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.

Tell Congress How to Best Meet the Needs of Native Children

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Mar 132020
 
Little girl on trike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Elizabeth S. Morris

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

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

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

Preface

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

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

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

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

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

Abstract

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

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

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Cleaveland 2015).

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

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

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

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

Citation

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

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

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

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

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

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CAICW – Advocacy and Ministry

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Apr 032018
 
CAICW Donate Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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….

Spirit Lake plans to take the twin sister of murdered Laurynn

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Mar 012017
 
https://caicw.org

3-yr-old Laurynn and her twin, Michaela, were thrown down an embankment. The woman caring for her – their grandfather’s wife – then told her children to go down and beat them senseless. They did. When they were done, both girls were alive, but Laurynn was “not right.” Her eyes were funny.

Following the beating that day in June 2013, the family took the twins home, gave them a bath, and put them to bed. Sometime later that night, lying on the bed next to her twin, Laurynn died.

3-yr-old Michaela was the first to see her sister dead. She remembers waking up and finding her (in her words) “blue, and gray.” She also still remembers the beatings. It had happened more than once.

But she has forgotten the actual people she was living with. They are mercifully gone from her memory.

She hasn’t had to see them for three years. She was thankfully allowed to return to an off-reservation foster home she and her sister had lived in the first two years of their lives – where they both had felt safe and loved. We will call this the “Loved Home.”

They had only lived in their grandfather’s house a few weeks. In May 2013, they were taken from the “Loved Home” they had lived in since they were babies, and – despite Spirit Lake services being under the oversight of the BIA and US Attorney Tim Purdon – were placed with their grandfather and his wife – who had her own children removed from her in prior years due to neglect and child abuse.

Let this sink in. Under the oversight of federal gov’t agencies, the twins were removed from a safe and loving home they had lived in for over two years and were placed with a woman known to be physically abusive.

Let us also remember why the BIA and US Attorney Tim Purdon were asked to be there, doing oversight at Spirit Lake. It is because so many children were being abused, raped, and murdered, that tribal elders (NOT the tribal council) were very upset and ASKED the federal gov’t to come help.

The child abuse came to a head after a little boy and his sister were both raped and had their throats slit. Nothing had been done about their murders for over a year.

That is why tribal elders asked the BIA to take over tribal social services and law enforcement. That is why US Attorney Tim Purdon and the FBI were supposed to do oversight. All this was already in place when it was decided to take the twins from the Loved Home and put them into a dangerous home.

Spirit Lake Town Meeting, February , 2013
Had Tim Purdon and others done their jobs, perhaps Lauryn would still be alive today. Had he and others listened to tribal members at a February 2013 town-hall meeting, where tribal members made it very clear to Tim Purdon, the tribal council, the BIA and Congressional representatives that things are very, very bad at Spirit Lake and they want SOMEONE to take real action – perhaps Lauryn would still be alive today.

Instead, Tim Purdon basically accused the membership of exaggerating, accused former ACF Director Tom Sullivan of lying about the child abuse, and went on doing nothing to stop the child abuse. The Tribal Council also ignored the pleas of the membership.

Initially, after Laurynn died, the Spirit Lake government decided to keep Michaela on the reservation. Despite the trauma of the beatings and murder, tribal social services ignored the request of the Loved Home to resume care of Michaela, and moved her to another house she was unfamiliar with. The Loved Home was told they would never get her back.

Fortunately, the tribal govt soon changed its mind and quietly allowed her to return to the Loved Home.

But that isn’t the end of the story. Three years later – (meaning at this time) – tribal social service has returned and is intent on moving Michaela to live with her birth mother, whom she barely knows. While mom might have genuine feelings for her daughter, she tested positive for drugs on the day she showed up for a recent visit – one of the first visits in a long time.

I normally never get involved in a situation unless directly asked by a parent, primary caregiver, or close extended family.

I was not given any of the intimate details concerning Michaela by the Loved Home. I have never been to the Loved Home. I have never met anyone who lives at the Loved Home. I was never asked to get involved by anyone at the Loved Home.

There are many people – in more than one community – who know what is going on, including tribal employees who worked at Spirit Lake at the time of Laurynn’s murder. Lots of people want Michaela to be left alone, untouched by the Spirit Lake tribal government.

I know these details to be accurate but will not say how I know. I am doing this – and will continue fighting for Michaela using her real name – because this is the most horrendous thing I have ever heard a tribal government do to a child.

Michaela is terrified of going back to Spirit Lake. Michaela wants to stay at the Loving Home. What caring person in their right mind would find that surprising? She woke up next to her murdered sister, after enduring weeks of abuse together.

The Loving Home has been the only home she has ever felt safe in – and she has lived there most of her 6-years. Only extremely cold, emotionally disconnected hearts empowered by dysfunctional social service policy could ever even dream of moving her from there.

