Tell Congress How to Best Meet the Needs of Native Children

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Mar 132020
 
Little girl on trike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Philosophical Underpinnings and Negative Consequences of the Indian Child Welfare Act

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Oct 212019
 
The Philosophical Underpinnings and Negative Consequences of the Indian Child Welfare Act - https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/masters/591/

By Elizabeth S. Morris

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of the Helms School of Government in Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Arts in Public Policy

https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/masters/591

‘Although the ICWA has some statutory safeguards to prevent misuse, numerous families continue to be hurt by the law.’

Preface

My husband and I began our lives together in a symbiotic alcoholic-enabler relationship in the late 70’s. With our family on the edge of self-destruction in 1987, my husband, an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, born and raised on the Leech Lake reservation, had a transformational experience which changed his worldview and led him to take our family in a new direction. 

Having watched many of his relatives suffer within the reservation system, he began to see reservation violence and crime as an outcome of current federal Indian policy more than it was about past policy. This led us to forming an advocacy in the late 90’s for families hurt by federal Indian policy.  We did our best to share hope and life, as inadequate as we were, by assisting extended family in our home, neighbors in our community, and strangers across the nation. We never did it for money; there was never any money. Everything we did came from passion for the lives of our children, nieces and nephews, and extended communities.

Unfortunately, reservation crime, corruption, drug abuse and violence have continued to increase over the years. My husband has since passed away and I am a widow, continuing the work we had begun in 1996.

This thesis compiles some of the documented history, philosophy, and consequences of federal Indian policy. It also includes a preliminary quantitative causal comparative survey with 1351 participants – 551 of whom identify tribal heritage – and explores the relationship between differences.

We serve a powerful God with whom all things are possible.  Our job is to serve in the capacity He has given us, even if we do not understand why, and then enjoy watching what He does next. 

Abstract

This paper will examine the philosophical underpinnings of current federal Indian policy and its physical, emotional, and economic consequences on individuals and communities.

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission found in 1990 that “[T]he Government of the United States has failed to provide civil rights protection for Native Americans living on reservations” (W. B. Allen 1990, 2). As Regan (2014) observes, individuals have been denied full title to their property – and thus use of the property as leverage to improve their economic condition (Regan 2014). Tribal executive and judicial branches have been accused of illegal search and seizures, denial of right to counsel or jury, ex parte hearings and violations of due process and equal protection (W. B. Allen 1990, 3). Violence, criminal activity, child abuse and trafficking are rampant on many reservations (DOJ 2018). Largely because of crime and corruption, many have left the reservation system. The last two U.S. censuses’ report 75% of tribal members do not live in Indian Country (US Census Bureau 2010).

Research suggests current federal Indian policy and the reservation system are built on philosophies destructive to the physical, emotional and economic health of individual tribal members. This paper contends that allowing property rights for individual tribal members, enforcing rule of law within reservation systems, supporting law enforcement, and upholding full constitutional rights and protections of all citizens would secure the lives, liberties and properties of affected individuals and families.

Introduction

For almost 200 years the U.S. federal government has claimed wardship over members of federally recognized Indian tribes.  Yet, despite the nineteenth century U.S. federal court rulings that propagated this view, disagreement continues as to whether tribes located within the United States are sovereign, whether Congress has plenary power over them, and whether individual tribal members have U.S. Constitutional rights: 

  • Some say the nineteenth century U.S. Supreme Court cases known as the ‘Marshall Trilogy’ contradict tribal sovereignty.  Others say they uphold it.
  • Some say treaties promise a permanent trust relationship. Others point out that most treaties have clearly specified final payments of federal funds and benefits and were written and signed with clear intent for gradual assimilation.
  • Some say the Constitution never gave Congress anything more than the power to regulate trade with tribes. Others claim the Constitution not only gave Congress total and exclusive plenary power to decide every aspect of life in Indian Country – but by unstated extension, gave the executive branch this power as well.
  • Some argue that the Constitution never had authority over tribes or tribal members. Others cite the Constitution when seeking judicial redress. 
  • Some tribal officials argue that international law should not have been forced upon non-European cultures that had no say in it. Others point to natural law and international law – the grounds for treaties between nations – as basis for uninterrupted tribal sovereignty.

Inherent, retained tribal sovereignty was reality for tribal governments prior to the formation of the United States and in the immediate years following its birth, but is not reflected in case law from the 1800s and much of the 1900s. By the time of Andrew Jackson, the United States had taken a position of control. Further, over the last two centuries, the vast majority of tribal leaders accepted large payments for land, accepted federal trust benefits, and submitted to federal government’s de facto power over them.   

Throughout history and every heritage, various men have coveted power over others.  Today, tribal governments, while accepting and playing into Congress’ claim of plenary power, have themselves, also, claimed exclusive jurisdiction and authority over unwilling citizens. Tribal governments regularly lobby and petition both Congress and the White House to codify tribal jurisdiction over the lives, liberty and property of everyone within reservation boundaries as well as some outside reservation boundaries.  While claiming exclusive jurisdiction, tribal governments have requested and given blessing for the federal government to manage children of tribal heritage – asking Congress to write the Indian Child Welfare Act and the executive branch to write federal rules governing the placement of every enrollable child in need of care. Some tribal governments and supportive entities have gone further – asking even governors and state legislators to expand on and strengthen control over children with heritage.

Often cited as justification for the ICWA is a 1998 pilot study by Carol Locust, a training director at the Native American Research and Training Center at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.  Locust’s study is said to have shown that “every Indian child placed in a non-Indian home for either foster care or adoption is placed at great risk of long-term psychological damage as an adult” (Locust, Split Feather Study 1998).  Referring to the condition as the “Split-feather Syndrome,” Locust claims to have identified “unique factors of Indian children placed in non-Indian homes that created damaging effects” (Locust, Split Feather Study 1998).  The Minnesota Department of Human Services noted “an astonishing 19 out of 20 Native adult adoptees showed signs of “Split-feather syndrome” during Locust’s limited study (DHS 2005).

“Unfortunately,” according to Bonnie Cleaveland, PhD ABPP, “the study was implemented so poorly that we cannot draw conclusions from it.” Only twenty adoptees with tribal heritage – total – were interviewed. All were removed from their biological families and placed with non-native families. There were no control groups to address other variables. According to Cleaveland:

Locust asserts that out-of-culture removal causes substance abuse and psychiatric problems. However, she uses no control group. She doesn’t acknowledge the high rates of trauma, psychiatric and substance abuse among AI/AN people who remain in their culture and among the population of foster children. These high rates of psychosocial problems could easily account for all of the symptoms Locust found in her subjects 

(Cleaveland 2015).

Cleaveland concluded, “Sadly, because many judges and attorneys, and even some caseworkers and other professionals, are not familiar with the research, results that may be very wrong are leading to the wrong outcomes for children” (Cleaveland 2015).  While supporters of ICWA cite “Split-feather Syndrome” as proof the ICWA is in the best interest of children, many children have been hurt by application of the law. 

Questions that need more extensive study include whether children who were adopted into non-Indian families as children show greater problems with self-identity, self-esteem, and inter-personal relationships than do their peers.  Are the ties between children who have tribal heritage and their birth families and culture stronger than that of their peers, no matter the age at adoption?  Other considerations include whether all tribal members support federal policies that mandate their cases be heard only in tribal courts and whether a percentage of persons of tribal heritage believe federal Indian policy infringes on their life, liberty and property.

 The central concern of this paper is how current federal Indian policy has affected the lives, liberty and property of those who have tribal heritage – most specifically the Indian Child Welfare Act.  Through research of the historical foundations of federal Indian policy and a nation-wide comparative survey of family dynamics, this paper will attempt to answer these and other questions.

READ FULL TEXT – https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/masters/591

Citation

Morris, Elizabeth S. The Philosophical Underpinnings and Negative Consequences of the Indian Child Welfare Act. Master Thesis, Helms School of Government, Liberty University, Lynchburg: Digital Commons, 2019, 337.  

