” effort – a show of effort – rather than a real effort to help children.

http://www.nicwa.org/child_abuse_prevention/

.

Abused children, reported by Tom Sullivan 2 yrs ago, were ignored by officials

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Mar 212014
 
children abuses

Senator Heitkamp,

I was just informed that the family in the Grand Forks story below is one of the families ACF Administrator Tom Sullivan included in his first Mandated Report, 21 months ago. That report, along with 13 subsequent reports, was ignored by his DC superiors and well as other officials.

These children in the story below were among the 40 children he had reported removed from safe off reservation care and placed with dangerous relatives on the reservation.

This appears to be one of the cases which US attorney Tim Purdon, ACF Director George Sheldon, Indian Affairs staffer Kenneth Martin and others said Mr. Sullivan was misconstruing at best – lying about at worst.

According to the person who informed me – These women will be prosecuted because they moved off the reservation and continued to abuse these children. If they were still living on the Spirit Lake Reservation, all of this would have been ignored by BIA law enforcement.

http://www.grandforksherald.com/content/grand-forks-woman-charged-felony-abuse-grandchildren

Again – we don’t need another 3-year task force to tell us again what we all know beyond a doubt to be true – particularly one that will be purposefully stacked with the same type of thinkers who put children into this position in the first place.

A study was concluded a few months ago by the DOJ and Senator Dorgan is currently doing a tour. Reports on the hearings Senator Dorgan has been holding include story after story of abuse.

Let me remind you again that my extended family is among the abused – and no one has yet been prosecuted for the shooting of my husband’s grandson at Spirit Lake in July 2013.

Our fear is that Senator Dorgan’s concluding report will simply call for MORE money to be given to corrupt tribal entities who are using our children as chattel.

What is needed is for laws to be enforced and children protected. Stop the waste of money and time and protect the kids.

– Further: Please hold actual oversight hearings concerning allegations that the BIA, FBI, ACF and US Attorney’s offices are ignoring the abuse of children. Either prove Mr. Sullivan is wrong that federal officials have been throwing children under the bus – or apologize to him for the way he has been treated by DC superiors.
I have been away from DC for a few months visiting families across the United States, but will be returning to DC shortly to continue our push for relevant and immediate action.


Elizabeth Sharon (Lisa) Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)
PO Box 460
Hillsboro, ND 58045
administrator@caicw.org
https://caicw.org

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CAICW ( @CAICW )
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fbCAICW.org

Spirit Lake Child Abuse: Feb. 11 Letter from Sullivan to McMullen

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Feb 112014
 
Lauryn Whiteshield, July 19, 2010 - June 13, 2013

Tom Sullivan’s response to offensive, child-endangering letter by his Washington DC superior, Ms. Marrianne McMullen

February 11, 2014

Ms. McMullen:

Thank you for sending me a copy of your response to Spirit Lake Chairman McDonald’s letter to me dated January 26, 2014. Tom Sullivan - Regional Administrator ACF

Your email is heavy on conclusions but light on any rationale to support those conclusions.

1. You wrote, “ACF does not have the authority or expertise to conduct investigations of suspected child abuse, and thus Tom Sullivan will not undertake such an investigation at Spirit Lake.”

The latest version of the Administration for Children and Families 2014 Strategic Plan overcomes the “authority” issue you raise. Mr. Murray, in your presence, characterized this Plan version as just about final and did not think we would get far trying to revise it during the conference call with all the Regional Administrators earlier on the afternoon of February 5, 2014. The very same day you responded to the Chairman’s letter. The 2014 Plan states in its Introduction, “we seek to support national, state, tribal and local efforts to strengthen families and communities and promote opportunity and economic mobility.”

Later in that same section the 2014 Plan states, “we seek to advance a set of key goals” followed by a listing which includes, “Promote Safety and Well-being of Children, Youth and Families;” It is difficult for me to understand how we can do any of this if we are unwilling to address and seek to stop the mental, physical and sexual abuse of children, especially when we are being informed on a daily basis about such abuse.

You have from our first meeting sought to defame me, belittling my education, experience and skills. After more than 45 years of broad-based, senior work in the design, development, management and evaluation of health and human service programs at the highest levels in both the public and private sectors all across this country. I have an established reputation for both accomplishment and integrity that will be minimally influenced by your sniping.

