Lloyd Omdahl: No demonstrations for Native Americans

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Sep 082020
 
Reveals result of tribal government corruption

[CAICW Note: While Mr. Omdahl is correct concerning the extent of corruption, protest demonstrations by Native Americans will NOT make a difference. This was already done for many years and included occupations of Alcatraz, Wounded Knee and the BIA building in DC. All that these protests did was cause the death of several people and give certain powerful tribal leaders even more power through underhanded corruption involving federal officials – resulting in increased tribal corruption, oppression and abuse of tribal members. The protests did NOT improve quality of life for a large number of tribal members. In fact, things have only gotten worse.
… What needs to happen is for Americans across the board to demand a genuine end to federal sanction, encouragement and empowerment of tribal government corruption.]

Written By: Lloyd Omdahl | Jun 17th 2020

Native Americans in North Dakota have been experiencing the same discrimination as the African Americans now demonstrating across America.

Hundreds of North Dakotas went to the streets to support African Americans even though we have only a few in the state. It was a demonstration of compassion worthy of the state.

In North Dakota, we shouldn’t think about the suffering of minorities without remembering that we have hundreds of Native Americans with grievances to redress.

In their recent demonstrations, the African Americans were fortunate in that they have been able to focus on a problem that was clearly identified. When it comes to Native Americans, our exploitation and their needs are general, making them difficult to rally societal support.

American Indians in North Dakota are faced with crisis living from the cradle to the grave. Their longevity is years behind whites; their educational system is second class; they experience chronic health problems; they are ill-prepared for off-reservation jobs.

And tribal councils fester with corruption, some highly paid and drawing double salaries, first as council members and second as economic development board members, or casino board members, or any other board that can be utilized. As they are feasting at the trough, their constituents are suffering all of the ailments of a Third World country.

If State Auditor Joshua Gallion was ever allowed on the reservation to identify the corruption in tribal operations, he would never be seen again. He would find at least 50 irregularities on each of the four reservations.

Patronage is still a big problem. Doreen Yellow Bird of the Fort Berthold Reservation once mourned about the rampant nepotism on reservations: “Employing people who support them allows leaders to stay in tribal government positions. Nepotism is hobbling program directors and law enforcement officers.”

And there is a worse kind of patronage in the form of foster care payments, patronage that has ended up with the deaths of several children in the past few years, one just weeks ago.

The problem involves the Indian Child Welfare Act that requires that foster children be returned to the tribe even though white foster parents have provided them with education, medical care and love that would not be available on the reservation.

And why would the tribe exercise the option of demanding children back? Why, Cousin George or Aunt Isabell needs the monthly stipend that goes with foster children. So children get passed around as patronage.

Writing in the Washington Post, the highly respected George F. Will called it “the blood stained Indian Child Welfare Act,” citing the case of a Methodist minister in Bismarck having to give up Indian foster children on the demand of the Spirit Lake Sioux, only to have one of them killed when a grandparent threw the child down an embankment.

Reservations are a curse for Native Americans who are not a part of the ruling cliqués. They are run like Central American republics, with the largesse consumed by a few at the top, and constituents who have little to say about tribal living.

All of the white man’s treaties should have been printed on toilet paper so they could have served some useful purpose. The promises were never kept. The most relevant one today is the assurance that the federal government would provide health care. Despite the chronic ailments suffered by Indians, federal health care was underfunded from the start.

Through the years, we have had study commissions, investigations, meetings with governors and senators, but nothing much has happened. To really solve problems will require money, and there will be no money until Native Americans can deliver huge demonstrations.

In the meantime, discrimination and deprivation on reservations will continue.

READ MORE: https://www.inforum.com/opinion/6538262-Omdahl-No-demonstrations-for-Native-Americans

Lloyd Omdahl is a political scientist and former North Dakota lieutenant governor. His column appears Sundays.

We will NOT be Intimidated – Send your Testimony for the Commission on Native Children

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Apr 012020
 
Phoenix Arizona

I never use alcohol or drugs – not in decades anyway – and have no intention of starting. While I struggle with ADD – which can definitely make situations more adventurous if not challenging – it hasn’t stopped me from ultimately doing what I need to.

If anyone wants a fuller listing of my faults, they can find them in the book ‘Dying in Indian Country.’ There are plenty of faults in there – (https://dyinginindiancountry.com/ ).

I have a job to finish with ICWA and fully intend to do so.

In fact – following recent events and the dishonest manipulations those events exposed – I have renewed motivation. We cannot leave our families at the mercy of those bent on political agendas, greed and/or personal power.

I have had less time to work with CAICW over the last five years or so because I was in school, working on my Master of Arts: Public Policy, then began my doctorate.

I had also toned down my work over the last three years because I had been nominated to the Commission on Native Children and was advised not to rock boats for a little while.

Well…“a little while” is done. I will no longer remain ‘toned down.’

As some of you know, we have filed Amicus briefs in the Brackeen case. With the Brackeen case and others along the pipes, we might see an end to this horrid law within a couple years. Praise God.

I have also published my Master thesis – which, at 350 pages, is a wealth of documented history from colonial times as well as legislative history and case law concerning various aspects of Indian law. You might be surprised by some of the facts that came out of that research.

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

Further, there is the Commission on Native Children. I hope each and every one of you will SUBMIT TESTIMONY.

When you consider the testimony you will be sending to the Commission on Native Children – form it as the message you know CONGRESS needs to hear.

We need genuine talk from genuine people about the best interest of their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, siblings, students, foster children, playmates, neighbors, “2nd Cousin’s girlfriend’s grandma’s nieces”… anyone that has anything at all to say. We need to know: What things genuinely helped the children to grow – and which things did not.

We especially need testimony from young adults that have tribal heritage – explaining what they felt helped or hurt them.

The testimony from tribal entities and their supporters, which the writers of the final report will focus on and play up, is that participation in tribal programs, tribal services, language immersion, etc, are the only way our children can be healthy and happy.

To prevent Congress from continuing to sign the lives of our children over to these tribal entities, we need Congress to accept that there is a full range of possibilities for our children – not just the politically-favored viewpoint. If the other options and experiences are not mentioned to the Commission, they won’t be included in the data as acceptable and effective avenues of healthy growth for the children.

One does not need to mention tribal programs if tribal programs haven’t been a part of that child’s experience. That is fine. One could elaborate on what the child HAS experienced as a normal part of growing up. For example – how high school sports impacted a child, or learning jazz dance, or participation in school plays, or an interest in gardening, raising sheep, playing the harp, or the child’s relationship with the church or a particular school teacher.

However, it is also important to mention experiences that were detrimental to health and growth – including whether tribal programs or services were harmful. It is very important to include those experiences if the child has had them. Congress needs to accept that this has been a reality for many, many children.

Did the above make sense? For more information, including where to send your testimony – read this post on CAICW’S blog…

https://caicw.org/2020/03/13/tell-congress-how-to-best-meet-the-needs-of-native-children/?fbclid=IwAR2WTqWCQyNB4nRsldDmjvcRV0_puANlE-9I86M4ZR10cz0M2-wu7VPJFnY

Tell Congress How to Best Meet the Needs of Native Children

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Mar 132020
 
Little girl on trike

The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children (also known as the congressional Commission on Native Children, or CNC) 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, as well as help them to assess whether living outside of government programs is beneficial to children.

– If you are a parent, grandparent, extended relative, or adoptive parent who is NOT eligible for membership, YOUR TESTIMONY IS JUST AS RELEVANT AND VITAL.

Has any government – federal, state, tribal or county – attempted to interfere with your

  • chosen worldview?
  • relationship with your extended family/parents/child/children, or
  • method of raising children

If so – how has this affected the well-being of child/children involved?

~

HOW TO SEND

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

To send signed testimony identifying you and/or the child – Send your testimony directly to the Commission at: asbwsnc@gmail.com

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

~

WHAT TO SEND

“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 ACF programs benefited your child? Why or why not? Which government programs have helped? Which have hurt?

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 they will decide needs to be done. If the Commission is not able to obtain alternate data, it will rely on the data social services, organizations and agencies give it.
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.

All the below suggested topics are OPTIONAL. We are putting them here merely to generate thought concerning current federal Indian policy.

You could 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.

These are some of the words, phrases and sentences found in the legislation enacting the Commission or providing data to the Commission. What are the thoughts and inferences behind those words? Do they paint a correct or incorrect perception of your child? Are they truthful or paternalistic and condescending? Do they promote children or protect victim-hood? Do you feel ‘triggered’ by any of the words and inferences made by government agents and policies, or do they seem correct to you?

  • “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”
  • “Stakeholders” (when referring to a selective group that you don’t believe includes you)
  • 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.

~

TO PROVIDE ANONYMOUS TESTIMONY TO THE COMMISSION:

For the Commission to receive anonymous testimony, signed testimony must be given to a trusted CNC Commissioner who will then verify it, remove identifying data, and 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 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

Other Commissioners of the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native
Children
who can receive signed testimony and provide an anonymous copy to the Commission are:

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

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

Carlyle Begay
Former State Senator
Arizona

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

Jesse Delmar
Director, Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety
Arizona

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

Don Atqaqsaq Gray
Board Member, Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation
Alaska

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

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

Melody Staebner
Fargo/West Fargo Indian Education Coordinator
North Dakota

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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Read CAICW’s Amicus in the Brackeen ICWA case

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Feb 272019
 

…’the ICWA imposes sweeping regulations that are at best marginally related to commerce. The ICWA also intrudes on a quintessential area of state law: family and domestic matters. This intrusion obliterates the bedrock constitutional distinction between federal and local power, effectively allowing the federal government free reign to regulate however, and whatever, it wishes simply by invoking the Indian Commerce Clause. The ICWA, therefore, is an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s authority under the Indian Commerce Clause.’

The amicus can be read here…

https://turtletalk.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/christianallianceamicus.pdf

URGENT!! ICWA STRUCK DOWN IN DISTRICT COURT

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Oct 042018
 
Destination Heaven

FINALLY!
October 4, 2018
Northern District Court of Texas, Civil Action No. 4:17-cv-00868-0
BRAKEEN v.. ZINKE

ICWA DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Among several other requests that were granted –

F. Indian Commerce Clause Claim
Plaintiffs also claim Congress did not have the constitutional authority to pass sections 1901–23 and sections 1951–52 of the ICWA under the Indian Commerce Clause. Ind. Pls.’ Br. 66, ECF No. 80; State Pls.’ Br. 49–52, ECF No. 74. Defendants counter that the Indian Commerce Case 4:17-cv-00868-O Document 166 Filed 10/04/18 Page 46 of 47 PageID 4175
47
Clause grants Congress plenary authority over Indian Affairs. Fed. Def’s Resp. Ind. 35, ECF No. 123; Trib. Defs.’ Resp. 21–28, ECF No. 118. But as shown above, Murphy does not permit Congress to directly command the States in this regard, even when it relies on Commerce Clause power. Murphy, 138 S. Ct. at 1479. Therefore Plaintiffs’ request for a declaration that these sections are unconstitutional is GRANTED.

