Sep 072020
 

It may have seem as though very little has been happening within our small organization. As many know, I have been very busy between my Doctoral studies, the congressional Commission for Native Children [Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children], and doing what I can for the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare.

Nevertheless, much is going on. Along with our Amicus Brief in the Brackeen case and support of a mother fighting to regain custody of her child, I have taken eight weeks off from school to begin writing about some relevant research findings. I will be posting as much as I can over the two months.

NATIONAL COMMISSION ON NATIVE CHILDREN HOLDS FIRST OFFICIAL MEETING

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Dec 292019
 
Commission on Native Children

The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children will conduct a comprehensive study of supports for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 27, 2019
CONTACT: Carlyle Begay, asbwsnc@gmail.com

[Washington, D.C., November 2019] – The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children, established by Congress, held its first official meeting from October 30-November 1, 2019. The bipartisan Commission is the vision of former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who provided opening remarks along with Tara Sweeney, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Comprised of 11 individuals specializing in juvenile justice, social service programs, Indian education, and mental and physical health, the Commission will conduct a comprehensive study of the programs, grants, and supports available for Native children at government agencies and in Native communities. They will then have three years to issue a report containing recommendations to address the challenges currently facing Native children, with the goal of developing a sustainable system that delivers wraparound services to Native children.

Native children (including American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children) suffer from Commission on Native Children, DC, DOIhealth and well-being challenges at a much higher rate than their non-Native peers, often experiencing trauma that impacts their ability to learn, thrive, and become resilient adults. Resources and supports for Native children are currently inappropriate, insufficient, or limited by bureaucracy so that they are ineffective. The Commission has a unique and historic opportunity to fundamentally change the trajectory of Native children for the better. In her opening remarks, Senator Murkowski said to the Commissioners, “The Commission can address education issues and childhood trauma in a more holistic way…Sometimes it doesn’t take a lot of money to give a child support, love, and care.” Former Senator Heitkamp added, “I want the Commission to give us hope that things can change and that we can do better. You are the ‘Hope Commission’…Collect and rely on data and research, and lead with your heart; it will take you where you need to go.”

The Commissioners are excited to take on this charge. Gloria O’Neill, Chair of the Commission and President/CEO of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council in Anchorage, Alaska, stated, “We are looking forward to moving the needle on positive outcomes for Native children. We have a great opportunity as there is great alignment in Congress and our partners in the federal government to get things done.”

Over the next couple of years, the Commission will be holding hearings in and reviewing documentation from tribal communities throughout the country to hear from Native children, their families, tribal leaders, and community members. The Commission will also hear from respected researchers and experts as they consider their recommendations. The first public hearing of the Commission will be held in Arizona in March 2020.

The Commissioners of the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children are:

Gloria O’Neill (Chair)
President/CEO, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Inc.
Alaska

Tami DeCoteau, Ph.D. (Co-Chair)
DeCoteau Trauma-Informed Care & Practice, PLLC
North Dakota

Carlyle Begay
Former State Senator
Arizona

Dolores Subia BigFoot, Ph.D.
Director, Indian Country Child Trauma Center
Oklahoma

Jesse Delmar
Director, Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety
Arizona

Anita Fineday
Managing Director, Indian Child Welfare Program, Casey Family Programs
Minnesota

Don Atqaqsaq Gray
Board Member, Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation
Alaska

Leander R. McDonald, Ph. D.
President, United Tribes Technical College
North Dakota

Elizabeth (Lisa) Morris
Administrator, Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare
North Dakota

Melody Staebner
Fargo/West Fargo Indian Education Coordinator
North Dakota
###

Christmas 2015 Newsletter

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Jan 162016
 
ICWA

The two months in DC this spring were busy, but exceedingly blessed. I visited every office in the Senate and House, sitting down one-on-one with staff from about 100 House offices and 29 Senate offices as well as directors in the BIA. I dropped off information at all the others and sent a follow-up email to every single one. I also built a database using the business cards and notes from the meetings, and wrote CAICW’s comments to the BIA concerning their new guidelines and proposed rules. (https://caicw.org/2015/05/11/our-comments-concerning-icwa-rules-proposed-by-the-bia/)

The interest and reception received at several offices was both comforting and surprising. I have not felt as “listened to” on many of our previous trips. We did develop new relationships in new offices – some surprising ones. We now have a database to work from over the rest of this session.