I will let the testimony of those who have had an opportunity to observe my work all across this Region, especially in Indian Country, and who have taken the time to speak with me about my concerns for abused children and the lifetime burden they bear due to their abuse address the issue of my expertise in these matters. On March 12, 2013, Ms. Diane Garreau, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Tribe’s ICWA Director and Founding Board Member of the ICWA Directors of the Great Sioux Nation, representing the nine South Dakota federally recognized tribes, called me and said, “I need to get someone who can speak as an expert on child abuse and neglect of American Indian kids at our Summit in a couple of months. You are the most knowledgeable person about this stuff who I know. But I also know that you have a big gag stuck in your mouth by your Agency’s leadership when it comes to speaking about this stuff. So, who would you recommend, if I cannot get you?”

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Ms. Suzanna Tiapula is an attorney and long-time Executive Director of the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse (NCPCA) who said on November 6, 2013, “I am really disappointed you have been denied permission to participate as faculty in our upcoming train the trainer course in Santa Fe, NM. We will not be as effective as we hoped because our best, you, will not be there.” This program,
as you know, was specifically focused on the development of a cadre of trained individuals from Indian Country who could go back to their homes and begin to address more effectively the epidemic of child abuse raging in their communities. This epidemic of child abuse has grown to its current size because our bureaucratic predecessors chose to ignore it.

This Santa Fe training was one of 11 three-day sessions which NCPCA had agreed to provide in Indian Country for essentially the same purpose all across this country as a result of my work with them. These sessions were provided at no cost to program participants, ACF or DHHS.

It has been clear to me that you have never wanted to admit that I had any expertise. You hoped that view would go unchallenged if you never allowed me to venture into the real world where children are being abused daily, available to be raped daily. Is that why you prevented me from making six trips last year, all into Indian Country and all dealing with these issues? Your actions facilitated the libel and slander of my sources and I by the criminally corrupt.

2. You also wrote, “Currently, the BIA is managing the investigations of incidents of suspected abuse at Spirit Lake and has referred some incidents to the Federal Bureau of Investigation”

My sources began reporting their concerns about Spirit Lake children more than seven years ago to the state, the BIA, FBI and US Attorney. Their reports were ignored. The documentation they provided went unread and then was shredded.

Is there something new to suggest these organizations will be any more responsive now? It seems clear to me that all law enforcement at Spirit Lake is engaged in the same do-nothing approach to their work as evidenced by the following five examples.

When a non-custodial father reported the suspected (she told him she was being sexually molested by a Level 3 offender living in her home) molestation of his 13 year old daughter to Tribal Social Services, Tribal Council and the BIA, the best any of them could do was to promise that the BIA would attempt to begin an investigation in 30 days. That was 60 days ago. It is not clear, after 60 days, that any investigation has even begun.

There have been three rapes of young ladies on the Reservation during the last three months. BIA law enforcement was notified in each case. In each case the young woman said she wanted to press charges against her rapist. This will be difficult because no victim statement was taken in any of these three cases.
There was no rape kit prepared in any of these three cases. No pictures of the bruises on the bodies of each of these women were taken. The FBI has, I understand refused to intervene and take responsibility for these three felonies. Each of these women is an enrolled Tribal member as are their rapists, The rapes occurred within the geographic confines of the reservation.

In the last 8 months there has been one serious beating of a young nurse who lives on the Reservation, allegedly by two female relatives of the former Tribal Chair. This victim too wants this case prosecuted and her attackers sent to prison. She has given the FBI and BIA law enforcement a statement describing her attack and providing the names of her attackers, pictures of the bodily damages she suffered and the names of several eyewitnesses to this attack. Nothing is apparently being done by anyone in the BIA or FBI to bring indictments in this matter. Both the victim and her alleged assailants are enrolled Tribal

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members. The assault took place within the geographic confines of the reservation.

The BIA knew the placement of those almost three year old twins in the home of their grandfather and step-grandmother in early May, 2013, was placing them in grave danger. This was proven less than 30 days later, on June 13, 2013, when one of the twins turns up dead, murdered by her step-grandmother. Despite knowing their own biological children had been removed from their care and custody, that they both had been charged with and convicted of child abuse of their own children, the BIA authorized the placement of these children in their full-time, unsupervised care and custody.

