Save Veronica Rose!

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Jan 122012
 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tragically, under the Indian Child Welfare Act:

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

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

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

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

Save Veronica Supporters Worldwide
www.saveveronica.org
www.facebook.com/saveveronicarose
www.twitter.com/save_veronica

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We Won!!

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Sep 292011
 

It’s been a long and difficult two years, but God is good and faithful.  Thank you for your prayers and support. Also thank you for telling us about [the attorney]. We will forever be indebted.

Where do I start? As you probably remember our story started with a baby girl born out of wedlock to an Indian father and Caucasian mother. The mother chose us to adopt (non-native) and the father agreed at the time. Now to bring you up to speed since our last letter Nov ’09. We waited until the bio-father was out of jail in hopes to meet with him and his family about the adoption. It was our understanding that the only reason the tribe intervened in November ’09 was because they believed the paternal family wanted to adopt her and that the father changed his mind. We felt that waiting was our only option because our attorney at the time was not supportive of us. He felt that we would never win regardless of what we did. We wanted our attorney at the time to co-counsel with [the attorney], but our attorney was very negative, made it sound like it was going to cost us thousands and it would all be a waste of time anyways. We didn’t believe that so like I said we waited. Eight months later we met with the father and family. They all agreed to the adoption. After that conversation we believed we would be able to adopt without the tribe interfering (they had originally released us to adopt).  So we hired a new attorney to handle the adoption. We were talking with the father and hoping to finalize in Feb 2011. In Dec ’09 we had asked the father to come for a Christmas visit. He accepted. But the day arrived and he didn’t show up, no call or anything. The next thing we know our attorney receives a letter from the tribe that stated that the father came into the tribal attorney’s office refusing to agree to the adoption and the tribe was intervening. Unfortunately, our case was one of our attorney’s last cases because he was retiring. So needless to say we had to find a new attorney to take our now contested case. We were blessed to find ————. She was willing to co-counsel with [the attorney] and they made an awesome team. Both of them fight for the child’s rights with honesty and dignity. They made our case bullet proof and we won… The tribe still has 42 days to appeal the decision, but —– talked to the tribal attorney and he said that he is recommending that the tribe DOES NOT intervene. Like I said our attorneys made our case bullet proof so it would be unlikely for the tribe to win even in the Supreme Court. We will wait out the 42 days and finalize the adoption after [in] October…

[We] are still in a state of shock or disbelief. Maybe it will hit us when we sign the final papers.

Again, thank you for all of your support and prayers. We truly believe that we would not be holding our precious forever daughter without your guidance to the right attorney, your encouragement and your website to educate us. We have directed others to your website and have been able to educate others because of it. We were surprised how many people including Natives that are not aware of ICWA.

As I have promised in the past I will do what I can to help support you and the people you help as soon as this is over.

Many blessings,

CONGRATULATIONS for Successful Adoptions!

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Sep 292011
 

TO FIVE WONDERFUL FAMILIES –

Who in the last two months have either successfully completed their adoptions or will be completing them shortly –

To the three awesome families in Texas, one in California, and the beautiful family in Idaho – CONGRATULATIONS!

Please also give a very special thanks to a wonderful attorney who ministered for most of these children in very wise and beneficial ways – as well as Johnston Moore and Andy Reum, two board members who were willing and available to speak to and encourage a couple of the families.

AND a VERY SPECIAL THANKS – To all those who have been praying faithfully for these families as well as the many others who contact us!! God Bless all you awesome prayer warriors!

Learn More about How ICWA is Hurting Children!

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Aug 222011
 
Thank you for your continued support and prayers!!

Come join us for an ICWA “Teach-in” on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28th, 9am to 1pm in the Senate Committee for Indian Affairs hearing room in Washington DC.

Dr. William B. Allen will be our main speaker and we expect the information and material offered to be exceptional. Dr. Allen is a Professor in Political Science, the former Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights under Ronald Reagan, and a strong opponent of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

Remember – the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW) is the ONLY national organization advocating for families who have lost or are at risk of losing children due to application of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and has been advocating for families since 2004.

Feb 26, 2011— “We need help! This child will be dead in this woman’s hands. We feel the good fight to do what’s right but fear this child will be severely marred.”
April 7, 2011— “I have no were else to turn. My girls and i are in desperate need of help. If there is anyway you can help us please contact me as soon possible day or night…”
May 18, 2011—”our kids were taken yesterday. The pain is difficult to bear. We love these kids so much. This will be there third family placement since coming into foster care almost 2 years ago.”