But the most exciting thing was watching God’s daily answers to prayer concerning the entire trip. Having gone on faith – dependent on God to help in the speaking to Senators and Congressmen as well as for providence – was an adventure. While many argue that my work isn’t “Christian” (saying I am rocking boats) – the fact is, this trip was incredibly blessed and wouldn’t have happened at without His guidance and providence. We do not have tons of money to pay for junkets to DC or high-priced lobbyists. I went in a van and spent most of the time sleeping in it. I even spent four days living in Union Station.

As some of you know, I flipped my camper truck over on ice in January and totaled it. I came out of the wreck without a scratch, but lost the vehicle I intended to drive to DC. But – we felt at peace about it. If God wanted me in DC, he would provide the way. And He did. In March, God provided a wonderful Dodge Conversion van whose owner had originally wanted $4000 on Craig’s List, but called me and told me he would take $1500 for it due to the work we do. A supporter then sent the funds for it. I was told it was top of the line in its day – and it ran 100% smoothly the entire trip.
At the suggestion of a friend who used to live in Maryland, I found my way out the end of one of the metro lines. There, I was able to shower at a campground, go to Starbucks for Wi-Fi, find varied parking lots to sleep in, and took the metro subway train into DC for the day.

I never knew when funds would come or where they would come from. One day, I counted the little I had left and put most of it onto the metro card. I decided not to worry. I knew I had enough to get to DC for two more days. Well, getting home the second day would be a challenge. I didn’t have enough for that. But…I decided not to panic or tell people. I wanted to wait on the Lord. If He was the one wanting me to be here, doing this, He would provide.

It was just a day after that when someone called me to tell me to go get a room – she would pay for it. Another person put some money into my account. There were little gifts here and there – a woman pressed a $10 bill into my hand. Never from strangers – always from someone who knew a little bit about our work. Not once during this trip was I without food, gas, metro money – or any of the resources we needed to get the job done.

One of the most wonderful things was an awesome Church Family the Lord led me to. I literally stumbled onto an incredible group of people – a remnant of a longtime neighborhood church. It was the first day I was searching for a Starbucks out near the end of that train line. I took a wrong turn, so then took a U-turn, and there was this marquee type sign on a church lawn, announcing a free dinner that very day and hour. Sooo…feeling hungry – I stopped. Following a wonderful meal, they had a Bible study outside by the fire pit – and I fell in love with them. They were such a gentle, loving, searching, praying group. It was so filled with the spirit – a tremendous blessing of prayer and fellowship.

Lastly, when what was thought should be my final week drew near, I did not know how I was getting home. But again, didn’t want to say anything – trusting God that when it was time to go, He would provide the way. And He did – five different people sent funds within the last few days of my stay.

From making do on very little, to canvassing the halls of Congressional buildings, to sitting next to homeless in Union Station, to enjoying the fellowship of an awesome church, to walking the streets of NoMa – watching, listening, thinking, praying – there is so much to tell. Please continue to pray for God’s guidance in everything we do – and pray for the fruit of whatever it is we are supposed to accomplish.

The rest of the Year:

The year actually began in Brandon, Manitoba, where I was blessed with the opportunity over Christmas to help two elderly friends for about 6 weeks. Henry had suffered a heart attack, and Nettie needed a companion until he was able to leave the hospital. I can’t even begin to write down the myriad things I was able to learn from them both – in addition to the prayer time with them. It was a tremendous lead-in to going to DC. I’m so grateful to their extended family for asking me to do it.

I was also blessed this year with opportunity to frequently care for my grandson. My daughter is in school full-time and working part time, so I spent many wonderful days at her apartment as well as with my oldest son.