Final Judgment ICWA STRUCK DOWN
167_-_final_judgment ICWA STRUCK DOWN –

Brackeen v Zinke – ICWA UNCONSTITUTIONAL
166_-_order_on_msj

START WRITING YOUR AMICUS BRIEFS

(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/

Open Letter to Chairman John Hoeven, Feb 8, 2017 –

 Comments Off on Open Letter to Chairman John Hoeven, Feb 8, 2017 –
Mar 092017
 
child abuse

Honorable Chairman John Hoeven,

On June 30, 2014, then U.S. President Barack Obama stated in a letter to Speaker John Boehner that children crossing our southern border are an urgent humanitarian situation and the U.S. has a legal and moral obligation to make sure they are appropriately cared for. Today, Americans across the nation are vilifying President Donald Trump out of concern for refugees across the world.

The federal government, which has claimed Native American children and their parents as wards, has an even greater legal and moral obligation to alleviate the humanitarian crisis within our reservation system. “…there is no resource that is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children and that the United States has a direct interest, as trustee, in protecting Indian children who are members of or are eligible for membership in an Indian tribe…” (Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978)

Many across the world have also been outraged by the legal route chosen for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Despite clear facts outlined in the District Court ruling in September, 2016, an unsettling number of people have protested the danger youth of Standing Rock would face if at some point the water would become polluted.

Yet, most of these people have been silent concerning the number of murdered children on many reservations, as well as the epidemic of teen suicide. Albeit – many do not know about the violence. Much of the media that has been trumpeting unsubstantiated #NoDAPL claims, has ignored the documented reports of child abuse on many reservations.

Very few news outlets have reported on children such as 18-month-old Jastin Ian Blue, who, after having been removed from his mother due to neglect and abuse, was murdered by her in October, 2014, after Standing Rock officials returned him to her.

In 2014, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association reported, “… 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.” And the Center for Native Youth reported, “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). “Types of crimes that Native Americans are likely to be victimized by include: murder, assault, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and gang violence” (Tighe, 2014).(Hyland 2014, 4).

Worse, reservation child abuse is frequently underreported. It is common for those witnessing abuse to say nothing, as illustrated by the seven currently facing federal charges after Pine Ridge law enforcement found two toddlers in November, 2016, weighing 13 pounds each. The girls were so severely malnourished that a pediatrician compared them to World War II concentration camp prisoners. It appears many were aware of the girls’ condition, but said nothing.

There are varied reasons for this. There is a culture of silence on many reservations. You do not turn family in. Other witnesses may be afraid to come forward because they had been complicit or even participatory in the early stages of the abuse. Others say abuse must be kept quiet to prevent challenge to and weakening of tribal sovereignty and the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Whatever the reason, with few seeming to care about the abuse and trafficking on many reservations, children end up feeling trapped and hopeless. A report from President Obama’s office stated, “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), while NICWA reported, “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)

Data concerning the extent of child abuse within Indian Country abounds. Some of the reports given by tribal entities and organizations have phrased the data to make it appear that these dangers are connected to heritage. But the data is flawed. There might, in fact, be a higher percentage of children hurt within the reservation system than currently thought, and it is not about heritage. The cited statistics most often include the number of those self-reporting heritage on the U.S. census. But most of those reporting heritage on the census live outside of Indian Country and are not having the same issues those living with reservation boundaries are experiencing.

According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75% of U.S citizens with tribal heritage live outside of Indian Country. This includes persons of 100% heritage who choose not to be involved with the reservation system. Some have moved away to protect their children from the high incidence of crime and corruption. Others have never lived on a reservation. In fact, most enrollable citizens have less than 50% tribal heritage, have mainstreamed, and are well-connected with non-native relatives. Some have not been connected to the reservation system for over two generations.

Further, many dissident families living away from the reservation system may or may not have been experiencing the levels of abuse and violence that children within the reservation system experience. The data on their health doesn’t always make it to the reporters of tribal health and welfare statistics. Some of these families living outside the reservation system may self-report elements of their heritage to the U.S. census, but that does not mean they are eligible for federal Indian benefits, are served by tribal resources, or have any connection with Indian Country. Many of them are uncountable in the statistics gathered by Indian Health Services or other reporters.

The reported data concerning ‘Native American child abuse’ consequently pertains more to children within Indian Country who use the benefits and services and are under the auspices of tribal governments, the federal Administration of Children and Families, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other federal ‘help’ agencies – than it does to children in the mainstream who are unconnected to Indian Country.

Clearly – all this considered – emotional and physical dangers for children are much greater within Indian Country than they are without. Violence is higher for many reasons – including (but not limited to) the inability of State law enforcement to make arrests, the prevalence of gang activity, alcohol and drug abuse, and alcohol related birth defects. Yet, despite the many hearings, reports and billions of dollars spent to improve quality of life within the reservation system, the situation appears to be only getting worse.

Unfortunately, ICWA statistics – including how many children are affected by the ICWA every year, what percentage of those affected were taken from long term homes where they felt safe and loved – then placed into tribal foster homes and been hurt, what percentage had never lived within Indian Country or been acquainted with the culture prior to being subjected to ICWA, and what the long-term emotional and physical health outcomes for the children have been – are not readily available. But that doesn’t dismiss the value of common sense and logic.

The theoretical implication of the large amount of available data on Native American child abuse – data that has been reported as true by tribal government entities, their supporters, and the Obama administration – is that children who are taken from homes known and proven to be safe, stable, and emotionally and physically healthy outside of Indian Country, and placed into a home within Indian Country, are more likely to be placed into situations less safe, stable, and emotionally and physically healthy than the home they have been taken from.

Further, these theoretical implications should be obvious to tribal and federal governments as well as organizations servicing Indian Country, as they are the ones reporting the data.

Therefore, children who fall under the jurisdiction of the Indian Child Welfare Act – meaning children who a tribal government has deemed to be members and who have been brought before a judge for a custody hearing, regardless of whether they and their families have been connected to Indian Country – are being consciously placed into potentially dangerous living situations by tribal, state, and/or federal government officials who know – or should know – the potential for harm.

Nevertheless, a concerned community does not wait for additional studies to act on an obvious and immediately known danger. We don’t wait for a study to rush a child out of a burning building. When a child is bleeding to death, we know to immediately put pressure on the wound and get the child to a hospital. Unwillingness to deal effectively with the immediate needs of children suffering extreme physical or sexual abuse from their extended family or neighborhood casts doubt on tribal and federal government assertions that the best interest of the children is of paramount importance.

The real racism – is the attitude that the documented and immediate needs of certain children of a particular heritage can wait a few more years so as to not interfere with the desires and demands of political leadership. While claiming to be “raising the standard” for children of heritage by allowing them to stay in a documented dangerous environment, or to return to a dangerous family setting prematurely, or to take them from an environment known to be safe and deliberately place them in danger – federal and tribal officials have been in fact lowering the standard to the point of cruel negligence. Many children of tribal heritage are, in fact, not being given protection equal to what other children are legally mandated to receive.

https://caicw.org

The twin of murdered toddler Lauryn Whiteshield, is currently threatened with removal from her home in Bismarck – to be placed back on the Spirit Lake reservation where she watched her sister die. We can only imagine the horror the foster parents are feeling right now, not to mention how this now six-year-old will feel when the transfer takes place. In the Spring of 2013, the three-year-old twin sisters were taken from the safe, loving home in Bismarck where they had lived most of their lives. and were placed with their grandfather and his girlfriend, a woman known to have been abusive to children in the past. Lauryn was murdered within a few weeks. This happened during a period when both the BIA and U.S. Attorney’s office had taken over law enforcement and social services on the Spirit Lake Reservation due to a rash of uninvestigated child homicides and were supposedly monitoring placements to prevent further murders. The non-native foster mom the girls were taken from read a victim’s impact statement for the sentencing of the murderer of Lauryn. The federal government, she said, allowed it to happen, and “ICWA can be an evil law when twisted to fit the tribes wants or needs.”

The Goldwater Institute wrote concerning Lauryn, “The forced transfer from a safe, loving foster family to a home that posed great and obvious danger to the girls did not happen in a third-world country but in the United States. It did not happen 40 or 60 years ago but in 2013. And it did not happen because the court ignored the law but because it followed it. Had any of the child custody laws of the 50 states been applied, in all likelihood Lauryn would be alive today. That is because state laws require consideration of the “best interests of the child” in determining termination of parental rights, foster placements, and adoptions. That bedrock rule protects all American children – except children of Native American ancestry, like Lauryn. Although she had never lived on a reservation, because of Lauryn’s ancestry, she was made subject to the Indian tribe’s jurisdiction, which determined it was better to “reunify” her with a grandfather with whom she had never lived instead of the non-Indian foster family who had raised her from infancy and wanted to adopt her.” (Bolick 2015).

While adoption isn’t the only or best answer for every situation in Indian Country, it is notable that on January 1, 2013, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed S. Res. 628, expressing disappointment over the Russian law banning adoption of children by American citizens.

Senator James Inhofe, one of the two Senate Co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, rightly stated, “It is extremely unfortunate and disheartening that the Russian Duma and President Putin would choose to deprive the children, the very children that they are entrusted to care for, the ability to find a safe and caring family that every child deserves…It is nothing more than a political play…that ultimately leads to greater hardships and more suffering for Russian children who will now be denied a loving family.”

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Members also sent a bi-partisan letter to President Putin urging him to veto the legislation, stating, “…Nothing is more important to the future of our world than doing our best to give as many children the chance to grow up in a family as we possibly can.”

Americans have continually expressed concern over Vladimir Putin’s adoption ban. As recently as in the last couple weeks, evangelical ethicist Russell Moore and Kay Warren, wife of Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, have blasted the ongoing restrictions and called on Christians to pray for abandoned babies and children in that country. It is admirable that Americans feel the pain of Russian children deprived of love and stability and want to help. Americans need to be made aware of children with comparable needs here in America.

The argument against ICWA goes further than just adoption, though. Speaking as the birth mother of several enrollable children – it is also important to recognize that many birth families don’t want tribal governments to have jurisdiction and control over their children.

Children who had never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal customs, some with extremely minimal blood quantum – as well as some with maximum quantum – have been removed from homes they know and love and placed with strangers chosen by tribal social services. Although it is often said that the ICWA has safeguards to prevent misuse, stories concerning the trauma of ICWA on families – including multi-racial families – abound across America. Abuses are rampant on many reservations because the U.S. Government has set up a system that allows extensive abuse to occur unchecked and without repercussion.

It appears some within our federal government have reduced our children to the status of a mere “resource’ – choosing to please political leaders rather than save children’s lives. This, while denying tribal members the right to oversee and manage their own physical property and resources. Children, it seems, are a demanded “resource” – and personal, private property is disregarded and ignored as an economic resource. When one boils down the entirety of federal Indian policy – just how does our federal government view tribal members? Indeed, why are children treated as assets, and adults treated as children?

The ability to use your personal property as leverage – to collateralize your assets – is an important economic principle. Yet this principle is denied to individual tribal members despite the extreme level of poverty within Indian Country. It is undeniably a direct result of the infringement of federal Indian policy on individuality, liberty and property that many tribal members continue to struggle in poverty.

Allowing property rights for individual members – while removing the financial incentive for tribal leaders to use children as property, supporting law enforcement, and upholding full constitutional rights and protections for all citizens – would vastly improve the economy, attract more members back to Indian Country, and potentially lessen the financial incentive for tribal leaders to use children as a financial resource. Allowing individuals to freely use their personal resources as financial leverage would preserve to citizens their God-given right to individuality, liberty, and property.