ALL are welcome to come join and support us there. Come on Wednesday prior and spend a couple days visiting with the offices of your Senators and Representatives – and invite their staff to come attend the Teach-in!
Please share this post with friends and relatives that might be interested!

Also – We have SAMARITAN Discount cards available for sale to help with expenses  😉
Contact LISA at administrator@caicw.org if you would like one or would like a few to share some with friends!
Twitter: http://twitter.com/CAICW ( @CAICW )

DONATIONS NEEDED for Teach-in expenses! Thanks!!! 🙂   – Click this Link for direct donations to CAICW, a 501c3 non-profit

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WE NEED HELP!

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Jun 072011
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Washington DC, January 2011

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Apr 122011
 
Dr. William B. Allen

This was by far the best visit to DC that we’d had yet. Our group, including parents from New Mexico, Wisconsin, Virginia, and S. Dakota, began Monday, January 24th with a meeting with Dr. William Allen, Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU, who broached the question as to whether the ICWA was intended for the best interest of the child or the best interest of the tribe. How is it being interpreted and enforced? He reminded us that tribal governments are accountable to Congress, which has plenary power over them. He then asked, “Has Congress, in passing the ICWA, taken the position of Pontius Pilate” – and essentially washed its hands of these children?

We can’t allow Congress to do that. We, as families, have been helpless before this law. Many families have had little opportunity to protect themselves or their children. This is about Constitutional rights – our Equal Protection.

Senator-elect John Hoeven

Senator-elect John Hoeven

We next met with the Chief of Staff for Senator Hoeven (R-ND), Don Larson, and his assistant, Kaitland. Senator Hoeven has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. (SCIA). Mr. Larson felt this issue was something the Senator could “move forward” with.

We also met with Katherine Haley, Assistant to Policy for Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH). She said that the speaker holds great importance to protecting families and that the Speaker can get behind this. She told us to push for committee hearings and reminded us that federal policy and oversight is a touchy subject.

While some of us were visiting the Speaker’s office, others visited with Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), who is also a member of the SCIA. Those who visited his office were not confident that he would be helpful, and aides to Senator Kohl (D-WI): kept referring us back to the tribes, saying everything is up to them.

Aide to Rep Berg (R-ND), Patrick Buell, was very interested and said he would talk to a staffer friend of his on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs – and he did. The friend called on Wednesday, February 3rd and was encouraging. He thought new hearings might be possible – if the new Chairman agreed.

Some of us began Tuesday, January 25th, with a meeting with Gary Bauer, of American Values.org. He urged us to find one person in the House and one in the Senate who will make this issue their cause – who will see it as an opportunity to become a real reformer. He also encouraged us to find a new Governor who isn’t afraid to make this issue a priority.

We next met with Clay Lightfoot, aide to Senator Coburn (R-Ok). Senator Coburn had been a long standing member of the SCIA up until this year when he was moved from the committee. Still, his office has had an interest in this issue over the years. Their interest continues despite having been moved from the committee.

Fern Goodhart, aide to Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), also on the SCIA, was less encouraging. She said there was little that can be done as the issue is up to the tribes and the Committee.

Rep. Kristi Noem’s office, (R-SD), was very welcoming and interested. We met with her aide, Renee Latterell. Brand new to Congress, Rep. Noem is a Teaparty conservative who has been assigned to House Committee on Resources and its subcommittee on Indian Affairs. Renee was VERY encouraging and said they would like to help.

Rep Michelle Bachmann’s aide, (R-MN), Reneee Doyle was also very kind and helpful. We told her that my children and grandchildren are all enrollable with the Minnesota Chippewas Tribe, and that the State of Minnesota had made it much more difficult for families such as ours when they passed a law three years ago forbidding judges to even consider whether or not a child or family is connected with the tribal community. She said she would do her best to talk to Rep. Bachmann, who is also a foster mom, about it.

On Wednesday, we met with Lea Stueve, aide to Senator Johnanns (R-NE)(SCIA): She wasn’t as encouraging and said that the issue is up to the committee.

John Fetzer, aide to Senator Conrad (D-ND)(SCIA), was very warm and interested. He said that new hearings are worth taking a look at “especially when it affects kids this directly.” He told us to keep in touch with him “if it’s not moving along as fast as you would like.”
Remember – As one Senate Aide told us: we need to get on the phone and preach this: ~ The welfare of children shouldn’t be political; it MUST be about the best interest of the child. We must remove “preference” for tribes and give strength to family. ~

UPDATE – Renee Doyle, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, aide, called two weeks ago and said that she has spent nights thinking about our meeting with her on January 25th. The story that she had heard from one of the mother’s with us had “broken her heart.” She wanted the mother to know that her story had not fallen on deaf ears, and that she was meeting with Don Young’s aide to talk about it. I gave her Dr. William Allen’s contact phone number to get some additional questions answered.

