SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHTER: The Indian Child Welfare Act Fact Sheet

 Comments Off on SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHTER: The Indian Child Welfare Act Fact Sheet
Sep 122016
 
ICWA rules, CAICW

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHTEST
The Indian Child Welfare Act Fact Sheet
FROM CHRISTIAN ALLIANCE FOR INDIAN CHILD WELFARE

In direct response to a “fact” sheet published by the National Indian Child Welfare Association in September, 2015.

The Truth about ICWA

Recently, some extremely well-funded ICWA groups have been promoting a campaign of misinformation rooted in the most egregious negative stereotypes about non-tribal social services and families. With the support of a coalition of national Native nonprofit organizations – including the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) – certain tribal entities have been turning truth on its head.

ICWA has lowered the bar of child welfare practice to the point of neglect for Native children. ICWA is proudly promoted as righting the wrongs of the past – but playing “pay-back time” with the lives of today’s children is a horrendous excuse for a law and, if truly one of ICWA’s purposes, amounts to a gross exploitation of children. ICWA is also said to address the current injustices that AI/AN children and families still face, but again, subjecting children to prolonged abuse and neglect under the justification that racial injustice exists is a horrendous excuse for a law and – if truly one of ICWA’s purposes – amounts to gross neglect of children. The rampant abuse children are subjected to in Indian Country has been well documented for many years by NICWA and other organizations:

• “Neglect endangers AI/AN children 4 times more often than physical abuse and results in numerous child fatalities” (NICWA, 1999).
• “I would venture to say over 80 percent of our children are traumatized at an early age; and so, therefore, their ability to learn and comprehend is affected very severely” (Green Bay, WI) (NIEA 2006, 23).
• “Many of the perceptions provided by tribal professionals in this survey are supported by recent data gathered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Office of Justice Services from 96 Indian country law enforcement agencies that suggests meth is the greatest threat in their communities. These law enforcement agencies also identified increases in domestic violence, assaults, burglaries, and child abuse and neglect cases with the increased use of meth” (Roe Bubar 2007, 10).
• “… They also expressed an awareness of increases in child abuse allegations and out-of-home placements involving a meth-related investigation” (Roe Bubar, 2007, p. 10).
• “…The almost 40 children returned to on-reservation placements in abusive homes, many headed by known sex offenders, at the direction of the Tribal Chair. These children remain in the full time care and custody of sexual predators available to be raped on a daily basis. Since I filed my first report noting this situation, nothing has been done by any of you to remove these children to safe placements” (Sullivan, 2013).
• “The 45 children who were placed, at the direction of Tribal Social Services (TSS), BIA social workers, BIA supervised TSS social workers and the BIA funded Tribal Court, in homes where parents were addicted to drugs and/or where they had been credibly accused of abuse or neglect. Since I filed my first report noting these placements, nothing has been done to remove these children to safe placements. I trust the Tribal Court, with the recent resignation of a judge who failed a drug test, will begin to be responsive to the children whose placements they oversee” (Sullivan, 2013).
• “The 25 cases of children most of whom were removed from physically and sexually abusive homes based on confirmed reports of abuse as well as some who still remain in those homes. Neither the BIA nor the FBI have taken any action to investigate or charge the adults in these homes for their criminally abusive acts. Many, of the adults in these homes are related to, or are close associates of, the Tribal Chair or other Council members” (Sullivan, 2013).
• “…at least two children a day were victims of crime. That is astronomical. That is off of the charts compared to the co-occurrence of child maltreatment and domestic violence in the mainstream” (Hallie Bongar White 2014, 26).
• “Violence, including intentional injuries, homicide and suicide, account for 75% of deaths for AI/AN youth age 12 to 20” (SAMHSA). (Center for Native American Youth 2014).
• “…in 2010, 40 percent of children seen at Child Advocacy Centers for child sexual abuse were Alaska Native, even though we only represent 15 percent of the entire population in the state of Alaska. That is just strictly unacceptable” (Hallie Bongar White 2014, 27-28)
• “…it is estimated that 35 percent of children exposed to domestic violence will develop trauma-related difficulties (Moretti et al., 2006). …Similarly, it is estimated that between 42 percent and 90 percent of child victims of sexual abuse will develop trauma-related difficulties (De Bellis, Spratt and Hooper, 2011). …statistics related to both these issues are thought to be underestimates (Leventhal, 1998; Wilt and Olson, 1996). It is therefore likely that the actual prevalence of PTSD stemming from both childhood sexual abuse and exposure to domestic violence is greater than stated above. More difficult to estimate is the number of children repeatedly exposed to or even directly threatened by various forms of neighborhood violence” (Richard G. Dudley 2015, 9).
• “According to this data, 11 AI/AN children died in 2012 due to child abuse and neglect (DHHS, 2013). This data reflects only those child fatalities that have been reported to state authorities. However, because incidents of child maltreatment that occur under a tribe’s exclusive jurisdiction and where tribal services are provided are not necessarily reported to the state and included in national data systems, this number is likely a slight underestimate (Earl, 2001, p. 8)” (NICWA 2015).

ICWA does not provide the high standards and accountability required to protect children – as evidenced by numerous documented reports from tribal government entities and their supporters, as well as much anecdotal evidence from witnesses, including affected children and families. As to statements by NICWA concerning the benefits of ICWA, NICWA claims that:

• ICWA “asks social workers and courts to examine whether the use of intensive in-home services would be just as, or more, effective in protecting a child’s safety and best interest, rather than simply resorting to a de facto removal of the child as the first option.” – – In-home services that were truly intensive could be effective. Yet, even if the question has been asked and a truly intensive in-home program has been implemented, statistics do not appear to reflect evidence that this intervention has been effective.
• ICWA “encourages the use of culturally specific services that are more likely to successfully strengthen AI/AN families and help AI/AN children stay safely at home.” – – Culturally specific services can be effective if the service offers the culture of the individual child and family. But again, despite current efforts to provide culturally specific services, statistics appear to show drug, alcohol, and violence issues getting worse within reservation boundaries.
• ICWA “also helps States secure tribal assistance and ensures that experts are present in the courtroom when important decisions about the child are made.” – – ‘Tribal experts’ are often hired and paid by tribal governments and their supporting organizations. Many of these experts are there to protect tribal sovereignty and the best interest of tribal government. They frequently do not actually know the child or the child’s family – especially if the child and family have never lived in Indian Country. Many tribal experts are not testifying to the actual upbringing, culture and worldview of the child and the child’s family, but to a cultural picture preferred by tribal government. Many are not necessarily testifying to what the child’s culture is, but to what the tribal government thinks the child’s culture should be.