Self-interest and narcissism at its worst.

PLEASE –
– SHARE this post with your friends
– CALL your Senators and Congressmen and ask them to write a letter to the Spirit Lake Tribal Chair respectfully asking her to ensure everything is done in Michaela’s best interest.

– Please especially contact the new Chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs – Senator John Hoeven –

Hoeven, John – (R – ND)
338 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-2551
Contact: www.hoeven.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-the-senator

– FURTHER – ask your Senators and Congressmen to introduce legislation to clarify the Indian Child Welfare Act – so that NO child ever again goes through what Michaela has gone through and is still going through. Please INSIST this stops. Please insist to your Congressmen that Michaela Whiteshield be left alone, as she wishes to be, permanently – and INSIST the law be changed to make the protection of children a priority over politics.

Find the contact information for your Congressmen at

http://Senate.gov
http://House.gov

BTW – Tim Purdon resigned as US Attorney a couple years ago in order to work for tribal leaders in the Dakotas.

– Maybe ask your Congressmen to have Purdon’s activities investigated as well.

Declared “Sanctuary” for Children Running from ICWA –

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Feb 202017
 
sanctuary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Families will need to show:

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

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

Families can contact us by messenger or email.

PLEASE – share this message freely.

__________________________________________________

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

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

FIVE THINGS you can do to help fight ICWA.

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Sep 122016
 
roland morris, james pipkin,

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

– Based on NICWA talking points –

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

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

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

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

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

And Share.

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

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Sep 122016
 
ICWA rules, CAICW

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

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

The Truth about ICWA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apr 082016
 

I speak not only as the Chair of a national non-profit advocating for the rights of families who have chosen their own political affiliations and disengaged from Indian Country, but as the birth mother and grandmother of enrollable citizens.

As many of you know, on Monday, March 21, 2016, a 6-year-old girl of 1/64 Choctaw ancestry was taken crying from her home by social services, placed in a car, and driven to another state.

To date, her removal has caused the biggest reaction from America as dozens from within her community gathered around her home in prayer – and then personally witnessed her removal in tears. Hundreds of thousands more watched video clips of the event online and cried with them, knowing this little girl – who is not Indian in the eyes of most Americans – was removed from her home solely because of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Many Americans already knew that our paternalistic federal Indian policy has been hurting tribal members. But in witnessing the pain of a child such as 6-yr-old Lexi, America awakened to the truth that federal Indian policy is hurting citizens of all heritages. What most Americans still don’t know is the extent of hurt. They don’t know there are dozens of children across the country right now facing the same situation Lexi faced – if not worse. In fact, the Cherokee Nation alone has admitted it has over 100 attorney’s targeting over a thousand children across the nation.

ICWA has been around long enough for a generation of children victimized by this law to have grown up. Some former ICWA children are speaking out – saying that due to the forced transfers, they unfortunately grew to hate the reservation. This is the opposite of the purported intent of the law – but should have been expected given the way so many children have been treated under it.

After all – our children are NOT chattel and children of tribal ancestry are NOT cookie-cutter replicas of each other. Nor are they any different from any other child in the United States when ripped from the ones they love.

This should be common sense, but for some reason, a large number of people are willing to believe racist rhetoric to the contrary. Unfortunately, many of those people are within federal government and have control over federal Indian policy.

America – as we all know – is angry with the lack of common sense in our federal government. We are angry over rouge and corrupt bureaucracies, mismanaged funds, lack of protection for U.S. citizens, and inaction by Congress – all of which are evident in the BIA, HHS and DOJ’s protection of tribal sovereignty over the rights and needs of children.

These federal agencies were at the NICWA conference in St. Paul, Minnesota this first weekend in April – celebrating a Memorandum of Understanding between the agencies to enforce the ICWA against our families as well as the formation of a national database on our children which would identify them as property of a tribal government should anything happen to us – their parents. We have tried to bring this process to your attention several times in 2015, but to this date, no one has stopped it.

How many more Lexi’s must be hurt before Congress moves to protect our children from the insanity?

  • On December 3, 2014, U.S Attorney General Eric Holder vowed to give permanent jurisdiction of multi-racial children across the nation to Tribal Governments. In reference to the Indian Child Welfare Act, he stated,

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

  • The BIA is on the verge of implementing new ICWA rules making it almost impossible for dissident enrollable parents to protect their children from tribal governments. https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/03/20/2015-06371/regulations-for-state-courts-and-agencies-in-indian-child-custody-proceedings
  • The ACF under the HHS has recently proposed a rule (https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/04/07/2016-07920/adoption-and-foster-care-analysis-and-reporting-system ) that would place our children on a national database. Our children are NOT chattel for tribal governments and DC officials – and should not be monitored on a database based on an aspect of their heritage. U.S. citizens have a right to choose or refuse political affiliation – as well as protect their children from forced political affiliation based on racist mandates.
  • Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sam Hirsch spoke at the NICWA conference in St. Paul this last weekend and reiterated Attorney General Holder’s threat concerning permanent control over our children and grandchildren. He stated,