I was able to take my grandson with me on a two-week trip to Montana in our marvelous van. We spent a few days at Family Bible Camp near Glacier Park, and then visited several wonderful friends and supporters up and down western Montana.

In the summer, I also spent two weeks in Minneapolis, reading to my Dad at the nursing home. In October, following prayerful encouragement from a friend, I brought him home to live with me.

My Dad is bedridden, but we’ve been able to put together a good system that serves him well. We are blessed with an aide who comes in to care for him a few hours a week, giving me a little time to do office work, and my brother (who is an engineer) came up and built an awesome wheelchair ramp in under 24 hours – using almost total reserved wood from a porch he had taken down at his house.

The book “Dying in Indian Country” – endorsed by Congressman Kevin Cramer and telling Roland’s story – was released under a new publisher in December and, (if interested), is available through our site – http://DyingInIndianCountry.com – or through Amazon, which also has the eBook version.

Throughout the months of 2015, I continued online studies for a Bachelor’s and ran CAICW. Families continue to contact us on a regular basis, asking for assistance with protecting their children. At this point in time, we have fifteen families asking for prayer, emotional support and/or legal assistance. Ten are birth families, five are adoptive families.

All thanks, glory and credit to the Lord Jesus Christ, without whom we can do nothing. Blessings in your new year.

Tramping for the Lord

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Mar 152014
 


CAICW hits the road to advocate for families in their struggle for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

by Elizabeth Sharon Morris

This past October, after a loving friend kindly donated much needed maintenance for my hobbled vehicle, I loaded my car with a few essentials—laptop, camp stove and sleeping bag—and with just a few hundred dollars in pocket, headed south, not knowing exactly where God would lead or how long I’d be gone.

After more than a decade of desk advocacy, along with a few short trips to Washington, D.C., few dents in the system we’ve been fighting have been made. Worse, the stories of abuse have been increasing. If we’re going to fight this bear – it’s going to take more than we’ve been doing.

Three months earlier, I had read Corrie ten Boom’s book, “Tramp for the Lord.” Her faith following her horrific ordeal during the Holocaust was amazing. Her determination to do whatever it took to make a difference was inspiring.

I’d actually felt a need to plunge in fully for a long time. The work involved in this is overwhelming. As many know – I am usually running way behind, trying to catch up. It has been more than I’ve been able to handle while still raising kids and finding ways to pay bills. But the kids are raised now. So – I decided to step out and trust God.

While traveling, I planned to visit families CAICW’s been involved with. The first night out, I stopped to see one of Roland’s relatives in the hospital and spent the night with a niece. I was sadly reminded over the 24 hours just why Roland and I became concerned in the first place.

God is good. The needs for this work have been met in ways we never dreamed. In North Carolina – a dear old friend had a new transmission put in my car and went out of her way to help in other ways as well. I then spent six weeks in Virginia at the home of a wonderful host family and got to know the metro rail into DC pretty well.

While there, CNN broadcast a segment concerning child sexual abuse at Spirit Lake, and ACF Regional Admin Tom Sullivan released a letter admonishing his DC superiors. With these tools in hand, I visited every Senate office and several house members. We created new relationships with some staff members and learned which offices are open to help. We were able to teach various offices about issues in Indian Country – and various offices were able to teach us a few things.

One thing we learned is that having a steady presence is important. Showing up again and again with additional information helps. We also learned that while not all Congressmen are aware of what’s happening in Indian Country, it’s well known among noted agencies that Spirit Lake is a microcosm of what is happening all across Indian Country – ie: The agencies know what is happening at Spirit Lake is widespread in Indian Country. They know – but are playing political games anyway.

While there, I also continued to hear stories from one person or another of horrible things happening to children – right under the eyes of federal government officials. Feeling helpless, the thought coming to mind again and again was “This kind of thing comes out only through prayer and fasting.”

In mid-December, I returned to North Dakota for Christmas, where my kind friend again did an oil change on my car. Having been asked several times by a good friend to come out to California and spend some time praying, I decided to do it – as well as try to catch up on necessary office work before going back to DC.