ICWA violates and denies children’s and parents’ constitutional rights. ICWA provides procedural and substantive safeguards that protect the assumed sovereignty of tribal governments. In the process of protecting tribal sovereignty, the constitutional rights of children and families have been violated. NICWA claims ICWA recognizes “a parent’s constitutional right to care for their child and the child’s corresponding right to family integrity,” but many dissident tribal members and non-tribal extended family say their rights have been violated and their children harmed by the ICWA.

Almost all children fare better when placed with family, in community, and connected to the culture they feel most at home with. This is true for children of every heritage, as long as their family is healthy, loving and safe. Children do not fare better in homes where they are neglected or abused.
If it is unsafe for a child to stay in their families’ home, we agree with NICWA that the second best place for children is within their community and connected with the culture they are most familiar with. This is why it is so terrible when tribal leaders rip children out of their communities and culture and force them into situations that feel totally foreign to them. Children who have never been in Indian Country should not be forced into Indian Country.
However, it is also true that due to varied circumstances, not all children who have been raised in Indian Country can go home to their family or community.

• “Furthermore, these professionals believe that meth involvement increases the difficulty of family reunification” (Roe Bubar, 2007, p. 10).

Further, varied communications to CAICW and other anecdotal evidence reveal that not all children who live in Indian Country want to be there. Some children want to go live with relatives off the reservation. Some simply want out. Some have tried to run away off the reservation, only to be taken back by tribal police.

ICWA promotes connection to Indian culture, elders, and community. That is good. But some children do not want to live there. Not all children who fall under the jurisdiction of ICWA have been raised within Indian culture or community. Tribal culture and the reservation system is foreign to many, if not most, of the children who fall under the jurisdiction of ICWA. Further, some reservation communities are simply not safe, period. Congress does not have a right to force a particular culture or religion on an individual – and most certainly has no right to force culture or community on a child simply due to race or even political affiliation. When a law or program promotes a dogma with no regard for the factual needs of the individual child, that law or program is NOT promoting the best interest of that child – it is promoting the best interest of a political agenda or entity.
While ICWA does include language allowing state court judges to deviate from the requirements of ICWA when there is “good cause,” the ability to do so is severely limited by the 2016 BIA rules, which state:

• “Without a causal relationship…evidence that shows only the existence of community or family poverty, isolation, single parenthood, custodian age, crowded or inadequate housing, substance abuse, or nonconforming social behavior does not by itself constitute clear and convincing evidence or evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that continued custody is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child” (BIA, 2016, p. 23.121(d)).
• Further, “In determining whether good cause exists, the court must not consider” whether the child has already bonded with the family he/she is currently living with or whether the child has ever had any connection to the tribe” (BIA, 2016, p. 23.118(c)).
• Finally, “… In determining whether ICWA applies to a proceeding, the State court may not consider factors such as the participation of the parents or the Indian child in Tribal cultural, social, religious, or political activities, the relationship between the Indian child and his or her parents, whether the parent ever had custody of the child, or the Indian child’s blood quantum” (BIA, 2016, p. 23.103(c)).

In other words, tribal governments and the court system “can force children with even a slight Indian heritage into environments where poverty, crime, abuse, and suicides are rampant” (Flatten 2015). These truths are evidence that ICWA does NOT “balance the need for flexibility and individualized case-based decisions,” as NICWA claims.

ICWA itself is not based on race. ICWA applies to children who are eligible for political membership in a federally recognized tribe – and, as NICWA has noted, “does not apply to individuals who merely self-identify as American Indian or Alaska Native.”

• “According to the 2010 Census, there are approximately 5.2 million self-identified American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) living in the US, of whom 2 million qualify for federal services” (Center for Native American Youth 2014). The enrolled, federally recognized AI/AN population is not 5.2 million, but only an estimated 2 million – those being the ones eligible for federal services.

Tribal governments are the sole determiners of the membership criteria. However, the membership criteria of most – if not all – tribal governments is based on heritage. If a tribal government has determined that blood lineage with a distant ancestor is all that is necessary for membership, the ICWA applies, regardless if the child, the child’s parents, or the child’s extended family want the tribal government to be involved in their lives. This child is therefore placed under ICWA’s jurisdiction due to their heritage – in other words, due to their “race.”
Further, while the ICWA itself states that it is not to be used in custody battles between parents, in practice, enrolled family members are frequently chosen over non-enrolled family members in custody battles; ie: a tribal parent is chosen over the non-tribal parent, or a tribal grandparent or aunt over a non-tribal relative. This has occurred even in cases where the tribal parent or relative has a criminal record and the non-tribal relative does not. In addition, many non-tribal parents and relatives have been threatened with ICWA by their tribal counterparts. In other words, tribal courts have not always followed the ‘word’ of the ICWA law, but instead, have followed what many believe to be the ‘heart’ of the ICWA law. Abundant anecdotal evidence of rulings in favor of tribal relatives at the expense of non-tribal relatives furthers the race-based impression of ICWA.

Tribal governments claim in congressional testimony and to the general public that they care deeply about the safety and well-being of their children and families. Yet, statistics, reports and documentation from tribal governments and their supporters, as well as anecdotal evidence from witnesses, show repeated placements of children into physically and emotionally dangerous environments, as well as repeated disregard for the factual needs of individual children.
To build a better future for children of every heritage, the experience, insight, and wisdom of those who factually know and love the individual children must be respected and included, and State child protection laws must be applied equally for children of every heritage.

• “…incidents of child maltreatment that occur under a tribe’s exclusive jurisdiction and where tribal services are provided are not necessarily reported to the state and included in national data systems” (NICWA 2015).
• “American Indian and Alaska Native populations have seen a 164% increase in the number of drug-related deaths from 3.9% in 1979-1981 to 10.3% 1998. The North Dakota Drug Threat Assessment of 2002 concluded that meth use and distribution was a problem in all reservations within the state” (U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center”(NDIC, 2002). (Roe Bubar 2007)
• “Wallace and Bachman (1991) found that almost half of Native American youth under the age of 17 drank alcohol or smoked marijuana, with a higher substance abuse rate for boys than for girls” (Roe Bubar 2007).
• “The addition of meth-exposed children to an already strained network of social services in tribal communities almost guarantees additional complications in educational, social, and medical services on the reservation” (Doney, 2006; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights [USCCR], 2003) (Roe Bubar 2007, 15-17).
• “According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 16 percent of students at Bureau of Indian Affairs schools in 2001 reported having attempted suicide in the preceding 12 months” (Center for Native American Youth 2011).
• “Recent research shows that while the US child mortality rate for children ages 1 to 14 has decreased by 9% since 2000, it has increased by 15% among AI/AN children (National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association)” and “Alcoholism mortality rates are 514% higher than the general population” (Center for Native American Youth 2014).
• “…a study of Native American sixth graders from one reservation found that 75% had clinically significant levels of PTSD” and “Researchers have reported a 14% prevalence rate of Major Depressive Disorder among AI/AN adolescents” (NICWA, SAMHSA 2014).
• “Indian children experience post-traumatic stress disorder at the same rate as veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and triple the rate of the general population” (Flatten 2015).
• “Native teens experience the highest rates of suicide of any population in the U.S.—at least 3.5 times higher than the national average.11 (NICWA, SAMHSA 2014).
• “Suicide is the second leading cause of death—2.5 times the national rate—for Native youth in the 15 to 24 year old age group” (Executive Office of the President 2014, 5).
• “These figures must be considered alongside the data describing child fatalities and incidence of child maltreatment in AI/AN families. This data is in line with data showing that AI/AN families are more likely to have child welfare involvement due to neglect and suggests a unique risk factor specific to AI/AN child fatalities. Given the multitude of potential responders, differences in how entities may determine child fatalities, and limited framework in Indian Country for investigating child fatalities, questions arise as to whether some of these accidents may be related to child neglect as opposed to tragic accidents” (NICWA 2015, 5).