The BIA has apparently done nothing to insure the safety of that suicidal little boy who I brought to your attention on September 23, 2013. You assured me at that time that “Marilyn Kennerson with the Children’s Bureau is working with the BIA and the tribe to make sure that all appropriate measures are taken to assure the child’s safety.” Subsequent events made clear your words were hollow, The BIA has
also apparently done nothing for the two sisters who are placed in a foster home where “discipline” is administered by stripping these girls to their panties, duct-taping their hands in front of them and forcing them to sit on a stool in an uninsulated attic for hours at a time. The same can be said for the 13 year old
girl who told her Dad that she was being sexually molested by a Level Three sex offender. I gave Ms. Kennerson the names of these children as well as other relevant information about their placement more than three weeks ago during a meeting with her. It is hard to see how anything could have been done for these children if those who were supposed to be providing that help did not even know their names.

A few weeks after that meeting with Ms. Kennerson I requested an update on the condition of these children from her and have received nothing. It seems that if you have done nothing to protect children in these circumstances, the best strategy is to remain mute.

Tolerating such ineptitude from the BIA, FBI and other law enforcement especially when it results in a multi-generational failure to prosecute is troubling in light of a joint statement published on February 6, 2014 in the White House Blog by Lynn Rosenthal, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, Jodi Gillette, Senior Advisor for Native American Affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council and Raina Thiele, Associate Director White House Office of Governmental Affairs where
they wrote, “Improving the safety of our tribal communities is a priority of President Obama and his Administration….These important provisions remind us all that a victim is a victim, and that everyone is entitled to protection against any perpetrator.”

Attorney General Eric Holder in an article by Sari Horowitz entitled “New Law Offers Protection to Abused Native American Women” in the February 9, 2014 issue of the Washington Post is quoted as saying, “The numbers are staggering…It’s deplorable. …this is an issue that we have to deal with. I am simply not going to accept the fact it is acceptable for women to be abused at the rates they are being abused on native lands.”

If there is so much high level support for the thesis that all crime victims in Indian Country should be protected by aggressive prosecution of their assailants, why is so little occurring in Indian Country communities like Ft. Totten and St. Michael?

3. You also wrote, “The role of the Immediate Office of the Regional Administrator (IORA) is to provide leadership for ACF’s cross-cutting initiatives, emergency preparedness and response and administrative and communications support for ACF.”

On a conference call on February 5, 2014, just a few hours before you sent the response to Chairman McDonald you effectively endorsed the following language as part of or as an adjunct to the 2014 ACF

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Strategic Plan. Your endorsement was understandable since you wrote out the listing of the five functions of every IORA. That page and one-half started with: “Regional Administrators represent the ACF Assistant Secretary in the region, providing leadership, cross-program strategy and coalition building on the regional, state and local levels across government and advocacy centers. As a team they and their staff fill five distinct functions;”

“Function 1: Regional ACF Leadership
Regional Administrators maintain high-level relationships with state, tribal, territory and local government partners as well as university, philanthropic and other community partners and alert the Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary if there are issues of concern in the states. They are the point of contact for State Commissioners/Secretaries, Governor offices; state Congressional and Legislative representatives. They represent ACF in regional, Federal Executive Boards, are ACF’s representative with the Regional Director’s office, other Federal Agency leadership, and they provide office based leadership through State Team coordination and coordination of other ACF-wide activities.”

“Function 2: Initiative Leadership
IORA lead high priority, cross-cutting program initiatives such as the Affordable Care Act, Hispanic outreach, efforts to combat human trafficking and homelessness and a number of other cross-program initiatives that do not belong to any single ACF program……..”

It is difficult to reconcile your description of the limited functions of a Regional Administrator in your letter to Chairman McDonald with your description of far more expansive functions discussed during that conference call and outlined in that page and one-half that you composed.

I recall when you stormed out of my conference room on the morning of Friday, June 14, 2013 abruptly breaking off a conversation about how best to address the issues I had been raising at Spirit Lake. You were clearly dis-satisfied with my response to the effect that such an effort would not be easy but was doable, would require the active participation of a broad coalition of Tribal, state, federal and local
organizations to begin to effectively address these issues and was consistent with the kind of efforts I had lead in the past. At a minimum I told you that every one of ACF program components had to be involved, not just Child Welfare, and that we had to partner with the Indian Health Service, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, Departments of Justice, Interior, Education, Labor, HUD and the Small Business Administration. These agencies and departments represented only the federal; side of the collaboration which would be necessary.

You had a far more negative perspective, apparently frustrated in your efforts to convince me that the problems were unsolvable and were quite displeased to hear my positive recommendations on how to proceed.

