CAICW – Advocacy and Ministry

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Apr 032018
 
CAICW Donate Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare

The Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, an advocacy and ministry, was co-founded by Roland Morris, an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa tribe. Roland was born and raised on the Leech Lake Reservation in 1945 and spoke only Ojibwe until he started kindergarten. But he as an adult, he made a personal choice not to raise his children there.
Later in life, out of concern for things he had witnessed and experienced, he founded CAICW.

CAICW does not handle adoptions or place children in any homes. It has never been a social service agency or facilitated any kind of placement at all. It is simply an advocacy – an ear to listen, understand and assist as able.

As an advocacy, it has served families of all heritages and children of all ages – the oldest child being sixteen and held on a Michigan reservation against her will. The point has been to keep children in the homes where they want to be – in the homes they feel safe and loved, no matter the heritage. Sometimes this means the home of the birth parent. Sometimes it is the home of an extended family member. Other times, it is a foster or adoptive home that the child feels safest in. CAICW has served all families to this end, regardless of heritage, religion, income or location.

Most often, CAICW deals with children who have been taken to a reservation against their will. This is not because CAICW has a set standard against reservations. It is because that is the direction most children are pulled. According to the last two U.S. censuses – 75% of tribal members do not live in Indian Country. Many have never lived in Indian Country.
Sometimes abuse is what the child is afraid of on the reservation. Other times – it is simply that they don’t know anyone there and want to stay in the communities where they feel comfortable. Other times – the parents or grandparents have decided that they don’t want their children to live within the reservation system.

In the spring of 2017, CAICW assisted a birth mom enrolled at the Spirit Lake reservation by driving her to her visitations at Spirit Lake. CAICW also helped with her initial attorney’s fees. Her baby had been taken from her just after birth. She had told the county social worker that she did not want her baby taken to the reservation. She had chosen to leave Spirit Lake because she had been treated badly and didn’t trust the tribal government or the social services. Against the ICWA law – the county gave her baby to the tribal social services anyway.

A mother enrolled at Leech Lake asked for CAICW’s help in getting her 7-yr-old son returned from the custody of her half-brother, who had made untrue allegations and told her she could never have her son back again. This child was successfully returned to his mother.

There are also cases that involve non-tribal relatives. A grandmother in Colorado was told by the Warm Springs tribe that she could not keep her 7-yr-old grandson, who had lived with her for several years. They told her she could not keep him because she was ‘white.’ The grandson was not eligible for enrollment, but tribal government staff falsified a birth certificate, making it appear that the tribal grandmother was the mother – thus giving him more blood quantum. The county attorney and social workers told the family to give up. They were told they cannot win this.
Fortunately, CAICW was able to get the family a consultation with a very good attorney who gave them information they needed to represent themselves. They were able to prove the birth certificate was false – as well as educate the judge concerning what the ICWA said concerning grandparents. They won and retained custody of their grandson.

Two board members of CAICW are former ICWA children. Both, from two different reservations in two different areas of the country, fought to return to the homes where they felt loved and wanted after having been taken to a reservation. Both had been placed in the homes of relatives on the reservation where they were severely abused. Both tried running away but were prevented. One made it all the way back to her former home one rainy night – but was picked up by the police and returned again to the home where she was being abused. Their hearts go out to other children who are in situations similar to theirs.

Over half of CAICW’S clients are tribal members or the relatives of tribal members. All participants and members through the years have found CAICW online and requested assistance. CAICW does not look for clients or advertise for them.

CAICW has a limited budget and staff – and does what it can, when it can, for whom it can in the form of advocacy and guidance.
CAICW bases everything it writes and shares on documented facts – many of the facts coming directly from federal and tribal government entities and organizations. CAICW sites sources that include the U.S. Dept of Justice, the BIA, ACF, HHS, varied tribal governments, NICWA, and even Obama’s White House. CAICW encourages anyone who questions the facts to contact them directly. CAICW gladly shares source documents.

The work of this ministry/advocacy isn’t easy. It comes with a lot of abuse from opponents. Also, for a long period of time in 2013-2014, attacks to the website by hackers were frequent. A lot of volunteer time was wasted trying to prevent them or fix damage from successful hacks. This was resolved by blocking IP’s that attempted to login or made other clear indications of a hack attempt.

CAICW has no paid staff. There is no money involved in this advocacy. Everything is done volunteer. While not easy, this is preferred, given false claims by the opposition that CAICW is centered around making money. It is also preferred in that – there is no motivation to keep the status quo. CAICW wants things to improve and has no financial stake in keeping things the same.

In fact, should goals be met and there is no longer a need for this advocacy – staff would be very happy to close up and move on. There are so many things to do in this world – finishing this task to the end and knowing it is truly done would be an incredible blessing.

But as it is – people continue to contact CAICW and ask for help. As long as children need help – CAICW will continue, no matter what.

The appreciation from families who have been helped makes all the difficulties worth it.

FIVE THINGS you can do to help fight ICWA.

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Sep 122016
 
roland morris, james pipkin,

Here are five things you can do to help our efforts:

– Based on NICWA talking points –

1. Learn all you can about ICWA, and watch the news for latest developments.
• ICWA is a complex law and there are frequently new legal developments.
• CAICW has created this web site to house resources including articles, family stories, case law, and other important links – https://caicw.org
• Bookmark this Facebook page, and share it with your family and friends.

2. Ask your city, county, state, tribal and federal officials or organization’s governing body to officially pledge to defend the best interest of individual children, NOT the best interest of a political entity, and not acquiesce to any legislation that paints children with one brush, based solely on their heritage. This is the epitome of racism.
• Our opposition portrays Indian Country as totally united over ICWA, cherry picking the comments of a few Roland and his newborn, 1990and presenting them as evidence that ALL Native people are united behind ICWA.
• Waves of heart-felt resolutions defending the rights of children and families to choose their own political affiliations, community affiliations, worldviews, and spirituality, passed in cascading fashion across the United States would send a powerful message that there is indeed near-universal support for the rights and protection of children and families.
• CAICW has shared our resolution so that your community or organization can replicate it.

3. Meet with your state child welfare director, attorney general, and governor and request that your state sign on to ALL amicus briefs opposing ICWA in these court cases.
• Undoubtedly, these officials are being approached by pro-ICWA attorneys asking that they file briefs supporting ICWA.
• In Adoptive Couple, our opponent, NICWA quickly mobilized with this tactic, and garnered amicus support from 19 states.

4. Share ICWA stories of parents, children, foster families, and others.
• There is overwhelming need to share with the media, public officials, and each other YOUR stories of how ICWA has hurt you, your family, and your friends. Children have died. Families have been torn apart. Communities and relatives have come together to fight for the rights and protection of our children – only to be thwarted by the money and power of tribal leaders who don’t even know our children, let alone their wants and needs.
• Use social media to share your stories. Participate in our social media campaign – share from our facebook and twitter pages.
• Contact your State and Federal legislators to share your stories and our Setting the Record Straighter Fact Sheet. Encourage others to do the same.
• Send your story to CAICW to support the national work. (administrator@caicw.org)
• Develop a relationship with reporters – share with them stories of children and families hurt by ICWA on a regular basis. Also share new things happening in the courts or Congress related to ICWA.

5. Contribute to the work for justice and ask your community to contribute to the work for justice.
• Over the years, CAICW has built a strong coalition of advocates willing to defend Children. We do not ask for your money – only that you support by using the above four points. If we need to go to DC, we will let you know. Otherwise, we do just fine in the home office, eating oatmeal and hard boiled eggs.
• Donate to families who need legal help (here if you wish) as well as the Goldwater Institute, which has filed a class-action, constitutional lawsuit concerning the rights of our children.
• Simply put, our staff is 100% volunteer and we are able to use our limited resources creatively and work effectively for under $7000 a year. Primarily, we covet your prayers to help us with this critical work. Please pray today.

And Share.

Our Pledge to Defend Children

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Sep 122016
 
CAICW Donate Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare

Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare Board of Directors Resolution 2016

WHEREAS, the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare was established in 2004 and is the oldest national organization defending the rights of children and families against the overreaching and unconstitutional Indian Child Welfare Act; and

WHEREAS, we, the members of the CAICW Board of Directors, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and

WHEREAS, Congress, working with tribal nations, tribal leadership, and advocates for tribal sovereignty – but with little input from enrollable individuals and families who have rejected the reservation system; enrollable individuals and families who have rejected tribal government jurisdiction; un-enrolled birth parents and extended families of all heritages; abused children without voice within the reservation system; and other stake-holders directly affected by the law – passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978 under the premise of stopping a “wholesale removal of Indian children by public and private agencies, taking 25-35% of all Indian children from their homes, families, and communities;” and

WHEREAS, families, social workers, medical professionals, government officials, law enforcement and abused children have reported to CAICW board members that there are frequently not enough safe homes to place children on many reservations, and when lacking a safe home, some tribal leaders have opted to place children in dangerous homes rather than place them off the reservation; and

WHEREAS, more than 75% of persons with tribal heritage do NOT live in Indian Country according to the 2000 and 2010 U.S. Census’, and many tribal members have taken their children and purposefully left Indian Country due to the high incidence of crime and corruption within the reservation system; and