ICWA is unworkable. It never has been workable; it never will be – because it forces itself on children and families who don’t want it, and we are United States citizens who love our children and will fight back to protect them. This is not a matter of the simple “noncompliance” tribal governments refer to. It is a matter of pure rebellion. We will never “comply” in handing over our defenseless children to a situation we know will hurt them. This is not “noncompliance,” it is civil resistance, and includes not only dissident persons of heritage and their extended families, but also certain attorneys, courts and social workers. This is not “noncompliance,” in the case of social workers and others hiding the heritage of a child; it is civil disobedience, and it will never stop because we love and care about children. It is a matter of families and people of good sense fighting back against a terrible law that is hurting our children. It is a matter of people pushing back out of true love and concern for children we know – children who have been victimized by this over-reaching, incomprehensible mandate. It is people attempting to protect the children they love from a bureaucracy and a political entity that do not know or love our children, but are using them as pawns in a political game. It is time for this particularly unjust social experiment to stop. ICWA is totally unworkable and will never work the way tribal governments want it to. They will end up going back to the federal government and again and again, trying to make the ICWA worse for us – but this will never stop us from fighting for our children.

Congress has unique authority over this issue. Tribes are legally ‘domestic dependents’ within the larger United States. Matters regarding tribes and tribal members are within the purview of the federal government. It is under Congressional authority that ICWA has been legislated.

The BIA rules and regulations are also Congressionally authorized. ICWA rules published in the federal register in June, 2016, by the BIA were based on the authority granted by Congress which states: “the Secretary shall promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter.” Therefore, it is Congress’ responsibility to right this egregious wrong and protect our children.

“AI/AN children currently appear less likely to be adopted compared to White children. This positive finding, reported by CWLA (1999), may be due to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA)” (Indian Country Child Trauma Center 2005).

Birthed by the biological parents of enrollable children, the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare was founded in February 2004. CAICW is a national non-profit Christian ministry and family advocate, which has ministered with music and teaching at churches in the U.S. and Canada as well as a children’s home and street ministry in Mexico. CAICW is both a judicial and educational advocacy for families at risk of – or hurt by – the Indian Child Welfare Act, as well as a prayer resource for families and a shoulder to cry on.

CAICW is not an adoption agency or a legal aide office, and 100% of staffing is volunteer.

References

BIA. (2016, 6 14). Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Proceedings. THE FEDERAL REGISTER, 25 CFR 23; RIN 1076-AF25(Document Citation: 81 FR 38777), 38777-38876 (100 pages). Retrieved 6 15, 2016, from FEDERAL REGISTER: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/06/14/2016-13686/indian-child-welfare-act-proceedings

Center for Native American Youth. (2011). Fast Facts on Native American Youth and Indian Country. Washington DC: Aspen Institute.

Center for Native American Youth. (2014). Fast Facts on Native American Youth and Indian Country. Washington DC: Aspen Institute.

Executive Office of the President. (2014). Native Youth Report. Washington DC: The White House.

Flatten, M. (2015). Death on a Reservation. Phoenix: Goldwater Institute. Retrieved 6 22, 2016, from http://goldwaterinstitute.org/en/work/topics/constitutional-rights/equal-protection/death-on-a-reservation/

Hallie Bongar White, J. L. (2014, April 21). INTERSECTION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND CHILD VICTIMIZATION IN INDIAN COUNTRY. Retrieved July 28, 2016, from Justice.gov: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/defendingchildhood/legacy/2014/04/21/intersection-dv-cpsa.pdf

Indian Country Child Trauma Center. (2005). Demographics. Oklahoma City: Indian Country Child Trauma Center. Retrieved July 27, 2016, from icctc.org: http://www.icctc.org/demographics-1.asp

NICWA. (2015). Testimony of Sarah L. Kastelic. Washington DC: Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities.

NICWA, SAMHSA. (2014, April). Native Children: Trauma and Its Effects. Trauma-Informed Care Fact Sheet. Portland: National Indian Child Welfare Association.

Richard G. Dudley, J. M. (2015, July). Childhood Trauma and Its Effects: Implications for Police. New Perspectives in Policing, pp. 1-22.

Roe Bubar, M. W. (2007). Perceptions of Methamphetamine Use in Three Western Tribal Communities: Implications for Child Abuse in Indian Country. West Hollywood: Tribal Law and Policy Institute.

Sullivan, T. (2013). 12th Mandated Report. Denver: ACF.

Jul 122014
 

SHARED WITH PERMISSION – on the chance it could help someone else who is quietly struggling…

_________________________

On Fri, Jul 11, 2014 9:43 AM, a Mom wrote:

… when I get mad at him he just shuts down and stop responding and goes away to la la land in his mind. That’s when I start realizing that something else is going on inside him that he is not able to process mentally and emotionally that I guess is probably typical of people with FAS. I keep telling him that it seems like something is broken inside of him how he just shuts down and stops thinking or caring about what he is doing.
If it’s FAS, does it cause him to tell lies all the time though? Especially when it comes to gambling and money issues that he tries to hide from me….

_________________________

On Fri, ‎Jul‎ ‎11‎, ‎2014 at ‎10‎:‎23‎ ‎AM, A Grandmother wrote:

They struggle with understanding “cause and effect.” They aren’t always able to think ahead and figure out “if I do this, then that will happen.” Further, they are very into “feeling good” at the moment. They are prone to doing what pleasures them most at the moment, without the ability to see outcomes.

When he gets caught, it is like a deer in the headlights. He doesn’t know what to do. He realizes he messed up, is grieved by your anger, but doesn’t know what to do to fix it. So he lies in the hope of getting out of trouble. Yes – like a child.