It’s time to stop listening to those with a vested financial interest in increasing tribal government power. Every time power to tribal leaders is increased, tribal members – U.S. citizens – are robbed of civil freedoms under the constitution of the United States. Equal Protection is a constitutional right. More power given to tribal leaders means less freedom and constitutional rights for tribal members.

This said, we are asking you, Senator Hoeven, to include these issues in the 2017-2018 Senate Committee on Indian Affairs agenda:

A. Guarantee protection for children of Native American heritage equal to that of any other child in the United States.
B. Guarantee that fit parents, no matter their heritage, have the right to choose healthy guardians or adoptive parents for their children without concern for heritage.
C. Recognize the “Existing Indian Family Doctrine” as a viable analysis for consideration and application in child custody proceedings. (See In re Santos Y, In Bridget R., and In re Alexandria Y.)
D. Guarantee that United States citizens, no matter their heritage, have a right to fair trials.

• When summoned to a tribal court, parents and legal guardians will be informed of their legal rights, including USC 25 Chapter 21 1911 (b) “…In any State court proceeding for the foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to, an Indian child not domiciled or residing within the reservation of the Indian child’s tribe, the court, in the absence of good cause to the contrary, shall transfer such proceeding to the jurisdiction of the tribe, absent objection by either parent…”

E. Include well defined protections for Adoptive Parents.
F. Mandate that a “Qualified expert witness” be someone who has professional knowledge of the child and family – not merely knowledge of the tribe or traditional customs – and is able to advocate for the well-being of the child, first and foremost.
G. Mandate that only parents and/or legal custodians have the right to enroll a child into an Indian Tribe. It is claimed that tribal membership is a political rather than racial designation, therefore, parents, as U.S. citizens, should be the sole decision makers in regard to political affiliation for their families. Political membership should not be forced upon children or families.

• Remove the words “or are eligible for membership in” 1901 (3)
• Remove the words “eligible for membership in” from 1903 (4) (b), the definition of an ‘Indian child’ and replace with the words “an enrolled member of”

H. Secure to all American citizens their individuality, liberty and property. “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws [for the protection of them] in the first place.” (Frederic Bastiat, The Law, p. 5-6.)

These requests can be summarized as an insistence that all American citizens, no matter their heritage, be allowed full benefit of their constitutional rights. We can expand on any of these points and provide documented reasoning upon request.

In the words of Dr. William Allen, Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, when speaking at the ICWA forum, October, 2011, in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs chambers:

“… 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,

Elizabeth Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

READERS: Three of the children in this attached photo were murdered after being placed by the Indian Child Welfare Act into homes that were or should have been KNOWN to be very dangerous.

Another child shown here was beaten after being taken from his very safe, loving Latino grandparents and placed with his maternal grandmother on the Ute reservation. The maternal grandmother had a recorded history of child abuse. Her daughter – the mother of this child – was removed from her care due to abuse. That daughter did NOT want her children placed with her mother – she KNEW the children would be abused. The State of California and the Ute reservation did it anyway – resulting in permanent brain damage to one of the children within three weeks.

The fifth child in this photo was taken at the age of six from the only home she knew and loved. She had an extremely small percentage of heritage – but was still considered the property of the tribal government and subject to their abuse of law.

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.

Find your States Congressmen here:
https://www.senate.gov/
https://www.house.gov/

Thank you – and PLEASE Share….

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/

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 112015
 

Ms. Rodina Cave and Ms. Elizabeth Appel
Office of Regulatory Affairs & Collaborative Action
Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW, MS 3642
Washington, DC 20240

Re: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking—Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings—RIN 1076-AF25—Federal Register (March 20, 2015)

Dear Ms. Cave and Ms. Appel,

Thank you for allowing our organization, the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, to meet with you on Monday, May 4, 2015, concerning the Notice of Public Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.

Please accept this letter as our official comments in the matter regarding said rulemaking for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.

As I explained in our meeting, my husband, a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, began speaking against the Indian Child Welfare Act and its usurpation of his rights almost twenty years ago. After dozens of families found our website and started writing to us from across the country, telling us of how their children were being hurt by the ICWA, our organization arose.

In April of 2014, our organization commented during the initial discussions concerning ICWA guidelines. I was dismayed to hear the hosts of a Thursday, April 24, 2014 listening session state a belief that tribal leaders are the only real ‘stakeholders’ in the ICWA issue. This infers that children, their parents, and extended family are not ‘stakeholders’ in their own lives. It infers that tribal members and potential tribal members are chattel for tribal leaders, and not the individuals of varied backgrounds, worldviews, heritages and needs that they are.

Our membership and I are ‘stakeholders’ in all decisions concerning ICWA. Our voices, feelings and needs are just as important as those of tribal leaders. Our children deserve a level of protection and services equal to that of non-tribal enrolled children.

Fortunately, I have learned over the last few weeks that several in Congress recognize us as stakeholders, value our children for their individuality, and have been stunned by the tenor of the proposed ICWA guidelines. Several Congressmen, in discussion, have recognized the tyranny of the rules as well as the unconstitutionality.

Tribal members who have rejected tribal jurisdiction, non-member parents of heritage who rejected the reservation system and/or have never lived under it, and hundreds of thousands of non-Indians across the nation are in fact “stakeholders” in this law – whether the federal government recognizes it or not.

Non-Indian stakeholders include non-Indian birth moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins of children adversely affected by the Indian Child Welfare Act. There are hundreds of thousands of them. You cannot say these families are not “stakeholders” if they have to fight a tribal government over rights to their own children and grandchildren.

Families are the center of all cultures. Our communities and children are gifts from the Lord God. The Indian Child Welfare Act has not been protecting our families. It has been harming them.

Federal and tribal governments do not have a right to interfere with our children or mandate political affiliations that parents do not agree with. Over the last twenty years, family upon family have contacted our organization with stories of how they have been hurt by the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA).

Many parents have taken their children and left Indian Country for justified reasons related to tribal government corruption and crime. The BIA has been made aware of documented and rampant sexual abuse of children on many reservations. It is appalling that, in light of these documented reports of rampant abuse and suicides and the circumstances surrounding them, the BIA is proposing rules that will only increase risk for our children, as well as infringe on personal, parental, and privacy rights of families.

Substantive ICWA regulations that provide rules for its implementation in state courts and by state and public agencies will only hurt our children and families more.

The ICWA has been applied in custody cases for almost four decades now. The ICWA has led to the unnecessary break up of families and placement instability for children of varied heritage. Native children and families need agencies and courts that implement ICWA to understand just how much damage this law has done. If the ICWA’s original purpose was truly to protect children, it has not been doing so.

If the BIA has the authority to issue regulations, we are asking you not to use that authority to continue to hurt our families.

We have current cases of extended birth family having to fight tribal governments for their own children. Children have become footballs for tribal leaders seeking revenge, money or other purposes. Reservations currently attacking the rights and decisions of “stakeholder” birth family include Cheyenne River, the Cherokee Nation, and Warm Springs, among others.

Further, the federal government is mandating jurisdiction of children to a political entity many families have no connection to outside of mutual ancestors. It is assumed by some that this law only affects persons who have chosen to be part of that political entity, but it affects many who have chosen not to be – and if these rules go into effect, will interfere with the lives of many times more children and families.

Neither Congress, the BIA, nor tribal governments should be mandating race-based political affiliation for our children. Many tribal members or potential tribal members who are part of our organization made conscience and purposeful decisions to distance themselves from tribal government due to crime and corruption within Indian Country, including crime and corruption by their tribal councils and governments.

Many, many more children have left Indian Country in the custody of their parents than have left in the custody of social services or adoption agencies.

People make various choices in how they live their lives. Many U.S. citizens of Native American heritage have purposefully chosen not to live under the auspices of tribal and federal government – nor in the limited “cultural” box defined by entities such as NICWA, NARF and the Casey Foundation – despite the many attempts by these organizations to close people into that box.

According to the last two U.S. censuses, Seventy-five percent of those considered Native American do not live in Indian Country. Further, multi-heritage families are the norm. The majority of children affected by ICWA have OTHER extended family, roots, traditions, and worldviews – all equally important and acceptable.

Neither Congress, the BIA, nor tribal governments have a right to decide which worldview or ‘culture’ should be primary for our children.

The guidelines and rules 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.

Tribal entities use misleading statistics, such as that “more than 50% of Native kids adopted are placed in non-Native homes” – while failing to mention that many of those children are of primarily non-native heritage and have no trouble living amongst others of their primary heritage.

In the famous case “Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl,” the child in question was 74% Caucasian, 25% Latino and 1% Cherokee Nation. If one believes that children need to be placed in homes with heritages reflecting their primary heritage, then her placement in a Caucasian home was fitting to her primary heritage.

We, on the other hand, are primarily multi-heritage families and do not believe claims that it is vital to match heritages. We are not as concerned with matching ethnicity and heritage as much as we are concerned with matching the child with families and environments they are familiar and comfortable with. Our heritage does not define us. It is merely an interesting data point. All men are created equal, and we yearn to be judged – as wisely noted by Martin Luther King – on the content of our character, not the color of our skin.

Bad enough our federal government has forced the children of some purposefully distanced families of 100% tribal heritage into a political relationship with tribal government, but our federal government has been requiring children of scant heritage to be placed before tribal entities for decisions concerning the most important aspect of their private lives – their home and family – as well.

Tribally appointed decision makers frequently interfere in families despite knowing little more about a child than their percentage of heritage. It is impossible for any entity to know the emotions and needs of a child if they do not have active knowledge of or relationship with that particular child.

But many of the decision makers as well as the BIA do not appear to want to know more about the children they are corralling – as the rules mandate that no “best interest” argument outside of ICWA needs to be entertained. The true aspects of that individual’s life and personality appear irrelevant.

Let us be clear that what tribal governments, NICWA, NARF, NCAI and the Casey Foundation describe as the emotional needs of children with Native American heritage do not reflect my children or the children of our membership. If these entities are unable to accurately describe the needs, thoughts and feelings of our children, they are most certainly unable to speak for them.

Forty years ago, ICWA was enacted under the premise that it would keep children in their families and in the culture and environment to which they were most accustomed. These new BIA rules prove that keeping children in their accustomed environment is irrelevant to ICWA and its supporters.

These rules clearly mandate seeking out children who have had absolutely no evident connection to or need for Indian Country, notifying any potential tribal government of the child’s existence, and giving that tribal government the option to steal that child away from the only home, family, culture and environment the child has ever known.

The Casey Foundation, NICWA, NARF and some tribal governments are now claiming this is necessary due to an unscientific “study” purporting the existence of a condition they call “Split Feather” syndrome. No one articulates clearly what this syndrome derives from, but they don’t appear to be talking about a virus. What appears suggested is either that it is a spiritual issue or that all children of even the slightest heritage have some kind of ‘inherent gene’ that will cause the child to suffer if not connected to tribal government.

If the suggestion is that it is genetic, this is the epitome of racism – the suggestion that persons of a certain heritage are inherently and genetically different from the rest of the human race.

Thankfully, the Human Genome project – a scientific study mapping all human DNA – has put to rest all such incredible notions.

The Genome project proved that no separate classifiable subspecies (race) exists within humans – meaning, there is no genetic ‘racial’ difference between a person of Indian heritage and a person of English heritage.

In other words, we are all brothers and sisters – having come from the same seed. Differences found in individuals are ‘familial,’ i.e.: family related genetic blueprints, not tied to any ‘race’ gene. Eye color, the shape of a cheekbone and texture of hair are all distinct genes, separate from each other and passed down from both parents to their child. European physical traits pass equally with all others.