WHEREAS, it is held by CAICW that more children have left the reservation system in the company of their families who had made a personal decision to leave than have been removed by social services; and

WHEREAS, once off the reservation, many families consider themselves dissidents and do not want their children returned to the reservation system or to be under the jurisdiction of what they know to be a corrupt tribal government; and

WHEREAS, a coalition of leading national child welfare organizations has agreed it is in every child’s best interest to be protected from harm and to prevent the unnecessary trauma that occurs when children are removed from their family, culture, and community; and

WHEREAS, tribal leaders have demanded the removal of many children from their families, culture and communities off the reservation, under the premise they are better off on the reservation even if they have never lived there before, have never been part of the tribal community there, and don’t know anyone there; and

WHEREAS, many organizations, state governments, members of Congress, and tens of thousands of AI/AN individuals have opposed ICWA and repudiate the claim it is an essential and effective policy that protects the best interest of AI/AN children; and

WHEREAS, early application and consistent compliance with state laws governing child protection and family unity – without any application of or concern for ICWA – prevents frivolous removals of AI/AN children from their family by tribal governments and promotes stable placements for AI/AN children in loving, permanent homes, connected to the factual family and factual culture in which they have been raised and/or are most comfortable; and

WHEREAS, early application and consistent compliance with state laws governing child protection and family unity allows for the best probability of equal protection for children of every heritage as well as an increased probability that children will be able to remain within the factual family, culture and community the child is most familiar with and/or most comfortable with, whatever form that culture and community that might be; and

WHEREAS, current research shows that family, culture, and community promote resiliency and healthy development in AI/AN youth and in all youth of every heritage; and it is in their best interest to remain within the culture and community they have been raised in and/or feel most comfortable with; and

WHEREAS, AI/AN children continue to be taken from the only homes they know by tribal governments at alarming rates, often against the wishes of the child’s birth family, and due largely to misapplication, ignorance, or willful non-compliance with the mandates of ICWA by many tribal governments, tribal social services, and tribal courts, including § 1903 (2) – the definition of extended family member, which does not mandate tribal heritage; and § 1903 (1)(iv) – where ICWA is not to be used to award custody to one of parent against the other, and most notably, as the base reason for choosing an enrolled parent over an un-enrolled parent; and

WHEREAS, a 16-yr-old girl called CAICW from a Michigan reservation stating she felt trapped and neither the tribal police nor judge would allow her to leave her father’s home and go live with her mother off the reservation; and

WHEREAS, a 12-yr-old girl from a Minnesota reservation stated she has been abused and wants to leave, but feels trapped, and the tribal social services has sided with her care-taker; and

WHEREAS, a mother living on a Washington State reservation told CAICW she feels trapped with her children on the reservation and unable to leave without the tribe’s ICWA social worker taking her children away from her, as had been done to her in the past; and

WHEREAS, a North Dakota mother has stated to CAICW she does not want to go before the tribal judge as she does not believe she will obtain justice; and

WHEREAS, hundreds of individuals and families have contacted CAICW since 2004 with their personal stories concerning what they felt was abuse by tribal government and/or feeling trapped within Indian Country as a result of the ICWA, and these individuals and families have represented multiple backgrounds and heritages from across the nation; and

WHEREAS, the Cherokee Nation Attorney General stated in 2012 they have over 100 attorneys targeting over 1000 children across the nation, and many of these children had little if any factual connection to the Cherokee Nation, other than a distant relative generations past; and

WHEREAS, despite these troubling numbers, calls for action from across the nation, and consistent and shocking reports of widespread abuse and even murder of children who had been moved from their safe and loving homes and placed into dangerous homes under the auspices of ICWA, federal agencies have recently and inexplicably acted to increase ICWA implementation against Indian children and families; and

WHEREAS, appropriate opposition to ICWA has risen in the form of litigation, information campaigns with Congress, and attempts to draw media attention to increasingly tragic events and as well as the racist nature of the ICWA, which, despite claims it is not based on race, targets children of heritage; and

WHEREAS, those in opposition to ICWA are advocating on behalf of Indian children and for the best interest of Indian children – who are many times their very own children from within their very own birth families, extended families and communities – and therefore rightfully and thoroughly refuse counsel or permission from overreaching, self-professed ‘Indian Country experts,’ national Native organizations, or any individual tribe that does not have direct connection and personal knowledge of their children and families or been invited to participate in the custody action; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that CAICW recognizes and firmly supports the full repeal of ICWA and opposes any further federal or State efforts to force ICWA compliance and implementation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that CAICW pledges to work hand-in-hand with every AI/AN family and non-Indian family that presents to CAICW requesting assistance, and all supporters, to vigorously fight ICWA in the courtroom, state house, and Congress to protect AI/AN children and their families from the harmful effects of arrogant and autocratic tribal governments and ICWA; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that this resolution shall be the policy of CAICW until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.

CERTIFICATION. The members of the Board of Directors of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare do hereby adopt the foregoing resolution and direct that this resolution be entered in the record of board work. The foregoing resolution was adopted by the CAICW Board of Directors through electronic vote on this day 5 of September, 2016.

CHRISTMAS 2014 NEWSLETTER

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Dec 272014
 

Why we do what we do – and what’s next:

CAICW has no paid staff. That isn’t to say that we don’t get important things done, as the Christmas newsletter shows. We simply get it done in the most cost effective way imaginable…albeit, slowly…

We are not complaining. My husband and I got involved with the work – fighting against the current reservation system – from the pain and passion of watching too many relatives, including children, die tragically from drugs, alcohol, violence and suicide. As we delved in through the years, doing research, writing, speaking and acquiring colleagues, we learned how deep the corruption in Indian Country goes. Financial compensation has never been important. We are talking about the welfare of our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

The first thing a person should know about CAICW prior to getting involved is that we are politically “incorrect” and have been vilified by the Montana Human Rights Network, among others, in the past. My husband, in fact, was labeled an “anti-Indian Native American” by MHRN. They were so upset by his words and actions that they continued to use him on their power point as their poster child for anti-Indian racism three years after he passed away.

All I could think when told this by someone who had attended one of their seminars was… if all they can come up with as their worst “Anti-Indian” offender is a man of 100% Minnesota Chippewa heritage who has been gone for three years…well…then there really must not be much of a problem…

There is much going on in Indian Country that the rest of America needs to realize. For starters, we are all aware that former lobbyist Jack Abramoff went to prison. However, no one who paid him the money, nor anyone who received the money, went to jail. Jack was gone, but obviously, the money continues to change hands – at the expense of the lives and well-being of our children.

The Indian Child Welfare Act is not about ‘protecting’ children.It never was. (Why did Russell Means brag about being the only federally incarcerated prisoner to work for a U.S. Senator – SD Senator Abourezk?) The ICWA was about protecting tribal sovereignty and the money that tribal governments are given per head.

Most of you have heard about the child abuse and murders at Spirit Lake. There is so much more – documented – that we can tell you. Further, what is happening at Spirit Lake is not isolated. Many reservations, due to the high levels of alcohol and drug abuse, coupled with the inability for state law enforcement to act or federal money to be audited, have become deeply corrupt. True traditional culture does not prevail. A crime and drug culture prevails.

Congressman Cramer has been wonderful in that he has taken this issue head-on. He is one of the few unafraid of saying what needs to be said. He is the one who requested the Oversight hearing last June and called the Spirit Lake leaders on the carpet.

There is much more work to do.

1) I will return to DC in late January to resume talking to every office.Well…I have given up trying with Senator Heitkamp’s office, but there are 99 others. I will be there for a few weeks.

2) Our legal fund for families who are fighting the Indian Child Welfare Act needs funds. Some are birth families; some are foster or adoptive families. But all are trying to protect children from being forced from their homes and placed into homes chosen by the tribal government. Many times, these children have very little tribal heritage. Some have less than 5%. One little girl three years ago had just 1% Cherokee heritage. We have had grandparents who were told they cannot keep their grandchildren because the grandparents are not Indian. We have had birth fathers whose children have been whisked away to the reservation, despite state court orders, and law enforcement has been unwilling to step on toes to retrieve them. We have had children who have never lived on the reservation – and whose families have never lived there – taken from foster or adoptive homes where they have lived happily most of their lives. We cannot pay the full fees for families, but can pay for consultations with good ICWA attorneys. This year, through this fund, a seven-year-old child’s family learned what they needed to do, won in court, and he was allowed to continue living with his grandmother.

Our children are not on this earth to benefit tribal sovereignty. They are our children. 75% of tribal members do NOT live in Indian Country. Many, many have left due to the crime and corruption and do not want tribal governments to lay claim over their children.

When things are wrong, they need to be admitted and dealt with – not hidden. Many enrolled and enrollable families agree.

3) We also have families who have left Indian Country and want a different life for their children, but need help putting that new life together. So we are also in the process of finishing a business plan for a long-term therapeutic setting, similar to “Teen Challenge,” where families can come as a unit and grow healthy together.

We appreciate your interest and hope you find us worthy.

~ Christmas 2014 Newsletter ~

Luke 2:11 “…in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

My Friends and Family – 2014 has been so busy and eventful, it’s been hard to know where to begin, let alone find time to begin it.