He craves pleasure. The FAS plus the way he was raised leads him to think that he needs and deserves constant pleasure. “That is the way life is supposed to be.”

But God knew all this when he created him. And God has also put something very special and beautiful in him. A skill or characteristic. You probably already have a feeling for what it is. As his wife, you can nurture that special thing and help him to grow and walk in it.

That’s exciting. What an adventure that can be for both of you.

We are all so much more content and fulfilled when walking in the gifts and purpose God has given us.

_________________________

On Sat, Jul 12, 2014 at 6:22 PM, a Mom wrote:

I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this with me. For the last years of my life with my husband, I have been guilty of emotionally abusing him in order to get him to change and realize how his behavior is hurting us all, never fully realizing that it was a physical impossibility for him to change.
Whenever I would try and confront him he would shut down and not respond, he would withdraw and literally fall asleep and the more mad I got the more he would explode in a rage, destroying anything and everything that got in his way. I always knew there was something mentally broken inside of him but no one ever confirmed with me what I was seeing …It really is heartbreaking looking back at all the years and the misery we have been through because I was trying to get him to change. I think this is why God protects my husband so much from all the mistakes his makes also because God knows my husband is trying the best he can with what he has. He tried to do good but it seems impossible for him at times to make the right decisions and force himself to do what is right. My husband really is like a child inside a man’s body not only in the way he thinks but in the way he acts.
I just wish I had known somewhat when I met him at 14 years old, but how could I have? …
I just hope and pray that God can save our family. I know I have done a lot to really screw things up for us… the great thing is, that his mother has always been there to help us, especially her son, no matter what it is, whether it be food, money, clothes, taking garbage to the dump, running errands….
God bless you. Thank you sooooo much for taking the time to write me and help me see things a little bit clearer.

_________________________

On Sat, Jul 12, 2014 at 7:16 PM, A Grandmother wrote:

You’re welcome. I just wish I had understood a lot about FAS during our more difficult years. It is now, after my husband is gone and the relative’s children that we raised are grown, that I look back and see where I could have been more patient. It is only now, with the stress of all of it gone, that I can see their hearts better.

_________________________

On Sat, Jul 12, 2014 at 7:43 PM, a Mom wrote:

I was just wondering if you could please share with me the prayer you said you were told to pray for your family. I would like to make it my personal prayer along with so much forgiveness for how insensitive I have been towards my husband and his mother over the years.

_________________________

On Sat, Jul 12, 2014 at 8:35 PM, A Grandmother wrote:

It was a very simple prayer. All Scotty Butterfly told me to do was to ask Jesus to save my family – and then immediately thank Jesus for having done so. (Even though you haven’t seen the miracle yet, give thanks to the Lord for all things – knowing in faith that He has heard your prayer and is responding.)

So even though I wasn’t a Christian yet, that is what I did. It wasn’t until 4 years later that the miracle happened – but it undeniably happened.

I will ask others to pray in agreement for your family as well.

_________________________

On Sat, Jul 12, 2014 at 9:35 PM, A Grandmother wrote:

We realize his limitations, but we still need him to become better at things.
1. We do need to explain truth, but in a gentle way.
2. Understanding his need for entertainment and pleasure, we can look for healthier ways he can achieve that.
o Help him find his pleasure at home, with family, doing good things. We can look for fun things to do as a family – picnics, fishing, camping, etc.
o We can look for his skill area and encourage and support everything he does in that area. Is he a craftsman? An artist? A hunter? A musician? A mechanic? A good listener?
o We can be wives that complement our husbands. We can help him feel good about himself and his family life so he has pleasure in being with and doing well for his family. Pour it on about every manly thing you enjoy. “Wow – I love the way you chop wood.” (Sounds silly – but another wife told us she did just that – and as simple as that kind of thing was – it made a tremendous impact on their marriage.)

Also, the Bible has some interesting advice for husbands and wives. It tells men to “Love” their wives the way Christ loved the church (be willing to lay down their lives for them) But… the Bible doesn’t tell women to love their husbands. It tells us to honor them.
Interesting difference. Of course, we KNOW God wants us to love our husbands. So why wasn’t it said? Perhaps the Bible is giving us encouragement in the areas we are generally weakest? Men need to be reminded to show love to their wives, as their wives hunger for that more than anything.
Women, on the other hand, generally love their husbands, but struggle with honoring them – something men have a deep need for.
It is true that our husbands have shortcomings. WE are usually the first to point that out But God is the one who knit them together in the womb, even while knowing their mother was drinking. I don’t believe God wanted for the damage to happen, but as with every other sin issue that affects humanity, the parents had free will and with that, made the choice. People hurt each other in all kinds of way, in all stages of life.
But God still has a purpose for and a gift in every child. Kind of like the Snow White story. The evil witch cast a curse, and the good fairy came behind and altered it. God (a whole lot better than a silly fairytale witch) has a special gift in everyone.

Praise God my husband found his purpose – things of God that gave him true pleasure – and walked in it. Yours will, too.
ONE other thing I might note… for a long time, in our early years in the church, I resented what I saw as weakness in him. I kept comparing him to other men in the church and wondering why he couldn’t be as Godly as this guy or that guy. Finally someone told me… those men have always been in the church. They were raised in the church and their father was a pastor, etc… They have had their entire lives to walk toward the line of perfection. They haven’t had very far to walk, but will never actually reach that line prior to dying.
Now look at your husband. He came out of the gutter. He has come ten times farther than any of those other men in just the short time he has been walking with the Lord.
Think about that. He might still be way behind those other men, but look how incredibly far he has come. He has traversed things those other men have no clue about.
What a Godsend those words were. They turned my entire perspective around. It was the beginning of my appreciation for him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Non-member mother with eligible child, January 1983

Non-member mother with eligible child, January 1983

 

 

Sep 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 012013
 

Why Did the State Order that Veronica be Adopted?
By Elizabeth Sharon Morris

As the drama concerning Veronica Rose Capobianco plays out for the media in Oklahoma, some ask how and why a State could order a child adopted when the birth father has stepped forward and wants to raise his child.

The Baby Veronica case in Oklahoma is very complicated. Baby Veronica spent the first twenty-seven months of her life with Matt and Melanie Capobianco. At the request of Veronica’s birth mother, Matt and Melanie were in the birthing room and Matt cut the cord. They had an open and proper adoption agreement and good relationship with the mother, and no court or attorney has every accused them of being unfit or having committed any crime.

This isn’t a case where adoptive parents have appeared out of nowhere. Their home was the only home Veronica knew – and they were her only parents.