If they are not suggesting the condition is genetic, the only other source of this “syndrome” they attribute to children who have not had any connection to Indian Country must be spiritual. If this is what ICWA supporters are suggesting is the source of their syndrome, CAICW would be interested in seeing the study supporting the theory.

Federal government appears to cater to tribal government demand for jurisdiction over our children – even when clearly contrary to a child’s well-being – purely for reasons of political expediency. “Stakeholder” arguments dispelled, we would like to know why federal government assumes the right to use our children as chess pieces – political stakes – as they negotiate land and treaty issues with tribal governments. Federal government should be aware that as they continue to “lower the stakes” and interfere with an increasing number of primarily ‘non-tribal’ children, and increasing number of non-tribal taxpayers will be affected.

What is clear is that tribal governments, NICWA, NARF, NCAI and the Casey Foundation all receive large amounts of money in relation to enrolled children. It is no surprise that an interest in funds would affect an appetite for more children.

The proposed ICWA Rules are dangerous to the well-being of our children. They state, in part:

1. It doesn’t matter if the child has never been connected to Indian Country.
– Our response: It does matter. Our children should not be forced into drastically different and frightening home situations. We oppose this mandate over our families.

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.
– Our response: Families should have final say concerning membership – not tribal officials. We oppose this unwarranted and unwanted mandate over our families.

3. EVERY child custody case MUST be vetted to see if it is ICWA, because there are so many of scant heritage who have never been near Indian Country and thus aren’t readily apparent. Courts will be required to question the heritage of EVERY child in order for strangers from a tribal government to step in take custody if they choose.
– Our response: We oppose this stealing of children from their beloved homes and families. There seems to be no regard for the emotional destruction this callous and unwarranted intrusion will cause children and their extended families.

4. If there is any question that a child is Indian – he is to be treated as such until proven otherwise.
– How does one explain this to a child – especially when it is found later that this child was not eligible for membership? The best interest of the child in relation to permanency is irrelevant. Why are the child’s rights and feelings irrelevant? – We oppose this mandate over our families.

5. The BIA claims the tribe has a right to interfere in a family even if the child is not being removed from the home.
– We oppose this intrusive mandate over our families.

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.
– Our response: We have documentation of many, many children placed in known danger by tribal courts, with the child victim ending up abused, raped, or even murdered. 3-year-old Ahziya Osceola of Florida, whose body was found stuffed in a box just last month, is case in point. – We oppose this mandate over our families and – for the sake of our children – will continue to question potentially dangerous custody placements made by any entity in any jurisdiction – appealing to media as often as necessary.

Some tribal governments are reticent to admit they do not have enough safe homes to place children in, and not wanting to place the children off the reservation, they have placed children in questionable homes. (Based on reports from ACF Regional Director Thomas Sullivan and Tribal police officer LaVern Littlewind)
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 has become increasingly apparent that to some in federal government – as well some in tribal government – that it is more important to protect tribal sovereignty than it is to protect our children.

In fact – some are choosing to protect tribal sovereignty at the expense of our children.

If it was not obvious to some in the years leading up to this that the ICWA is more about protecting tribal sovereignty than it is about protecting children, than these BIA rules confirm it.

According to the BIA, the only ‘best interest’ of importance is keeping the child with the tribal government. 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.”

To paraphrase the above quote, the true best interest of our individual children is irrelevant. Don’t even try to argue it.

This flies in the face of everything we know about child psychology and development, let alone what we know about our own 4-year-old children.

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 – and even if the child himself/herself has made it clear what he/she needs and prefers.

Speaking as the birth mother and grandmother of enrollable U.S. citizens, I need our Congressmen to understand that these children are not the tribal government’s children.
They are our children.

The following are a list of proposed ICWA changes CAICW would like to see:

1. Children of tribal heritage should be guaranteed protection equal to that of any other child in the United States.

a) Children should never be moved suddenly from a home that is safe, loved, and where they are emotionally, socially and physically comfortable simply because their caregivers are not of a certain heritage. The best interest of the child should be considered first, above the needs of the tribal community.

b) State health and welfare requirements for foster and adoptive children should apply equally to all. If there is proven evidence of emotional and/or physical neglect, the state has an obligation to that child’s welfare and should be held accountable if the child is knowingly or by Social Service neglect left in unsafe conditions. ( – Title 42 U.S.C 1983)

2. Fit parents, no matter their heritage, have the right to choose healthy guardians or adoptive parents for their children without concern for heritage and superseding wishes of tribal government. US Supreme Court decisions upholding family autonomy under 5th and 14th Amendment due process and equal protection include Meyer vs. Nebraska, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, and Brown v. Board of Education.

3. The “Existing Indian Family Doctrine” must be available to families and children that choose not to live within the reservation system.

a) In re Santos Y, the court found “Application of the ICWA to a child whose only connection with an Indian tribe is a one-quarter genetic contribution does not serve the purpose for which the ICWA was enacted…” Santos y quoted from Bridget R.’s due process and equal protection analysis at length. Santos also states, Congress considered amending the ICWA to preclude application of the “existing Indian family doctrine” but did not do so.”

b) In Bridget R., the court stated, “if the Act applies to children whose families have no significant relationship with Indian tribal culture, such application runs afoul of the Constitution in three ways:

– it impermissibly intrudes upon a power ordinarily reserved to the states,
– it improperly interferes with Indian children’s fundamental due process rights respecting family relationships; and
– on the sole basis of race, it deprives them of equal opportunities to be adopted that are available to non-Indian children and exposes them…to having an existing non-Indian family torn apart through an after the fact assertion of tribal and Indian-parent rights under ICWA”.

c) In re Alexandria Y., the court held that “recognition of the existing Indian family doctrine [was] necessary to avoid serious constitutional flaws in the ICWA” and held that the trial court had acted properly in refusing to apply ICWA “because neither [child] nor [mother] had any significant social, cultural, or political relationship with Indian life; thus, there was no existing Indian family to preserve.”

Question: If current ICWA case law includes many situations where existing Family Doctrine has already been ignored, then have serious constitutional flaws already occurred?

4. United States citizens, no matter their heritage, have a right to fair trials.

a) When summoned to a tribal court, parents and legal guardians, whether enrolled or not, have to be told their rights, including 25 USC Chapter 21 § 1911. (b) “Transfer of proceedings [to tribal jurisdiction] …in the absence of good cause to the contrary, [and] objection by either parent…”

b) The rights of non-member parents must be upheld: for example: 25 USC Chapter 21 § 1903. Definitions “Permanent Placement” (1) (iv) “shall not include a placement based … upon an award, in a divorce proceeding, of custody to one of the parents.

c) Non-members have to be able to serve county and state summons to tribal members within reservation boundaries and must have access to appeal.

d) Under the principles of comity: All Tribes and States shall accord full faith and credit to a child custody order issued by the Tribe or State of initial jurisdiction consistent within the UCCJA – which enforces a child custody determination by a court of another State – unless the order has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so under Article 2 of the UCCJA.

5. Adoptive Parents need well-defined protections. These citizens among us have been willing to set aside personal comforts and take in society’s neediest children. Adoptive parents take many risks in doing this, the least of which is finances. People build their lives around family. Adoptive parents risk not only their own hearts, but also the hearts of any birth children they have as well as the hearts of their extended family. These parents have an investment in the families they are building and have a right to know that they can put their names on the adoption paper with confidence. If we, as a society, continue to abuse these parents, we will find fewer people willing to take the risk of adoption and more and more children will languish in foster homes.

6. A “Qualified expert witness” should be someone who is able to advocate for the well-being of the child, first and foremost: a professional person who has substantial education and experience in the area of the professional person’s specialty and significant knowledge of and experience with the child, his family, and the culture, family structure, and child-rearing practices the child has been raised in.

a) There is nothing a tribal social worker inherently knows about a child based on the child’s ethnic heritage. This includes children of 100% heritage who have been raised totally apart from the tribal community. A qualified expert witness needs to be someone who has not only met the child, but has worked with the child, is familiar with and understands the environment the child has thus far been raised in, and has professional experience with some aspect of the child’s emotional, physical or academic health. This is far more important than understanding the customs of a particular tribe.

7. Finally, if tribal membership is a political rather than racial designation, (as argued) than is it constitutional for the definition of an Indian child to include “eligible” children, rather than “enrolled” children?

a) 25 USC Chapter 21 § 1903. Definitions: (4) ”Indian child” means any unmarried person who is under age eighteen and is either

i) member of an Indian tribe or
ii) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe;

However;

1. Tribal governments have been given the right as sovereign entities to determine their own membership at the expense of the rights of any other heritage or culture as well as at the expense of individual rights.

2. ICWA does not give Indian children or their legal guardians the choice whether to accept political membership in the tribe. Legal guardians have the right to make that choice for their children, not governments.

3. Non-member relatives are told these children are now members of an entity with which the family has had no past political, social or cultural relationship.

4. So is it then the blood relationship that determines membership? Bridget R., stated, “If tribal determinations are indeed conclusive for purposes of applying ICWA, and if, … a particular tribe recognizes as members all persons who are biologically descended from historic tribal members, then children who are related by blood to such a tribe may be claimed by the tribe, and thus made subject to the provisions of ICWA, solely on the basis of their biological heritage. Only children who are racially Indians face this possibility.” Isn’t that then an unconstitutional race-based classification?

5. Keeping children, no matter their blood quantum, in what the State would normally determine to be an unfit home on the basis of tribal government claims that European values don’t apply to and are not needed by children of tribal heritage is racist in nature and a denial of the child’s personal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

6. Even with significant relationship with Indian tribal culture, forced application of ICWA conflicts with the Constitution in three ways:
(1) It impermissibly intrudes upon a power ordinarily reserved to the states,
(2) It improperly interferes with Indian children’s fundamental due process rights; and
(3) On the sole basis of race, it deprives them of equal opportunities to be adopted that are available to non-Indian children.

We are aware that certain tribal entities and their supporters – those who are in the business of jurisdiction over our children – are adamant that these rules be enforced as written. We realize it would be messy and difficult to defy the demands of tribal governments. We understand that many will not want to do that.

Please understand that we will never stop fighting to protect our children from those who wish to exploit them for profit. Our children are more important than tribal sovereignty.

Thank you for listening to all the stakeholders.