In October, 2013, I took off for DC with the Blazer and a couple hundred dollars, trusting God to provide for the work that needed to be done once I got there. Once there, I visited every Senate office in DC and several house and committee offices, renewing old relationships and building new ones, telling them what is really going on in Indian Country.

After coming home for my son’s birthday and Christmas, I traveled west at the invitation of a supporter, visiting several friends and CAICW families along the way –

Over the course of six months, I visited several awesome families from coast to coast. I traveled from South Carolina, to North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Washington, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado – (where I was introduced to a publicist who later introduced me to my new book publisher. I also met for the first time with ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan) – Kansas, Arkansas, and finally, Missouri. I video-taped several ICWA family stories.

It was a blessed time. I wish I could name all my gracious hosts – but there were so many and my patient readers would think they were reading Genesis 10. Through it all, God provided tremendously – food, gas, warm homes to stay in, repairs to the Blazer and more.

I came home at the end of March, 2014 for the birth of my grandson, ‘Roland John.’ I thought I would only stay a couple weeks and then head back to DC. But for varied reasons and difficulties, ended up staying through the summer. One of the difficulties – I was given a 1983 Toyota Huntsman camper. I intended to continue traveling, so thought this would allow me to be more independent. So I gave the Blazer to my daughter. Well… as it turns out, there had been a recall on the axle for that camper about twenty or so years ago – and this camper didn’t get one. So now I was told it was too dangerous to drive; that I had been given a two-ton planter.

Yeah – so that put a small dent in travel plans. But again – God is good. After several weeks, a friend found an axle for $200 and put it in. The camper was finally ready by August or so…

But the summer wasn’t wasted. While in ND and MN, continuing to work volunteer and trusting God for provision, I wrote several articles and tended to the org. I also visited a lot of extended family, had a long and good visit with (former) Spirit Lake Tribal Chair Russ McDonald, and later the ND Executive Director for Indian Affairs, Scott Davis. I also spent Mother’s Day with my daughter and baby Roland with dear friends in South Dakota.

In June, I took a really nice SD family to the House Oversight Committee Hearing in DC. They weren’t testifying concerning the subject of child abuse at Spirit Lake, but they had a similar story and it is important for Congress to know these things are happening on many reservations – not just at Spirit Lake. I also did quite a bit of writing this summer, finished Sage’s ICWA story on video, took a couple classes through Liberty University online, contracted with a new publisher for the book “Dying in Indian Country,” and tried to sell almost everything I own through rummage sales and Craig’s list. (I intended to hit the road again so figured I didn’t need anything anymore.)

However, once summer was over, it made more sense to stay in North Dakota and help Congressman Kevin Cramer’s campaign then to go to DC during campaign season, when very little gets done (well, outside of Pres. Obama’s executive orders). So I worked for Congressman Cramer, putting up campaign signs and making phone calls for events.

In September, a BIA policeman – tribal member from Spirit Lake – who had first contacted me in June, contacted me again. This time he, Bundy Littlewind, wanted to share his story publically. I was sent several documents and audio tapes between him and tribal social services. After I had listened to the tapes, he called me. We talked for about an hour. He told me that all he cares about is truth. He told me he was raised to be a warrior – protecting women, elders and children. He said tribal social services only protects tribal government. I asked him if he wanted me to arrange radio interviews. He said, “Yes.”

Five hours later, he was killed after hitting a moose on highway 2.

Bundy wanted us to spread the documents, so in accordance with his wishes, after removing the names of the children from the material, we posted it. The response was amazing. Our CAICW Facebook page grew with hundreds of followers – many of whom members of the Spirit Lake reservation.

In October – one of my niece – the adult daughter of Roland’s sister – came to live with me for a few weeks. She helped me with putting signs up for Congressman Cramer, attended an small event featuring Senator Rubio with me, walked with the campaign in a parade… and as a professional masseuse (YES!) gave me a couple of GREAT massages.

In November, a nephew – the adult son of another of Roland’s sisters – came to live with me for a long term. In the short time he has been here, he has already painted two rooms in my house as well as started his flooring business in eastern North Dakota. My son – who arranges home improvement installations for Lowe’s – and nephew talk a lot about such things, and I nod my head and pretend to understand.

My nephew was in Teen Challenge last winter, loves the Lord, and wants to work in men’s ministry as well as help found the RJM (name?) home. It is exciting to have a partner in ministry!

Now here it is, December, and I helping some beloved friends in Canada get through a difficult time. I have been learning so much while with them – as I always do when with them – about pausing, prayer, worship, and taking time to listen to the Lord. What an awesome opportunity this time with them has been – a blessed way to end the year.

Trusting God fully for providence – all this last year. Thank you, Jesus.

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA, SENATOR HEITKAMP, AND STANDING ROCK:

This letter was printed in the Grand Forks Herald and Bismarck papers Thursday, June 12, 2014, and read on air during the Jay Thomas radio show Friday, June 13, 2014

To the Editor,
Concerning the upcoming event featuring President Obama and Senator Heitkamp at the Standing Rock Reservation on Friday, June 13th:

North Dakotans are a gracious and forgiving people and will politely welcome the president to our wonderful state.

However, before he gives his speech concerning the wonderful “Nation to Nation” relationship he has with tribal leaders and announces what further moneys and authorities he will bestow upon them – he needs to learn facts from those whom his edicts directly affect.

• One: According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75% of tribal members DO NOT live in Indian Country – and many have deliberately taken their children and left in order to protect their families from the rampant crime and corruption.

• Two: The abuses at Spirit Lake here in North Dakota are well known, but it is also known that Spirit Lake is just a microcosm of what’s happening on reservations across the country.

• Three: 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.

• Four: Many, many times more children leave the reservation system in the company of their parents, who have mass exited – than do children who have been taken into foster care or found a home in adoption. But tribal leaders can’t admit parents are consciously taking 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 it on evil social services

President Obama, please listen to those who do not have a vested financial interest in increasing tribal government power, and learn about the physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of tribal members by other tribal members and even many tribal leaders.

STOP supporting corrupt tribal leaders and corrupt systems and pretending all is okay in Indian Country.

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.

More power given to tribal leaders means less freedom, safety and constitutional rights for tribal members.

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

Thank you so much for all your encouragement and support!

Articles we write and receive are posted on the CAICW website at https://caicw.org.
To follow us on Facebook – go to https://www.facebook.com/fbCAICW.org NOTE: Facebook algorithms have changed. Facebook, being a business, has begun diminishing the ability for pages to get attention in a free, organic manner in order to encourage page owners to purchase advertising. Studies have shown that in the last year, organic page reach has diminished 40% – and up to 80% for some pages. You are not seeing everything we post.
o To ensure you are getting all of our updates, please set the “Get Notifications” for the page or “Add to your Interest List.”
o Otherwise, without paying FB for advertising, it is becoming harder and harder for content posts to be seen in the timeline. (The select options are available in a drop down on your page where it says “Liked.” (Forewarned: Scripture and our Sunday evening prayer thoughts will also come through, along with updates about families and legislation.)
The book, ‘Dying in Indian Country,’ will be available this coming summer through Deep River Books – at half the current price.

Some of the recent articles available at https://caicw.org

Three South Dakota Children Given to Abuser? (Video from family) –
– https://caicw.org/2014/05/03/three-south-dakota-children-given-to-abuser/#.U5vKmrH4IfQ
Criminal Corruption continues at Spirit Lake (May 16, 2014, Letter from Thomas F. Sullivan) –
– https://caicw.org/2014/05/06/criminal-corruption-continues-at-spirit-lake/#.U5vKRrH4IfQ
Mark Fiddler Explains Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl (Published in Minnesota State Bar Association Family Law Forum | Vol. 22 No. 2 | Spring 2014) –
– https://caicw.org/2014/06/03/mark-fiddle-explains-adoptive-couple-vs-baby-girl/#.U5vKebH4IfQ
Letter to BIA Concerning Planned Changes to ICWA Guidelines – – This letter is in response to suggestions made by tribal leaders in an April BIA listening Session –
– https://caicw.org/2014/05/01/letter-to-bia-re-icwa-guidelines/#.U5vKtLH4IfQ
Tom Sullivan’s Response to ACF Superior Ms. McMullen, (July 1, 2014) – This letter is in response to testimony at the June House Oversight hearing –
– https://caicw.org/2014/07/05/tom-sullivans-response-to-acf-superior-ms-mcmullen-july-1-2014/#.U-KACmNsLFQ
Tom Sullivan’s Response to Chairman McDonald’s Hearing Testimony – This letter is in response to testimony at the June House Oversight hearing –
– https://caicw.org/2014/07/05/tom-sullivans-response-to-chairman-mcdonalds-hearing-testimony/#.U-KAL2NsLFQ
CAICW TESTIMONY: CHILD PROTECTION AND THE JUSTICE SYSTEM ON THE SPIRIT LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION: – This letter is in response to testimony at the June House Oversight hearing –
– https://caicw.org/2014/07/05/testimony-child-protection-and-the-justice-system-on-the-spirit-lake-indian-reservation/#.U-KAW2NsLFQ
Response to Mayo Clinic Prayer Study: – (Thinking through the obvious…)
– https://caicw.org/2014/08/06/concerning-the-long-ago-mayo-clinic-prayer-study/#.U-JwT2NsLFQ
“Stakeholders” – the new BIA buzz word: – – In response to the offensive use of the word “Stakeholder”
– https://caicw.org/2014/06/20/stakeholders-the-new-bia-buzz-word/#.U-J8gWNsLFQ
Sage’s Story: Running from ICWA (Video)
• – https://caicw.org/2014/08/13/sages-story-running-from-icwa/
Bundy’s Audio Tapes and documents: – Audios from BIA policeman, Bundy Littlewind
– https://caicw.org/2014/09/25/five-hours-later-he-died-in-a-car-wreck/#.VCwQSzaZ5pk
Letter to Eric Holder, re: His ICWA Statement at WH Tribal Nations Conference, Dec 3, 2014
– https://caicw.org/2014/12/05/letter-to-eric-holder-re-his-icwa-statement-at-wh-tribal-nations-conference-dec-3-2014/

And on the ‘Dying in Indian Country’ blog site –
AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT, LIES, & THEIR FEDERAL SUPPORTERS
– http://dyinginindiancountry.com/2014/10/12/american-indian-movement-persuasion/

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12: 1-2)

Who is “Stealing” WHOSE Kids?