Further, the sole reason that South Carolina family court gave custody to the father at the end of December, 2011, allowing Mr. Brown to take this child without any transition period at all, was because the judge thought that the Indian Child Welfare Act required it. It was not due to the “best interest of the child” because the Cherokee Nation, fearing that “best interest” would mean leaving her with the only parents she knew at the time, argued that ICWA didn’t allow for a ‘Best Interest’ hearing.  The tribal attorneys wanted the decision to be made on the basis of ICWA alone.

The high courts, however, looked at all the evidence presented and not only ruled that ICWA did not apply to this case, but that the father – despite claims to the contrary – had abandoned his child. States have laws concerning paternal abandonment so that mothers and children are able to move forward with their lives. Adoptive parents must also be able to come forward without fear that a father could show up any time and disrupt things. If there were no abandonment laws, adoptive parents would be risking everything – not just money, but their hearts and the hearts of extended family.

This particular birth father had texted the mother prior to birth and stated he was giving up his rights. After Veronica was born, he made no attempt to support or even inquire about the baby. In fact, contrary to what has been claimed, he was not surprised by the papers served to him in January 2010. Reports are that he had ducked service of the adoption papers, possibly thinking they were for child support, all autumn.

The judges looked at the facts presented by all the parties and concluded that he had abandoned his child. They also agreed – and the father’s attorneys admitted – that the birth mother has done nothing wrong. Her legal team had taken all the steps required by law.

Mind you – up until the papers were served on Mr. Brown that January day, he had not shown any concern for this baby, although he thought Veronica was with her mother and he knew where the mother lived, what her phone number was, and where she worked. Four months passed. How many more months would have passed if the papers he hadn’t been served that day? Further, when Mr. Brown came back from deployment for a few weeks in August 2010, he made no attempt to contact or visit his child. Nor did he make any attempt after he returned again in December 2010.

While it is very sad and one can feel pain for the Brown family, it has to be understood that Mr. Brown made very poor decisions in relation to his daughter four years ago. As a result of those poor decisions, another family became involved and raised this child as their own for 27 months. There are consequences to poor decisions. Changing one’s mind doesn’t erase those consequences, especially when it involves the hearts and lives of others.

Where it comes to the most important heart of all – Veronica’s – there is no doubt that she was well-bonded to the Capobiancos and there is reason to believe she could still remember them. Mr. Brown’s continual refusal to allow the Capobiancos to even see her raised the question of what he was afraid of.

But every day this drama drags out brings new revelation as to the character of Mr. and Mrs. Brown. Dodging the law and instructing your child to “Kick, scream, hit, punch, and spit” when people “come to get her” not only calls into question one’s parenting skills, but calls into question one’s true concern for her.

When the Capobiancos were faced with having to turn their daughter over to the Brown’s, despite the fact they still had appeals available, they did as ordered. Their hearts were broken, but Melanie did her best not to show it to Veronica because she wanted the transition to be as easy on Veronica as possible. She told Veronica that she will be going with some nice people to a new home, and that they would see her soon. Of course, Veronica still cried and held her arms out as Matt and Melanie were leaving. It isn’t possible to totally remove the trauma. All you can do is try to reduce it as much as possible.

Many empathize with a father having to give up his daughter and believe Mr. Brown has a right to ignore attempts at mediation and visitation meant to ease the transition. In fact, they believe he would be right to fight back and create as much drama as possible should it come down to a forced removal.

Veronica was no less Matt and Melanie’s daughter. Now imagine trying to give up your daughter as Melanie did. Though overcome with grief, not wanting your child to be afraid, you smile through the tears and tell your baby girl it’s all going to be okay.

One has to ask, in terms of Solomon, who it is that is tearing this child apart.

 

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.

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.”

Wake Up & Read It! VAWA Protects Tribal Government rights, NOT women!

 Comments Off on Wake Up & Read It! VAWA Protects Tribal Government rights, NOT women!
Feb 282013
 

.

On February 12, 2013, a horrid violence against women was committed when Mother holding babythe ‘Violence against Women Act’ was passed by the U.S. Senate by a 78-22 vote with all amendments intact.  Women across the nation were thrown under a bus.

On February 28, 2013, the U.S. House repeated the violence with 87 Republicans joining 199 Democrats to pass the bill 286-138. God only knows if this callous assault on women can be stopped. The measure now heads to Obama’s desk.

Obama said in a statement. “Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk.”

Does no one actually read these things? We are discussing women and young girls who have been vulnerable and already victimized – being forced into further victimization.  Where is the language in the VAWA that tribal government can only have jurisdiction under informed consent and absent objection of the victim?

If there is none, is this Act protecting the rights of women, or the rights of tribal government?

I asked this question to both Ms. Tracee Sutton and Ms. Gail Hand from Senator Hetkamp’s office. Both were silent in response.

I understand that most of our Congressmen on the Hill have never been in the situation of being a victim within Indian Country. I understand that they might not be aware the ramifications these amendments will have on tribal and non-tribal women.  Reading the recent report by Mr. Thomas F. Sullivan, Administration of Children and Families in Denver of the severe corruption and abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation might shed some light on the problem. If even a portion of what he is saying is true, our Congress has no right for mandating tribal jurisdiction over U.S. citizens.

Never assume that simply because a woman is of tribal heritage, she wants her case to be heard in tribal court. A person does not know the meaning of “Good ol’ Boy’s Club” until one has dealt with some of the tribal courts.  On top of this, our government has given all tribal courts full faith and credit, meaning once the case is ruled on in tribal court, the victim can’t go to the county or state for justice.

And while many enrolled women will be upset when told their options have been limited, please realize that multi-racial marriages and relationships are very, very common in Indian Country and non-member women are no small number in domestic violence cases within reservation boundaries.

Further, it is interesting that in the language in section 4(A) below, describing under what conditions in which there would be an exception to tribal jurisdiction, the defendant is addressed more than the victim. It doesn’t matter what heritage the woman is – that isn’t the deciding factor for tribal jurisdiction. The language below addresses the perp’s relationship to Indian Country as the deciding factor.

In fact, under this section, ‘victim’ is defined and limited to only women who have obtained a protective order.  In other words, women who DON’T have a protective order would NOT be considered victims under the exception section, and thus, no matter what, are subject to tribal jurisdiction.

FURTHER – the words, “in the Indian country of the participating tribe” are used over and over. Do you know what this means? I will tell you what it doesn’t mean. It DOESN’T mean inside reservation boundaries.  But I can’t tell you what it DOES mean as far as how many miles outside the boundaries it extends – because, apparently, that is up the tribal government and BIA.

Yes, friends.  A woman, off the reservation, who is assaulted by a person whom she might not even be aware is a tribal member (we talked about multi-heritage relationships, right?) might find herself fighting for justice in a tribal court.