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—. “Joint Hearing Before the Committee on Indian Affairs, US Senate and the Committe on Resources, US House of Representatives.” Indian Child Welfare Act: S. Hrg. 105-224. Washington DC: GPO: 105th Cong. 1st Sess., June 18, 1997.

—. “Oversight Hearing Before the Select Committee on Indian Affairs, United States Senate.” Indian Child Welfare Act: S. Hrg. 100-574. Washington DC: GPO: 100th Cong. 1st Sess., Nov 10, 1987.

US Congress. Senate. S. 1214: Indian Child Welfare Act. Congressional Report, Select Committee on Indian Affairs, Senate, Washington DC: GPO: 95th Cong. 1st Sess., 1977.

US Congress. Senate. S. 1962: Indian Child Welfare Act Amendment. Congressional Report, Committee on Indian Affairs, Senate, Washington DC: GPO: 104th Cong. 2nd Sess., 1996.

US Congress. Senate. S. 721 – An Act to authorize appropriations for the Indian Claims Commission for fiscal year 1974, and for other purposes. Senate Report: S.Rept 93-53, Interior and Insular Affairs, Congress, Washington DC: GPO: 93rd Cong. 1st Sess., 1973.

US Congress: House. “Hearings before the Subcommittee on Indian Aflairs and Public Lands of the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.” Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. S.1214, Serial No. 96-42. Washington DC: GPO: 95th Cong; 2nd Sess., Feb-Mar 9, 1978. 308.

Vattel, Monsieur Emer (Emmerich) de. The Principles of the Law of Nature Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns. 6th American. Translated by Esq. Joseph Chitty. West Brookfield, MA: Merriam and Cooke, [1758,1773] 1844.

Vaughan, David J. Give Me Liberty: The Uncompromising Statesmanship of Patrick Henry. Edited by George Grant. Nashville: Cumberland House Publishing Inc., 1997.

Victoria, Franciscus De. The First Relectio Of The Reverend Father, Brother Franciscus De Victoria, On The Indians Lately Discovered. 1696. Edited by Johann Georg Simon. Translated by John Pawley Bate. Vol. 1. 2 vols. Ingolstadt, Cologne and Frankfort, 1580.

Vieru, Simona. “Aristotle’s Influence on the Natural Law Theory of St. Thomas Aquinas.” The Western Australian Jurist (Murdoch University) 1 (2010): 115-122.

Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. “The Treaty of Logg’s Town, 1752.” 1906: 154–174.

Wald, Patricia M. Assistant Attorney General. Letter, Department of Justice, Washington DC: House of Representatives, 1978, 35, 40.

Washington, George. “The Avalon Project: Washington’s Farewell Address.” Lillian Goldman Law Library. Yale Law School. 1796. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp (accessed September 17, 2015).

Weingast, Barry R. “The Economic Role of Political Institutions: Market-Preserving Federalism and Economic Development.” The Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, 1995: 1-31.

White House. “Documents related to the Indian Claims Commission.” Documents 1973-77, Bradley H. Patterson Files, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, Washington DC, 1973-77, 18.

Wilkinson, Charles. American Indians, Time, and the Law: Native Societies in a Modern Constitutional Democracy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967.

Wilkinson, Charles F., and John M. Volkman. “Judicial Review of Indian Treaty Abrogation: As Long as Water Flows, or Grass Grows upon the Earth–How Long a Time is That.” California Law Review 63 (5 1975): 601-661.

Wilson, James. “Of the Natural Rights of Individuals.” Founding.com: A Project of the Claremont Institute. 1790-91. http://founding.com/founders-library/american-political-figures/james-wilson/of-the-natural-rights-of-individuals/ (accessed 4 8, 2019).

Woodward, Stephanie. “Suicide is epidemic for American Indian youth: What more can be done?” 100 Reporters. Oct 10, 2012. http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/10/10/14340090-suicide-is-epidemic-for-american-indian-youth-what-more-can-be-done (accessed July 27, 2016).

Worcester v. Georgia. (US Supreme Court, 1832).

(Video) The Implications of Native American Heritage on U.S. Constitutional Protections

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Apr 142017
 
child abuse

Three-yr-old Lauryn Whiteshield was murdered a little over a month after her arrival to her grandfather’s home in the spring of 2013.
This twenty minute video examines the effect of federal Indian policy on the lives, liberty, and property of U.S. citizens across America.
Although the last two U.S censuses show that 75% of tribal members do not live within Indian Country and many have never had any association with the reservation system, federal policies mandate tribal government jurisdiction over individuals of lineage in several areas.
1) Across America, children who have never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal customs – including multi-racial children with extremely minimal blood quantum – have been removed from homes they love and placed with strangers. Some children have been severely hurt in the process.
2) Women victimized by violence can be denied the option of county court, regardless whether they believe justice cannot be obtained in tribal court.
3) Further, the Department of Interior holds title to the property of millions of individual tribal members. Adult citizens are not allowed to sell or use their property as collateral without permission.
This study looks at the practical impact and documented repercussions of policies that, based solely on a person’s lineage, set limitations on what they may do with their lives, children, and property.

Please share this with your friends.

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

Most especially – share your thoughts on this video with the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs – Senator John Hoeven.

Find your State’s Senator and Congressmen here:
https://www.senate.gov/
https://www.house.gov/

Thank you – and PLEASE Share….

Learn More.

https://DyingInIndianCountry.com

https://www.facebook.com/CAICW.org/

Declared “Sanctuary” for Children Running from ICWA –

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Feb 202017
 
sanctuary

Over the years, we have seen so many distraught families – panicked over what was happening to their children, unsure what to do to protect them, and unable to get help.

Many times, especially in light of the new ICWA rules and guidelines published by the Obama admin in 2016, …there has been little a family could do.

Watching several families struggle at this current time, we have come to a decision:

Whereas, up to half of Americans believe sanctuaries from federal law are a good and reasonable necessity – where people, fleeing oppression from their home nation, can hide from federal law that would send them back to that home nation;

And Whereas; most American citizens believe federal laws that target, isolate, and separate children and families on the basis of heritage are unconstitutional and should not be allowed;

And Whereas, for decades in America, many Christian church buildings have served as sanctuaries, and while there is no law defining a sanctuary or mandating it be respected, the federal government has often declined to enter and forcibly remove people from a declared Christian Sanctuary;

And Whereas, federal authorities have shown their willingness to ignore state and federal law for the last two years when they declined to enter the Cheyenne River Reservation to remove two little girls who were taken from North Dakota by their non-custodial mother when their non-tribal fathers were granted legal custody; and federal authorities have also shown their willingness to ignore federal law in several cases during the 1980’s when Guatemalan illegal-immigrants sought sanctuary in various church buildings around the country;

And Whereas; many children of tribal heritage, even in teen years, have expressed their desire to stay with their chosen families and not be uprooted by tribal governments, but were ignored by tribal, state and/or federal officials;

And Whereas; many birth parents have objected to tribal jurisdiction over, or involvement in, their families, and have made it clear they do NOT want their children on the reservation or their custody case heard in tribal court, but were ignored by tribal, state and/or federal officials;

And Whereas; many extended family, of varied heritages, have had children removed from them by tribal officials for no other reason than that the tribal officials did not like that branch of the family, or the family was non-Indian, or there were friends or family of tribal officials that wanted the child;

And Whereas; there are many documented instances of tribal courts practicing corruption and nepotism in their choice of homes for children, despite clear evidence of harm to children in those homes;

And Whereas; an untenable number of children have been sexually abused, seriously injured or murdered as a result of placement in homes under the Indian Child Welfare Act;

And Whereas; there is solid legal argument concerning the unconstitutionality of the ‘Indian Child Welfare Act,’ and Justice Clarence Thomas intimated as much in his concurrence in the case, “Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl;

And Whereas; once a child has been placed in the custody of a tribal government, particularly within reservation boundaries, it can be extremely difficult to remove the child;

The Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare does hereby from this day forward declare itself a ‘Sanctuary for Children and Families Threatened by the Indian Child Welfare Act.’