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Nov 182013
 
Dorothy, Andrew, and Walter, June 1983

Every now and then, someone accuses us of being an evil adoption org, “stealing” babies from families. I usually delete the remarks because they are off-the-wall – unrelated to and disconnected with what we actually do.

We have already explained off and on over the last few months what we are. There is no desire to further waste time addressing baseless accusations from people who aren’t interested in reading what has already been written.

Nevertheless, it has been suggested that I state it one more time, and then simply cite this page when appropriate.

Alright.

#1) We have never “taken” anyone’s children. We are not a social service, adoption agency, or orphanage. We don’t house children (other than our OWN), transport children, or facilitate any kind of child custody transfer. There isn’t one child we have EVER “taken” – period.

#2) The original goal, way before my husband and I started this org, was to stand up for our OWN rights as parents. I will say it again. I, my husband, and our family and friends stood up to say that we have the right to determine the best interest of our OWN children. This is OUR right – not the right of tribal or federal government.

#3) Like it or not – my husband (100% Minnesota Chippewa heritage) was a Christian. He had visited his cousin, (a tribal member who was an evangelical preacher) and became a Christian in 1988. Months later, he led me to the Lord. He, by the way, also founded this org. So one accusation against CAICW – the talk of “white” people stuffing religion down the throats of tribal members – is both frivolous and, well… racist.

#4) Having seen so much pain inflicted on so many family members … having looked on the battered face of a two-year-old in a casket, chased a drunk off of a 10-year-old, stood in the closet where a beautiful 16-year-old had hanged herself, and much more – We knew we had to do something. Yup. We wanted to rescue family members – of all the terrible things.

Further, knowing first hand the depth of crime, corruption and abuse on my husband’s reservation, we knew we could not raise our own children in Indian Country. If something were to happen to us, we wanted a member of our church and his wife – in fact, a man who happened to be our state representative – to be guardians over our children.

Contrary to the uninformed mantra of some who claim we are fighting to ‘take’ their children – the reality is we’ve been fighting to keep people of their view point away from our own children.

#5) That said – ICWA became a problem. Knowing that ICWA gives tribal governments jurisdiction over our kids if we died, and hearing from people that tribal governments had interfered with placement of children into Christian homes – and knowing that the ICWA mandates that the children be raised in what is said to be the culture of the tribe, whether parents agree or not – we feared that our children could be placed contrary to our wishes. We felt angry that our Congress would pass such an invasive law.

#6) Around 1995 or so, we began writing about the unconstitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). People, seeing our writing on the internet, contacted us to ask for help. We were just a couple of regular parents, not trying to get people to contact us. But we listened and cared about their situations. We researched, learned, and grew. The org was born in February, 2004.

#7) The ONLY people we have ever advocated for is families who – because they saw what we have written – CONTACTED US asking for help. We have never gone and pushed ourselves into any situation – unlike some of the tribal governments we kept hearing about, who were pushing themselves into private family situations constantly.

#8) The calls came from people crossing all demographics: different heritages, incomes, backgrounds, ages and locations. We have served birth parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, foster parents and adoptive parents. …This includes low-income tribal members living within Reservation boundaries.

Unlike others, we don’t discriminate.

#9) Our membership includes former ICWA children – children who felt abused by the Indian Child Welfare Act and tribal government. Children who were very happy with their foster and adoptive homes, did not want to be placed with relatives on the reservation, and begged their tribe to leave them alone. One example is a girl that 60 Minutes did a story on about twenty years ago during her struggle against ICWA. The Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Dr. William B. Allen, was involved with trying to help her at that time. She joined us in DC last year to tell legislative offices about her ordeal.

#10) The child’s true best interest is priority. – Having been a registered nurse, been a day care provider, raised nine children of heritage and taken care of at least a dozen more at various times – I don’t accept what some tribal governments claim to be needed by kids.
I am not alone. Many tribal members are tired of seeing their families hurt year after year after year and feel let down by both tribal and federal government. They want REAL help and they want it NOW.

#11) Despite what some Congressmen and Tribal leaders say – more money isn’t going to fix things. Action is what is needed. Many tribal members feel that more money will simply add to what is already lining the pockets of corrupt tribal officials.

Stop pushing more “task-forces” or 3 year “Commissions.” Start, instead, with enforcing the law and jailing criminals.

#12) Needless to say, some Tribal leaders don’t want people to talk about the real problems. Real problems are supposed to be covered up and not ever mentioned. So – our talking about real people and real tragedy makes some tribal leaders angry.

#13) We will not stand down. 60 tribal governments are currently considering expanding their membership criteria to include children who are of extremely little heritage and whose families could have disassociated with Indian Country generations ago. The federal government gives tribal leaders full authority to “determine their own membership” – so they can expand membership to include a child despite objection by parents and grandparents.

Further – these same governments have discussed getting rid of the “Supremacy Clause” from their constitutions in order that they not need submit to federal or Supreme courts. This means that tribal members will be without appeal outside of the tribal system. Those who disagree with tribal leaders will be without recourse.

And with laws like the new version of the Violence Against Women Act – which states if either the victim or perpetrator in a crime is tribal, the tribal court has jurisdiction – more and more non-members will find themselves in tribal court without recourse. Mind you – if the perp of a violent act is a tribal member, the victim, whether a member or non-member, is forced into tribal court as well.

Even victims who are tribal members could have good cause not to want to share their pain in tribal court. Imagine if the perp is the son of a tribal official. That’s not an unheard of scenario.

It’s time to see the woods through the trees. For those who think this org and others have “no business” interfering with tribal sovereignty – understand that tribal sovereignty has no business interfering with independent U.S. citizens.

The current trajectory will allow tribal governments to interfere with even more families. If the tribal constitution is changed, the ICWA could apply to our own family for generations. (Kind of the opposite of what my husband and I wanted to see happen.)

Q) Who are the undeclared entities currently “taking” other people’s children across the country?

A) Tribal governments – some of whom are lowering membership criteria and pushing Congress to tighten ICWA to force their jurisdiction on others – including unwed, non-tribal mothers. (Who have been referred to as a “loophole” left open by a June Supreme Court case.)

Q) What was the original agenda of this org’s founders – before the org was started?

A) To demand tribal governments leave our kids alone. To stop Congress from unconstitutionally mandating relationship with tribal government and stop mandating the culture and religion a child has to grow up in.

Q) What is the current agenda of CAICW?

To assist and advocate for children and families in their pursuit autonomy, strength and wholeness – and to do our advocacy in relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

To show and tell how Jesus Christ saved and changed our lives and the lives of others.

To declare the independence of United States citizens above that of tribal sovereignty.

Or – it could be put this way: To assist and advocate for families in their struggle for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness –

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

 

 

 

Sep 092013
 
Sweet Girl Don't Die
Baptism in Leech Lake, 2007

Baptism in Leech Lake, 2007

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.

There 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 you are claiming multi-heritage children, I have a right to and WILL speak.

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 even ethnic neighborhoods within a large town. 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.

To those who are accusing us of genocide for demanding that tribal government keep their hands off our kids – get something straight, you are free to raise your children in the manner you see best. You are NOT free to raise MY children in the manner you see best.

Targeting other people’s kids to bolster membership rolls might be easier than doing the work necessary to keep your 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 your own admission – with your own statistics, such as losing 4 Indian languages a year – that is individual tribal members choosing NOT to speak the language. To continue blaming it on “white” people is disingenuous.

How can that I say that?  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 sharing 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 YOU 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 life.  (Go ahead and screen shot that and share it with your friends. They need to wake up to reality as well.)

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.

You can NOT force other families to submit to your value system. That is why ICWA is totally unconstitutional. You 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 you are going to 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.

Please note what I factually said. 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.

 

If you 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.

Are you 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?

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

 

 

Sep 082013
 
Sunset on the Rez

 In response to Lisa’s Open Letter

by Anonymous – received Sat 9/7/2013 10:44 PM

Jeremiah 1In the Woods by the Lake

New International Version (NIV)

The Call of Jeremiah

The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.