… But trying to read the legalese in section 4, I have to ask, if both the victim and perp are non-Indians, but the victim doesn’t have a protective order…? (Who writes this stuff?)

It appears that the language has been written to protect the defendants, specifically enrolled men, from state and federal jurisdiction.  They might come down hard on a non-member, but given the track history of many tribal courts – do not doubt that this bill will end up protecting certain men and further victimizing many women.

This type of language throws women of all heritages under the bus.  Not only could enrolled women be forced into a court predominantly run by her ex’s relatives, but non-tribal women, viewed as outsiders no matter how long they have lived in ‘Indian Country’, could be forced to share their horrific story and plea for justice in a room full of potentially hostile relatives and friends of the defendant.

How many women will simply suffer in silence rather than attempt to be heard in tribal court?  How do laws like this seriously protect an already victimized woman?  What can be done to ensure that victims know they have the option to refuse tribal jurisdiction and seek justice elsewhere?

Further – could you please tell me in what manner women who would be affected by these amendments were consulted?  During the discussion of these amendments, what non-tribal entity or organization represented and advocated for needs of women who live within Indian Country?

 

PLEASE URGE PRESIDENT OBAMA NOT TO SIGN THIS HORRIBLE VERSION OF THE VAWA!

 

`SEC. 204. TRIBAL JURISDICTION OVER CRIMES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

`(4) EXCEPTIONS-

`(A) VICTIM AND DEFENDANT ARE BOTH NON-INDIANS-

`(i) IN GENERAL- A participating tribe may not exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over an alleged offense if neither the defendant nor the alleged victim is an Indian.

`(ii) DEFINITION OF VICTIM- In this subparagraph and with respect to a criminal proceeding in which a participating tribe exercises special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction based on a violation of a protection order, the term `victim’ means a person specifically protected by a protection order that the defendant allegedly violated.

`(B) DEFENDANT LACKS TIES TO THE INDIAN TRIBE- A participating tribe may exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over a defendant only if the defendant–

`(i) resides in the Indian country of the participating tribe;

`(ii) is employed in the Indian country of the participating tribe; or

`(iii) is a spouse, intimate partner, or dating partner of–

`(I) a member of the participating tribe; or

`(II) an Indian who resides in the Indian country of the participating tribe.
Elizabeth Sharon Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)

Author

Dying in Indian Country
PO Box 253
Hillsboro, ND 58045
administrator@caicw.org
https://caicw.org

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

 

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

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

 

Dec 312012
 

From Tragedies – to Transformation…

Just why would a family decide that reservation life is not what they choose for their family? The reasons are many, but some of the reasons are shocking.

Dying in Indian Country is one family’s story of  hope.

What 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.

An amazing transformational story, Dying in Indian Country, by Elizabeth Sharon Morris, provides a real glimpse into some of these unacceptable conditions. Dying in Indian Country tells a compelling true story of one family who 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  –  then tells how, by the Grace of God, they came out of it.

 

A true story of pain, hope, and transformation –

“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)

Dying in Indian Country is available at:   http://dyinginindiancountry.com

 

 

Consider a Tax-Deductible End-of-Year Donation

 Comments Off on Consider a Tax-Deductible End-of-Year Donation
Dec 242012
 

.
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

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

 Comments Off on New Book: Dying in Indian Country – An Amazing Family Story
Jul 022012
 

.
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:

.

Nov 222011
 

Washington DC Teach-In:

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

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

Dr. William B. Allen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WE NEED HELP!

 Comments Off on WE NEED HELP!
Jun 072011
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beautiful Michelle hanged herself in a closet

 Comments Off on Beautiful Michelle hanged herself in a closet
Dec 162010
 

A friend wrote:

“Lisa you can and are free. Free to go on, free to thank God for your life with Roland…free to learn from the craziness and free to take what you can and to leave the rest in God’s hands.”

How beautiful, wonderful, comforting those words are.

But it was worse than just craziness. It had been horrific. Over twenty years earlier, I stepped into the closet where Michelle, who was taller then I, had hanged herself that morning. The wooden rod from which clothing hung just touched the top of my head. She could have saved herself simply by standing up. How could she have hated herself that much? How could anyone hate themselves that much? How deep her despair must have been! Oh, why didn’t any of us realize the extent of her suffering? That beautiful girl! Why didn’t we visit her? Why didn’t I just come and talk to her, be her friend, take her to get her driver’s license as I had promised her? Something?

That very same evening, we got a call from a detective in the emergency room at the medical center. Owen had been stabbed in the chest.

“Oh, No,” I said to the detective. “His sister Michelle just died!”

“Michelle died?” The detective asked, “Do we know how Michelle died?”

“Oh, yes. She was upset about their sister Brenda’s accident and she hanged herself”.

“Brenda?” He asked hesitantly, “And do we know what happened to Brenda?”

“Yes, she fell down a flight of stairs in a wheelchair and reinjured her back”.

The detective paused.

“Do we know how Brenda fell down the stairs?”

“Yes. She was upset that Michelle hadn’t wanted to help her down the stairs. So she threw herself down.”

At this point the detective must have been wondering if there were some kind of conspiracy against the family. I think, in some backward way, many of us hoped there was. It was too much to imagine that all this could happen to one family in one week’s time. Worse – that they had all done it to themselves. It would have been a morbid comfort to have some other explanation.

And this was just one of many “Days of out lives.”

But after some thought, I respond to my friend: “You are right – the memories pain me, but even so, I do thank God for my life with Roland. He actually asked me before he died how I felt about our life together. And I actually had an answer ready—because I’d been thinking about it for awhile.

I told him that we had traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We’ve lived in Canada and helped out at a Children’s home in Mexico. We’ve owned businesses and we’ve been on welfare. At times we had little or no food – and other times we ate at some of the finest restaurants. We have slept on dirty floors with dirty blankets in tribal housing, and we have stayed in upscale hotels on Capitol Hill in Washington DC and in Windsor, BC. I told him our life had been full. He seemed to relax into his pillow upon hearing me say it.

We felt just as comfortable talking to a drunk on Franklin Ave. as we did talking to a US Senator. I’ve called a US Senator looking for my husband, who was in his office at the time. The Senator made a real joke of it, as he handed Roland the phone, about how I can track him down anywhere. And…I’ve had an impossible time finding my husband on the reservation just after our son was born. No one would hand the phone to him then, as they were drinking with him.

A law professor and a state legislator both helped carry Roland’s casket. A retired US Navy Submarine officer carried Roland’s body back to the reservation in the back of his pickup.

Who would I have been without all those experiences?

It’s the truth, isn’t it? Who would I have been if I had married an average man and lived with two cars and 2.5 kids in the suburbs? Really – would I even be a Christian right now? Because it was Roland that essentially led me to Christ.