Families will need to show:

1) It is in the child’s clear best interest to remain with them; or that while best interest might yet be unclear, the child needs more time for all aspects to be studied and for true best interest to be made clear; and
2) They are in imminent danger of being forcibly removed by tribal authorities and/or local police under the direction of tribal authorities.
3) They intend to tirelessly work a plan of action to prove and win the best interest of the particular child or children;
4) Understand the CAICW sanctuary they would stay in is a Christian home – where Jesus Christ is Lord.

Lastly, we fully respect President Trump’s position concerning federal funds – and can proudly guarantee we will not be requesting or requiring any federal funds for this Sanctuary.

Families can contact us by messenger or email.

PLEASE – share this message freely.

__________________________________________________

– – Those who object to this and see things from a progressive perspective can explain why they feel it is okay for sanctuaries to shield people of some heritages from some federal laws, but not people of other heritages from other federal laws.

– – Those who see things from a conservative perspective and object to any instance where a person is shielded from federal law… We can only beg your understanding that these children are American citizens, and the federal law in question does not provide equal protection. Please ask your Senators and Congressman to act quickly on repealing this law, so that no child of tribal heritage will need a sanctuary.

Jan 232017
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So now I was in a quandary.

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

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

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

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

Families of other heritages have more options.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

Defender of Abused Children about to be fired by DC Superiors for refusing to shut up about rampant sexual abuse –

 Comments Off on Defender of Abused Children about to be fired by DC Superiors for refusing to shut up about rampant sexual abuse –
Mar 162016
 
Sunset on the Rez

Whistle-blower Thomas Sullivan, the one HHS/ACF official who has stood up against the rampant sexual abuse on many reservations, is about to be fired by his DC Superiors.

They have come up with several accusations against him, but if you have followed his work and the threats they have made against him over the last three years – you know that all he has ever done is defy their orders to shut up about the overwhelming abuse of children, and release his reports to the public when his DC superiors ignored them.

Tom Sullivan - Regional Administrator ACF

Tom Sullivan is a hero – working to protect our children fromleaders who simply use and abuse them for purposes of power and money.

The following is the latest letter – a 6 page list of accusations from his superiors…

On the last page, you see a handwritten note from his superior that says;

Employee refused to sign document before having an opportunity to review it.
Mishaela Duran 3-10-16

(Why shouldn’t a man be allowed to review a document before he signs it?)

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

Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-1

Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-2

Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-3

Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-4

Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-5

Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-6

May 282015
 

By Tony Mauro, The National Law Journal
May 27, 2015

“A husband-wife team from two Washington, D.C., law offices filed suit Wednesday challenging strict new government guidelines for adopting Native American children in the aftermath of a landmark 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

“Lori Alvino McGill, a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, and her husband Matthew McGill, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, filed the case on behalf of the National Council for Adoption and other groups and individuals, including birth parents who placed Indian children with non-Indian adoptive parents…”

Read more: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202727560257/New-Challenge-to-Native-American-Adoption-Rules#ixzz3bRgBBAWm

READ THE LAWSUIT IN PDF HERE –
https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/45a843bd-720a-4588-9c1f-e68acd715a58

May 232015
 
Roland and his newborn, 1990

A friend or relative appears to be struggling with the difficulties of parenting and appears to either not understand the needs of children at varied points in their development, or is overwhelmed with inside or outside stress and has been unable to complete certain tasks.

You want to help, but are uncertain how. Should you tell yourself it is none of your business and look the other way, speak to the parents privately and appear to be a busy-body, or anonymously call CPS and let them be the bad guys?

You need to decide what degree of danger the children are factually in and take steps based on that determination.

Wearing the same clothes for two days in a row is not necessarily child neglect. Some parents might simply be good stewards of limited resources. I once knew a wonderful mom who checked the clothes for soil, and if they were fine, hung them up again for use the next day. This family was cutting down not only on laundry expense, but the wear and tear of good clothing (the lint trap in your dryer is evidence of the wear and tear of frequent washing.) This was simply a lifestyle choice.

In fact, there is nothing wrong with living in what others might call “poverty.” Some of our best years as a family were when we lived extremely low income. In rural Montana, out in the middle of a cornfield, we opted to go without government welfare programs, despite the fact we would have easily qualified. Instead, we obtained goats and chickens (most of which were given to us by friends), taught our kids chores, baked bread from scratch, and raised a garden in glorious view of the Mission Mountains.

This was a lifestyle choice – and it was a healthy choice for our family physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Difficulties only arose when we felt compelled to take in extra children after being called by county social workers in accordance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. My husband’s adult children were struggling with addiction, and someone needed to take the grandchildren.

You see, ICWA had no qualms about our “poverty” status. That was a non-issue. However…our inability to handle that many children – theirs and ours – under the age of 8 was also a non-issue. ICWA workers weren’t at all concerned about whether we were capable and didn’t do any kind of home study or background check prior to placing four children with us. The only concern they had was to find a relative home – no matter what condition the home was in.

Twenty years later, after having raised all the children to adulthood, we belatedly know how the situation could have been handled much better for all concerned.

What I will tell you next is how I wish it had been handled and how I now advise others to handle similar situations.

Know this, first off. The placement of a child by tribal social services is not always in the best interest of the child. We have numerous documented accounts of placements made out of expediency for tribal government and tribal social services with little regard for the factual needs of the child. You do not want to take children out of the frying pan and put them into the fire.

There is financial incentive for a tribal government to take jurisdiction over a child. Tribal governments do get more money per head. Federal dollars are tied to tribal rolls and the U.S. census. The fact that a child in question has never been enrolled previously only increases the incentive, as it means an addition of dollars the tribal entity had not had up to that point. The true purpose of ICWA is to protect tribal sovereignty, not children.

For more explanation of this and what has been factually happening to children, Read: – https://caicw.org/2015/05/21/ive-messed-up-and-someone-is-threatening-to-call-cps/#.VWDZE6jlY6k

Second, if a child has even the smallest – or even a suspected – percentage of heritage. social services and court systems of every jurisdiction across the country are advised to contact a tribal government to take jurisdiction if the tribe so chooses. It is a guideline right now, but could become a permanent rule within the year.

What if the family you are concerned with has had no connection to or interest in being associated with tribal government? What if the family has purposefully decided to distance themselves from the reservation system? According to the BIA guidelines, that is irrelevant. The only matter of concern is whether the tribal government wants the child as a member. If they do, no other entity can stand in the way, including the parents.

With all this in mind, you need to decide whether intervention is necessary for the family you are concerned with, and if so, what kind of intervention.

If you decide to speak to the parents directly and offer personal assistance, the following points could help:

#1) Assure the parents that they are capable of raising their child, but simply need some short term guidance and teaching. Many parents respond better if they feel they are respected and not mocked. Assure them that you love them all and want to help before some stranger calls CPS and causes trouble for them.

#2) Determine to help them bond well and stay bonded to their child. If together you decide the child should be moved to your home or the home of another in order to give respite to the parents, make healthy reunification the primary and foundational goal. You do NOT want to raise their child to adulthood.

#3) Understand your own needs and limitations. I did not do this. I did not understand at the time that I was factually a loner who thrives on alone time. I could deal with my own children, but dealing with children I did not know very well almost broke me.

If you are a loner, see if other family or friends might share the responsibility with you. If, for example, you take actual custody, perhaps others can commit to scheduled and consistent respite care for you.

#4) If at all possible, leave CPS out of this, especially if the child has tribal heritage. You want the parents to be successful as a family – not destroyed. While there are many social workers and systems throughout the country that also want the family to be successful, there is no guarantee this will happen once a tribal government intervenes, and the current BIA guidelines can (and the probable rules will) tie the hands of all well-meaning social services and courts.

I am not afraid to make the last statement. Documentation of dangerous placements by tribal courts abound. See ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan’s whistle blower report as just one example of documented evidence. READ – https://caicw.org/2015/05/10/acf-regional-director-blowing-the-whistle-on-child-abuse/#.VWDZfKjlY6k

#5) The success in helping the family won’t be the result of separating them from their child – but in how patiently and lovingly you can teach the parents to be the best parents they can be….together with how willing and open they are to being taught.