    “… To this end, the three departments represented here today have been engaged in extensive interagency collaboration to promote compliance with ICWA. We’ve been talking at all levels – from staff on the ground and in the regions, to the folks on this stage, to our bosses – about how we can creatively use the authorities and resources that each of our agency has to assess and promote compliance with this important federal law. And we’ve taken steps to make sure that this effort lasts beyond our time, by formalizing the agreement to continue this interagency collaboration. Just this past week, our three agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding, in which we commit to work together on these issues, and in particular, to regularly meet as an interagency workgroup.”

  • Director of Tribal Justice, Tracy Toulou has told us directly on several occasions over the last 15 years that the U.S. Department of Justice is to protect tribal governments, not individual citizens.
  • The DOJ appears to have looked the other way when the Cherokee Nation refused to allow a father to voluntarily relinquish his membership and that of his daughter. (in Matter of M.K.T., C.D.T. and S.A.W., 2016 OK 4.) …This – while tribal governments continually claim their right to discriminate is due to political affiliation, not race.

Our Federal government has literally made the decision to protect tribal sovereignty at all cost – even at the cost of our children.

Many families of heritage, knowing the rate of child abuse, crime, and even murder on their reservations, have in the last few decades moved away from Indian Country. According to the last two U.S censuses, 75% of persons eligible for tribal membership do not live in “Indian Country.” As more families left, tribal leaders – panicked by declining membership – pushed Congress for increased control over children of heritage.

This includes children who are multi-heritage – with one of their parents being totally non-tribal, children who have never been near Indian Country, and even children whose only connection is one dissident great-grandparent who purposefully left the reservation system decades ago. All that matters to the federal government is whether the tribe itself believes the child is enrollable. Individual citizens are being robbed of choice – forced into affiliation based on heritage.

Some tribal governments, as evidenced by the proposed BIA rules and the NICWA conference in St. Paul, demand complete control over our children. Some have been extreme enough to refuse to allow the kids to live in foster homes off the reservation – even if there is no safe home available on the reservation.

Documentation of this abounds. There have been at least two federal studies/hearings held on abuse within Indian Country in the last three years. Regional Director for the Administration of Children and Families, Mr. Tom Sullivan has also documented the resultant placement of children into homes of known child abusers and sex offenders. There have also been known deaths of children after having been placed in dangerous homes.

Mr. Sullivan reported this multiple times to his DC superiors, who told him to cease reporting it, and when he refused, recently began the process of firing him.

Again, America is fed up with officials who don’t do what they were hired to do. Mr. Sullivan is one man who was honestly attempting to do what he was hired to do – protect the children in Indian Country – and he is on the verge of losing his job because of it.

Despite documented deaths of children and mass exodus from Indian Country, Federal government consistently looks the other way while tribal leaders claim to speak for everyone – asking Congress for additional funds and increased control over our children. We understand it is easier to look the other way. But that’s not what we want from our government.

America is angry with DC’s ‘business as usual” and the lack of common sense.

The bottom line is, tribal leaders, NICWA, NARF, the NAIC and Casey Foundation do NOT speak for every person of heritage, nor do they know what is best for every individual child of heritage – no matter whether that child is 100% or 1%. Despite claims of looking out for youth, the reality is tribal leaders have a vested financial interest in maintaining control over our children.

Our Congressmen need to put children before politics.

  • Rescind the Indian Child Welfare Act – which will then do away with the need for draconian rules by federal agencies.
  • Protect an honest and brave public servant – whistle-blower Tom Sullivan.
  • Finally – end the practice of funding tribal governments based on enrollment. Stop putting a price on our children’s heads. – Recognize that treaties did NOT promise everlasting funding. In most cases, treaties promised funding for only twenty years. If the demand is that treaties be upheld – then uphold the twenty-year limit.

Crime and corruption didn’t end just because Jack Abramoff went to prison. Crime and corruption are never made better and can never be made better by giving those responsible for the crime and corruption more money and power.

Not Just Lexi: ICWA Hurting Untold Children Across U.S.

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Mar 302016
 

Bismarck, ND – On March 21, a 6-year-old girl of 1/64 Choctaw ancestry was taken crying from her home by social services, placed in a car, and driven to another state.

Many realize current federal Indian policies are hurting people. What many don’t know is the extent. Dozens of children across the nation currently face the same situation Lexi faced – if not worse.

To date, Lexi’s removal caused the biggest public ICWA reaction ever as the presence of dozens from within her community initially delayed her from being taken, then personally witnessed her removal in tears. Hundreds of thousands saw the video clips and reacted for a child 98% non-native, removed from her home solely due to the Indian Child Welfare Act. The resulting petition garnered signatures from 100 countries around the world.