Elizabeth Sharon (Lisa) Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)
PO Box 460
Hillsboro, ND 58045

Attached:

Tom Sullivan’s 29 Page Whistleblower report (2015, April)

References:

ACF. (2007). Tribal Child Counts. Washington DC: Child Care Bureau, Office of Family Assistance.
Associated Press. (2014, April 28). 42 people killed in homicidal violence in 2013 on country’s largest Indian reservation. Retrieved from: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/04/28/42-people-killed-in-homicidal-violence-in-2013-on-country-largest-indian/
Belford, D. (2012). Life with James [Video].
Benedict, J. (2000). Without Reservation. New York: Harper.
CAICW Testimony: CHILD PROTECTION AND THE JUSTICE SYSTEM on the Spirit Lake Reservation: Oversight Hearing before the Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs; COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES of the House of Representatives, 113th Congress, (2014, June 24)
CAICW Request. Letter to Senator Tom Coburn, urging Inspector General Investigation, (2014, July 31)
Domestic and Sexual Violence outside the Reservations in North Dakota get lots of attention from the ACF. (September 2013) Email Correspondence between ACF Officials
In re SANTOS Y., B144822 (Cal. App. 4th, Second Dist. Div. Two July 20, 2001).
Jackson, J. C. (1999, February 12). Director of Government Affairs. (U. C. Rights, Interviewer) Retrieved from Jack C. Jackson, Jr., Director of Governmental Affairs, National Congress of American Indians, Statement on the importance of an accurate census to American Indians and Alaska Natives, before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Washington, D.C.,
Karnowski, S. (2013). Feds Say Native Mob Gang Dented but Work Remains. Minneapolis: ABC News.
Kershaw, S. (2006, February 19), Tribal Underworld: Drug Traffickers Find Haven in Shadows of Indian Country, New York Times
Lawrence, William (Bill). (2007). Publisher. Native American Press/Ojibwe News.
LittleWind, LaVern ‘Bundy’. (2014) Audio Tapes between tribal police officer Bundy Littlewind and Spirit Lake Social Services. Retrieved at https://caicw.org/2014/09/25/five-hours-later-he-died-in-a-car-wreck/#.VUo2LSFVjBE
Morris, E. (2007). VIEWPOINT: Law could tear children from a ‘tribe’ they love . Grand Forks: Grand Forks Herald.
Morris, E. (2013) To Better Protect the Children
Morris, Roland John. Testimony before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (1998) – Concerning tribal corruption and jurisdiction
Morrison, S.K., (1998), Testimony before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on tribal sovereignty and tribal courts, Choctaw Attorney; Wilburton, Oklahoma;
Necessary Corrective Action. (2012, February) BIA Regional Social Worker assessment of changes needed to ensure protection of children at Spirit Lake – sent to BIA Superintendent
Omdahl, L. (2013, July). Commentary by Former ND Lt. Governor. Grand Forks: Grand Forks Herald.
Oversight Hearing. (2014). CHILD PROTECTION AND THE JUSTICE SYSTEM ON THE SPIRIT LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION. Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs; Committee on Natural Resources (p. June 24). Washington DC: HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 113th Congress.
Quilt. (2004). Child Counts. Warm Spring: NCCIC
Rowley, Sean. (2015, April). ICWA Discussed at Symposium Seminar. Tahlequah Daily Press
Smart, P. M. (2004). In Harm’s Way. The Salt Lake Tribune.
Sullivan, Thomas F., R. A. 12th Mandated Report concerning Suspected Child Abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation. (2013, February) To ACF Superiors in Washington DC
Sullivan, Thomas F., R. A. 13th Mandated Report concerning Suspected Child Abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation. (2013, April) To ACF Superiors in Washington DC
Sullivan, Thomas F., R. A. Attempt to go to Spirit Lake, (2013, August) – email correspondence between Tom Sullivan and his DC Superiors
Sullivan, Thomas, R. A. (2014, April 4). Sullivan rebukes his DC Superiors for their negligence of children on Indian reservations. To ACF Superiors in DC. Retrieved from: https://caicw.org/2014/04/04/tom-sullivan-rebukes-his-dc-superiors-for-their-negligence/
Sullivan, Thomas F., R. A. (2014, May 6). Criminal Corruption continues at Spirit Lake. To DC Superiors with the Administration of Children & Families. Retrieved from: https://caicw.org/2014/05/06/criminal-corruption-continues-at-spirit-lake/#.U9cSg7FsLFQ
Sullivan, Tom, R. A. (2014, June 10). Continual Rape of 13-yr-old Ignored. To Superiors at the Administration of Children and Families. Retrieved from:https://caicw.org/2014/06/10/tom-sullivan-continual-rape-of-13-yr-old-ignored/#.U9b7y7FsLFQ
Sullivan, Thomas F., R. A. Response to Chairman McDonald’s Hearing Testimony (2014, June 25) by Thomas Sullivan, Regional Director of the Administration for Children and Families
Sullivan, Thomas F., R. A. Response to ACF Superior Ms. McMullen, (2014, July 1) – by Thomas Sullivan, Regional Director of the Administration for Children and Families
Tevlin, J. (2013, February 12). Tevlin: Sierra shares lessons on Indian adoption. StarTribune.com. Retrieved from: http://www.startribune.com/local/190953261.html?refer=y
Tilus, Michael R., P. M. (2012, March 3). Letter of Grave Concern: Spirit Lake Tribal Social Services Grievances. To Ms. Sue Settle, Chief, Dept. of Human Services, BIA Retrieved from: https://caicw.org/wp-content/uploads/Letter-of-Grave-Concern-Dr.-Tilus-March-3-2012.pdf

NPR ICWA Series Discredited: SD: Indian Foster Care 1: NPR Investigative Storytelling Gone Awry – National Public Radio Ombudsman – August 09, 2013

My finding is that the series was deeply flawed and should not have been aired as it was. Also: S. Dakota Indian Foster Care 2: Abuse In Taking Children From Families?: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2013/08/09/186943868/s-dakota-indian-foster-care-2-abuse-in-taking-children-from-families?ft=1&f= Also: S. Dakota Indian Foster Care 3: Filthy Lucre: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2013/08/09/186943952/s-dakota-indian-foster-care-3-filthy-lucre Also: Indian Foster Care 4: The Mystery Of A Missing $100 Million: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2013/08/09/209282064/s-dakota-indian-foster-care-4-the-mystery-of-a-missing-100-million Also: S. Dakota Indian Foster Care 5: Who Is To Blame For Native Children In White Homes?: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2013/08/09/209528755/s-dakota-indian-foster-care-5-who-is-to-blame-for-native-children-in-white-homes Also: S. Dakota Indian Foster Care 6: Where It All Went Wrong – The Framing: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2013/08/09/203038778/s-dakota-india
Full NPR Ombudsman Report: http://www.scribd.com/doc/159252168/Full-NPR-Ombudsman-Report-South-Dakota-Foster-Care-Investigative-Storytelling-Gone-Awry
http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2013/08/09/186943929/s-dakota-indian-foster-care-1-investigative-storytelling-gone-awry

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 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!

Dec 052014
 

U.S Attorney General Eric Holder Vowed to give Permanent Jurisdiction of Multi-racial Children Across the Nation to Tribal Governments on Wednesday, December 3, 2014.

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.”

(READ his remarks in full here – https://caicw.org/2015/05/18/attorney-general-eric-holders-dec-3-2014-remarks-in-full/#)

He made this vow in remarks during the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, DC. Below is a response from a Parent – the Chair of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare.

Attorney General Eric Holder;

Re: Your statement during the White House Tribal Nations Conference, Dec. 3, 2014, in regards to the Indian Child Welfare Act.

What is consistently left out of the ICWA discussion is the civil rights of United States citizens of every heritage – those enrolled in tribal communities and those who are not – who do not want tribal government interference in their families. Shortsighted placation of tribal leaders ignores these facts:

1. 75% of tribal members do NOT live in Indian Country
2. Most families falling under tribal jurisdiction are multi-racial, and
3. Many families have purposefully chosen to raise their children with values other than those currently popular in Indian Country.

Federal government does not have the right to assign our children to political entities.

Further, federal government does not have the right to choose which religion, customs or traditions a child should be raised in. This holds true for children who are 100% a certain heritage, let alone children who are multi-heritage. It holds true because we are a nation that respects the rights and freedoms of every individual citizen – no matter their heritage.

Please recognize that while we agree with you that “any child in Indian Country – in Oklahoma, or Montana, or New Mexico – is not fundamentally different from an African-American kid growing up in New York City” – neither is any child fundamentally different from a Hispanic Catholic, German Jewish, or Irish Protestant child growing up in any U.S. city or rural town. In fact, most enrollable children in America have Caucasian relatives – and many live with their Caucasian relatives. My own enrolled children are no different from their fully Caucasian cousins or their cousins with Filipino heritage. Children are children – with fundamentally the same emotional and physical needs. We agree 100% with you.

We also agree no child “should be forced to choose between their cultural heritage and their well-being.” Tragically, that is the very thing federal and tribal governments are doing to many of these children.

Enrollable children – and at times even children who are not enrollable but are targeted by a tribal government anyway – are currently forced to accept what is purported to be their cultural heritage – at the expense of their safety and well-being. This has even been done under the watchful eye of the Justice Department, as in the case of 3-year-old Lauryn Whiteshield, murdered in 2013.

Concerning your directive regarding cultural heritage, the federal government does not have the right to mandate that my children and grandchildren – or any of the children whose families we represent – be raised in a home “suffused with the proud traditions of Indian cultures.” As parents, my husband and I had a right to decide that our children’s Irish Catholic, German Jewish, and “American” Evangelical heritage is all equally important. It is the parent’s choice, not the government’s, as to how our children are raised (Meyer vs. Nebraska, 1923; Pierce vs. Society of Sisters. 1925)

My name is Elizabeth Sharon Morris. I am the widow of Roland John Morris, a U.S. citizen of 100% Minnesota Chippewa heritage who was born and raised on the Leech Lake Reservation, speaking only Ojibwe until he started kindergarten. I am the birth mother, grandmother, foster and adoptive mother to several enrolled or eligible members, and an aunt and sister-in-law to dozens. Our home was an accepted ICWA home for 17 years and we raised over a dozen enrolled children in it.

I am also the Chairwoman of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, a national non-profit founded by my husband and myself in 2004. CAICW represents children and families across the nation who’ve been hurt by federal Indian policy – most notably ICWA – and who, as U.S. citizens, do not want tribal government control or interference in their families.

The facts are:

1) According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75% of tribal members DO NOT live in Indian Country. Many, like our family, have deliberately taken their children and left in order to protect their families from the rampant crime and corruption of the reservation system. These families do NOT want their children turned over to tribal authorities under any circumstances – and having made a decision to disassociate, should not have to live in fear of their children being placed on the reservation if the parents should die.
2) The abuses at Spirit Lake in North Dakota are well known, but it is also known that Spirit Lake is just a microcosm of what’s happening on many reservations across the country.
3) Gang activity involving drugs is heavy and rampant on many reservations. My husband’s grandson was shot and left for dead at Spirit Lake in July, 2013. To date, your Justice Department, which you’ve highly praised for its work in Indian Country, has not charged anyone for the shooting despite family knowledge of who was involved in the altercation. Many children have been dying within Indian Country whose names don’t make it to the media – and for whom justice is never given.
4) These abuses are rampant on many reservations because the U.S. Government has set up a system that allows extensive abuse to occur unchecked and without repercussion.
5) Many, many times more children leave the reservation system in company of their parents, who have been mass exiting – than do children who have been taken into foster care or found a home in adoption. But tribal leaders won’t admit many parents consciously take their kids out of Indian Country in attempt to get them away from the reservation system and corrupt leaders. It makes a better sound bite to blame evil social services
6) There are many documented cases of children who have been happy in homes outside of Indian Country and who have fought being moved to the reservation, and who have been severely traumatized after being forced to do so. Many in federal government are aware of these children but, as done with the reports of ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan, have chosen to ignore them.

It is claimed the cause of crime and corruption in Indian Country is poverty and “Historical Trauma,” and that additional funding will solve the problems. Yet, crime and corruption are never made better and can never be made better by giving those responsible for the crime and corruption more money.

It’s time to stop listening to those with vested financial interest in increasing tribal government power, and admit the physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of tribal members by other tribal members and even many tribal leaders.