Willingness will have to come from both sides. – they need to be willing to submit to at least weekly hands on teaching in the comfort and care of a child – spending the day with you, if possible – and the more often they do this, the more willing to be taught, the sooner they can resume as an independent family. This doesn’t have to take many weeks. It could end up being just a short time. It will depend on how willing they are to be taught.

#6) Speak the TRUTH – with Love. Yes, the truth can hurt. But outside of the truth, little will change. You will need courage and wisdom to identify the true problem areas and speak about them with gentleness. The parents will need courage and wisdom to accept the truth with humility and deal appropriately with it. God be with you all in the process.

#7) Leave money out of the issue if at all possible. Do not make this about money if you can avoid it. But in your teaching, encourage the parents to take increasing personal financial responsibility for the child’s physical and educational needs.

Take the hit and appear to be a busybody.

The government should be called where children are in danger and there is no other way to protect them.

May 212015
 
Dorothy, Andrew, and Walter, June 1983

– YOU CAN TURN THIS AROUND:

You have a good heart and have always meant well, trying to do what you thought was right and help others where you can, but somewhere along the line, you got caught in things you had been warned about.

These things didn’t seem dangerous initially. It looked fun, everyone else is doing it, and you wanted to be part of what was going on. That’s understandable. You might even have had some deep pains in your heart that you wanted to soothe, hurts you yearned to forget. The things you chose to do helped you forget pain. That’s understandable as well.

So, when some of your elders had warn you to stay away from it, it wasn’t what you wanted to hear. That said, you pushed them away and told yourself they were just old and judgmental.

Even that is understandable. Many of your elders felt the same way when young. But they learned the hard way what can happen, and wanted to spare you from having to learn the same way. Addiction is real – and eventually, it will destroy you and everything you love. Your elders wanted to help you avoid that.

Now you have young children, and someone has threatened to call CPS on you.

You CAN turn this around – but you need to start accepting help right away and listen to the advice of those who really do care and want the best for you and your children.

CPS is not necessarily the people who can or will help. Getting advice from older people is best – grandparents who have finished raising children to adulthood. It’s not just theory for them; they have lived it.

Find more than one older mentor, as not any one person has all the answers. Find mentors that are

• Living clean
• Have been doing so for quite awhile
• Have a strong relationship with God.
• Can see your heart and are willing to gently, patiently teach you in the ways of God.

Humble yourself – listen, trust, and do what they suggest. Do this NOW – TODAY – before someone calls CPS and gets them involved.

.
– WHY YOU DO NOT WANT CPS INVOLVED:

You do NOT want CPS in your life – most particularly if you have any Native American ancestry. Depending on the tribe, you and your child could be put into a situation you would never have imagined. It is not so much that all CPS workers are all bad – it is because of laws forcing them to hand your children over to tribal governments.

You might have been told this is a good thing – that this will protect your rights to your children and keep them in your home longer. This might be true to an extent. But the Indian Child Welfare Act was not written to protect children or parents. It was written to protect tribal governments and tribal sovereignty.

Therefore, you could be helped to keep your child longer – but only if it pleases the tribal government.

We have seen many cases where children have been removed from family members and given to other people because it pleased tribal government to do so. Current BIA guidelines say no one can question the placement decision of a tribal court because questioning a placement undermines the tribal court.

We have seen children
1. Taken from one extended relative and given to another because someone on the council didn’t like the original caretaker.
2. Taken from non-tribal parents and given to enrolled parents despite known drug and physical abuse.
3. Taken from grandparents because the grandparents were non-Indian.
4. Taken from maternal family members and given to paternal family members when a payment was coming out and the paternal family wanted the children’s checks.

The tribal government has complete and final say. NOT YOU.

There is no guarantee things will be done the way you envision – being able to keep your child AND your current lifestyle. Those who do get their way and keep their children despite continued drug, alcohol and even child abuse are frequently related to someone in tribal government and express complete agreement with tribal government’s agenda.

We have seen a 13-yr-old girl left in the home of a non-relative tribal member, with a documented history of sexual abuse, despite the fact that her non-tribal birth father wanted her, had a clean record, was fighting to try to get her back, and numerous reports of the tribal member’s sexual abuse record had been made to tribal and federal officials, including the BIA. To this date, the father has still not been able to get his daughter back.

We have seen two fathers in the Fargo area fight for over a year to get their daughters back from the Cheyenne River reservation. They have been unable to do so, despite court orders from the Fargo court.

But according to the new BIA guidelines, no one can question the placement of a tribal court.

READ about abuse of Native American children under the watchful eye of tribal and federal government – read ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan’s 29-page Whistleblower report – https://caicw.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Thomas-F-Sullivan-WB-April-2015.pdf

.
– WHY THEY ARE ABLE TO DO THIS:

I know it seems unbelievable, right? How could things like this be happening under the eye of federal government?

Our Government is currently protecting tribal sovereignty at all costs. Literally – at all cost.

According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75% of tribal members do not live in Indian Country. Many parents have purposefully taken their children and left Indian Country due to rampant crime and tribal government corruption on many reservations.

With a declining population, tribal governments have been losing money (federal money is tied to U.S. census numbers and tribal rolls). So they have pushed federal government to force children back into the reservation system.

They could not push Congressmen to do this by telling them tribal members are taking their families and leaving. Congress would have recognized it as a freedom and a right. So they have sold the American public on a false narrative – that evil “white” social agencies are “stealing” the children.

FAR more children leave Indian Country in the company of their parents than have ever left through social agencies.

But Congress bought the story and in 1978, passed the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Still – it hasn’t helped. With so much un-auditable money available from federal government, not to mention lucrative casino dollars, crime and tribal corruption has increased, and the numbers of tribal members living on the reservations continued to decline.

After a Supreme Court case in 2013 ruled in favor of the rights of a non-tribal birth mother, tribal governments were enraged. They felt their power threatened. They vowed to “fix” the “loophole” allowing an unwed, non-tribal birth mother to make her own decisions, and said they would find a way to strengthen the ICWA.

The Attorney General for the Cherokee Nation said they would not go through Congress to do it, though. She said that if they did that, other organizations, (such as ours) would try to get their two-cents in. She is right, of course. We would most definitely stand up for the factual rights of children and families. But they have more power and money than we do, so they went to the White House instead to “fix” the “loophole” of parental rights.

On December 3, 2014, U.S Attorney General Eric Holder vowed to give permanent jurisdiction of multi-racial children across the nation to Tribal Governments.

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

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

Can you avoid tribal government taking over jurisdiction of your child once CPS is called? It is very hard.

The new guidelines state:
1. It doesn’t matter if the child lives on or off the reservation, or has EVER been connected to Indian Country.
2. There is no need for a certain blood quantum. Tribal governments have complete say over whether a child is a member and subject to ICWA.
3. Courts do NOT have to entertain “Best Interest” arguments because Congress has already decided that the child’s best interest is under the ICWA. Any other discussion of “best interest” is irrelevant.
4. EVERY child custody case MUST be vetted to see if it is ICWA, because children who are just 1% heritage might not look Indian – so courts are required to question the heritage of EVERY child.
5. If there is any question that a child is Indian – he is to be treated as such until proven otherwise. The best interest of the child in relation to permanency is irrelevant. (How does one explain this to a child – especially when it is found later that this child was not eligible for membership? Why are the child’s rights irrelevant?)
6. No one is to question the placement decision of tribal court, because pointing out problems – for example, that a certain home has a history of child abuse – undermines the authority of tribal court.

(Again, please note Tom Sullivan’s report and the justified reason some placements needed to be questioned, but weren’t. Laurynn Whiteshield, (3 yrs. old) murdered a month after placement under the watchful eye of U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon and the BIA at the Spirit Lake Reservation, is just one of many examples.)

YOU SEE – the ICWA is NOT about parental rights. These rules are clearly written to thwart efforts by parents to protect children from corrupt tribal governments. It is NOT about protecting families. If you had any question before this, read the new BIA guidelines and proposed rules in full on your own. The new rules settle all doubt.

.
– BOTTOM LINE:

Some tribal governments are reticent to admit they don’t have enough safe homes to place children in, and not wanting to place the children off the reservation, they have placed children in questionable and even dangerous homes.
Abuses are rampant on some reservations because the U.S. Government has set up a system that allows extensive abuse to occur unchecked and without repercussion.
It appears much more important to some in federal government and tribal government to protect tribal sovereignty first and foremost.