4. You also wrote, “We understand that reporting of alleged abuse through non-official channels has contributed to unnecessary confusion and delay. We will continue to encourage official reporting through appropriate channels in order to ensure timely and professional investigations to protect the children of Spirit Lake.”

Since I have been the only person, other than my sources, who has been reporting suspected child abuse at Spirit Lake, I can only assume this is a not so subtle swipe at me.

Before I filed a single Mandated Report I asked our Regional Counsel where I should file them. He responded that they should be filed with the US Attorney for the District where I suspected child abuse was occurring. I did.

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All of my Thirteen Mandated Reports and supporting documentation were filed directly with the US Attorney for the District of North Dakota and with the individual the US Attorney identified for me at BIA. When Acting Assistant Secretary Sheldon prohibited me from filing those Mandated Reports, I had no choice but to file information I received from my sources with him or his designee. That is exactly what I have done. I have no control over what you do with them.

It is clear based on the case of the suicidal boy who I brought to your attention on September 23, 2013, that some, if not all, of those reports were never forwarded to anyone despite your assurances that the boy’s safety was assured due to the efforts of the BIA, the Tribe and the Children’s Bureau’s Ms. Kennerson. The fact that Ms. Kennerson had to ask me for the child’s identity three weeks ago, four months after my email from you on September 23, 2013, convinced me that your words were hollow, that you had done nothing to protect this child from self-injury or abuse at the hands of his abusive foster parents. You did not even know who this child was and neither you, nor BIA, nor the Children’s Bureau nor Ms. Kennerson did anything to determine his identity. What callous dis-regard for the safety of this suicidal little boy!

I will leave it for the citizens of Spirit Lake to inform you how ineffective it is to attempt to use the telephone numbers or resources you have identified in your letter. They can describe the number of hours, days, months, and years they have spent waiting for police to respond to a call, to answer a call so they may report a crime or for the return of indictments in especially vicious crimes.

I am attaching with this email a brief, three page write-up of a graduate of the Spirit Lake foster home system. It is entitled, “My Story”. Read it and understand the despair this now strong, resilient young woman felt as her reports of abuse, rape and neglect were ignored by those who were running the system then, when she was 5, 6 and 7 years of age. She went into the system between the ages of 4 and 5. She left it at 18. Now she is in her early 20s, an alcoholic with three children of her own and two step-sons. If she is able to achieve some level of normalcy in her life, it will be a remarkable achievement. If she can keep herself and her kids on the straight and narrow, avoiding having to put her kids into the care of
others, exposing them to the abuse she lived with as a child, she will be a great success. She recognizes the pitfalls she confronts on a daily basis and works harder than any of us to avoid them. The inter- generational abuse fostered by the corrupt criminals who must be removed cannot be allowed to continue. If it does, what this young lady has written will continue to be repeated many times over.

In one home where she was placed for several years, she was raped daily. No social worker looked in to check on her welfare during those years. What were those federal staff from BIA doing while this child was being raped daily? What kind of oversight did ACF’s Children’s Bureau provide? What kind of supervision did the state provide? Why did all of these adults allow this child to be raped daily?

If this or any other young woman slips up and has their children removed from their custody temporarily, why can’t they count on their kids being placed in a loving foster home where they will not be abused or neglected?

Thomas F. Sullivan

Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver

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Letter to McMullen 021114.docx

Panel hears testimony about native children exposed to violence

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Dec 132013
 
Suffer the Children. Sexual Abuse of kids on the Spirit Lake Reservation

Forum News Service Dec 10, 2013 8:41am
By Mike Nowatzki

BISMARCK – Dressed in dark slacks and a light blue shirt and tie, Lenny Hayes looked every bit his adult self on Monday in the Ramkota Hotel ballroom.Testimony at Senator Dorgan's hearing Bismarck Dec 9, 2013

But as he leaned into the microphone and began to speak, he became the scared, helpless 6-year-old boy in the corner being groped and traumatized by sexual abuse.

“How do I say ‘stop?’ I close my eyes and my tears begin to flow. I go to a faraway place with my mind … a safe place, a happy place, a place where I don’t have to feel what my body is experiencing,” he said. “After it’s over, I am lifeless, and I begin to come back to my body once again.”

Such accounts are all too common in Indian Country, and tribes desperately need more resources to protect children from abuse and neglect, tribal officials and experts testified Monday during the first public hearing of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s Advisory Committee on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence.
The advisory panel also will hold public hearings in Arizona, Florida and Alaska and make policy recommendations for Holder by the end of October.