Every time power to tribal leaders is increased, tribal members – U.S. citizens – are robbed of civil freedoms under the constitution of the United States. Equal Protection is a constitutional right.

To better protect children, we need to:

A. Guarantee protection for children of Native American heritage equal to that of any other child in the United States.
B. Guarantee that fit parents, no matter their heritage, have the right to choose healthy guardians or adoptive parents for their children without concern for heritage.
C. Recognize the “Existing Indian Family Doctrine” as a viable analysis for consideration and application in child custody proceedings. (See In re Santos Y, In Bridget R., and In re Alexandria Y.)
D. Guarantee that United States citizens, no matter their heritage, have a right to fair trials.

    • When summoned to a tribal court, parents and legal guardians need to be informed of their legal rights, including USC 25 Chapter 21 1911 (b)“…In any State court proceeding for the foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to, an Indian child not domiciled or residing within the reservation of the Indian child’s tribe, the court, in the absence of good cause to the contrary, shall transfer such proceeding to the jurisdiction of the tribe, absent objection by either parent…”
    • Further, parents involved in any child custody proceeding should have a right to object to tribal jurisdiction. Many tribal members don’t take things to tribal court because they don’t expect to get justice there. For the Justice Department to deny this reveals the Justice Departments willingness to ignore how many tribal courts factually work.
    • Under the principles of comity: All Tribes and States shall accord full faith and credit to a child custody order issued by the Tribe or State of initial jurisdiction consistent within the UCCJA – which enforces a child custody determination by a court of another State – unless the order has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so under Article 2 of the UCCJA.

E. Include well-defined protections for Adoptive Parents equal to protections afforded families of every heritage.
F. Mandate that a “Qualified expert witness” be someone who has professional knowledge of the child and family and is able to advocate for the well-being of the child, first and foremost – not tribal government.
G. Because it is claimed that tribal membership is a political rather than racial designation, parents, as U.S. citizens, should have the sole, constitutional right to choose political affiliation for their families and not have it forced upon them. Only parents and/or legal custodians should have the right to enroll a child into an Indian Tribe.

    • Remove the words “or are eligible for membership in” 1901 (3)
    • Remove the words “eligible for membership in” from 1903 (4) (b), the definition of an ‘Indian child’ and replace with the words “an enrolled member of”

Thank you for your willingness to hear our concerns and take action to protect our children and grandchildren from further exploitation.

Elizabeth Sharon Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)

Cc: Tracy Toulou, Director, Tribal Justice
Members of Congress

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

May 062014
 

.
To: Various Legislative Staff – 1:33 PM

I am forwarding to you a letter written today by Administrator Tom Empty SwingSullivan. I was aware of an 8-month-old passing away last week at Spirit Lake, but this was the first I heard about the newborn.

We are very distressed by this letter. What it says is beyond comprehension.

Some of whom I am writing to are genuinely concerned. Others don’t appear to be or don’t believe he is telling the truth. Yet – more than a few independent media reports have come out over the last couple years verifying and supporting exactly what Mr. Sullivan says is happening.

An April 28, 2014 report from the Associate Press notes new FBI statistics that show the “Navajo Nation [pop. 180,000] saw a sharp increase in the murder rate in 2013 and finished the year with 42 homicides, eclipsing major metropolitan areas like Seattle and Boston.” It said the 42 people killed “surpassed 40 in Boston and 32 in Seattle, both cities with populations of more than 600,000.”

No mention of how many of those in the report were below the age of 18. We won’t hazard a guess.

People – we are talking about children. We realize how difficult the problem is. But we are talking about children. Shame on all those who continue to cover up horrific crimes happening on reservations all over the U.S. simply because standing up to a tribal government complicates their jobs or reelection opportunities. We are talking about children.

Our org and many others will not go away until ALL children in the United States – no matter their heritage – are afforded safety, respect, love, and equal protection. Our government must quit treating children of tribal heritage as if they are worthless, expendable political pawns.

Our children are U.S. citizens first and foremost, and have constitutional rights. Begin to recognize that. We are not going away.


Regional Administrator Sullivan’s letter –

Tom Sullivan - Regional Administrator ACF———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Sullivan, Thomas (ACF) Date: Tue, May 6, 2014 at 11:45 AM
Subject: Criminal Corruption continues at Spirit Lake
To: “Mcmullen, Marrianne (ACF)” , “Sparks, Lillian (ACF)” , “Chang, Joo Yeun (ACF)” , “Kennerson, Marilyn (ACF)”
Cc: “Murray, James (ACF)” , “Greenberg, Mark (ACF)”

Ms. Mcmullen:

The criminally corrupt remain in charge at Spirit Lake. By this I mean that whenever a decision is to be made where there is a choice between the welfare and safety of children and the welfare and safety of abusers, rapists and sodomizers, the latter always seem to prevail. This is evidenced by the following eleven facts:

1. In the first week of February, 2014 the Spirit Lake Tribal Council fired Spirit Lake Associate Judge Jennifer Cross. Former Judge Cross had apparently incurred the wrath of the Council by several decision she had rendered during the prior few weeks, decisions to remove children from the homes of convicted rapists and abusers. These rapists and abusers went to the Council and prevailed on them to fire Judge Cross. They did. The Tribal Chair and another council member opposed this action but they were outvoted. The Chair does not normally vote unless there is a tie vote. How does this action of the Tribal Council contribute to the welfare and safety of Spirit Lake children?

2. The reason given by the Tribal Council for the termination of Judge Cross’ employment was that she had not passed the Bar. Judge Cross is a graduate of an accredited Law School and had been preparing for the Bar exam when fired. I understand the current Chief Judge of the Spirit Lake Tribal Court has taken and failed the state bar exam on two different occasions. Judge Cross’ replacement on the Tribal Court has only a high school diploma, no education beyond high school. How will the replacement of Judge Cross with this man contribute to the safety and welfare of the children of Spirit Lake?

3. After Judge Cross was fired these same families asked the Chair and Council to return the children who had been removed from their homes. One of those former foster parents, a twice-convicted rapist, was overheard outside the Council chambers telling the BIA Spirit Lake Superintendent how to handle the paperwork returning the two pre-teen girls back into his full time care and custody by placing only his wife’s name on those documents and keeping his name off of them. How does the placement of these pre-teen girls back into the home of a twice-convicted rapist contribute to their safety and welfare?

4. When Judge Cross applied to the Tribal Chair and Council for reinstatement, she was told by Councilwoman Brownshield, in an open meeting of the Council, “I don’t agree with your decisions.” All the other Council members nodded their heads in agreement. The Tribal Chair spoke on behalf of Judge Cross being retained. Since the vote was 4 to 0 against Judge Cross the Chair did not even have an opportunity to vote. Has this Tribal Council adopted a policy that they will fire any tribal employee who takes actions inconsistent with their desires? How does such a policy contribute to the welfare and safety of the children of Spirit Lake? How will such a policy effect the willingness of competent, qualified staff to come to Spirit Lake to work under such uncertainty?

5. One senior tribal official told me that several years ago former Tribal Social Services (TSS) director Kevin Dauphinais left two children at his home. They were a 4 year old girl and a 2 year old boy who, according to Mr. Dauphinais, needed a place to stay for a few days. They are still in that home. It was immediately obvious that both required medical attention. Subsequent review at the Grand Forks Advocacy Center (GFAC) revealed that the little girl had been being raped by her biological father. When the mother learned this, she kicked the bio dad out of their home. Shortly thereafter the bio mom brought a live-in boyfriend into that home. The live in, soon after arriving in that home, sodomized the 2 year old boy and fled the home immediately. Both BIA law enforcement and FBI were on hand at the GFAC when the rapes and sodomy were confirmed. In the intervening several years there has been no investigation of these sexual assaults on these two little children. There has been no prosecution of these monsters who sexually assaulted these two children. These monsters remain free to walk the streets of their communities, raping and sodomizing little children with no apparent fear of prosecution or imprisonment. I understand no rehabilitative services have been provided to these children to help them overcome the trauma they suffered. How does acting as though nothing bad has been inflicted on these two children contribute to the welfare and safety of children at Spirit Lake?

6. Even though it has been almost four full weeks since the four of you returned from your brief “fact-finding” visit to Spirit Lake, I have yet to see a report of your findings. I am going to receive a copy, aren’t I? I was deeply disappointed to learn from my sources and others who you met with that you had an exceptionally “rosy view” of conditions at Spirit Lake and that you really did not wish to hear any details about the abusive conditions many children have been placed in there, where they are available to be raped and tortured on a daily basis, and the failure of all supposedly responsible adults whether in positions of responsibility in tribal, state or federal government agencies, advocacy groups, religious leaders or the media to stop the carnage. If that is “fact-finding” as you define it, that is most unfortunate. How your “rosy view” and how your refusal to listen to the factual details about the continuing abuse and rape of children contributes to the safety and welfare of those children of Spirit Lake escapes me. May I ask how all of you arrived at the conclusion that your “rosy view” of Spirit Lake was a more accurate descriptor of conditions there than the detailed facts provided to you by my sources and I? What information did you rely on to reach your “rosy view”? Who provided that information? If that information is in written form, may I see a copy of it? How were you able to substantiate the accuracy of that information? How does your “rosy view” of conditions the children of Spirit Lake have been placed in contribute to their welfare and safety? Doesn’t that “rosy view” just spread a little powder and perfume around to cover up the stench emanating from the homes where these Spirit Lake children are available to be tortured and raped daily?

7. In my Tenth Mandated Report I provided detail about the father who was found by the local police in a Devils Lake motel naked in bed with his then 10 year old daughter who was also naked. The Ramsey County Attorney investigated that allegation in my Report and brought an indictment against the father for a class two felony of Gross Sexual Imposition. I find it fascinating that a county attorney receiving a single report from me is able, with only limited resources as compared to those available to the FBI, US Attorney and the BIA, to investigate and indict on facts made available in one of my Reports. There are hundreds of comparable allegations made in my thirteen Mandated Reports which fall into the jurisdiction of the FBI, US Attorney and the BIA. How odd that not one of those resulted in an arrest, indictment or tribal warrant! How does one justify your “rosy view” under these circumstances? How does one explain such gross failures by federal law enforcement?

8. I understand from my sources that you clearly stated that you are drawing a line in the sand in order to restrict the issues you will deal with to those occurring after your brief “fact-finding” visit to Spirit Lake. That means that the hundreds of those children who were placed on the orders of the prior tribal chair in homes with those who neglect, abuse and rape will be ignored in any future efforts at Spirit Lake. This also means that nothing will be done to find those dozens of children who have simply disappeared from the reservation, perhaps trafficked into the Bakken oil field man camps or into other forms of sexual slavery. This also means you will do nothing to help those parents who have been caring for undocumented children without any pay for at least two years and who now will be left to fight the county, state and tribal governments to get the papers allowing them to register these children in school, qualify for Medicaid, etc.. This also means that those young children who have been professionally evaluated, identified as being subjected to unspeakable physical and sexual abuse and who have been prevented from receiving necessary rehabilitative services by the tribal Council will continue to be ignored. Nothing will be done for them to help them to heal! How does leaving all of these Spirit Lake children behind, ineligible in your universe to receive any services, contribute to their welfare and safety? It is clear that your line in the sand will cast a broad, protective net over all those abusers and rapists who have had their way with the children of Spirit Lake for years and, in your universe, will continue without any fear of exposure, prosecution or imprisonment for their prior abuse, rape and torture of these children. Sounds like amnesty to me. By whose authority have you declared that amnesty?