According to the BIA, the only “best interest” of importance is keeping the child with the tribe. The BIA rules repeat that Congress has “a presumption that ICWA’s placement preferences are in the best interests of Indian children; therefore, an independent analysis of “best interest” would undermine Congress’s findings.”

These BIA rules reiterate a prejudicial assumption that everyone with any tribal heritage has exactly the same feelings, thoughts and needs. It prejudicially assumes it is always in the best interest of a child to be under the jurisdiction of tribal government, even if parents and grandparents have chosen and raised them in a different environment with different worldview.

Many of us – birth parents and grandparents of children who could be affected by these rules, do not want corrupt tribal governments interfering with our families or endangering our children and grandchildren.

Neither Congress nor tribal governments should be mandating political affiliations for our children.

Do not lose your child. Before CPS is called – get help from trusted mentors. Today.

~~~~~~~~~~~~
Addendum:

According to former Montana State legislator, Rick Jore:

“[A Pastor once] asked me “Well Rick, what do we owe the Indians?” My response: “We owe them the same thing we owe everybody…the Truth.”

“It is a disservice to Indian people to avoid the entirety of Truth, which is necessary for discipleship, so as not to offend them or to be labeled “racist.” …To allow anyone to become, and continue to be, dependent upon gov’t is to allow them to wallow in idolatry…worship of the state. “Caesar worship.”

“… thousands of supposed purveyors of Christianity, diminish the message of Total Truth. They are evangelizing people into something besides Biblical Christianity. They teach people that they can be redeemed and then continue to think like humanists. And we wonder why the “churches” have become irrelevant? No discipleship.

…”Whom God loves, He chastens.” (“Truth demands confrontation.” -Francis Schaeffer)

“The Gospel does not begin at the Cross…it begins at Creation. Men cannot understand their need of a Savior if they do not understand how and why they are fallen and separated from God.

“Jesus is “The Truth” in all things and at all times. If not, He is not God. He is Lord and King over politics, economics, business, entertainment, science…everything. To separate Him from any area of life is to deny Who He Is.”

“The Scriptures are the final authority in all things to which they speak. Moreover, they speak to all things.” – Cornelius Van Til ”

Rick
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

May 182015
 
http://www.iheartdesi.org/submission.html

Afraid to Comment in the new ICWA rules? We’ve been told the BIA has approved an opportunity to anonymously submit comments on the BIA ICWA rules.

Make a statement and simply preface it with this statement:

“Because of fear of retribution from my tribe or others, I am submitting my comments anonymously.”

If you want to state your tribal affiliation or of the children in the situation you are discussing, you may. But you don’t have to. You don’t have to mention the state, either.

Your comments don’t have to be long or formal. Even handwritten from children would is great.
Then upload them at http://www.iheartdesi.org/

Click on photo of Desi at lower right hand side of page and upload your file.
If you have trouble with that, we have an email address for tribal members afraid to testify against the ICWA rules. Message us privately to get the email address.

http://www.iheartdesi.org/

ANONYMOUS TRIBAL MEMBER COMMENTS MUST BE SUBMITTED BY TONIGHT – MAY 18 – TO ‘iHEARTDESI.ORG’ IN ORDER FOR THEM TO COMPILE THEM BY TOMORROW –

Apr 122015
 
ICWA

.
Visited over 80 offices in last few days concerning how the BIA is hurting not just our kids, but kids of EVERY heritage across the U.S.

NONE of the offices I visited were aware of the new BIA rules, and many of the aides said they weren’t even clear on the ICWA. (You need to be calling your state delegation more, people!!)

However – when told what the new rules say and do, most (ON BOTH SIDES THE AISLE) were shocked.

(Most. I will tell you of the one stomach turning visit at the bottom here.)

Factually…these are NOT rules Congress intended, nor rules most Americans would agree with.

Friends, we need more of your friends and family to understand what the BIA did six weeks ago, as well we need you to call your Congressmen and Senators and TELL them in you own words how these rules could – or do – affect you, your family, your friends, your neighbors… And simply what an unconstitutional affront this is to all Americans of every single heritage – as, (contrary to what its authors portray)… It DOES affect families of every heritage.

1) READ the BIA ICWA Rules – http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc1-029447.pdf (Beginning in middle of the page, right – “Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.”)

2) CALL your State Senators and Congressman! (If you need their phone numbers, please ask us – write ‘administrator@caicw.org’ )

3) PLEASE COMMENT ON THE NEW FEDERAL RULES CONCERNING ICWA… Comments must be received on or before May 19, 2015. You can submit comments via e-mail to comments@bia.gov; include “ICWA” in the subject line of the message. You may also mail comments or go through the federal rule making portal at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=BIA-2015-0001-0001

According to the new rules, effective immediately

– EVERY child who is presented to ANY court for adoption or foster care MUST be vetted for even the smallest connection to tribal heritage – and the tribal government MUST be notified and given the option to interfere. This is because families of minute heritage have been getting away with shutting out tribal govt, and tribal governments want that to stop. They want the money our children bring.
NOTE: It is proven that when ICWA is raised in a custody issue, a child’s permanency is delayed. It can be held up for months, sometimes years. Bad enough this has already been happening to a number of children, no matter their true needs and desires. Now the BIA has mandated a rule that could delay permanency for EVERY child – of EVERY heritage.

For the children a tribal govt decides it wants to claim –
It doesn’t matter if the child and his family have never lived in Indian Country.
It doesn’t matter the percentage of blood quantum
NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO ARGUE “BEST INTEREST” OF THE CHILD. The BIA claims that Congress has already decided your child’s best interest is ICWA preferences. No other ‘best interest’ is relevant.

FURTHER –
NO ONE is allowed to even question a placement chosen by a tribal court – ‘as questioning it undermines the tribal court.’

…In other words – these rules PROVE what we’ve stated all along; that ICWA IS NOT ABOUT WHAT IS GOOD FOR OUR CHILDREN.

‘Factual good’ for our children is irrelevant.

This issue – the ICWA – is and always has been about what is good for tribal government. It is – and has always been – about power and money.

Remember – federal funds to tribal governments are tied to the US census and tribal rolls. In other words, tribal governments get more money per head.

This is why tribal governments with thriving casinos are not the ones we hear targeting children as much. Reservations such as the one in Shakopee prefer to keep their rolls small. And…people allowed to be members are usually quite happy about it.

However, other tribal governments appear to make an industry out of targeting other people’s children. In 2012, an attorney for the Cherokee Nation stated they have about 125 attorneys targeting over 1500 children across the United States. Many of those children had very minimal heritage and had never been connected to Indian Country.

The ICWA – and these rules, in stating that no other best interest matters – fly in the face of all that is known about child development and child psychology… not to mention what we ourselves know to be true about our own children and grandchildren.

These rules confirm that the true needs of our children don’t matter.

Remember, even our families of 100% heritage – or who HAVE lived on a reservation – have a right to choose their own political affiliation for their families. ALL Americans should have a right to say NO to tribal government interference in their families.

75% of tribal members do NOT live in Indian Country – according to the last two US census’. Many – including my husband and many of our org members – have left due to tribal corruption and crime.

Congress and tribal governments have NO right to mandate political affiliations – and most especially NOT mandate political affiliations for our children.

NO treaty gives them that right. Ask them what treaty – and the wording – that allows it.
It has also already been shown that the Indian Commerce Clause doesn’t allow it.

Lastly – the only LOUSY meeting I have had yet, where common sense simply had no welcome – was in Representative Doug LaMalfa’s office (R-CA) with staff member Kevin Eastman – who did not seem at all interested or concerned about the reality of what the ICWA and these rules do to our children and families. He blamed the courts for the way they interpret the law. He said, essentially, that it isn’t Congress’ problem. This, while courts cite Congress’s intent when they make their rulings. And, this, while the BIA is stating ‘best interest’ doesn’t matter because Congress says it doesn’t matter.

Everyone points the blame at the other – is no one willing to take responsibility and fix it?

Congress needs to fix it. NOW. No more games or pushing off the blame.

SHARE with friends and family – and CALL your Congressmen and Senators! Educate them!!

1) READ the BIA ICWA Rules – http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc1-029447.pdf (Beginning in middle of the page, right – “Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.”)

2) CALL your State Senators and Congressman! (If you need their phone numbers, please ask us – write ‘administrator@caicw.org’ )

3) PLEASE COMMENT ON THE NEW FEDERAL RULES CONCERNING ICWA… Comments must be received on or before May 19, 2015. You can submit comments via e-mail to comments@bia.gov; include “ICWA” in the subject line of the message. You may also mail comments or go through the federal rule making portal at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=BIA-2015-0001-0001