As I read the passage above it occurs to me that like Jeremiah, God had chosen Veronica for this difficult struggle long before he formed her in her mother’s womb. For that matter, Ms. Maldonado, the Cs, the Browns, the attorneys and judges have all been chosen to execute his plan and in the end it will be God’s word and will that will prevail. As Christians this is all we have to understand in order to find comfort and peace as this struggle plays out.

A little over one year ago I too unwittingly joined the crusade to speak out for the injustices and the hurt that ICWA is increasingly causing to good families and helpless children of Native American descent. I feel this story has to be told, because unlike Veronica, it takes place on a reservation and similar stories happen with regularity, but no one ever hears about them. Like Veronica, these children also deserve to live with a permanent, loving family and be afforded all the privileges, rights and opportunities that other children of the United States enjoy as a result of being citizens of the greatest nation on earth.

My intimate struggle with ICWA began years ago when I befriended a Native family living on a reservation. The family was poor, the father having been raised in the bush by people living a very old, sacred traditional life. He came to be raised this way only after being abandoned by his birth parents and spending his earliest years on a work farm where he was physically, emotionally and sexually abused by the church people that ran the farm. As a result, this father never learned to read and write and only learned to speak English in adulthood. The mother of this family grew up on the reservation and experienced the same type of abuse as a child. As a result of their pasts, both of these parents had made a conscious choice not to have children. This was a rare decision indeed. When the wife’s niece and nephew were found to be severely abused in all unthinkable manners by their own parents, grandparents and extended family members, as well as members of the gang their family belonged to, social workers placed the children in this couple’s care. There were no background checks or formal transfer of the children. A year later a drug and alcohol addicted infant came to be in their care through a respite program. Again no background checks. Soon afterwards, the great grandmother of this infant, who was said to have custody of the child, came to them and said for them to raise this child as their own. And they did. In Indian Country, they call this a “traditional adoption.” The only catch was that the grandmother kept the child’s government subsidy. Another common occurrence with Indian foster families. The infant was nurtured and loved as it withdrew from the drugs and the other two children began to make positive progress as a result of the couple’s devotion.

Seven years later, after a long illness, the wife, who was a member of the tribe, passed away. By then, the two older children had been returned to the custody of their father even though he continued to live a bad life. The children were passed to many different caregivers and juvenile programs and most of the good work and progress they had made in the care of my friends soon was lost. The youngest child remained in the custody of the father, while the grandmother continued to receive the child’s check. She did not provide for the child in any way. The man was not a member of the tribe himself so the tribe did nothing to help him support the child. In fact, no tribal members came forward to help him when his wife passed. The father was very worried about how he and the child would make it, so I lent a hand. They both struggled at the loss of the wife/mother.

One year ago, as I was working to set the family up so that they could reside in a safer area of the reservation, the grandmother who had approved the plan, abruptly reclaimed the child who was by now 8 years old. Neither the father or the child wanted to be separated, but the grandmother told the father that he would never get the child back because she would loose her check. Apparently, my involvement and the death of the wife caused a panic.

In the entire 8 years there had never been any social workers involved or background checks or follow up on the well being of the child. That being said, virtually every doctor, teachers, mayors, judges, tribal lawyers, tribal council members and every so called “mandated reporter” knew this child was being raised by the couple and was considered their “legal” child by virtue of the traditional adoption. All of these same people turned a blind eye and refused to help the man and his child. They told him that he had opened a can of worms and to this day father and child are not permitted to see or talk to one another.

Imagine losing the only mother you have ever known and then just a year later being torn from the man you know as your father. What type of cultural was preserved by these actions? Without a question, the child’s best interests were not served. Tribal members burned the man’s property in an attempt to silence him. The man is now homeless and his life and his child’s life will never have the chance to see a happy ending as hopefully Veronica’s will.

When an ICWA injustice is served to you on a reservation, there is little recourse. ICWA children mean a check for the tribe and a check for the caregiver. The tribal government and tribal courts will do ANYTHING to strengthen the ICWA. They do not want stories such as this one (and there are many) to see the light of day because it will expose the uncomfortable truth that even within Indian Country, the ICWA isn’t about preserving culture or serving the best interests of children. The ICWA is the philosophical and financial cornerstone of tribal sovereignty and the fact that children are being sacrificed to further this agenda does not bother those in power.

I witnessed this child being torn from its father, crying “daddy” and trying to cling to him for dear life. The transition time was 3 minutes, not even the hour that the Cs and Veronica were allowed. Shortly after this happened, I found CAICW, and unquestionably, Lisa has been a huge support in a vast sea of people who actively advocate for the ICWA, but many who do so have no idea of what a life confined to a reservation means to a child. There are few if any adults willing or able to speak out against the ICWA. Knowing that regardless of gender, it isn’t a matter of whether a child living on a reservation will be raped, trafficked or abused, but rather when, is a source of constant fear and anxiety for me now because I can do nothing but turn the situation over to our all loving God and trust that He and his angels will see fit to watch over and protect a young child I had come to love and would have gladly offered my life, time, love and financial resources to so that the child could fulfill its full potential.

As the ongoing struggle to return Veronica to her parents continues to unfold, I continue to pray for the right words and the opportunity to speak out for ALL the special children who God has set apart to be his voice in this struggle. I ask all involved, those who support and those who do not support the ICWA, to take time to ask the children how the ICWA is working for them. Why haven’t we asked the children? If this law is meant for them, shouldn’t they have a voice too?

Before my story took place, I knew the ICWA existed and as a self-imposed student of Native American history, I was acutely aware of the historical precedent and destruction of the Native family that was the impetus for the passage of this law. In the past year, as I have struggled and mourned the loss of knowing and communicating with a motherless child, I have followed Veronica’s story, the plight of the children on the Spirit Lake Reservation (which mirrors the stories on the reservation I am intimate with) and I now understand how this law has been corrupted and abused to serve those in power. I have so many beautiful, yet tragic faces of children etched into my memory. I have reached out to some who say they are working to amend the ICWA and asked, “but what about all the kids on the Rez.” One such person told me I was crazy, that it would take a crusade. Well, I’ve been called much worse. I’m happy to be called crazy and to be part of a crusade if it means that just one child will be afforded the same opportunities and love that I have been blessed with in my life.

I thank Lisa and Roland Morris for their EXTREME bravery and courage to do what they felt was right for their family, and for Lisa to speak out about what both she and I know to be true about what it is like to live in Indian Country today. I am so grateful that Lisa is there for so many families struggling with the unintended consequences of this law. I urge people on both sides of this struggle to consider the needs and best interests of the children involved. I pray that we can start an open truthful dialog and that compromises can be reached and political agendas put aside so that THE CHILDREN have some hope for a better future.

In closing, I invite you to join Lisa and CAICW supporters in weekly prayer each Sunday (9 EST, 8 CT, 7 MT, 6 PST) as we pray for ALL children in Indian Country and those to whom their best interest is entrusted. As we pray Ephesians 6, we ask that God’s will be done, in his time and according to his plan. We pray for peace and love to fill the hearts and minds of all those involved in bringing truth, light, justice and permanent families to ALL of God’s children. Amen.

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

 

A CAICW logo from Veronica

Sep 072013
 
FAMILY, 2000

Julie – 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 Baptism 1994early 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.

We 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. 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. 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.

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)

Roland & GirlsBecause 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. He was determined to raise his children Christian and so wanted me to be a Christian as well. He did not want the 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. 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 have been ruling on.

Therefore, when MrChristinna Maldonado & Veronica Capobianco. Brown took the Capobianco’s little girl, without the benefit of any transition, breaking Veronica’s heart for the only parents she had ever known in her 27 months – it was seen by many of us as extremely selfish on the part of Mr. Brown, and that is how our judgment of him has stood. He did not care at all about Veronica’s need for the only parents she had known and was bonded to.

It was also seen as extremely selfish of the tribal government – which cares nothing about Veronica’s majority heritage. No one stops for a moment to consider whether Veronica, as a teen, might prefer to identify with the Hispanic heritage of her birth mother. If she chooses to identify as Hispanic – will she be allowed to? If she would like to meet her birth mother, who she was allowed to see while she was with the Capobiancos, will she be allowed to?

~ Do those who are demanding that she identify as a Native American truly care who she is as an individual with her own mind and heart? Or are they trying to stuff her into a box and make her into who THEY want her to be?

I just wanted you to know all this – as one Christian mother to another – both of us being mother’s in multi-heritage families.

Bless your heart; I am confused as to why you would send unkind emails to other Christian women. In the name of Jesus – please understand that these other women are not evil. They are simply seeing other aspects to this case then you have been seeing.

Father & Daughter: Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)http://dyinginindiancountry.com

Sep 042013
 

Father and Daughter

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.)

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.

AND 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/

Elizabeth Sharon Morris is Chairwoman of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, columnist for Women’s Voices Magazine, and author of ‘Dying in Indian Country.’ http://dyinginindiancountry.com a dramatic true story of transformation and hope.

Jul 152013
 
http://dyinginindiancountry.com/

Sitting in an airport on my last leg home after a two week break, I’ve been doing http://elizabethsharonmorris.com/some work while waiting.  While away these two weeks, I finished five books – one of which was a book by Corrie ten Boom. It gave me lots to think about – the least of which is how she managed funding for her post-Holocaust ministry.  (I say the “least,” because, obviously, she had many vital things to say.)