According to the last two U.S censuses, 75% of persons eligible for tribal membership do not live in “Indian Country.” Over the last few decades, many families of heritage have left the reservations due to the level of corruption and crime. As families left, tribal leaders – panicked by declining membership – pushed Congress for increased control over children of heritage.

This includes children who are multi-heritage, who’ve never been near Indian Country, and whose only connection is a dissident great-grandparent who purposefully left the system decades ago.

Worse, some tribal governments refuse to allow kids to live in foster homes off reservation – even if there are no safe homes currently available on the reservation.

As reported by Tom Sullivan, Regional Director for ‘Administration of Children and Families,’ this has resulted in
Tom Sullivan - Regional Administrator ACF children being placed where ever available – including homes of known child abusers and sex offenders. Mr. Sullivan reported this multiple times to his DC superiors, who told him to cease reporting it, and after he refused, recently began the process of firing him.

Despite documented deaths of children and mass exodus from Indian Country, federal government consistently looks the other way while tribal leaders claim to speak for everyone and demand additional funds and increased control over children.

NICWA, NARF, the Casey Foundation and Tribal leaders do NOT speak for everyone, nor do they know what is best for every individual child of heritage – no matter whether that child is 100% or 1%. Rhetoric otherwise is the epitome of racism.

Unfortunately, federal government has literally made the decision to protect tribal sovereignty at all cost – even the cost of our children. In fact, the BIA is preparing additional rules to strengthen ICWA. Roland and his newborn, 1990

America is already angry with government over corrupt bureaucracies, lack of protection for citizens, and inaction by Congress.

CAICW is asking Americans to contact their Congressmen to oppose the new BIA rules, rescind the Indian Child Welfare Act, and protect a brave public servant – whistleblower Tom Sullivan.

###

Elizabeth Morris is Chair of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare and author of “Dying in Indian Country.” is both a ministry and advocacy group. CAICW has also been advocating since February 2004 for families at risk of harm from the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Our advocacy has been both judicial and educational, as well as a prayer resource for families and a shoulder to cry on.

Mar 202016
 

URGENT PRAYER: A little 6-yr-old girl was torn from her home Monday, 3/21/16 – taken from the only home she has known and loved to be placed with strangers.

This is due to the Indian Child Welfare Act – which pushes the false and racist notion that children of even a small amount of heritage are somehow different from other children – and do not bond, love or thrive in homes outside of Indian Country.

Tribal governments – which receive more federal money per head – claim it is in the genes.

This racist notion is pushed by media and even our Congress – although no such gene has been shown to exist – and despite testimony of myriad children, adults, and families of heritage across the nation that they are content, happy and thriving in their homes outside of Indian Country.

Many families have left Indian Country because they DO NOT want to be chattel for tribal governments.
– The family of the author of this post is one of them.


Sign petition here:
https://www.change.org/p/keep-lexi-home
Read More Here:
https://www.facebook.com/saveourlexi/

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Foster Care Exec Gives PC Excuse for Support of BIA Rules

 Comments Off on Foster Care Exec Gives PC Excuse for Support of BIA Rules
May 282015
 

This is the response by an executive on the board of more than one Foster Care Association after a tribal member – from a family terribly hurt by ICWA – asked why her association had signed on in support of the unconstitutional, ill-thought and emotionally destructive BIA Rules for ICWA.

This executive’s response does not address the concerns brought to her attention by the tribal member. It reflects the rhetoric pushed by tribal leaders, NICWA, NARF and the Casey Foundation, with little thought or regard for fact and the true needs of individual children. It appears that expediency – making her job and that of others in the industry easier – is much more important than addressing the individual and critical needs of hurting children.

This is the type of rhetoric that needs to be brought to light and shown for what it is – in order for persons in this woman’s position to begin to correct themselves and look at children of heritage as something other than expendable.

Placing children into safe homes – meeting their immediate needs in a timely and nurturing manner – a manner equal to that of children of every other heritage – is never “inappropriate.”

For people in her position to assume that any child with even the smallest amount of tribal heritage “needs” to be under tribal government jurisdiction and control – overlooking the reality of non-tribal relatives, lack of existing relationship with Indian Country, and even strong familial opposition to tribal government’s world-view – is the epitome of racism.

But – this is an example of the type of response commonly received from many who sit in similar positions.

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

Date: May 28, 2015 at 1:24:16 PM CDT
Subject: NFPA Response
From: Irene Clements

Dear Ms. XXXXXX,
Thank you for contacting the National Foster Parent Association.

The National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) believes that children belong with their birth families (parents or relatives) whenever safely possible and when that is not possible, that the children are served in family foster homes and/or placed into adoption when appropriate. NFPA does not endorse group or congregate care that is not short-term or treatment related.