There is also a public teleconference concerning these rules to be held on Tuesday, May 12, from 1 – 4 p.m. Eastern Time. The number to call is 888-730-9138, the Passcode is INTERIOR –
.

Tom Sullivan responds to vindictive DC Superiors –

 Comments Off on Tom Sullivan responds to vindictive DC Superiors –
Mar 312015
 
Lauryn Whiteshield, July 19, 2010 - June 13, 2013

Tom Sullivan, recently suspended for purportedly not filing correct ‘Leave of Absence’ forms following major surgery, responds to his superiors and calls them out on the REAL reason for their vindictive indictment of him – the fact that he won’t keep quiet about the abuse of children at Spirit Lake… (bold added)

PLEASE SHARE THIS – with friends, family – and very importantly, with your Congressmen. Ask them to help Tom. We NEED to stand up for and protect government workers who are trying to do their jobs with honesty and courage.

https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/c889cab0-486a-480f-97c4-ee07bb4f4014

—————————————-

Ms. Mcmullen:

This is in response to Mr. Murray’s March 23, 2015 letter threatening me with a 14 calendar day unpaid suspension.

As usual his letter is short on facts and long on bureaucratic nitpicklng. The following facts are incontrovertible evidence of his bias against me:

1. Mr. Murray says nothing about my hip replacement surgery, major surgery with substantial potential for significant, adverse effects • a pulmonary embolism being one of the primary ones;

2. Mr. Murray says nothing about the last year When every step I took with my bone-on-bone hip was excruciatingly painful, necessitating the limited ingestion of powerful pain medication during the last few months pre-surgery. As a friend told my wife in October, 2014, after observing me walking, “From the look on his face I can tell every step he took was pure agony.” Even though my painful walking was apparent lo anyone with eyes to see, Mr. Murray never mentioned the possibility of Reasonable Accommodation lo me as required;

3. Mr. Murray says nothing about the fact that my hip was initially damaged in a workplace accident:

4. Mr. Murray libels me as he has done in the past still refusing to answer my earlier request (seven months ago) to provide factual data justifying his libelous statements or apologize In writing for writing factually inaccurate statements about me;

5. Mr. Murray says nothing about the fact that I am a whistle blower and that his actions against ma are nothing more than raw reprisal for my whistle blowing;

6. Mr. Murray says nothing about his non-compliance with regulations requiring him to notify me about my options under “Reasonable Accommodation” as soon as he observed my painful walking or when he learned about my surgery on February 24, 201S;

7. Mr. Murray says nothing about his premature denial of my Reasonable Accommodation request even before receiving a recommendation from the Federal Occupational Health Office;

8. Mr. Murray says nothing about my surgeon clearing me for work from home more than two weeks all<), before he denied my request rot a Reasonable Accommodation, while he demands that I not work and take leave when there is absolutely no medical reason preventing me from working; 9. Mr. Murray says nothing about his reprisals against me over the last two years for my whistle blowing; 10. Mr. Murray fails to mention that even though I believe his March 17, 2015 email to me is a prohibited personnel practice, as defined by the Office of Special Counsel, reflecting his retaliatory reprisal against me, I have complied with all of his requirements, stopping all telework activities as he demanded and taking leave on every work day; 11. Mr. Murray fails to mention that even if I use up all of my accumulated leave that I can apply for inclusion in the Donated Leave Program or request Advanced Sick Leave - a program made available to me in my first year of federal employment, when I had only Career-Conditional status as an employee of the Department of Health education and Welfare. I believe a supervisor is obliged by regulation to counsel his staff about such options Page 2 of 2 whenever they clearly have a medical problem even if they have said nothing to him about it;. Given the 11 factual failures of Mr. Murray, it is strange that I am being threatened with a 14 calendar day unpaid suspension and that Mr. Murray continues, thus far, to escape any censure for his failures. But you, Ms Mcmullen, have been several orders of magnitude worse than Mr. Murray in your retaliatory actions against me.

You have sought to force my agreement with you that the placement of young American Indian children in the homes of sexual predators. available to be raped or sodomized daily, is not a problem.

You have sought to force me to agree that all was OK when children’s stories about being abused that were brought to my attention by my Sources and which I referred to you for follow-up were not being investigated by either tribal social services, tribal or BIA law enforcement or the FBI.

You have sought to force me to endorse the former US Attorney from North Dakota’s position that a 12 year old little girl who had just turned 13, home alone, had consensual sex with a 38 year old man. Where in this country is sex between a 12 or 13 year old little girl and a 38 year old man not statutory rape?

Your actions have prevented me from speaking with either the media or members of Congress in clear and direct violation of the Whistle Blower Protection Act es amended.

My whistle blowing has properly characterized what you have done and continue to do. Even so you have appointed yourself as judge and jury in this matter. You fancy yoursalf as an independent arbiter. You are neither.

You are a party to this matter, a party who is deeply interested in silencing me by whatever means, including reliance on the prohibited personnel practices as defined by the Office of Special Counsel.

With every email and letter you write you expose yourself and your retaliatory reprisals against me for more and more to see and understand.

Your cavalier disregard for the welfare of the American Indian children at Spirit Lake and all across Indian Country has established a broad and deep record comparable to those that existed at Penn State and in the Catholic Church before their transgressions against children began to be revealed.

I therefore, request that the threatened 14 calendar day unpaid suspension not be applied to me since there is nothing on the record to justify it.

Thomas F. Sullivan
Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver

Feb 252015
 

For immediate release: February 25, 2015 Contact: Elizabeth Morris, Chairwoman

BIA Issues Devastating ‘Anti-Family’ ICWA Rules

Washington DC

The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued new ICWA guidelines on February 24. These guidelines claim to clarify existing law for the protection of families – despite marginalizing the rights of birth parents as well the reality of extended non-tribal birth family. There is no acknowledgement that the vast majority of eligible children are multi-racial and 75% of eligible families live outside of Indian Country. Every State court in the nation is required to apply these rules effective immediately.

The rules clarify that tribal governments can intercede at any point of a proceeding on the basis that the tribe’s rights have been violated. Parental wishes or the best interest of a child do not need to be considered. The rules state Congress has already decided a child’s best interest is with the tribe. Birth parents can still refuse tribal court, but not extended family in the case of a birth parent passing away.

The Rules further state:
1. It doesn’t matter if the child lives on or off the reservation,
2. There is no need for a certain blood quantum. Tribal government has total say over whether a child is a member and subject to ICWA,
3. EVERY child custody case MUST be vetted to see if it is ICWA, because children who are just 1% heritage might not look Indian – so courts must question EVERY child.
4. If there is any question that a child is Indian – he is to be treated as such until proven otherwise,
5. The tribe has a right to interfere in a family even if the child is not being removed from the home.
6. No one is to question the placement decision of tribal court, because pointing out that a certain home has a history of child abuse would undermine the authority of tribal court.

The only “best interest” of importance is keeping the child with the tribe. It repeats there is “a presumption that ICWA’s placement preferences are in the best interests of Indian children; therefore, an independent analysis of “best interest” would undermine Congress’s findings.”

These rules reiterate the prejudicial assumption that everyone with any tribal heritage has exactly the same feelings, thoughts and needs. It prejudicially assumes it is always in the best interest of a child to be under the jurisdiction of tribal government, even if parents and grandparents have chosen and raised them in a different environment with different worldview.

For more information concerning numerous families hurt by the ICWA and how to help, please visit caicw.org.

###

The Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW, founded by tribal member Roland J. Morris and his wife after becoming concerned for the welfare of extended family, is both a ministry and advocacy group. CAICW has been advocating since February 2004 for families at risk of harm from the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Our advocacy has been both judicial & educational, as well as a prayer resource for families and a shoulder to cry on.

PLEASE CONTACT SENATOR JOHN HOEVEN (202) 224-2551,
SENATOR HEIDI HEITKAMP (202) 224-2043
AND REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN CRAMER (202) 225-2611
AND TELL THEM THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE! Please Contact YOUR Congressmen as well!

LINK TO NEW ICWA RULES – http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc1-029447.pdf

.
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Feb 242015
 

These guidelines make it clear that a child’s extended birth family is irrelevant and the only matter of concern is the wishes of tribal government.

It claims to be protecting families – while treating as irrelevant the fact that the vast majority of eligible children are multi-racial with many extended family members who are non-tribal. If I am understanding correctly – with these rules, tribal governments CAN take children from their non-tribal extended family – and it appears no one will be allowed to question it.