I have been in California now since mid-January. I have had wonderful times of prayer, working on our database, writing, and putting together a business plan for the Roland J. Morris Sr. Ranch – a place for families to come as a unit for long term help away from drugs and alcohol. I’ve also been reading three books – “Blessing Your Spirit,” (Devotional) “Preaching in Hitler’s Shadow” (10 sermons by Pastors during the Holocaust, including Bonhoeffer) and “Fatal Link” (The epidemic of fetal alcohol in America, in particular within many reservation communities).

In California, two handsome men spent days and nights in their garage, donating tons more needed maintenance on my vehicle. I’ll be leaving California with practically a new car at the beginning of March. While traveling back to DC, I will stop to see families along the way as well as look at potential properties for the RJM Ranch. I plan to be back in DC in late April. There are many things I’ll write about along the way – posting to our blog page at caicw.org.

I urge you, family and friends, to share this information and encourage others to join in the ongoing struggle. The struggle and battle is so much larger than Roland and I even imagined when we embarked on this mission many years ago. But God is good and amazing things are happening. Please join us.

Thursday, November 21, 2013, in DC –

I had a discouraging meeting that morning. A senior staffer in Indian Affairs office was calling Tom Sullivan a liar. I think he thought maybe I didn’t know one way or the other – like I had just picked up Sullivan’s reports and decided to use them. He told me Tom no longer worked at that job. I told him, “Yes he does.”

The staffer then said it wasn’t true anyone forbade Tom write any more reports concerning the child abuse. I told him, “I heard it from Mr. Sullivan’s voice to my ear.” Then he said something about how a hearing would prove it isn’t true. I didn’t respond, but wanted to tell him, “Bring it on.”

They ended the meeting with the predictable, “Thank you for the information. We will keep it in consideration.”
After the meeting, I sat in the atrium of the Hart building, discouraged, and thought about what a huge monster this was. Those two people are high up in Indian Affairs and probably reflect exactly what the bulk of the committee really thinks.

If it weren’t for knowing how much God has been helping us – and how God made it amazingly possible for us to be in DC – I would have felt like giving up.

But I didn’t.

Two hours later, I received an email forwarded from Betty Jo. It was from Tom Sullivan to his superiors in DC – written within the hour. Interestingly, it addressed all points of contention in my morning meeting. With a lot of pleasure, I forwarded it to the cynical staffers at Indian Affairs. As far as I can help, our children will NOT be treated as collateral damage in DC’s ongoing political games.

Sep 242013
 

TAHLEQUAH, Okla, September 23, 2013 –Veronica's Rights

The adoption of 4-yr-old Veronica Rose by Matt and Melanie Capobianco has been upheld in Oklahoma Supreme Court. The Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare is delighted that visitations in the last month between the Capobiancos and Veronica went very well. Veronica remembered, was glad to see, and felt comfortable with the Capobiancos. The transfer of custody, reported by Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree to have been a “peaceful transfer,” was completed by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office by 7:30 pm with the family leaving for South Carolina soon after.

The claim that Veronica was an ‘Indian Child’ as a result of 3/128 Cherokee Heritage was alienating to many Americans. Even more so was the claim that removing Veronica from Indian Country constituted genocide akin to the Trail of Tears. This was particularly offensive to parents of tribal heritage who have personally chosen to remove their children from Indian Country.

This case has opened eyes to the horror the Indian Child Welfare Act has been inflicting on children across the United States.

Veronica’s situation resolved, CAICW will be spending time in Washington DC this fall, educating legislators about the harm caused by ICWA to multi-racial families across the nation, many more of whom have contacted CAICW after watching the long drawn out ordeal of the Capobianco family.

While one feels for a father losing custody his daughter, the 2013 rulings of U.S. Supreme Court and South Carolina courts overruled initial orders and found that the Capobiancos had stepped in to take care of Veronica in good faith after Mr. Brown advised birth mother, Chrissi Maldonado, that he was not willing to pay child support and chose instead to avoid any interaction with his child, thus losing his parental rights.