But, equally obviously, these comments got my attention.  She determined early on never to ask for money again.  She would leave it to God. Her thoughts and prayers aren’t unlike those of George Muller or the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary.  They all supported their ministry through prayer and faith.

It interested me because we have survived these last …almost ten years now… with extremely limited funding.  I have asked the Lord many times through those years why, if He seriously wants us to do this ministry, we don’t have more funding.  It was confusing because, you would think that money would be a confirmation of blessing on the work.  Why have we never been able to build a good legal fund?

Yet confirmations were coming in other ways; primarily from families telling us how grateful they were that we were there for prayer, friendship and referrals to attorneys.  They thanked us for being here and understanding their problems and emotions.  This seemed to matter more to some than whether or not we had funds for their legal battle.

Now I am thinking about how some of the recent attacks from our opponents have included accusations that we have “just been in this for the money.”

I had to laugh when I first heard that.  I’ve never had a salary for doing this.  But… although salary would have been nice and many times I thought I would burst trying to do this work while working a “real” job at the same time –  a salary apparently wasn’t necessary.  We survived without it.  We have also been blessed in that an office and major office expenses were also unnecessary.  My functional desk cost $25 at a rummage sale.  I found two boxes of paper (20 reams of paper per box) that someone was throwing away three years ago or so, and still have about 8 reams of it left. (So if you wondered why your newsletter paper looked a little…well, not bright white…).

Our biggest overhead expense is simply the cost of getting the word out / teaching those who haven’t gotten the message – i.e.: our job as an advocacy and ministry.

Yet…when the rubber hit the road and money was needed for Veronica – people in South Carolina and across the country raised it and almost $40,000 went through our system and out to the attorney’s.

So when it was vitally needed – the money was there.

Further, when we have gone to DC to speak to Congressmen about ICWA – the money has been there.  People want us to go to DC, so they help with that.

And maybe that’s all that was ever necessary.  Maybe, despite my earlier concerns about funds, we have always has exactly what we needed.

Now – we want to grow in areas of our ministry.  We want to have a home to help parents and families with substance abuse – Patterned after Teen Challenge, but a long term facility where parents can stay WITH their kids and learn and grow together, as a family, so that they don’t have to be separated while one or both parents get treatment.

But I don’t want to worry about the funding.  When the time is right, I want to trust the Lord to help it come to be.

I asked one of our pastors who I was with these last two weeks (I was at the Bible College campus where I got my B.A. in Christian Ministries)  if I should take the donation button off of our website, but he said, “No. You have to provide an avenue for those who decide they want to give.”

I need to talk to our board about it more and see how they feel.

I like looking back and seeing how the Lord has always provided what’s been needed.

I also like that money has rarely been wasted – because there hasn’t been any money to waste.  (Waste would be things like the brand new stapler that broke the first time I tried to use it – and then never had time to bring back to the store.)

And…I like that opponents can’t say we are in this for “money.”

Amen, amen. I have had a great two weeks and am ready to get back into the saddle.

 

 

Apr 142013
 

Baby VeronicaChristinna Maldonado chose Matt and Melanie Capobianco to love, nurture, and raise her soon-to-be-born child. The Capobiancos had long wanted to be parents and after seven failed in vitro fertilization attempts, made the decision to enter into an “open adoption” of Baby Veronica. On all accounts. Veronica was a happy, thriving, child residing in a stable, nurturing environment. To this day, Maldonado remains committed to her choice.

On or around Jan. 4, 2010, Dusten Brown, the biological father, signed away custody of his daughter in exchange for not having financial responsibility. Brown later changed his mind and sought custody of Veronica. Initially, due to South Carolina law, he was denied standing because he was considered an absentee father.

However, because he was 3/128th Cherokee heritage, the Cherokee Nation intervened in the adoption proceedings and argued that this happy, healthy two-year-old be transferred to Brown under the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act.  Baby Veronica, only 1.12% Cherokee heritage, was ordered removed from the Capobianco’s care and placed in Dusten Brown’s custody. On Dec. 31, 2011, despite abundant evidence from child psychologists and attachment experts that removing toddlers from care-givers they’ve bonded to could cause long-lasting psychological damage, Veronica was handed over to her biological father.

Though supporters of ICWA say it has safeguards to prevent misuse, Veronica and numerous other multi-racial children across the U.S have been hurt by it – many of whom have never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal customs. Some opponents of ICWA question the motivation for seeking after children whose families have chosen to be disconnected from Indian Country. The Cherokee Nation alone had over 100 attorneys targeting some 1,500 children across the country in 2012. 

Now Veronica’s case has reached the highest level.  On February 26, 2013, the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of Matt, Melanie and Veronica. SCOTUS will hear testimony of the case on April 16th and will make a ruling by the end of the term in June 2013.

CAICW is asking the Supreme Court to reverse the decision made by the high court of South Carolina and return Baby Girl Veronica to the Capobiancos, family chosen for her by her birth-mother. The statutory and constitutional issues addressed in this case impact the equal protection, due process, liberty, and state rights provisions of children in need of care. A child’s best interests should be considered in every child custody determination.  There is no presumption that residing with members of a child’s tribe is in the child’s best interests, particularly when the child is lives off the tribe’s reservation. Further, tribal governments lack inherent jurisdiction over nonmembers. Application of the federal ICWA to cases involving the parents who are not tribal members violates the equal protection provision of the U.S. constitution, even if a non-member parent lives within reservation boundaries.

If you have any doubts to the how justice should rule in this case – consider Christinna, who is 50% Hispanic (if her heritage isn’t important, but another persons supposed minute heritage is, isn’t that….racism?

SHE was the one in the position of being an unwed mother – told by the biological father that he was not going to help support the baby she was carrying. No one else in this case was in that position. (But if what she went through isn’t important, but the father’s belated “pain” is, isn’t that….sexism?)

Then imagine if this had been your daughter, sister, or niece who had made the mistake of sleeping with a man who later refused to help with a child.  Now pay attention.  This man appeared to be Caucasian.  So at some point he mentioned that he has Cherokee ancestry. However, in the time your daughter was with him, he never made an issue about being Indian, practiced anything traditional, or gave any cause to assume he was anything other than the myriad other Caucasians across the United States who claim to have Cherokee blood. Yes, those people of minute heritage who many tribal members of significant heritage mock  as “wannabe” Indians.

Now, imagine you and the rest of your family had supported her decision to move ahead with adoption and helped her find a good home for this child.  Then imagine a tribal government coming in weeks, months or years later, and telling the courts that this man has 3/128th heritage, and based on this tiny bit of blood quantum, this man many tribal members would have mocked if it weren’t for Veronica –  is now “Indian” and they are there to invalidate the decision your family had made.

What the Cherokee Nation is pushing for and the South Carolina Supreme Court erroneously overlooked – is that any woman, of any heritage, who sleeps with any man of any apparent heritage – even a one night stand – CANNOT go ahead with an adoption without somehow ensuring that this man does not have a smidgen of tribal heritage.

WHAT does this kind of ruling do for the rights of women – of unwed mothers?  What kinds of hoops will teenage girls now have to go through if the Supreme Court rules for the tribal governments? Where is the outrage from women’s groups over this case?

And yet – no one would say a thing of she opted to abort her baby instead.  The tribal government wouldn’t – couldn’t stop her from doing that.   Just consider the ramifications of a tribal government victory in this case.

Our Families are NOT Chattel for tribal governments – no matter how many claim them to be.  As parents, we will continue to fight for full rights and freedom for our families – every one of whom is a United States Citizen – even if this Supreme Court makes the wrong decision.

In the words of Dr. William Allen, former Chair, US Commission on Civil Rights (1989) & Emeritus Professor, Political Science MSU, “… 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…”

 

PLEASE REMEMBER TO PRAY NOW THROUGH TUESDAY – for Veronica, her parents, and all involved with this important decision.

 

Elizabeth Sharon Morris is Chairwoman of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare and author of ‘Dying in Indian Country: A Family Journey From Self-Destruction To Opposing Tribal Sovereignty.”

Washington D.C. Feb 4-8, 2013: Lawmakers—The Good, The Bad and What Can You Do Next

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Feb 102013
 

by Elizabeth Sharon Morris

The dust is just beginning to settle from our most recent trip to Washington, D.C., Feb 4-8, 2013, where we spent five days visiting lawmakers to talk about the Indian Child Welfare Act and how it infringes on the rights of children and parents across our nation. Five CAICW members, all of whom have been affected by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), joined me to share their stories and to advocate for positive changes to this law.

Our group met up in Washington on February 4 eagerly prepared to attend the 20 or more appointments that I had arranged prior to our departures. During the week we also managed to squeeze in a number of drop-in visits. As expected, our message was met with a range of responses.

We want to thank all of the lawmakers and their staffs for taking time to listen to our message. We met with at least 55 offices—35 Representatives and 20 Senators. We had meetings with the staff of 9 of the 14 members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and with staff of the two ranking leaders of the House Indian Affairs and the Senate Indian Affairs committees, as well as 3 of the 4 co-chairs of the adoption caucus. For those of you interested, a complete list of offices we visited and their general reaction to our positions can be provided in a chart by request.