Former U.S. senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, the advisory panel’s co-chairman, said he hopes the effort will be the catalyst “that finally unlocks the determination of all Americans” not to allow violence against native children to continue.

Dorgan, who also is chairman of the board of advisors for the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute, said rape and abuse cases have too often been declined by federal prosecutors and put in the “back room” of too many U.S. attorneys’ offices. He said he has seen loving families on reservations but also “the most unbelievable despair,” telling of one 12-year-old girl who had been sexually abused in two foster homes and found refuge at a homeless shelter which then had its budget cut as a result of sequestration.

“That is defined as ignorance where I come from,” he said, his voice rising almost to a yell. “We know this is happening, and we know how to address it if we just have the will.”

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who recently co-sponsored bipartisan bills to create a Commission on Native Children and provide increased protection to victims of human trafficking, said policymakers must do more than just gather data.

“We can’t just build the case and keep talking about this. We have got to change outcomes,” she said.
The magnitude of the problem in Indian Country is just beginning to be understood, said Lonna Hunter, project coordinator for the Minneapolis-based Council on Crime and Justice and a survivor of childhood abuse.
“Lack of research has directly delayed our response to the crisis,” she said.

The belief system that made protecting native children the responsibility of the entire tribal community has been lost amid the historical trauma of being displaced, assimilated and institutionalized and having their culture and language suppressed – factors that contribute to child mistreatment, said Sarah Hicks Kastelic, deputy director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association.

Child victims of maltreatment and abuse are more likely to have mental health and substance abuse problems, perform more poorly in school, have early pregnancies, get in trouble with the law and perpetuate violence against others, “creating a cycle of violence that is difficult to break,” Kastelic said.

Associate Attorney General Tony West said “the scars of violence run deep and have impacts that can seep from one generation to the next.”

Other witnesses lamented the lack of Bureau of Indian Affairs officers to conduct investigations and Indian Health Service employees who either don’t live in the communities they serve and or are hamstrung by government red tape hen they try to tackle problems.

At the same time, several said answers must come from within the tribes.
“It needs to be grassroots. It must be run by native people,” said Barbara Bettelyoun, a psychologist with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota.
The recent controversy over child protection at North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Nation also was addressed, with several members of the tribal council in attendance.
Spirit Lake Chairman Leander “Russ” McDonald testified that the May 2011 murder of a brother and sister on the reservation and the death of a 2-year-old girl who was shoved down an embankment by her step grandmother last June indicated the “critical need” to prioritize resources and lay the foundation “for a system that is clearly broken.”
However, he said “not much has changed” since complaints prompted the Bureau of Indian Affairs to assume control of child protection services on the reservation on Oct. 1, 2012. The tribe is working with state and federal officials on an action plan for child protective services, he said, again stressing that change from come from the tribe.
On a day filled with moving testimony, Hayes, an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate and now a psychotherapist with the Shakopee (Minn.) Mdewakanton Sioux Community, delivered an especially powerful first-person account of abuse and healing.
Even at 45 years old, sharing the story is still painful, he said. He still struggles with his past, and he said more “two-spirited” survivors like himself need to stand up and be heard. He and others said the current culture that often ostracizes abuse victims who come forward needs to change.
“We need to be accepted back into our communities,” he said. “We need to be heard. We need to be listened to.”

Collaboration Urged at Mohawks’ Child Safe Summit

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Oct 252013
 

Randi Barreiro
10/25/13

If people do not think about child abuse, they will not detect child abuse.

That was the primary message of Dr. Karyn Patno, a pediatrician and founder of the ChildSafe Program at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont. Dr. Patno’s recent collaboration with the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police on a case of suspected child abuse was the impetus for the Tribe’s first-ever Child Safe Summit, a large collective effort held this month to educate service providers and community partners on specialized resources for abuse.

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe hosted the first one-day conference on October 10 and a second on October 21 at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino’s new conference facility. All told, over 250 child welfare professionals representing some 50 community, Tribal, county, state and federal agencies attended the summit. In addition to local and regional service providers, the summit drew representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Border and Customs Protection, U.S. Marshall Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“We’re here to form a web to catch all the children we can,” said Tribal Chief Beverly Cook. “To do that, we need to work together. We love our children and we’re willing to do anything for them.”
Chief Cook acknowledged the graphic nature of the summit’s presentations, including forensic photographs and x-rays of healthy anatomy and physical injuries resulting from accidents and abuse—burns, bruises, lacerations and fractures. It’s important to know what you’re looking at, said Dr. Patno.