Letters from birth parents, grandparents, foster families, pre-adoptive families, tribal members and non-members can be read at: https://www.caicw.org/familystories.html

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Washington DC, September 2007

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Mar 302011
 

During the first week of September, 2007, a handful of CAICW board members and families traveled to Washington DC to   speak with officials about the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and its affect upon their children. At each meeting, we told of our personal experiences and gave the Officials ten additional letters written by CAICW families specifically for this purpose as well as a list of policy changes that could help to protect children.

On Tuesday morning, Sept. 4, we met with Aide to Senator John McCain, Mr. Nick Martiella. Mr. Martiella seemed concerned about the family situations we presented to him and was interested in the policy changes. He said he’d like to look into it some more.

At noon, we went to the National Press Club, where we were introduced to two women representing the National Congress of American Indians. Cinda Hughes is a legislative associate and Kraynal Alfred is a Communications and Events Specialist. We spent about a half hour together listening to each other’s perspective.

Later that day, we were invited to the Old executive building to meet with a member of the Domestic Policy Council. The DPC is an advisory group to the President. We met at the Old Executive Building, which is part of the White House Complex and had to go through a little more security then we had at other meetings. The Assistant we met with said he would like to work with us and learn more.

The following day, Wednesday, Sept. 5, we met with Mr. Mark Jette, an aide to Senate Committee of Indian Affairs freshman John Tester (D-MT). Walking into the room, Mr. Jette mentioned growing up in Ronan, the town we are from, and made a little small talk in that direction. Mr. Jette had a negative impression of our work with federal Indian policy, so I began by discussing my husband Roland’s heart and the reasons he had gotten involved with Federal Indian Policy issues. Roland had watched many in his family die tragically and violently. After he became a Christian, he came to believe that current federal policy was hurting people more than helping them. He desired to change things for his extended family by becoming involved politically. Mr. Jette remained somewhat cool toward us, but did agree that some of the policy points had merit; specifically our request that it be made clear in ICWA that parents can designate a legal guardian in their Wills.

Later, we met with Tracy Toulou, Director of Tribal Justice at the DOJ. While sympathetic and seeming to wish tribal justice was better, he said that injustice is common in both tribal and state courts. He understood the difficulties with tribal courts, but reiterated that what the CAICW families need are good lawyers.

At 3 pm, we met with Cindy Darcy, who is the aide in charge of ICWA for the Senate Comm. on Indian Affairs Chairman, Byron Dorgan (D-ND). We explained the policy issues we were concerned with and lightly summarized our family stories as illustrations of the policy deficiencies. I also mentioned other examples, such as the Rodriguez boys, who without warning were taken from their Latino grandparents and given to their Ute grandmother only to suffer severe abuse because they were speaking Spanish. Ms. Darcy took lots of notes and agreed to put the folders we had prepared into the separate mailboxes for each Senator on the committee. Each folder consisted of the letter to Senator Dorgan outlining the policy issues along with footnotes supporting them, copies of the ten stories sent to us by ten separate families, a CAICW brochure, and a CAICW newsletter from the summer of 2006 outlining a few other family stories as well as some of the work CAICW has been doing.

By far the best meeting was with the last one for that day, with Brian Treat, aide to Senator Colburn (R-OK). Right off the bat, he asked if he could bring in his Chief of Staff, Michael Schwartz, because “he is interested, too.” This meeting lasted for over an hour. Mr. Schwartz thought the policy points were common sense and obtainable. They look forward to working with us on this issue. He also advised us to make alliances with adoption agencies and churches.

Our last meeting was Thursday morning at the DOI – Bureau of Indian Affairs, with Stephanie Birdwell. The BIA is unable to change policy; they only regulate it. However, in that function, there are things they can do. Tribes are awarded AFA’s – Annual funding agreements – to run their judicial systems. If there is documented evidence that the compact for the AFA isn’t being administered properly, the AFA can be dropped. If this is an action that needs to be taken, Local people need to be the legs to gather the necessary information.

Press Release that went out August 28, 2007:

CHILDREN, DISCRIMINATION AND THE INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT

Children’s Lives Destroyed by ICWA

Across America, children that have never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal customs are routinely being removed from homes they love and placed with strangers chosen by tribes.

Though proponents of the ICWA argue that the act has safeguards to prevent misuse, scores of multi-racial children are being negatively affected by application of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

Over decades, numerous tribal members have married non-members and moved off the reservations. Many chose to leave because they didn’t want their children raised amid the dangers rampant in Indian Country.

