Woman asking for help for abused sister-in-law


May 20, 2004

I understand that your not a legal service, but I would like it if you could give some off the record advice.

My sister-in-law is a non-native who was married to a native man.  She was married to him for about 7 years until 1997.  She fled the reservation fleeing for her life and the welfare of their children.  He occassionally beat her and neglicted the children leaving them either with his parent or her at home.  He would drink and come home with hickies on his neck.

Anyway, the day she left, he had sat her and her youngest son down threaten her with a gun then turned it to the little boy who at the time was 2 years old.  he threaten to finish when he got home after work.  So she filed a report with the police and went to the clinic.  She was advice to leave him.  So she gathered what she could and fled the reservation.

She went to her father’s home (who is a pastor) and stayed there for two weeks.  He came down with his father and wanted to take the car.  And that’s it.  He told the kids to stay with the mother. He went home filed for divorce and want sole custody of the kids.  (There are 5 children in this case)  She left for another city and currently is living there. The father accused her of kidnapping their children.  And the tribal court believed him.

She tried to point out the abuse and the neglect of the father to the court and they awarded him custody with visitations, holiday’s and summers.  The family knew all these years where the children were and never did anything.  The father’s excuse was his livestock.  Never sent them anything for holidays or birthdays.

She let them go back with there grandfather for spring break and they never came back.  And she went through many things with the tribal court.  The kids wanted to come home and be with their mother and no one heard them.  It started to affect them in their school and no one said anything.  The father was caught drinking and contributing to his 14 year old son.  And both were thrown in jail.

The father has a history of violence both by his reputation and police records.  And the judge still awarded him custody under the Indian Child Welfare Act.  In court his own mother proclaimed that her son was an unfit father and the children should live with her. And during the whole time of  the proceedings, they only had court about 5 times out of 2 years.  And cancelled 12 times out of all those schedule dates.  Their social service and court system was unfair to her and her children.

How can a Non-native fight such a system for the best interest of the children?  She wants them because she loves and missed them.  They are all she lives for.  She grew up in a Pentecostal enviroment with her parents who are A/G pastors. So if you would e-mail me back and let us know if there is hope for this situation. Thank you for your time,  Shalom!.

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