9. It is my understanding that all of you have passed the word to your staff, grantees and contractors that nothing negative about conditions at Spirit Lake will be tolerated in any reports, etc. submitted to you. How sad. Children are in the full-time care and custody of predators available to be raped daily and you are whitewashing any report you get that factually describes conditions at Spirit Lake so no one’s sensibilities will be offended by any word contrary to your “rosy view”. How does such a cover-up contribute to the safety and welfare of the children at Spirit Lake?

10. The Spirit Lake Tribal Chair at a General Assembly meeting on April 29, 2014 in Fort Totten rebuked a local TV reporter for reporting on the death on Thursday, April 24, 2014 of an 8 month old who, reportedly, choked to death on a baby bottle. The reporter was excluded from the meeting as well by the Chair. Unpleasant news is never easy to handle but attempts to cover up such unpleasantness have, in my experience, lead to even more unpleasant publicity. At the same meeting one Tribal Council member tried to ban one of my sources from the reservation. No vote was taken on this matter that evening. It is intriguing that within the space of a few weeks’ time, we have conditions at Spirit Lake described in terms of a “rosy view”, I hear of an organized federal effort to stop any negative publicity about Spirit Lake and the Tribal Chair and Council openly speak of silencing the media and my sources. What a coincidence! Or as a poster I saw recently proclaimed: “Sometimes a coincidence is a plan in disguise.” Whether all of this is a plan or just a coincidence, please tell me how does any of it contribute to the safety and welfare of the children at Spirit Lake?

11. Facts do have a way of interfering with stories that are false. Within the last week, I understand there have been two infant deaths at Spirit Lake. The first was on April 24, 2014 when an infant boy, eight months old, choked to death on a baby bottle. On Tuesday, April 29, 2014, I understand, an infant less than a week old was found dead in his home in Fort Totten. This child had been born in Minot and had been brought home to Fort Totten by his 17 year old mother over the weekend. Dead bodies of infants are difficult to sweep under the rug, especially when there are two of them in five days. It is difficult to maintain that “rosy view” under these circumstances. Reports can be manipulated, if that is your intent. The press can be intimidated and people barred, if that is your intent. If you are able to do all of that, you are still left with two dead babies, hundreds of children in the care and custody of abusive and predatory biological and foster parents, available to be raped or tortured daily and dozens of children who have simply disappeared from the Reservation. What will your “rosy view” and all the rest of your efforts to minimize any discussion of the harsh conditions these children are living in contribute to the safety and welfare of these children?

How many more Spirit Lake children will never grow up because of this continuing criminal corruption? How many more Spirit Lake children will grow into adult lives of severe dysfunction as a result of the abuse, rape and torture imposed on them by the criminally corrupt?

Thomas F. Sullivan
Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver


Elizabeth Sharon (Lisa) Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)
PO Box 460
Hillsboro, ND 58045
administrator@caicw.org
https://caicw.org

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

May 012014
 
BIA - DC

On Wed, Apr 30, 2014 CAICW wrote the following letter to BIA officials:

Ms. Cave and the committees involved with transforming ICWA guidelines;

Thank you for allowing input concerning the Indian Child Welfare Act guidelines.
The hosts of the listening session on Thursday, April 24 stated that only tribal leaders have a stake in the ICWA and are thus the sole “stakeholders” in what happens with ICWA. I realize this is what the BIA as well as many in Congress believe.

However, tribal members who have rejected tribal jurisdiction, non-member persons of heritage who rejected the reservation system and/or have never lived under it, and hundreds of thousands of non-Indians across the nation are in fact “stakeholders” in this law – whether government wants to admit it or not.
Non-Indian stakeholders would include the non-Indian birth moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins of children adversely affected by the Indian Child Welfare Act. There are hundreds of thousands of them. You can not say that these families are not “stakeholders” if they are having to fight a tribal government over rights to their own children.

And yes – we have current cases of birth family having to fight tribal governments for their own children. We had a grandmother in Colorado last month who won her case to keep her 7-year-old grandson – but would not have won without help from good attorneys. Sadly, we have a birth mother in Michigan right now who is losing against tribal court because she had no money to hire an attorney who could stand up and say the tribal court isn’t following ICWA, let alone regular family law.

When government passes a law that mandatorily gives jurisdiction of ones family to a political entity – and that law affects not just persons who have chosen to be part of that political entity, but everyone of 100% certain blood heritage – Government has approved a law based on race and has way overstepped its bounds. It gets even worse. Bad enough that many persons and families of 100% heritage are forced unwillingly into this political situation due to their race, but our federal government went further – forcing everyone down to 51% heritage to be included in the law – as well as hundreds of thousands of people with even less than 5% heritage. This means families who are predominately non-native – many of whom are unconnected to the reservation system.

Government has lost sight of the reality that 75% of those who are considered Native American do not live within the reservation system and appears to be blind to the reality that the vast majority of people affected by ICWA are predominately of non-Indian heritage. These affected children have OTHER extended family, roots, traditions, and worldviews – all equally important and acceptable.
I am speaking as a birth mother, grandmother and aunt. I am also speaking as representative of our national membership. I and the people I represent are undeniably stakeholders.

Below are some of the issues brought up by tribal officials in the listening session last Thursday. Tribal leaders are talking about ways to strengthen their jurisdiction over our children. We were very dismayed at the suggested ICWA changes.

Some of the upsetting points of change requested by tribal leaders and their attorneys are listed here. I have summarized reasons for our objections in italics.
1. ‘Make it easier to transfer children to tribal court’ – (Thus harder for families such as ours to protect themselves)

2. ‘Tribal decisions concerning eligiblity should be conclusive’ – (Dominating the feelings and decisions of the birth family, who might have purposefully left the reservation system due to prevalent crime and corruption. Parents and primary caregivers should have the final say as to whether their children are enrolled.)

3. ‘A tribal committee should make revisions to the guidelines and those guidelines should become binding law.’ – (Despite the legislative record, which shows that the guidelines were never meant to be binding. Further – ALL stakeholders should be invited to the table, not just those who have a financial and power stake in having possession of our children.)

3. ‘Make it easier for kids to be eligible. Allow for combining the heritage from two different tribes to help a child reach eligibility.’ – (We are obviously talking about children here who are primarily of non-native heritage. Are tribal governments grasping at straws to keep control over other people’s children?)

4. ‘Require complete ancestry charts for BOTH parents’ – (No tribal government has any right to see my ancestry chart. I am not a tribal member – they have no right to demand any of my personal documents or a right to inspect my lineage.)

5. ‘Eliminate all language referring to “delay” being a problem, the advanced stage of proceedings, or the undue hardship of transferring to tribal court.’ – (OUR children have a right to be respected and protected. There are laws in every state limiting how long a child must wait for permanency BECAUSE it is well documented that children have an emotional need stable and permanent homes as soon as possible. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, our children are no different from any other child in America. It is extremely racist to claim that OUR children are somehow different than other kids and do NOT need permanence as early. What this is essentially saying is that it is okay if children of heritage have their lives disrupted and pulled apart – it doesn’t matter how long they cry or pine for the people they knew and loved best – because they are not as important or valued by our government as other children are. Our government is willing to deeply hurt our children simply because they have Native American heritage. Does the government consider them not as worth protecting as other children?)

6. ‘No more talk about a child not being connected to the tribe – as if the child isn’t “Indian” enough. Eliminate use of the Indian Child Doctrine nationally.’ – ( It is extremely racist for tribal governments to claim that they know my child, who they have never met, better than I do – and that it is more important for my child to be connected to the tribe than it is for my child to have a permanent, safe, and stable home. It is extremely offensive for Tribal leaders to make racist statements like this – completely denying the rights and feelings of non-Indian families as well as Indian families who have purposefully distanced themselves from the reservation system.)

7. ‘Acknowledge that a parent who has not had custody is still a parent with continuing custody.’ – (Would this acknowledgment apply to non-Indian parents as well? Will the government consider the non-Indian mother in Michigan as one with ‘continuing custody,’ even though the tribal court has ripped her 13-yr-old daughter away from her – against the daughter’s wishes? Or is the suggestion that only non-custodial parents of tribal heritage will always be considered a custodial parent? Why? Does the U.S. government continue to view U.S. citizens of native heritage as somehow incapable? Is there an underlying racist notion that parents of heritage are somehow different than their non-native counterparts – despite the vast majority of citizens of tribal heritage living average, mainstream lives off the reservation? To many parents of heritage who choose to live outside of Indian Country, it is offensive that our government continues to pigeon hole people. Further, to non-native parents of eligible children, it is appalling anyone would suggest the other parent be considered to have had custody simply due to a percentage of heritage. Parents without custody are non-custodial parents, period.)

8. ’24-months isn’t long enough for some parents. ex – One dad wasn’t the one with custody because most young children are raised by the mothers and so it is not his fault. He wasn’t responsible for the current situation and needs more time.’ – (The best interest of the child – the need for permanence, safety and stability – needs to be of utmost importance. The needs of Dads who haven’t been in the picture – many times by choice, although they might regret it later – must be secondary. Our society needs all parents, no matter the heritage, to be responsible and accountable, not blaming. We need to make the emotional needs of individual children priority and quit making excuses for adults who should know better.)

9. ‘What one culture deems normal, another culture might not.’ – (This is true. But many ICWA workers seem to ignore the cultural norm an individual child has been raised in – as well as ignore any other heritage of the child – for the sake of the culture tribal leaders and ICWA workers deem necessary and solely important. This appears to happen even when a child has been completely raised and feels comfortable in an alternate culture. Among many ICWA workers, there appears to be a complete disregard and even antagonism for the equally good and acceptable cultures many children living outside of the reservation system have been comfortable with.)

10. ‘States should be required to give the tribal gov’ts a list of all their licensed foster homes so they tribal gov’t can identify preferred families.’ – (Foster families have a right to privacy. This expectation and demand is frightening.)

The following are a list of proposed ICWA changes we would like to see:

1. Children of tribal heritage should be guaranteed protection equal to that of any other child in the United States.
a) Children should never be moved suddenly from a home that is safe, loved, and where they are emotionally, socially and physically comfortable simply because their care-givers are not of a certain heritage. The best interest of the child should be considered first, above the needs of the tribal community.
b) State health and welfare requirements for foster and adoptive children should apply equally to all. If there is proven evidence of emotional and/or physical neglect, the state has an obligation to that child’s welfare and should be held accountable if the child is knowingly or by Social Service neglect left in unsafe conditions. ( – Title 42 U.S.C 1983)

2. Fit parents, no matter their heritage, have the right to choose healthy guardians or adoptive parents for their children without concern for heritage and superseding wishes of tribal government. US Supreme Court decisions upholding family autonomy under 5th and 14th Amendment due process and equal protection include Meyer vs. Nebraska, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, and Brown v. Board of Education.