And …as I correspond with the various families that write to CAICW…how would I even begin to understand them and their fears if I hadn’t been there myself? I am able to write two simple words that mean the world to them… “I understand.”

And it is with that background: the birth mother to five members, the adoptive mother of one, the legal custodian of three, the step mother to four, and aunt to innumerable members of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe – and as a former licensed Day care provider, foster care provider, as well as registered nurse – I am able to ‘withstand the barbs of the enemy’ and stand tall whenever anyone tries to call me a racist for speaking up on this issue.

I can unashamedly stand up and say what many others can’t bring themselves to say – because I don’t care what names they call me. And I can speak loudly. And I can help that no more children be treated as chattel for the benefit of a corrupt tribal government.

The idea some have that children “belong” on the reservation is racism at its core. It ignores who the child might factually be, who the child is connected to, what the child really wants and, importantly, what the child’s best interests are. It’s well known to everyone that the high school drop out rate, drug abuse, crime, fetal alcohol rate, child abuse, corruption, child neglect, sexual abuse, violence and suicide, etc. is so high on many reservations that no Congressman would ever willingly send their own child to live there…yet everyone is supposed to just go along with the lie that children of heritage must live with it because tribal and federal government say so. It’s not only insane but criminal.

I’m not going to diplomatically dance around so as not to step on toes. Kids are dying. Beautiful Michelle hanged herself in a simple closet, where all she had to do was stand up to save herself.

Others have died of overdose, accident, and violence.

So you are right. I have a job to do, and it is because of my life with Roland that I am able to do it.

– to be the loud-mouthed, angry witch that I am.

Bless you My Friends, you’ve been so good to hang in there with us through all these tough years.

Read “Dying in Indian Country”

Letters from Families, asking for Help – Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare

Families: Hurt by ICWA?

 Comments Off on Families: Hurt by ICWA?
Oct 262010
 
Families: Hurt by ICWA? Connect with other families through CAICW   on Facebook and discuss, encourage, share insights, case law, names of possible attorney’s, and pray for each other. Join Facebook to start connecting with Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare.

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.”

CAICW, Christian Ministry as well as Family Advocacy, is interested in the total well-being of the individual and Family. CAICW is the only national organization advocating for families who have lost or are at risk of losing children due to misapplied and sometimes illegal application of Indian Law.

– CAICW has been advocating for families affected by the Indian law since 2004.
– Children have been removed from safe, loving homes and been placed into dangerous situations.
Indian and non-Indian families have felt threatened by tribal government. Some have had to mortgage homes and endure lengthy legal processes to protect their children.
Equal opportunities for adoption, safety and stability are not available to children of all heritages.
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 many cases been denied.

Please share these links with others:


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


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


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


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


TWITTER: http://twitter.com/CAICW


EMAIL: administrator@caicw.org.

To Those that Love an ICWA Child:

 Comments Off on To Those that Love an ICWA Child:
Jun 112010
 

.

– I am one of those –

– that person you are afraid of. That person with whom children were placed, not because I could handle them, not because I even knew them …

In fact, my abilities, emotional stability, and character were never a factor at all. My husband was their grandfather. That’s all that mattered. No one from the tribe or the court ever talked to me about whether I could handle four more kids on top of my own five. No Guardian Ad Litem called to chat. No one seemed to care whether I could do this or not.

The Tribe did finally send a couple women over to do a “home study,” but that was a good year or more after they had already placed the kids with us. That was the first, and last, time anyone checked on our home.

And they didn’t even check the bedrooms. If they had, they would have discovered that not all the kids had their own beds. In fact, not all the kids even had bedrooms. We used two of our shops storage rooms for some of the kids.

No, the two tribal “social workers” who flew in from another state and who we were told would spend two days with us, chatted with my husband for about an hour, then asked how to get to a local attraction. They were anxious to get started with their paid vacation. We were happy to give them directions and be finished with the faux “home study.”

That was it. Never saw them again.

So…our family knows first hand what it takes to be one of our tribe’s “acceptable” Indian homes.

How did it turn out? I’d like to say that we became the Brady Bunch. But it’s not that simple.

In some ways, at various points of time, we did great. There was love, laughs, and kindness, along with the stress, sibling rivalry, and melt downs. The four kids, all under 7 when they arrived, started calling us Mom and Dad, just as our first five did, and all the kids, most of whom were the same age, began referring to each other as brothers & sisters.

But our lives were far from story book (Or even TV series). The reality of the effects of alcohol exposure, crack exposure, and neglect on the four wove through all of our lives. It’s one thing if a family is trying to help one child get through this kind of storm. It’s quite another when one is trying to help four without training, support, or resources – while trying to raise your own five young children at the same time.

Yup. The tribe mandated the ICWA thing, and then left us hanging.

Why did I do it? Why didn’t I just say “No?” Again, because of ICWA. I had seen the conditions in which my husband’s nephews, nieces and other grandchildren were being made to live. I knew that even though I was on the edge of losing my mind, our home was still better and safer than any other that the tribe might choose. I couldn’t turn these four away to that kind of life. Believe it or not—as much as I felt like a basket case on my better days and the wicked witch on my worst, our home was truly the best these children would get in an ICWA placement.

And we had Jesus Christ to lean on, and a wonderful, loving, large church family. Without these, I truly might have lost my mind.

Three years after my husband was given custody, he was diagnosed with cancer. Four years later, he passed away. Through all those hard years, church brothers & sisters practically carried us.

After he passed, though, is when real troubles began. It was as if a dam of emotions, pent up and waiting, suddenly exploded. Some of it was the grief of birth children, some the impulse of teen-agers. The hardest though, was the eruption of FAE angst and the familial predilection to alcoholism as children entered adolescence one by one.

Today the storm is over. Only four of the nine are still minors. At this point in our story, despite years of trying to teach the children the dangers of drugs, all is not well.

Just last week, I gave custody of one of the grandchildren to the county in order that he be able to get the mental health help that he needs, as well as for the protection of the other children still in the home. I did this because the two grandchildren that had thus far reached adulthood have returned to the birth family—as well as the destructive family lifestyle. I now needed to change how I was doing things in order to prevent the same outcome with this child.

I just wish I had fully realized years ago how necessary trained help was, so that the other two might have benefitted as well. (By the way, through correct interpretation of the law, as we explained it to the judge, this particular custody transfer was deemed non-ICWA.)

Long story short—Contrary to the belief of Congress and one-sided, tribal government testimony, the “best interest of the child” does NOT require a relative placement or even an Indian placement.

As much as many tribal leaders want society to believe that all children of heritage are “theirs” and have a “connection” to tribal culture that will crush them if broken, it’s just not true. To some people such things matter, to others, it doesn’t.