What We Shared

In connection to the necessary changes to the ICWA, we talked about several serious matters that impact families and children in Indian Country. We brought attention to the recent BIA takeover of children’s services on the Spirit Lake Reservation after the murder of 2 children exposed serious deficiencies in the tribal child welfare system and rampant child abuse. We pointed out that these problems are not isolated to this reservation, and that like Spirit Lake, many tribal governments and agencies are totally unequipped to handle these problems. We also brought attention to the Native Mob gang and the current trial taking place, as well as other organized gangs that are active on reservations in five states. Gang activity has rapidly increased over the past decade and it has a direct impact on all tribal members, but mostly on the young people who seek out gangs as a replacement for the families they do not have. Gangs are now well organized crime operations that are responsible for much of the violence, drug trafficking and use, gun running, and sexual recruitment of children and women.

We also discussed the serious implications of the Violence Against Women Act. While many only understand the impact of the ICWA on adoption cases in this country, more and more people are beginning to understand that the ICWA also contributes to much larger and much more serious problems affecting Indian Country.

Trapping more and more children and families in the dangerous confines of reservation life is doing nothing to serve the best interest or welfare of the children, their families or to preserve traditional culture. It is vital that we all come together and talk as a community.

As in the past, we started our presentations by sharing stories of families that have been hurt by the ICWA. We pointed out that even parents of 100% tribal heritage have the right to determine where their children should be placed as long as the home is safe—and heritage is simply a data point, not a definition of who you are. An increasing number of individuals and families of tribal heritage are voicing reluctance to live within reservation boundaries. Many are opposed to overreaching laws, which interfere with private family affairs, such as the ICWA and other laws being written into new tribal constitutions. The ICWA and the Native Nation Building Movement, which encourage and promote individual tribal constitutions over the U.S. constitution, interfere with basic U.S. Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens who also happen to have tribal heritage.

We stressed to lawmakers that the ICWA works more to promote the tribe then the best interests of children. We urged everyone we visited with to take up these discussions and to work to seek positive reforms to protect and strengthen families across the nation.

Sierra Shares Lessons on Indian Adoption

The Campbell family, Carol, Gene and Sierra bravely shared their heartbreaking and dramatic story. Sierra and her adopted parents openly spoke about how Sierra was abused and used sexually as a child. Sierra recounted how she was first given to a man at the age of ten and how her younger sister was used in the same manner. Sierra explained how she attempted to run away over a dozen times and begged to be returned to the only family she ever felt safe with and knew she was loved—the Campbells. She told how while in a tribal foster home she was ultimately cut down from a rope she used in attempt to hang herself.

Jon Tevlin of the Star Tribune recounts Sierra’s dramatic story and covers her family’s recent trip to Washington to advocate for changes to the ICWA in an article that can be read at: http://www.startribune.com/local/190953261.html?refer=y

Steps You Can Take to Bring Positive Change to Indian Country

Contact your representatives in the Congress and Senate and encourage them to take action in regards to amending the ICWA and bringing serious changes to Federal Indian Policy. It is especially important to contact lawmakers who serve on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

  • URGENT: Contact your senators and ask them to contact Paul Wolf in Senator Cantwell’s office to request that the ICWA be placed on Senator Cantwell’s agenda for this session. The agenda is being prepared and set NOW. If the ICWA is not put on her agenda for this session it will not come up for discussion this year nor probably next.
  • Urge your senator to contact Paul Wolf in Senator Cantwell’s office to press for hearings on the Spirit Lake Reservation and other reservations where child abuse and child sexual abuse is rampant.
  • Inform your neighbors, friends and families of the importance of bringing POSITIVE CHANGE to Indian Country. Many U.S. citizens have no idea how the ICWA, the Violence Against Women Act and issues of tribal sovereignty impact all of us as U.S. citizens.
  • Continue to pray for everyone negatively affected, intentionally or non-intentionally by the ICWA, Violence Against Women Act and Federal Tribal Policy. Especially pray for the children who have no voice or representation in their own well being. And please pray for us as we work to bring these issues forward.

 

Join Us in DC: February 4-8, 2013

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Jan 072013
 

 

Since January 2011, CAICW has traveled to Washington, D.C. three times to speak and inform lawmakers on the negative and disturbing effects the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) has been having on families across the country.

A recap of these visits:

  • January 24-27, 2011: Three wonderful families joined us to relate their experiences as a result of ICWA to various Congressmen.
  • October 24-28, 2011: We returned to hold an ICWA“teach-in” with Dr. William B. Allen, which was held in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Hearing room. Dr. Allen moderated the event, and three families joined us on the panel, including Johnston Moore of the organization “Forever Home.
  • July 10-13, 2012: In conjunction with the newly formed Coalition for the Protection of Indian Children and Families (CPICF), our most successful meeting took place with a standing-room-only crowd that included legislative aides, adoption and social services organizations, attorneys, and three representatives from the Cherokee Nation. Dr. Allen joined us again for this forum, as well as attorney Mark Fiddler, and adoptive father/speaker Johnston Moore. Sage DesRochers, who was hurt by ICWA years ago as a child, then subsequently ‘saved’ from the reservation and returned to the adoptive mother she loved by Dr. Allen and others, also gave her testimony.

The goals we outlined at the event:

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

Attorney Mark Fiddler gave a powerful presentation on the ICWA law, outlining reasons why it must be changed, and presenting suggestions for how to do so. He pointed out distinct problems with the law, and provided clear instructions on ways to protect the children. Several family stories were cited including the Belford’s, the Helmhoz’, and the Anderson’s.

Johnston Moore presented on problems the ICWA has caused families, and Melanie Duncan presented well researched information regarding attachment issues, citing that children of tribal heritage are no different than any other child in the world in regards to these matters.Dr. William B. Allen and Sage

Dr. William Allen introduced Sage DesRochers, who as a thirteen-year-old was forcibly removed from the only home she knew and loved, to be placed with her birth mother on the reservation. She spoke about the trauma, and ultimate relief she experienced when she was finally “released,” from the reservation a few years later and allowed to return to her chosen family. To this day, some twenty years later, she is upset by what the government and the ICWA put her through.

JOIN US FEBRUARY 4-8, 2013, as we return again to educate our Congress, speaking again to older statesmen and introducing the issue and concerns to new.  Tell your stories, and/or support the rights of children and families across America.  We have some exciting meetings planned.

Thanks to your kind support and contributions over these years. We wouldn’t be where we are today without your help.

CAICW’s Mission
The Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare is committed to seek God’s
guidance in defending the rights of the poor and needy, as instructed in Proverbs 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.”

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

FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/fbCAICW.org 

TWITTER: http://twitter.com/CAICW

EMAIL: administrator@caicw.org

 

Consider a Tax-Deductible End-of-Year Donation

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Dec 242012
 

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First of all, I want to thank you for your faithful support. Over the years, CAICW has helped many people, but that doesn’t mean we ever forget anyone who has helped make that possible. You are one of those people. It doesn’t matter whether you have given $5 or $5,000 in the past—it takes all kinds of thread to make a quilt.

A quilt—a patchwork of material sewn together into a blanket—what an apt comparison to what we do here at CAICW. Families whose lives have been ripped apart, made whole again through the generosity of people like you.  Families like those of Matt & Melanie Capobianco, the parents of baby Veronica.

CAICW first heard about Veronica’s situation in late summer of 2011. At the time, we were organizing a Washington DC ‘Teach-in’ for October 2011. Through cash and in-kind donations, we were able to raise the money needed for the event and Melanie was invited to join us and speak to Congressmen about the impending tragedy.  Later, in January 2012, “Save Veronica” became an official  fundraising campaign of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare.  Together, with your help, well over $40,000 was raised for their legal fees.

Which brings me to the main point of this letter.  Please consider a Tax-Deductible End-of-Year Donation

  • The “Save Veronica”Campaign – currently appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
  • Legal Fund for additional families in need
  • The Roland J. Morris Sr. Home, and regular operating expenses to maintain communications.
  • Washington DC trip: Educating new and old Congressmen in DC, February 4-8, 2013 – 6 weeks away.

If your heart leads you to do so, please consider an additional gift to any of the projects outlined here. The children and families affected thank you

If you’re online, go to our website https://caicw.org/donate-now/ and click on the “Donate Now” button to make sure your donation counts toward the double impact.

You can also send a donation by mail to:

CAICW
PO Box 253
Hillsboro, ND 5804

Once again, thank you for your continued support, and know that the Capobianco’s and many families like theirs would not have the legal funds they need were it not for you.

The Roland J. Morris Sr. Home
In response to the needs, experiences and tragedies we have witnessed in our own families, the CAICW seeks to open a Christian, long-term care home (One year to 18 months) that will reach out to parents and grandparents in pain from addictions. The goal is to offer the love of Jesus Christ and assistance for families to grow to health. We will also offer tools and knowledge for them to gain employment and perfect their parenting skills. Our vision is to pattern the home after Teen Challenge, but also allow families to bring their children along so that everyone stays connected and learns together a new and better way to live in a family setting. We have been discussing and praying about this vision for a long time. We welcome your ideas and donations as we feel the time is coming to bring this dream to fruition.