Birth parents can refuse tribal court, but not grandmas, aunts, uncles….

It further states that a tribal government can intercede at any point in a proceeding, for any reason – and they can do so on the basis that the tribe’s rights have been violated. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with parental wishes or the best interest of the child – as theses rules state that Congress has already decided that a child’s best interest is with the tribe.

http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc1-029447.pdf

“SUMMARY: These updated guidelines provide guidance to State courts and child welfare agencies implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act’s (ICWA) provisions in light of written and oral comments received during a review of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Guidelines for State Courts in Indian Child Custody Proceedings published in 1979. They also reflect recommendations made by the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence and significant developments in jurisprudence since ICWA’s inception. The updated BIA Guidelinesfor State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings promote compliance with ICWA’s stated goals and provisions by providing a framework for State courts and child welfare agencies to follow, as well as best practices for ICWA compliance. Effective immediately, these guidelines supersede and replace the guidelines published in 1979.

http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc1-029447.pdf

PLEASE CONTACT SENATOR JOHN HOEVEN (202) 224-2551, SENATOR HEIDI HEITKAMP (202) 224-2043 AND REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN CRAMER (202) 225-2611 AND TELL THEM THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR OWN STATE’S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION AND TELL THEM AS WELL!

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

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

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

– http://youtu.be/TEogtESN5Wo

Jul 052014
 

June 25, 2014

Chairman McDonald:

It was quite interesting to listen to your testimony and response to questions yesterday. I was reminded of the famous quote from the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who frequently said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not his own facts.”
There were three points where your opinions expressed as facts are so egregious that I must respond specifically to each of them.

First, you claimed that, during our meeting here in Denver in early April of this year, you had offered me a job at Spirit Lake. This subject never came up during my conversation with you. If it did, I would be prohibited under federal conflict of interest requirements from accepting such a post-federal employment position.

You are Chair of the Spirit Lake Council because the prior Chair was removed due to the community’s perception he was totally ineffective in dealing with the child protection issues at Spirit Lake. When we met you had been Chair for 7 months and as far as my sources and I were concerned we saw no discernible improvement in the safety of the Spirit Lake children who I had been complaining about, at that time, for 22 months. My sources have been complaining about the treatment of Spirit Lake children for several years before I arrived on the scene.

I learned just last week that, by your silence, you are apparently endorsing a tribal judge’s refusal to extradite a Level 3 Sex Offender, who has already served a lengthy sentence for his vicious rape of a teen girl, to Ramsey County to stand trial on four felony indictments for child sexual abuse. You failure after seven months in office, to protect the children who had been moved into the full-time, unsupervised care and custody of addicts, abusers and rapists where they are available to be raped daily, I believe, is unconscionable and, if the subject of employment had been raised, would have elicited an extremely loud negative response from me, a response that would have been heard not only by you but also by anyone within 30 feet of our conversation. Under no circumstances would I allow my character and integrity to be used as a cover for your failures to effectively address the abuse and rape of Spirit Lake children. Did you think that somehow you could shield yourself from public scrutiny by hiding behind my well-known reputation for integrity and honesty built over more than 45 years of professional experience, much of it spent rooting out abusive situations such as you seem to wish to protect? Your continuing refusal to speak publicly against your tribal judge’s refusal to extradite this violent rapist moves you, I believe, into the ranks of the criminally corrupt.

I have spoken to a good friend, a long-time tribal council-member from another state in this region, who knows you and who was horrified at your willingness to shield this rapist from trial in Ramsey County and who also said he would try to speak with you about the foolhardiness of your position.

Second, you claimed that during our meeting you had asked me why I had not filed any 960s with the appropriate tribal offices and claimed I had no answer. I told you that I had been receiving widespread complaints from Indian Health Service employees, former Tribal Social Services staff, former Tribal court staff, all stating that when they filed 960s they were ignored and thrown away, that no action was taken on them no matter how serious the problem complained of was. I went on to tell you that under these circumstances I believed it was unlikely that anything different would happen to any 960 that I filed. You have to admit that if I had not filed 13 Mandated Reports, but instead only filed 960s, yesterday’s hearing probably would not have happened.

Third, you claimed that during our meeting you asked me why I had not responded to your letter to me and claimed that I had no explanation. During our meeting I explained to you that when I received and saw your letter in my Denver office, Ms. Mcmullen had already pre-empted my response with a response of her own. Somehow, your letter to me took several days longer to arrive in Denver than it took to get to her in Washington, DC. The US Postal Service is full of surprises but I believe you followed the practice of your predecessor who when he sent a letter addressed to both the Acting Assistant Secretary, based in Washington, DC, and to me, he held mine for several days so that, his complaints about my efforts to address the child abuse, rape and torture of kids at Spirit Lake, at least for a few days would go unchallenged by me since I knew nothing about his complaints. I told you I believed you were doing the same thing and that I found that offensive. You had no response to my reconstruction of what you had done. I also told you that since Ms. Mcmullen had responded to your letter to me so promptly, effectively removing me from any substantive involvement with issues at Spirit Lake, no response from me was appropriate.

I trust that in the future you will exercise more care in your future statements about me so that you differentiate more precisely between what is fact and what is only your opinion.

Thomas F. Sullivan Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver

“Stakeholders” – the new BIA buzz word –

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Jun 202014
 

The word “stakeholders” is the new buzz word at the BIA. They use it in attempt to delimit who they will listen to and who they will not when it comes to federal Indian policy.

However, the Merriam definition of the word is, “a person or business that has invested money in something, one that has a stake in an enterprise, the person entrusted with the stakes of bettors, or one who is involved in or affected by a course of action”

By the Merriam definition, everyone in America, whether as tax-payers, as extended family members (no matter the heritage), as residents of a reservation (no matter the heritage), as business owners on or around the reservation, as local, state, or federal officials, or as simply neighbors adjacent to the reservation (no matter the heritage) – everyone is a “Stakeholder” in federal Indian policy.

And this is what our Congressmen and bureaurats need to realize.
They CAN NOT pass laws targeting one group of people and pretend it doesn’t affect others. They CAN NOT continue to disregard how it affects ALL people.

It is a silly, ridiculous fallacy to pretend only one arbitrarily chosen group of people (as each tribal entity defines its own membership and it varies greatly) is affected by federal Indian policy – and thus are the only stakeholders in the government’s decisions.

It’s long past time for our current government pull its collective head out and respect and honor the US Constitution and the rights and responsibilities afforded by it.

We are ALL stakeholders in federal Indian policy. Period.

MN Teens Ask Us About ICWA –

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Mar 202014
 

A couple 8th grade students wrote to us, asking for information concerning the ICWA. This was my response…

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Elizabeth Morris
Date: Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 1:12 AM
Subject: The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
To:

Hello, Cecilia.

I am happy to help two students from northern Minnesota. I was raised in the Twin Cities and my husband, Roland John Morris, Sr., was a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe – Leech Lake. He passed away in 2004.

Although he was born and raised near Cass Lake, spoke only Ojibwe until he started kindergarten, and was raised practicing many traditions, he was very opposed to tribal government control over him and his family. He believed that many tribal governments are deeply corrupt and are harming people more than they are helping them. He believed the Indian Child Welfare Act was particularly harmful to children and families – and was opposed to tribal government having any jurisdiction over his children or grandchildren.

He went to Washington DC many times to talk to Congressmen about how tribal governments were hurting people. The last time he went was just three weeks before he passed away. His doctor told him not to go, but it is what he wanted to do.

I will tell you what we know of the ICWA.