“These images are uncomfortable to look at,” said Chief Cook. “That’s because what happens to many children is not right.”

Dr. Patno walked attendees through the methodology of the ChildSafe Program, a diagnostic clinic for any child suspected of any type of abuse. The child protection report is a summary of the evaluation performed at her clinic. It is a medical-legal document that includes reviews of behavioral and medical systems, past medical history, a family and social history, a physical exam and interviews with the child.

In her evaluation of child physical abuse for non-medical providers, Dr. Patno reviewed risk factors and injuries indicative of abuse. Attendees learned to recognize patterned bruises and burns, which imply an object came in contact with the child’s skin or that a specific hot object was inflicted. Physical signs of strangulation were also discussed.

Understanding normal infant growth and development, Dr. Patno pointed out, allows one to monitor children’s progress and to identify delay or deviance. An important rule of thumb is that “simple mechanisms result in simple injuries and complex injuries require a complex mechanism.” For example, “rolling off the couch can result in a skull fracture or broken leg. It cannot result in a subdural hemorrhage, retinal hemorrhage and rib fractures.”

Dr. Patno asks the parent to give a detailed history of how an injury occurred and then compares that mechanism not only to the developmental level of the child, but also to the severity of the injury. She says the next step is asking, “Can the proposed mechanism result in the injuries seen?”

Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) is “absolutely a complex mechanism,” she reported. AHT includes “shaken baby syndrome,” which is often coupled with impact. It accounts for 10 percent of all deaths due to abuse or neglect.

There are very specific risk factors associated with AHT for perpetrators and victims. For example, although some women commit this act, the majority of perpetrators of abusive head trauma are male (nearly 40 percent are natural fathers and about 20 percent are boyfriends of the mother).
The doctor pointed out that infant crying is the most common event prior to shaking an infant, accounting for the fact that nearly half of all AHT victims are under the age of one.

Finally, Dr. Patno shared important elements in the evaluation of child sexual abuse and what it means when an exam is deemed “normal.” She pointed out that most child exams do not result in a finding of sexual abuse, but they are important to determine mental health needs. And, it’s “incredibly helpful” to the child to be told he or she is “normal.”

The summit featured a segment on digital child exploitation, led by Special Agent Tim Losito of the Homeland Security Department. In addition to cyberbullying, which Losito says occupies most of his time, his office investigates child pornography. According to Special Agent Losito, the Northern District of New York prosecutes more child exploitation cases than anywhere else in the United States.
That shocked participants, most of whom live and work in the North Country region. For Chief Cook, it underscores the need for open communication with cross-border agencies.

“The magnitude of sexual exploitation that goes on in our area is not common knowledge to the average member of our North Country community,” she said. “Information sharing is extremely important. That our Tribal Police were instrumental in a multi-agency takedown of a sexual predator informs us that collaboration is essential.”

The seed for the Child Safe Summit was planted by Special Investigator Hawi Thomas, who deals with sex crimes for the Tribal Police Department. Having worked investigations involving agencies in several jurisdictions, Thomas wanted to improve the way cases were handled by fostering collaboration among those resources.

Thomas sought support from superiors within the Police Department, from Tribal Administration and other service providers who handle child abuse cases. The Tribe’s Onkwahwatsire Multidisciplinary Team, led by Family Advocate Jade White, supported the idea and formed an organizing committee.
“Collaboration is second nature to most women and service organizations,” said Thomas. “It’s how important work gets done.” Tribal Sub-Chief Michael Conners acknowledged that work, expressing gratitude for “the strong Mohawk women whose daily dedication to this tough subject is a benefit to our community.”

The Summit’s success has led organizers to try and make it an annual event.

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/10/25/collaboration-urged-mohawks-child-safe-summit-151927

Revealing CAICW’s Sinister Hidden Agenda –

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Sep 142013
 
FAMILY, 2000

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

This are my responses to her six questions:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roland and Senator Conrad Burns, 1997

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is much benefit in enjoying ones heritage and culture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Washiington DC, February 2013

Washiington DC, February 2013

 

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

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

 – A birth mom stands up for herself:

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

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

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

Jose Rodrigues 2005

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

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

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

 – Rebuttal to the NPR series:

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

 – Other evidence of harm:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Matt, Melanie & Veronica Capobianco

Matt, Melanie & Veronica Capobianco

Just 1.12% heritage. 