Ebay Auction Benefits CAICW
An adoptive mother who has been affected by the ICWA has adopted CAICW on ebay. To date, sales from her boutique have garnered us about $400. Her auction is on ebay, but you can also visit her on Facebook at: http://stores.ebay.com/safford-hall

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Sharon Morris
Administrator

Year-End Review: Jan. 6, 2013, CAICW Sponsors “Save Veronica” Campaign

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Dec 142012
 

It all began at the start of the year, when adorable 2-year-old Veronica was removed from her adoptive parents’ home as a result of the ICWA, and transferred to her birth father. From that day on, there has been no rest for the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW).

Many citizens of the South Carolina town where Veronica was raised witnessed the emotionally inhumane transfer of custody, and a campaign began immediately to“SAVE VERONICA ROSE.”Veronica’s story soon brought national attention to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

CAICW has never seen this kind of reaction before. THOUSANDS of supporters joined Veronica’s Facebook page, and as of this writing, more than 20,000 have signed a petition to Congress to change the ICWA.

A Recap of Veronica’s Story
While pregnant, Veronica’s Latina birth mother had selected Matt and Melanie to become Veronica’s adoptive parents—to love, nurture and raise her child. Although Veronica’s birth father knew the approximate period of time in which Veronica was to be born, he made no contact with her mother during the pregnancy. And because the birth mother didn’t want to marry, the father told her he wasn’t going to support the child. In South Carolina, where the mother resides, the law states that unless a father is physically and financially involved during a pregnancy, and in a timely manner following birth, he is considered to be an absentee father and therefore does not have standing in court. This law is in place to allow a mother time and opportunity to make necessary decisions in the face of abandonment.

In early January 2010, when Veronica was about four months old, her birth father signed papers agreeing to relinquish parental rights to his daughter. Shortly afterward he changed his mind. The Oklahoma state court dismissed his late attempt at intervention, but because of his 3 percent Cherokee heritage, the Cherokee Nation intervened in the adoption proceedings and argued that this happy, healthy two-year-old be transferred to her birth father. As a result of the
ICWA, a family court judge ruled in his favor.

Up until this time, Veronica was a thriving child residing in a stable, nurturing environment. To this day,Veronica’s birth mother remains committed to her original decision. On December 31, 2011, with less than two hours of “transition” time, Veronica was handed over to her biological father. She was placed in a car with literal strangers and taken miles from the only home she had known since birth.

On January 6, 2012, in order to allow Veronica’s supporters to be protected
under a legal entity and receive a tax deduction for donating to the family’s legal defense fund, “Save Veronica” officially became an advocacy and awareness campaign of CAICW.

Veronica’s parents appealed the custody decision, but this past July the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the ICWAlaw, ruling that Veronica remain with her birth father. On Monday, October 1, 2012, the legal team for the parents filed a petition for review with the United States Supreme Court for their case involving the ICWA. We will know in January if the court will accept the case.

On Thursday, October 18, 2012 Veronica’s story aired on the Dr. Phil show. Representatives of the Cherokee Nation as well as Veronica’s birth parents were interviewed. Much of the discussion centered around whether the ICWA was actually working to protect the rights and well being of children as it was originally intended to do, or whether the law was creating a situation where the
rights of tribes supersede the rights and welfare of the children. The show has ignited a firestorm of responses, which CAICW regards as clear indication of the need to further educate the public about ICWA and the unintended damage it is causing to families and children across the country.

CAICW continues to advocate for the return of Veronica to her adoptive parents, and we encourage all of our supporters to contact your congressional representatives and impress on them the need to change the outdated ICWA law.

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

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Jul 262012
 

Veronica RoseCharleston, SC [7/26/12]

by Jessica Munday, Trio Solutions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact: Jessica Munday

jessica@trio-solutions.com

843-708-8746

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

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Jul 262012
 

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

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

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

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

ABOUT DC:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONTACTS:

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

CONTACT: Lotaka_Baptiste@akaka.senate.gov

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

CONTACT: Kawe_Mossman@inouye.senate.gov

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

CONTACT: Travis_McNiven@barrasso.senate.gov

Senator Crapo: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Idaho

CONTACT: Kathryn_Hitch@crapo.senate.gov

Senator Johanns: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Nebraska

CONTACT: Ally_Mendenhall@johanns.senate.gov

Senator Cantwell: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Washington State

CONTACT: Paul_Wolfe@cantwell.senate.gov

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

CONTACT: Kenneth_Martin@johnson.senate.gov

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

CONTACT: Jayme_Davis@conrad.senate.gov

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

CONTACT: Ryan_Bernstein@hoeven.senate.gov

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

CONTACT: Kristi_Williams@murkowski.senate.gov

Senator Tom Udall Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, New Mexico

CONTACT: Fern_Goodhart@tomudall.senate.gov

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

CONTACT: Nick_Matiella@mccain.senate.gov

Senator Franken: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Minnesota

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

Senator Tester: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Montana

CONTACT: Mark_Jette@tester.senate.gov

_________________________________________

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

CONTACT: Libby_Whitbeck@landrieu.senate.gov

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

CONTACT: Ellen_Brown@inhofe.senate.gov

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

CONTACT: Michael_Schwartz@coburn.senate.gov

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

CONTACT: Laura_Evans@Demint.senate.gov

House Committee for Indian Affairs

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

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

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

CONTACT: Mary.Hiratsuka@mail.house.gov

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

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

CONTACT: Kristen.Glenn@mail.house.gov

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

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

CONTACT: Ryan.Henretty@mail.house.gov

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

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

CONTACT: Tad.Rupp@mail.house.gov

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

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

CONTACT: Renee.Latterell@mail.house.gov

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

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

CONTACT: Kelly.Ferguson@mail.house.gov

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

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

CONTACT: Jason.Bohrer@mail.house.gov

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

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

CONTACT: Hilary.Moffett@mail.house.gov

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

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

CONTACT: Erin.Donar@mail.house.gov

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

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

CONTACT: Leilani.metz@mail.house.gov

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

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

CONTACT: @mail.house.gov

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

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

CONTACT: Josh.Dover@mail.house.gov

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

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

CONTACT: Jennifer.Romero@mail.house.gov

_______________________________________________

Congressional Coalition on Adoption

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

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

CONTACT: Katie Poedtke

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

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

CONTACT: Jenny.Wood@mail.house.gov

New Book: Dying in Indian Country – An Amazing Family Story

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Jul 022012
 

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Dying In Indian Country - by Beth Ward

This is the true story of an American tribal member who, after coming to know Jesus Christ, realized just how much policies within tribal and federal government were hurting his extended family.

Roland grew up watching members of his family die of alcoholism, child abuse, suicide, and violence on the reservation. Like many others, he blamed all the problems on “white people.”

Beth Ward grew up in a middle class home in the suburbs. Raised in a politically left family, she also believed that all problems on the reservation originated with cruel treatment by settlers and the stealing of land. Meeting her husband, her first close experience with a tribal member, she stepped out of the comfort of suburban life into a whole new, frightening world.

After almost ten years of living with his alcoholism and the terrible dangers that came with it, they both came to realize that individual behavior and personal decisions were at the root of a man’s troubles, including their own. After coming face-to face with the reality of Jesus Christ, their eyes opened to the truth of why there is so much Dying in Indian Country.

What cannot be denied is that a large number of Native Americans are dying from alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, and violence. The reservation, a socialistic experiment at best, pushes people to depend on tribal and federal government rather than God, and to blame all of life’s ills on others. The results have been disastrous.

Roland realized that corrupt tribal government, dishonest federal Indian policy, and the controlling reservation system had more to do with the current pain and despair in his family and community than what had happened 150 years ago.

Here is the plain truth in the eyes of one family, in the hope that at least some of the dying in Indian Country — physical, emotional, and spiritual — may be recognized and prevented.

Unfortunately, persistent public misconceptions about Indian Country, misconceptions sometimes promoted by tribal government and others enjoying unaudited money and power, have worked to keep the situation just as it is.

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

  • “Roland truly has encouraged many people…the last trip to D.C. was a testimony to God’s faithfulness.Rev. Robert Guthrie, B.Th. M.A. –Professor, Vanguard College, AB
  • “…he earned my deepest respect, and…made heroic and very honorable attempts to improve the lot of Native Americans in this country.” Jon Metropoulos, Attorney, Helena, MT
  • “‘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 metis children
  • “I truly admire Roland for the message he was trying to have heard.” Ralph Heinert, Montana State Representative
  • “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
  • “…hope emerging from despair… This is a story about an amazing life journey.” Darrel Smith. Writer, Rancher, South Dakota
  • “He’s a Christian now you know… I saw him crying on his knees on my living room floor. I was there.” Sharon, 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)

Read More:

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Join Us in DC July 10-13, 2012

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Jul 022012
 

Capitol Building, Washington DC January 2011.

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

July 10 – Arrive in DC

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

July 11 – Advocacy and Education Day

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

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

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

~ Speakers:

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

July 12 – Lobby Day for Amendments

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

July 13 – Lobby Day for Amendments

Participants meet one-on-one with Congressional offices.

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

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

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

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Jan 262012
 


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

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

By: Haley Hernandez | WCBD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find information for contacting Congressmen at SaveVeronica.org

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Save Veronica Rose!

 Comments Off on Save Veronica Rose!
Jan 122012
 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tragically, under the Indian Child Welfare Act:

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

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

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

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

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Nov 222011
 

Washington DC Teach-In:

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

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

Dr. William B. Allen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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