NFPA signed on to a letter of general suppoprt to proposed regulations/guidelines developed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) because the current ICWA regulations were passed in 1979 and are in desperate need of revision. Regulations that are nearly 40 years old are not current nor do they reflect current child welfare best practice in general. We support that new regulations/guidelines are important and necesary at this point in time.

Part of the problems over the past years hav been created by some states not following current ICWA laws and not doing due diligence on children as they are identified as members of a tribe and need out of home placement. Also, the tribes have historically not had appropriate funding to implement adequate foster care services. At this time, Title IV-E funds are available to assist tribes in this endeavor.

We believe if there is a proper due diliegnce provided by the state prior to a long term placement of tribal children, there will be less disruptions for the child. We hope that the new regulations will stop the inappropriate placement of children until all possible birth or kinship families within the tribe are explored.

Irene Clements
Executive Director, National Foster Parent Association
Public Policy Chair, Texas Foster Family Association
Chair, EveryChild, Inc Board of Directors
Foster Care Consultant

May 232015
 
Roland and his newborn, 1990

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take the hit and appear to be a busybody.

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

May 212015
 
Dorothy, Andrew, and Walter, June 1983

– YOU CAN TURN THIS AROUND:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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– WHY YOU DO NOT WANT CPS INVOLVED:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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– WHY THEY ARE ABLE TO DO THIS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.
– BOTTOM LINE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to former Montana State legislator, Rick Jore:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 182015
 

Attorney General Eric Holder Delivers Remarks During the White House Tribal Nations Conference
Washington, DC
United States
~
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Good morning. I want to thank you all for such a warm welcome. And I would like to thank President Obama for hosting this important White House conference.

It is a pleasure to be here today, and a privilege to join so many distinguished public servants, passionate activists, dedicated leaders, and good friends as we celebrate vital achievements, discuss critical challenges, and renew our shared commitment. All of the leaders in this room – and so many others across the country – are indispensable partners in our efforts to fulfill the promise of the U.S. government’s relationships with sovereign tribes. You are critical allies in our ongoing work to move this country closer to its most treasured ideals: of equality, opportunity, and justice under law. And you continue a proud tradition of tribal leaders who have stepped to the forefront of efforts to preserve cultural values, to enforce treaty obligations too often ignored, and to secure the rights and benefits to which all American Indians and Alaska Natives are entitled.

I know this responsibility has rarely been easy. But it is a solemn obligation that you and your ancestors have carried for generations – through injustice, violence, and deprivation; through broken promises, deferred action, and denial of rights. Over the years, you’ve seen avenues into prosperity foreclosed by bigotry. You’ve seen opportunities curtailed by deplorable discrimination. And you’ve held firm even at times – in past decades – when the federal government insisted that the men and women of tribal nations forsake their culture and their heritage, and be slowly, painfully, grudgingly assimilated, while their tribal governments were neglected—or even terminated.

Together, you and your predecessors faced down tremendous adversity to safeguard your lands, protect your cultures, and strengthen your ability to choose your own future. And, particularly in the last half-century, your commitment has finally been met by a U.S government that’s prepared to acknowledge the failures and injustices of the past – and to work with and empower you to chart a new course.

That is why, during the earliest days of the Obama Administration – in 2009 – I traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota, for a historic Tribal Nations Listening Session, to hear directly from tribal officials about the actions we could take together to build a relationship of coexistence and cooperation. I was joined at the time by roughly 100 Department of Justice officials representing more than 20 different components, as well as more than 400 tribal leaders and representatives from around the nation – some of whom are here in the audience today. We discussed the epidemic of violence that cut a vicious path through Indian Country, where violent crime rates reached two, four, and sometimes over ten times the national average. We spoke about the vital needs of women on tribal lands, who faced a shocking reality in which 1 out of every 3 American Indian or Alaska Native women would be raped in her lifetime. And we spoke about children who were brought up in poverty, in the midst of uncertainty and rampant abuse.

As I listened, during that visit, I heard the pain in the voices of the people I was meeting with – people whose parents and grandparents had made indelible contributions to this country, but who had been shut out of the process of self-determination, and denied access to opportunities for success. I felt, even then, a deep and powerful comprehension of the magnitude of discrimination that tribal communities have faced – discrimination that bore a distressing resemblance to the experience of millions of people of color throughout our history, including those brave pioneers I remember watching as a young child, on a black-and-white television in the basement of my family’s home in New York City, as they marched for equality and rallied for the opportunities that should have been their birthright.

I recognized, on a basic, human level, the desire for empowerment, and the need for mutual trust and understanding, that I encountered during my listening session in Indian Country. And I left St. Paul both inspired and invigorated by a firm commitment to the work we must do together.