Almost twenty years ago, a six-year-old boy and his five-year-old sister searched for breakfast while the adults in the house slept off the previous night’s party. He was used to having to care for his four younger siblings. Many times it had been his job to keep them all in the bedroom while adults were enjoying themselves in other areas. During those frequent parties, according to the boy, they weren’t allowed out of the room except to go to the bathroom. Although He was enrolled in the first grade and his sister was enrolled in kindergarten, they rarely made it to school, their hair was infested with lice, and their parents sold the baby’s formula to support their drug habit.

On this morning, instead of finding cereal, the two small children found “long guns” in the cupboard. No, despite the behavior of the adults in his life, he didn’t shoot his sister. However, a social worker commented later that had these children been of white or black heritage, they would have been removed from that home a long time earlier. But because they were of Indian heritage, they were not allowed the same protection that other children would have received.

Thirteen years ago, a teenage girl from Leech Lake, angry at the world because she had been taken from a safe, happy home and placed with dangerous relatives because of the ICWA, went along with her boyfriend to do violence against the very people she loved most and felt safest with. http://www.startribune.com/local/190953261.html?refer=y

On June 11, 1999, a non-tribal mother was given 30 minutes notice to show up in Red Lake Tribal Court to defend her legal custody of her children. Not having any time to obtain counsel, she stood by helplessly as the court transferred physical custody of all three children to the man that had fathered the youngest two. The man, who was a tribal member, then turned around and obtained an order to forcibly remove her from the reservation. On June 13, she was served the order to get off the reservation and wasn’t given any time to return home to get clothes and possessions.

In November of 1999, an 8-year-old Brenda Swearington was beaten to death by her great uncle, whom she, along with her siblings, was placed with under the Indian Child Welfare Act. According to a court transcript, the uncle was quoted as saying, “I just lost my temper. Hit her, kicked her too hard when she wasn’t doing what she was supposed to be doing.” A witness stated having seen him pick the little girl up by her throat, “put her against the wall, let go of her, kicked her.”

According to the Native American Press, after the child’s death, other relatives begged the Leech Lake Reservation to pull out of the ICWA program, blaming the program’s priorities and staff for the little girl’s murder. One relative stated that if the ICWA staff had actually looked at the record of the great Uncle and Aunt, they should never have been chosen as caregivers.

Kayla, a fifth grader raised by her non-tribal aunt since she was 8 months old, wanted to stay in the only home she ever knew. She wanted to stay in Kentucky and continue with her basketball and cheerleading. But in 1994, the North Dakota Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued. A reporter wrote for the Associated Press that the tribe was needed her because they were struggling to keep their cultural heritage and identity intact. In that same article, a representative of a group called NARF estimated that 1.96 million people of Indian ancestry live off the reservations. He said that puts the tribal courts at a disadvantage in custody cases. This is the true purpose of the Indian Child Welfare Act: to return children to the reservation for the tribal government’s benefit. All Kayla wanted was for life to go back to normal.

Around 1996, A young South Dakota mother was diagnosed with cancer. Wanting her three children raised in a better way than she had, she moved off the reservation and began going to a Christian church. Feeling so strongly about how destructive her life on the reservation had been, she refused to enroll her children or have them involved in tribal programs including “Head Start.” She also asked a friend to care for her children once she passed on. But before a legal will could be written, she died suddenly from a heart attack.

The State Court turned the children over to the tribe as mandated by the Indian Child Welfare Act, pulling them out of school and away from non-tribal relatives and friends and placing them into foster care on the reservation. Although an Indian/white couple that lived off the reservation was interested in adopting the children, the tribal court chose instead to leave them in a reservation foster home. During the process, a lawyer for the tribe confided that in this tribe of about five thousand members, they had about one thousand children in foster care.

On Jan 6, 2000 — more than 2 years from their first notice that “Carl” was living with non-Indians off the reservation — a tribal council voted to gain custody of the child, seeking to “protect his Native American heritage.” The tribal resolution indicated a transfer is more in the interest of the tribe than “Carl” when it stated; “Whereas, the Tribal Council has determined that there is no resource more vital to the continued existence and integrity of this Tribe than its children.”

However, the birth mother, an enrolled tribal member, voluntarily placed her baby in foster care with the county when he was 18 months old and told caseworkers she was opposed to her tribe’s intervention and that she had no ties to the tribe. The tribe subsequently declined jurisdiction, and continued to waive involvement over the next two years. The baby was placed in a white home. According to Carl’s custodial mother, “One problem we’re encountering is that when some of these people hear “ICWA” they just want to lay down and give up.”

This same scenario continues to be played out across America on a daily basis. Children who had never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal customs – including multi-racial children with extremely minimal blood quantum – have been removed from homes they know and love and placed with strangers chosen by tribal social services.

We hear story after story of children being used and abused by the system under the Indian Child Welfare Act, while tribal and federal authorities look the other way and pretend it isn’t happening. Everyone is too afraid to step on the toes of tribal government.

It is claimed that the Indian Child Welfare Act was passed in 1978 in effort to help prevent Native-American tribes and families from losing children to non-Native homes through foster care and adoption. We believe that was the story given to sell the bill to the American people, but evidence in the legislative record indicates that the real reason might have always been more about power and money than about helping kids.

The Act is now harming children all across the country as courts and tribes place culture and tribal sovereignty above children’s basic needs for permanency and stability.

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

Letters from tribal and non-tribal birth parents, extended family, foster parents and pre-adoptive families can be read at https://caicw.org/family-advocacy/letters-from-families-2/

The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 hurts children, parents, and caregivers. In addition to preventing children from getting the protection they need when they need it:

– Some Tribal governments have claimed jurisdiction over children that have little tribal heritage and are not enrollable according to their constitutions.
– Some Tribal governments have interfered in custody battles between parents, overturned county decisions in favor of the tribally enrolled parent and ignored child abuse, neglect and drug abuse in those decisions.
– Many county courts and social services back away when ICWA is involved because they can not afford to fight back.
– Several State Governments have given “Full Faith and Credit” to tribal courts and will not review or overturn tribal court custody decisions – no matter clear evidence of child abuse.
– This law requires Federal, State, and Tribal authorities to favor a child’s tribal heritage over their Irish, Afro-American, Scottish, Latino, or Jewish heritage, or any other heritage the child has, no matter the percentages.

We believe the Indian Child Welfare Act is blatantly unconstitutional – a violation of the 10th and 14th amendment. Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, intimated in a concurrence he wrote in June, 2013, that he believed it is unconstitutional as well. In agreement with the ruling in the case, “Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl,” he wrote:

‘The ICWA recognizes States’ inherent “jurisdiction over Indian child custody proceedings,” §1901(5), but asserts that federal regulation is necessary because States “have often failed to recognize the essential tribal relations of Indian people and the cultural and social standards prevailing in Indian communities and families,” ibid.

However, Congress may regulate areas of traditional state concern only if the Constitution grants it such power. Admt. 10 (“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”).

The threshold question, then, is whether the Constitution grants Congress power to override state custody law whenever an Indian is involved.

(Side note: Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion cited the work of Rob Natelson, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence, Independence Institute & Montana Policy Institute. Rob Natelson was a friend to my husband, Roland.)

Dr. William B. Allen, Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1989) also stated about the Indian Child Welfare Act:

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

Thank you so much for writing to us to ask about the Indian Child Welfare Act. I hope what I have shared here is helpful. If you have additional questions, please feel free to ask.

Tramping for the Lord

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Mar 152014
 


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

by Elizabeth Sharon Morris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 21, 2013, in DC –

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

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

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

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

But I didn’t.

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