3. The “Existing Indian Family Doctrine” must be available to families and children that choose not to live within the reservation system.
a) In re Santos Y, the court found “Application of the ICWA to a child whose only connection with an Indian tribe is a one-quarter genetic contribution does not serve the purpose for which the ICWA was enacted…” Santos y quoted from Bridget R.’s due process and equal protection analysis at length. Santos also states, Congress considered amending the ICWA to preclude application of the “existing Indian family doctrine” but did not do so.”
b) In Bridget R., the court stated, “if the Act applies to children whose families have no significant relationship with Indian tribal culture, such application runs afoul of the Constitution in three ways:
— it impermissibly intrudes upon a power ordinarily reserved to the states,
— it improperly interferes with Indian children’s fundamental due process rights respecting family relationships; and
— on the sole basis of race, it deprives them of equal opportunities to be adopted that are available to non-Indian children and exposes them…to having an existing non-Indian family torn apart through an after the fact assertion of tribal and Indian-parent rights under ICWA”.
c) In re Alexandria Y., the court held that “recognition of the existing Indian family doctrine [was] necessary to avoid serious constitutional flaws in the ICWA” and held that the trial court had acted properly in refusing to apply ICWA “because neither [child] nor [mother] had any significant social, cultural, or political relationship with Indian life; thus, there was no existing Indian family to preserve.” Question: If current ICWA case law includes many situations where existing Family Doctrine has already been ignored, then have serious constitutional flaws already occurred?

4. United States citizens, no matter their heritage, have a right to fair trials.
a) When summoned to a tribal court, parents and legal guardians, whether enrolled or not, have to be told their rights, including 25 USC Chapter 21 § 1911. (b) “Transfer of proceedings [to tribal jurisdiction] …in the absence of good cause to the contrary, [and] objection by either parent…”
b) The rights of non-member parents must be upheld: for example; 25 USC Chapter 21 § 1903. Definitions “Permanent Placement” (1) (iv) “shall not include a placement based … upon an award, in a divorce proceeding, of custody to one of the parents.
c) Non-members have to be able to serve county and state summons to tribal members within reservation boundaries and must have access to appeal.
d) Under the principles of comity: All Tribes and States shall accord full faith and credit to a child custody order issued by the Tribe or State of initial jurisdiction consistent within the UCCJA – which enforces a child custody determination by a court of another State – unless the order has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so under Article 2 of the UCCJA.

5. Adoptive Parents need well defined protections. These are the citizens among us that have been willing to set aside personal comforts and take in society’s neediest children. Adoptive parents take many risks in doing this, the least of which is finances. People build their lives around family. Adoptive parents risk not only their own hearts, but the hearts of any birth children they have as well as the hearts of their extended family. These parents have an investment in the families they are building and have a right to know that they can put their names on the adoption paper with confidence. If we, as a society, continue to abuse these parents, we will find fewer people willing to take the risk of adoption and more and more children will languish in foster homes.

6. A “Qualified expert witness” should be someone who is able to advocate for the well being of the child, first and foremost: a professional person who has substantial education and experience in the area of the professional person’s specialty and significant knowledge of and experience with the child, his family, and the culture, family structure, and child-rearing practices the child has been raised in.

7. Finally, if tribal membership is a political rather than racial designation, (as argued) than is it constitutional for the definition of an Indian child to include “eligible” children, rather than “enrolled” children?
a) 25 USC Chapter 21 § 1903. Definitions: (4) ”Indian child” means any unmarried person who is under age eighteen and is either
b) member of an Indian tribe or
c) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe;

However;
1. Tribal governments have been given the right as sovereign entities to determine their own membership at the expense of the rights of any other heritage or culture as well as at the expense of individual rights.
2. ICWA does not give Indian children or their legal guardians the choice whether to accept political membership in the tribe. Legal guardians have the right to make that choice for their children, not governments.
3. Non-member relatives are being told that these children are now members of an entity that the family has had no past political, social or cultural relationship with.
4. So IS it then the blood relationship that determines membership? Bridget R., stated, “If tribal determinations are indeed conclusive for purposes of applying ICWA, and if, … a particular tribe recognizes as members all persons who are biologically descended from historic tribal members, then children who are related by blood to such a tribe may be claimed by the tribe, and thus made subject to the provisions of ICWA, solely on the basis of their biological heritage. Only children who are racially Indians face this possibility.” Isn’t that then an unconstitutional race-based classification?
5. Keeping children, no matter their blood quantum, in what the State would normally determine to be an unfit home on the basis of tribal government claims that European values don’t apply to and are not needed by children of tribal heritage is racist in nature and a denial of the child’s personal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
6. Even with significant relationship with Indian tribal culture, forced application of ICWA runs afoul of the Constitution in three ways: (1) it impermissibly intrudes upon a power ordinarily reserved to the states, (2) it improperly interferes with Indian children’s fundamental due process rights; and (3) on the sole basis of race, it deprives them of equal opportunities to be adopted that are available to non-Indian children.

Thank you for listening to all the stakeholders – including us.

Who is “Stealing” WHOSE Kids?

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Nov 182013
 
Dorothy, Andrew, and Walter, June 1983

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

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

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

Alright.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unlike others, we don’t discriminate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q) What is the current agenda of CAICW?

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

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

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

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

Sep 242013
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sep 132013
 
Beth, September 1987

3 enrollable kids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Non-member mother with eligible child, January 1983

Non-member mother with eligible child, January 1983

 

 

Sep 092013
 
Sweet Girl Don't Die

Baptism in Leech Lake, 2007

Baptism in Leech Lake, 2007

We are told time and again that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)  isn’t about race or percentages, but about preserving a dying culture.

There is much benefit in enjoying ones heritage and culture.

Everyone of us has a historical heritage. Some hold great value to it and want to live the traditional culture (to a certain extent. Few try to REALLY live traditional), others only want to dabble for fun – but others aren’t interested at all.

My children have the option of enjoying Ojibwe traditional, German Jewish, Irish Catholic, and Scottish Protestant heritage. We told them as they were growing up that each one of their heritages are interesting and valuable. (While at the same time making it clear that Jesus is the only way, truth and life.)

Most of us whose families have been in America for more than a couple generations are multi-heritage. Even most tribal members are multi-heritage. All individuals have a right to choose which heritage they want to identify with. If one of my children were to choose to identify with his or her Irish heritage, it would be racist for anyone – even a Congressman – to say that their tribal heritage was more important.

There are times to speak softly, and other times when people and situations need to be firmly set right.  This is a time for firmness. For those who think I don’t have a right to speak because I am not “native,” think again.  As long as you are claiming multi-heritage children, I have a right to and WILL speak.

Reality Check: It is up to families and their ethnic communities to preserve traditional culture amongst themselves if they value it. That is the same no matter what heritage is the question.  Many groups do this by living or working in close proximity – such as in Chinatown, or Dearborn, Michigan – or even ethnic neighborhoods within a large town. It is a very normal thing for humans to do.

But no other community has asked the federal government to enforce cultural compliance to that community.  The federal government has NO right to be forcing a heritage or culture onto an individual or family.  Contrary to what Congress assumed, my children are NOT the tribal government’s children – nor are they “commerce” under the “Commerce Clause” the ICWA was based on.

To those who constantly parrot that “white people” are “stealing” THEIR children, Wrong:  TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS are currently stealing OUR birth children.

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

Targeting other people’s kids to bolster membership rolls might be easier than doing the work necessary to keep your own children within the reservation community – but that isn’t something we are standing for anymore.

Reality Check: 75% of tribal members, according to the last two U.S. Census’, do NOT live in Indian Country. Some continue to value the reservation system and culture, but by your own admission – with your own statistics, such as losing 4 Indian languages a year – that is individual tribal members choosing NOT to speak the language. To continue blaming it on “white” people is disingenuous.

How can that I say that?  While taking Ojibwe language classes for a year to learn more about my husband’s culture – I attempted to encourage our household to speak it more.  Boy, was I in for a surprise.  My husband who spoke it fluently from birth, wasn’t interested in sharing it. His teenage nephews, who I was raising at the time, weren’t the least bit interested in learning it. And you know what? THAT was their choice! My husband was a man – my nephews were free individuals. No one has a right to force them to conform to what tribal government thinks is best.

If people are leaving Indian Country and turning their backs on culture and the reservation system – that is something YOU are going to have to look inward to resolve.

Reality Check: Tribal members are individuals with their own hearts and minds – not robots ready to be programmed by the dogma spewed in “Indian Country Today.”  Further, they are U.S. Citizens – and many, despite the rhetoric of a few – value being U.S. citizens.

If people are turning their back on traditional Indian culture and embracing American culture — that’s life.  (Go ahead and screen shot that and share it with your friends. They need to wake up to reality as well.)

Those yelling and screaming about it being the fault of “white” people who adopted babies and the fault of boarding schools from 50 years ago and the fault of everyone else – need to wake up. Free-thinking individuals have been taking their kids and leaving the reservation system in droves for decades. It is no one’s fault. It is life.  It’s probably even the REAL reason ICWA was enacted. (blaming the exodus on White adoptive homes just sounded better – there was more of a hook in it than “our people are simply taking their kids and leaving.”)

Reality Check: Stealing babies won’t solve the problem because many of them will grow up and leave as well.

Extending membership criteria to match that of the Cherokee Nation – as 60 tribal governments are currently considering doing  – won’t solve the problem either. It is only going to further open the eyes of the rest of America, and further anger those of us who do not want oppressive and predatory tribal govt touching our children, grandchildren, or great-great grandchildren.

You can NOT force other families to submit to your value system. That is why ICWA is totally unconstitutional. You are attempting to force many people of heritage to preserve something they have personally decided isn’t of value to them.

Now – I realize that you are going to turn that statement around and make it about ME – claiming I am out destroy tribal culture and commit Genocide and again totally ignore the fact that tribal members themselves are fleeing Indian Country.

Please note what I factually said. I said you can’t force tribal members who are not interested in preserving the culture to submit to the demands of the few who DO want to preserve it. You are forcing your values down the throats of people who have decided to live differently and have chosen to raise their children differently.

Example. I have a niece that is 50% Native American, 50% African American, who has decided to be Muslim and raise her children Muslim.

That isn’t me doing it.  She knows her Uncle wanted her to know Jesus.  That is an individual making her own decision – no matter how her uncle would feel about it – or how tribal Government feels about it.

 

If you want to believe it is “Un- Christian” to side with individuals, families, and human rights over horrific Government oppression – than so be it. I am tired of hearing the accusation that we aren’t being “real” Christians.

Are you suggesting that Jesus threw money-changers out of the temple and called Pharisees “Dogs” because he was timid and didn’t want to offend anyone?

Or that he was hung from the cross because everyone loved hearing what he had to say?

 

No, actually, this is what being Christian is about:

Ps. 82:3-4 (Psalmist to the kings) ”Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the week and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Prov. 29:7 “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”

Prov. 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

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

Isa. 10:1-3 (God, through Isaiah, to the Israelites) ”Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?

Jer. 22:16-17 “He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ Declares the Lord, ‘but your eyes are set on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.”

Acts 5:29 “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!”

Jn. 15:18-21 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world., That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.”

Matt 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Col. 3:24 “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

 

My husband and I prayed for years about what we were saying and doing and long ago came to the solid conclusion that it was the right thing to do before God. This org can’t be bullied about it now.  We are past it.

 

Roland Preaching a Sermon in Juarez, Mexico

Roland Preaching a Sermon in Juarez, Mexico

 

 

Sep 082013
 
Sunset on the Rez

 In response to Lisa’s Open Letter

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

Jeremiah 1In the Woods by the Lake

New International Version (NIV)

The Call of Jeremiah

The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Armor of God

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

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

 

A CAICW logo from Veronica