After that conference, I announced not only an intention to work closely with you to move in a positive direction, but a desire to take concrete steps forward – and to implement a fundamentally new approach that emphasized collaboration between sovereign tribes and the federal government. I announced the creation of a Tribal Nations Leadership Council to advise me on matters critical to Indian Country – a council made up of men and women not selected by the federal government, but elected by their own peers. I stated my determination to work with Congress to pass important legislation like the Tribal Law and Order Act in order to provide tribal governments with more of the authority, resources, and information they need to appropriately hold to account those who commit crimes in Indian Country. I directed the department to increase the engagement of United States Attorney’s Offices with tribes in their districts and work to expand Indian Country prosecutions. And I called for the swift reauthorization of a revised and strengthened Violence Against Women Act, including provisions recommended by the Justice Department that would, for the first time in decades, protect and empower Indian women against abuse by non-Native men.

I am proud to say that, thanks to the hard work and dedication of many of the men and women in this room today, every single one of these goals has been met. And all of these commitments have been fulfilled.

In every instance, progress was made possible by our shared determination to overcome the effects of what my predecessor, former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, once called the “tragic irony” of American Indian oppression, and to work together to forge an enduring, positive, collaborative relationship between the federal government and sovereign tribes. And I am pleased to note that, over the last six years – by committing to this new and necessary approach – together with President Obama and our colleagues throughout the Administration, we have expanded on our initial groundbreaking efforts and helped to launch a new era of empowerment and opportunity.

Through cooperation between tribal justice leaders and U.S. Attorney’s Offices – including new tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys, who prosecute Indian Country cases in federal and tribal courts alike – we have dramatically strengthened interactions between federal and tribal law enforcement and prosecutors, and transformed a dysfunctional process that too often allowed domestic violence cases in Indian Country to languish and disappear—the sad result of a system in which the federal government and tribal officials would too rarely communicate, let alone collaborate. Every U.S. Attorney’s Office with Indian Country jurisdiction is now required to engage with the tribes in its district to develop operational plans to improve public safety and prevent and reduce violence against women and girls. A review of FY 2013 cases filed against defendants in Indian Country showed a 34 percent increase from 2008 numbers—the year before the department’s Indian Country initiative began. And since the bipartisan passage of the landmark Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act in 2013, the Justice Department has announced three pilot projects to begin early implementation of special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction, which extends tribal prosecution authority over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence for the first time in more than 35 years. As a result, more than 20 non-Indians have been charged by tribal prosecutors – and more than 200 defendants have been charged under VAWA’s enhanced federal assault statutes. This total includes more than 40 cases involving charges of strangulation or suffocation, which are often precursor offenses to domestic homicide.

We’re building on this work through targeted programs like the American Indian/Alaska Native Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Sexual Assault Response Team Initiative – under the leadership of our Office for Victims of Crime – which is designed to strengthen the federal response to sexual violence in tribal communities. Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with the Initiative’s Coordination Committee. I received their formal report and concrete recommendations on improving federal agency response to sexual violence in tribal nations.

And I pledged then – and reiterate today – that these recommendations will serve as a solid basis for robust action as we seek to gain the trust of assault survivors; to break the culture of shame that prevents far too many victims from coming forward; and to build upon the exemplary work that tribal authorities, law enforcement leaders and victim advocates across the country are doing every day to help us turn the tide against sexual violence.

We are also expanding our work with tribal governments to protect children in Indian Country through the Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence. Since it was established last year, the Task Force has already made important progress, led in part by the outstanding work of its distinguished Advisory Committee co-chairs, former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan and Grammy-winning artist – and member of the Iroquois Nation – Joanne Shenandoah. As the Task Force moves ahead, they will continue to coordinate closely with federal leaders to support and strengthen the work all of you are leading throughout tribal lands.

Beyond these efforts, we have taken a collaborative approach to break the gridlock on issues that have been a source of contention between tribal nations and federal Administrations for decades.

In 2010, the Obama Administration reached a historic settlement – totaling $3.4 billion – that resolved Cobell v. Salazar, a class-action lawsuit on trust accounting and mismanagement that had been pending for fifteen years. Since October of that year, the United States has settled the trust-mismanagement claims of 81 federally recognized tribes, putting an end to decades of bitter litigation and providing over $2.6 billion to tribes across the country. These settlements – which place no conditions on the use of funds – have spurred tribal investments in long-term economic development initiatives, infrastructure, and expansion of tribal government services. And as part of the agreements, we established procedures for improving communication and avenues for alternative dispute resolution – so that, in the future, we can more effectively collaborate to resolve issues involving trust funds and assetswithout costly and long-running litigation.