My birth children and grandchildren, for example, would be crushed if forced to live on the reservation. My Children may be 50% Indian, but they have been raised in much safer, loving communities than the reservation community in which they are enrolled. Living on the reservation would have destroyed them.

Further, most children aren’t “just” Indian. Ours are also Irish, Scottish, German and even Jewish. All their heritages are equally important. Most children of tribal heritage have other, equally important heritages, and they are all US citizens who should be constitutionally given Equal Protection. Meaning – contrary to common practice today, enrolled children should not be left in conditions that children of any other heritage would be removed from. They are not mere chattel—a means for additional funding— for tribal governments.

Many children, after suffering abuse and neglect, need real help, and several tribal governments are negligent in that they place them into situations where they can not get it.

Time and again I have seen children placed by their tribe into violent, verbally, physically, and even sexually abusive, drug infested homes. I have seen little or no attention given to the emotional and mental health issues these children have had. That isn’t to say that no tribal governments care—it’s just to say that I, having lived in this particular extended family for 30 some years, haven’t seen it.

ICWA, in all our family experience, is a crime against children.

.

Jewish relative keeps custody of Indian kids

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

.
But it’s not always a slam-dunk…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reality of Taking in Kids With FAS

 Comments Off on Reality of Taking in Kids With FAS
Jun 052009
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Possible Incentives for ICWA –

 Comments Off on Possible Incentives for ICWA –
Dec 152008
 

.
Tribal Government Funding?

Ms. Scott Kayla Morrison, a member of the Mississippi Choctaw Tribe as well as an attorney specializing in Indian law, wrote in 1998, “ICWA is a money-driven program for the tribes from three perspectives: 1) federal funds generated by tribal membership; 2) federal income to fund program jobs; and 3) federal funds to administer courts adjudicating ICWA cases.

– “First, each tribal member generates $5,000 (1992) for the tribal administration from the thirteen federal agencies funding Indian programs. The more members, the more federal funds. With no blood quantum [required], [some tribes allow] a person with as little as 1/2000th (to) be enrolled as an Indian. If an Indian child is adopted by non-Indians, the tribe loses $5,000 a year for the lifespan of the child.

– “Second, federal dollars fund the ICWA program for the tribe. This generates jobs for tribal administration directly through program funds and indirectly through administrative costs. Of every federal dollar allocated by Congress, 89 cents goes to administer the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The remaining 11 cents goes to tribal administration. The Choctaw administration is allowed to take 46%, almost half or 5.5 cents, for administrative indirect costs. The remaining 5.5 cents are used to administer programs like ICWA. The more membership to serve, the more money the tribe requests that generates more jobs and more indirect costs. Allowing adoption outside the tribe cuts into the pocketbook of tribal administration.

– “Third, one purpose of a tribal court or a Code of Federal Register (CFR) Court is to adjudicate ICWA cases. The amount of federal funds allocated to the court is based on the number of cases served by the ICWA
program. The court program funds generate indirect costs and jobs.”

Ms. Morrison was correct. As a matter of fact –

– According to ACF Administration For Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, May 9, 2007, Child Care Bureau, Office of Family Assistance –

Tribal Child Counts: For funds that become available in FY 2008, ACF will calculate grant awards based on the number of children under age 13. A Tribe must submit a self-certified Child Count Declaration for children under age 13 (not age 13 and under), in order to receive FY 2008 CCDF funds.

“ – Tribal Lead Agencies are reminded that CCDF funds are allocated based on child counts of children from Federally recognized Indian Tribes, consistent with the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act’s definition of Indian Tribe.”

– According to Aneva J. Yazzie, Chief Executive Officer, Navajo Housing Authority
In her testimony before the Committee on Indian Affairs, United States Senate, on Reauthorization of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act, July 18th, 2007, Washington, DC

“The most contentious issue facing Indian housing in the last few years has been the use of Census data to determine funding allocations. NHA has been heavily involved in this discussion because we believe this is not just a debate about how funds are allocated; it is fundamental to NAHASDA and to all Indian programs. Tribal housing must remain for tribal members and tribal members should be counted when determining funding allocations.

“…We support the use of tribal enrollment data, not Census data, to determine need under NAHASDA. Until terms of verifiable enrollment data can be agreed upon by federal government and tribal representatives, NHA urges a return to the use of single-race Census data because, while imperfect, it is the better approximation of tribal enrollment numbers.

(NOTE from Blog Author: Census data shows that NOT ALL ENROLLED MEMBERS are LIVING on the RESERVATION. Tribes would only recieve funds for members actually living on the reservation. Therefore, Tribes perfer Enrollement Numbers because THEY INCLUDE MANY WHO HAVE MOVED AWAY and who, like our family, have NO INTEREST in using tribal funds or programs.)

“… One change in federal law we would like the Committee to consider would be the elimination of the prohibition from using Indian Health Service funds in concert with NAHASDA funds… The concern that the lack of available funds means we should keep these funding streams separate may be well-intended, but it flies in the face of
Tribal self-determination.”

– According to the 2003 DOI-BIA Indian Population and Labor Force Report, mandated by order of Public law 102-477, “The Indian Employment, Training, and Related Services Demonstration Act of 1992:

– Total number of enrolled tribal members and members from other tribes who live on or near the reservation and are eligible to use the tribe’s Bureau of Indian Affairs funded services – Total 2003 Tribal enrollment – 1,923,650. 5.9% increase from 2001 labor force report, 34.7% from 1995. The 2003 increase is attributed to updated tribal rolls, improved record keeping procedures, and revisions to tribal enrollment criteria.
– Total 2003 Service population 1,587,519. 4.2% increase from 2001 labor force report. 26.0% from 1995. It is also a 216% increase over the Total Service Population reported in 1982. The 2003 Service Population increase is attributed to increased record keeping and improved data collection methods, as well as eligible Indian individuals and families who came to reside in the tribe’s service area to benefit from opportunities and services unavailable to them in off-reservation
communities.
– 562 Federally recognized tribes

– Several corporate and “at-large” Alaska tribal entities formed by the 1971 ANCS Act.

From Indianz.com, “House panel boosts funds for Indian Programs”, Monday, June 11, 2007. accessed Aug. 30, 2007 –

– Indian Education, urban health clinics, law enforcement, and language preservation will see boosts in funding under bills advanced by the House Appropriations committee last week.
– At a markup on Thursday, the committee approved 5,7 billion for Indian programs at the Interior Department and related agencies, including the Indian Health Service….
– The bill “honors our obligations to Native American communities, making investments into better education and healthcare,” the committee said of the overall $27.6 billion package, an increase of 4.3 percent over current levels.”

,