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

1.12% heritage.

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

1.12% heritage.

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

At 1.12% heritage.

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

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

That is the bottom line.

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

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

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

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

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

So do we feel angry? Yup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

6.      Anything else you’d like to add?

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

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

In a press release, Mr Anaya stated,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roland Preaching a Sermon in Juarez, Mexico

Roland Preaching a Sermon in Juarez, Mexico, June 2003

Baptism in Leech Lake, 2007

Baptism in Leech Lake, 2007

 

Sep 142013
 
Washington DC, January 2011

Yes, Veronica, there may be no Santa Claus, but there is a God and there is work being done to amend ICWA.

Washington DC, February 2013

Washington DC, February 2013

Some very kind, concerned supporters of justice have begun a petition to amend the Indian Child Welfare Act. We appreciate the effort very, very much.   But after having been urged several times to act on the petition, I need to explain why we an’t work on the petition.

Many of our newer friends are unaware that draft legislation to amend the ICWA has already been written and presented to various Congressmen.   I am a little afraid of possibly a conflict in wording or goals.

This legislation was written by one of the best ICWA attorneys in the nation and introduced by the Coalition for the ‘Protection of Indian Children and Families’ to legislative offices last summer, 2012.  The ICWA attorney based his wording on the primary reasons families are coming to him for help – the most noted issues with how ICWA was hurting children and families.

It has been on somewhat of a hold during the Veronica proceedings.  Well… actually, the hold was only meant to be until the United States Supreme Court had ruled.  Congressmen needed to know what the Justices had to say about the case before they could move forward further with the bill.

The court has ruled – but these last two months have been nuts, taking everyone’s time and energy.  Further, Congress recesses in August.

BUT – it is now September.  Thank you all for the reminder concerning the legislation.  According to attorney’s I have consulted – because no real resources of our organization are being spent or used on the legislation – and because I don’t get paid by CAICW but am entirely volunteer, there isn’t much concern about my discussing it a little bit.

So it is time to get back into the saddle with the legislation. I will be rolling up my sleeves and leaving for DC as soon as I put various things in order here at home – hopefully within the next couple weeks.

For your information, here is the amendment wording as it stood last summer.  There MIGHT be changes made following the Veronica events. I can’t say for certain as I am not an attorney.  But this is what we stood on last summer.

 ICWA Amendments 11-11-12

 

PLEASE join us in urging your Congress members – as well as the President – to change ICWA.

 

Washington DC, January 2011

Washington DC, January 2011

 

 

 

Keep Dissing Non-Indians. It brings more people to our site, frightened for their kids ~

 Comments Off on Keep Dissing Non-Indians. It brings more people to our site, frightened for their kids ~
Sep 132013
 
Beth, September 1987

3 enrollable kids

3 eligible kids, happily living with family outside of control of “Indian Country,” without “Split Feather.”

NEWS FLASH:  MOST children targeted by ICWA are multi-racial. Statements by ICWA supporters that Non-members have NO RIGHT to speak about the Indian Child Welfare Act are born of prejudice and delusion …. and are terrifying people.

These statements are made as if hundreds of thousands of enrollable children across the United States do NOT have  non-member birth parents currently raising them successfully – and non-native extended family.

Hello? EVEN VERONICA was born of a non-member mother.  Hello? Veronica has a maternal grandfather who is 100% Hispanic.  What is he, chopped liver?

IMPORTANTLY – – when people make the statement that non-members have no right to speak – what they are saying is that I don’t have a right to speak up for my own kids.   If people don’t think I have any right to speak up about how ICWA works, despite the rhetoric from their own mouths that any enrollable child is “THEIR” child (which would include my children and grandchildren) – and the Tribal Industry claims of potential jurisdiction over MY OWN KIDS and grandkids – – THINK AGAIN.

Like a mother bear, I become even more determined to fight back against those threatening my family.  I become even more determined to fight back against hate-filled people who assume they know my children better than I do – and more determined to fight to my death (yup) to DESTROY this horrendous, unconstitutional, racist, hateful, prejudice, child-stealing law called ICWA.  It is rhetoric like that that fuels me.

Keep it up!  Keep claiming that birth parents and extended family of hundreds of thousands of enrollable children don’t matter at all.  You are doing my work for me – angering almost every non-native family member across the United States. (excepting for non-native family members who have bought the Tribal Industry rhetoric hook, line and sinker.)