More broadly, we’ve worked to protect water rights and natural resources on tribal lands. And we’ve vastly expanded our outreach to – and cooperation with – Indian tribes across the continent, institutionalizing ways to seek input on environmental concerns and gaining critical insights into the environmental needs of tribal nations from coast to coast. Today, I can announce that we are releasing a revised Environmental Justice Strategy and Guidance, outlining how we will work to use existing environmental and civil-rights laws to help ensure that all communities, regardless of their income or demographics, are protected from environmental harm. Across the board – from our collaboration with and funding of the Intertribal Technical-Assistance Working Group, or ITWG, which uses peer-to-peer education to enhance effective prosecution practices in Indian Country, to our formal conversations with sovereign tribes to discuss ways to expand and enforce the voting rights of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including a proposal to require state and local election administrators whose territory includes tribal lands to place at least one polling site in a location chosen by the tribal government – this Administration is standing up for tribal sovereignty, tribal self-government, and tribal power. We are defending the rights of men and women in Indian Country to execute their own laws, to implement their own practices, and to perform their own civic services. And we will do everything in our power to ensure that, in the future, efforts like these will become standard practice.

To that end, last year, I announced that the Justice Department would take steps to draft and adopt a new Statement of Principles to guide all of the actions we take in working with federally recognized Indian tribes. Developed in consultation with the leaders of all 566 tribes, that Statement of Principles was meant to codify our intention to serve not as a patron, but as a partner, in Indian country – and to institutionalize our efforts to reinforce relationships, reform the criminal justice system, and aggressively protect civil rights and treaty rights. I am proud to say that our Statement of Principles is now complete. It has taken effect. And it will serve as a guide for this Administration – and every Administration – as we seek to build the more perfect Union, and the more just society, that every individual deserves.

All of these achievements are vital – and many of them are nothing short of groundbreaking. But, like all of you, I recognize that the longevity of our accomplishments depends not only on the strength of our convictions, but on the ability and the willingness of those who come after us to build upon the progress that we have set in motion.

After all, for everything that’s been achieved so far, a great deal of important, life-changing work remains to be done. That’s why the Department of Justice is committed to programs like the Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship—named for a beloved and extraordinary member of our DOJ family, and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Indians, who worked tirelessly to advance the federal government’s relationships with sovereign tribes and to defend the interests of Indian and Alaska Native communities from coast to coast. Although Gaye passed away this summer, the fellowship that bears her name is creating a new pipeline of legal talent with expertise and deep experience in federal Indian law, tribal law, and Indian Country issues. I’m proud to say the very first Indian country fellow has been selected, and Charisse Arce [sha-REESE AR-see], of Bristol Bay, Alaska, will be appointed to a three-year term position in the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Arizona, where she will be assigned to the district’s Indian Country Crime Section. She will also serve a portion of her appointment in a tribal prosecutor’s office or with another tribal legal entity within the district.

In addition to establishing this vital fellowship, the Department of Justice is reinforcing and increasing staff for the Office of Tribal Justice—including experts with a deep understanding of the laws impacting Indian Country—to make certain that Indian men, women, and children will always have a voice in the policies and priorities of the Justice Department. And we are redoubling our support of the Indian Child Welfare Act, to protect Indian children from being illegally removed from their families; to prevent the further destruction of Native traditions through forced and unnecessary assimilation; and to preserve a vital link between Native children and their community that has too frequently been severed – sometimes by those acting in bad faith.

Today, I am pleased to announce that the Department of Justice is launching a new initiative to promote compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Under this important effort, we are working to actively identify state-court cases where the United States can file briefs opposing the unnecessary and illegal removal of Indian children from their families and their tribal communities. 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 we will join with those departments, and with tribes and Indian child-welfare organizations across the country, to explore training for state judges and agencies; to promote tribes’ authority to make placement decisions affecting tribal children; to gather information about where the Indian Child Welfare Act is being systematically violated; and to take appropriate, targeted action to ensure that the next generation of great tribal leaders can grow up in homes that are not only safe and loving, but also suffused with the proud traditions of Indian cultures.

Ultimately, these children – and all those of future generations – represent the single greatest promise of our partnership, because they will reap the benefits of our ongoing work for change. In the last six years, we have worked together in a shared effort to end misunderstanding and mistreatment, and to bring about a triumph of vision over the status quo; of ingenuity over incapacity; and of progress over stagnation. We have laid an enduring foundation as we strive to empower vulnerable individuals, and give them the tools they need not to leave their communities, but to bolster them; not to abandon their ways of life, but to strengthen them.

Of course, there are many more challenges still before us. And we’ve seen all too clearly that the barriers erected over centuries of discrimination will not be surmounted overnight. But we face a brighter future today because we have placed our faith not in conflict or division, but in cooperation and respect; in the understanding that, though we live in different cultures, with different traditions, we share the same values. We believe that sovereign nations have the right to protect their citizens from harm, and that no perpetrator of domestic violence should be granted immunity because of the color of his skin. We understand that promises of autonomy have meaning, and should not be overturned through the changing desires of different federal Administrations. And we recognize 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. And neither child should be forced to choose between their cultural heritage and their well-being.