PLEASE – KEEP SAYING THAT A CHILD’S OTHER HERITAGES AND FAMILY DON’T MATTER.   Your honesty is doing amazing press for us.   By blurting out your true bottom line as to how ICWA has been written and why – you are opening eyes that would otherwise never have realized that ICWA could affect their families as well.

It is dawning on people that if they, as parents, got in a car wreck, their extended family might have to fight a tribe for custody of their kids.  Grandparents are realizing that if their son or daughter were in a car wreck, a dishonest tribal court could tell them, as grandparents, that they have no right to raise their grandchildren.

You are terrifying families of eligible children every time you open your mouths and claim their kids as your own – every time you make hateful and racist statements toward family members of kids who could potentially end up targeted by ICWA.

I don’t even have to spend money on press releases – You are doing it for us.

Thank you for being so open as to what you honestly feel about the families of so many of America’s children.

 

Non-member mother with eligible child, January 1983

Non-member mother with eligible child, January 1983

 

 

Sep 102013
 

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

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

In a blog for adults who were adopted and had negative experiences, Mr Anaya stated,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Matt, Melanie & Veronica Capobianco

Matt, Melanie & Veronica Capobianco

Mr. Brown’s Testimony in Family Court

 Comments Off on Mr. Brown’s Testimony in Family Court
Sep 082013
 

Matt, Melanie & Veronica Capobianco

Matt, Melanie and Veronica Capobianco

 

Mr. Dusten Brown’s personal testimony in the original family court concerning his interest in marrying birth mother Christinna Maldonado and his later abandonment of Veronica Capobianco.

It is good for all supports and detractors to read and consider this full testimony because it reveals points to the story that should give pause to advocates on both sides.  It is important for us all to be able to read, think, and pray about all aspects and know with certainty where we stand on various issues.

While Mr. Brown makes clear that he initially wanted to be married and take care of Christinna and Veronica, there is also an implication that Christinna might have backed away due to weekends he had spent with drinking buddies off base rather than coming home to be with her during the pregnancy.  For any mother who has been in such a position, that is very understandable.

While Mr. Brown’s supporters have shared liberally over the last few weeks the portions of Ms. Maldonado’s testimony that appear to discredit her, it would be good to be able to read the portions of her cross examination that have been held back – those portions which give her testimony explaining her motivation.  I look forward to obtaining that testimony.

Also – I have some discomfort with the assertion that the Capobiancos are “wealthy” and “connected” simply because Mr. Brown said so in his testimony – even if he claims a Guardian ad Litem told his family so.  That doesn’t mean it is was actually said, and even if it was, it doesn’t mean the GAL was correct.  Having known the C’s for a couple years now, I don’t believe those accusations in the testimony are true at all.

I further do not believe that it was the birth mother’s, the C’s, or the states responsibility to contact Mr. Brown and offer visits or pictures. As a man who knew he was a father and admitted in the testimony that he was aware of his obligations as a father – he had a responsibility to “man up” during those months and do what he needed to do.  Many, many service men are fathers – and many are even fathers without custody.  Most find ways to continue to uphold their obligations.

The laws of both Oklahoma and South Carolina agree and were enacted to ensure that men follow through with those obligations if they intend to father their children.  This is why Mr. Brown has been losing legally in both state courts ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that ICWA did not apply.

This testimony also contradicts claims of Brown’s supporters that Mr. Brown himself did not claim to have a Bronze Star.  He is quoted here as saying that he does.

It also contradicts the claim that he had been fighting for custody of Veronica since birth.

Again – my question is, that knowing he was about to be deployed in a few days – and already locked down to base – why he had not made any attempt (by his own admission) to contact Christinna and see Veronica prior to deployment.   He knew that it would be months before  he returned to the states.  At that point, Veronica would have been almost a year old without a father in her life.

The only reason he hired an attorney and began a process in January, 2010, was because he had been served the adoption waiver.  Other than that, he would have left for Iraq without questioning Veronica’s whereabouts, period. 

One can not read his testimony and come to any other conclusion.

When I consider that, it is obvious that Christinna did the right thing – giving Veronica a father from the moment she was born.

From the moment Veronica was born, Matt was there.   While Mr. Brown was nursing the hurt of rejection (understandable) and  justifying his reasons for not making contact (not understandable), Matt was in the birthing room, cutting Veronica’s cord and welcoming her into the world.

Mr. Dusten Brown’s Family Court Testimony, 2011

 

Veronica Capobianco

Veronica Capobianco