From the assurance of equal rights and equal justice, to the power of democratic participation and mutual aid, we are joined together by principles as old as time immemorial – principles embodied both by men and women whose ancestors lived on this continent centuries ago, and by those who have newly arrived on our shores. This is my pledge to you – here, today: that, because of our partnership – because of the record we’ve established; 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.

That is the legacy of our work together – not only the groundbreaking accomplishments I have described today, but the historic dedication to partnership that has made them possible. Although my time in this Administration will soon come to an end, we have embedded a commitment to tribal justice in the fabric of the Justice Department that I know will continue long after my departure. I will always be proud of the enduring, positive, and collaborative relationship we have built; of the life-changing work we have completed; and of the new era of progress that we have begun. It is my sincere hope that as the history of this Department of Justice is written, great attention will be paid to our accomplishments in interacting with our Native brothers and sisters. This has been a personal priority for me.

I want to thank you all, once again, for your passion, your perseverance, and your steadfast devotion to the work of our time. I am humbled to stand with you, today and every day. I am grateful for your friendship. And I look forward to all that we will achieve – together – in the months and years ahead.
Thank you.
Topic:
Tribal Justice
Component:
Office of the Attorney General

The United States Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs, Justice News –
http://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-eric-holder-delivers-remarks-during-white-house-tribal-nations
Accessed Dec 4, 2014, 5 pm

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

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

Make a statement and simply preface it with this statement:

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

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

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

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

http://www.iheartdesi.org/

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

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

Apr 122015
 
ICWA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to the new rules, effective immediately

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

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

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

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

‘Factual good’ for our children is irrelevant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is also a public teleconference concerning these rules to be held on Tuesday, May 12, from 1 – 4 p.m. Eastern Time. The number to call is 888-730-9138, the Passcode is INTERIOR –
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Feb 252015
 

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

BIA Issues Devastating ‘Anti-Family’ ICWA Rules

Washington DC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Feb 242015
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 032014
 

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe

First Published May 2, 2014 by the authors

Quote from Author:

“This is a PODCAST INTERVIEW with a South Dakota family that was torn apart by the court system. These children have not seen their foster parents since November 1, 2013. The State of South Dakota put these children into a home on the reservation where they we HEAVILY ABUSED, MOLESTED, AND NEGLECTED!!!
This video is in NO WAY ANTI-TRIBE PROPOGANDA. . . Our page (the Angel page) was started by Randal Bohn, a 18 year old member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe.”

Abused children, reported by Tom Sullivan 2 yrs ago, were ignored by officials

 Comments Off on Abused children, reported by Tom Sullivan 2 yrs ago, were ignored by officials
Mar 212014
 
children abuses

Senator Heitkamp,

I was just informed that the family in the Grand Forks story below is one of the families ACF Administrator Tom Sullivan included in his first Mandated Report, 21 months ago. That report, along with 13 subsequent reports, was ignored by his DC superiors and well as other officials.

These children in the story below were among the 40 children he had reported removed from safe off reservation care and placed with dangerous relatives on the reservation.

This appears to be one of the cases which US attorney Tim Purdon, ACF Director George Sheldon, Indian Affairs staffer Kenneth Martin and others said Mr. Sullivan was misconstruing at best – lying about at worst.

According to the person who informed me – These women will be prosecuted because they moved off the reservation and continued to abuse these children. If they were still living on the Spirit Lake Reservation, all of this would have been ignored by BIA law enforcement.

http://www.grandforksherald.com/content/grand-forks-woman-charged-felony-abuse-grandchildren

Again – we don’t need another 3-year task force to tell us again what we all know beyond a doubt to be true – particularly one that will be purposefully stacked with the same type of thinkers who put children into this position in the first place.

A study was concluded a few months ago by the DOJ and Senator Dorgan is currently doing a tour. Reports on the hearings Senator Dorgan has been holding include story after story of abuse.

Let me remind you again that my extended family is among the abused – and no one has yet been prosecuted for the shooting of my husband’s grandson at Spirit Lake in July 2013.

Our fear is that Senator Dorgan’s concluding report will simply call for MORE money to be given to corrupt tribal entities who are using our children as chattel.

What is needed is for laws to be enforced and children protected. Stop the waste of money and time and protect the kids.

– Further: Please hold actual oversight hearings concerning allegations that the BIA, FBI, ACF and US Attorney’s offices are ignoring the abuse of children. Either prove Mr. Sullivan is wrong that federal officials have been throwing children under the bus – or apologize to him for the way he has been treated by DC superiors.
I have been away from DC for a few months visiting families across the United States, but will be returning to DC shortly to continue our push for relevant and immediate action.


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 )
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