However, ICWA authorizes tribal jurisdiction over any child who is a member of a tribe, or eligible for membership and the biological child of a member. Tribal governments determine their own membership and most require only 1/4 blood quantum, The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma goes further and claims jurisdiction over any child with ancestry tracing back to the Dawes Rolls no matter how minute the blood quantum. Making matters worse, some states have recently passed laws barring courts from considering whether a child or his family have any real connection to the tribe. As a result, the following occurs:

“.. it was discovered she (the birthmother) is 1/128th Cherokee. That makes my son 1/256 or .0039% Native American and 99.9961% not…. His mother…was very adamant about the Cherokee Nation NOT raising her child and the court records show this. In April of 2006, we were notified of the Cherokee Nation’s intent to take us to court and remove our son from our home… Since then, we have been in a constant state of panic…”

Any emotionally healthy child, no matter their heritage, is devastated when taken from home and forced to live with strangers. Even children of 100% tribal heritage are devastated if they’re taken from non-tribal families they love and placed with strangers they know nothing about.

The Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW) is the only national organization advocating for families who have lost or are at risk of losing children due to misapplied and sometimes illegal application of the ICWA. The CAICW will be at the National Press Club at 12 noon, Tuesday, September 4, 2007, with affected families sharing about this growing problem.

Letters from birth parents, grandparents, foster families, pre-adoptive families, and tribal members themselves can be read at (https://www.caicw.org/familystories.html )

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Case Law for Existing Indian Family Doctrine

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May 112010
 

.Holyfield – the first case in which the federal high court has construed ICWA,

Mississippi Choctaw Indian Band v. Holyfield, 490 US 30 (1989) Docket No. 87-980, Argued January 11, 1989, Decided April 3, 1989, CITATION: 490 U.S. 30, 109 S.Ct. 1597, 104 L.Ed.2d 29 (1989),

DISCUSSION: I A The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), 92 Stat. 3069, 25 U.S.C. 1901-1963, was the product of rising concern in the mid-1970’s over the consequences to Indian children, Indian families, and Indian tribes of abusive child welfare practices that resulted in the separation of large numbers of Indian children from their families and tribes through adoption or foster care placement, usually in non-Indian homes.

Dissenting footnotes: STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and KENNEDY, J., joined.

[ Footnote 8 ] The explanation of this subsection in the House Report reads as follows: “Subsection (b) directs a State court, having jurisdiction over an Indian child custody proceeding to transfer such proceeding, absent good cause to the contrary, to the appropriate tribal court upon the petition of the parents or the Indian tribe. Either parent is given the right to veto such transfer. The subsection is intended to permit a State court to apply a modified doctrine of forum non conveniens, in appropriate cases, to insure [490 U.S. 30, 61] that the rights of the child as an Indian, the Indian parents or custodian, and the tribe are fully protected.” Id., at 21. In commenting on the provision, the Department of Justice suggested that the section should be clarified to make it perfectly clear that a state court need not surrender jurisdiction of a child custody proceeding if the Indian parent objected. The Department of Justice letter stated:

“Section 101(b) should be amended to prohibit clearly the transfer of a child
placement proceeding to a tribal court when any parent or child over the age of
12 objects to the transfer
.” Id., at 32.

Although the specific suggestion made by the Department of Justice was not in fact implemented, it is noteworthy that there is nothing in the legislative history to suggest that the recommended change was in any way inconsistent with any of the purposes of the statute.

[ Footnote 9 ] Chief Isaac elsewhere expressed a similar concern for the rights of parents with reference to another provision. See Hearing, supra n. 1, at 158 (statement on behalf of National Tribal Chairmen’s Association)

(“We believe the tribe should receive notice in all such cases but where the
child is neither a resident nor domiciliary of the reservation intervention
should require the consent of the natural parents or the blood relative in whose
custody the child has been left by the natural parents. It seems there is a
great potential in the provisions of section 101(c) for infringing parental
wishes and rights”).

But when an Indian child is deliberately abandoned by both parents to a person off the reservation, no purpose of the ICWA is served by closing the state courthouse door to them. The interests of the parents, the Indian child, and the tribe in preventing the unwarranted removal of Indian children from their families and from the reservation are protected by the Act’s substantive and procedural provisions. In addition, if both parents have intentionally invoked the jurisdiction of the state court in an action involving a non-Indian, no interest in tribal self-governance is implicated. See McClanahan v. Arizona State Tax Comm’n, 411 U.S. 164, 173 (1973); Williams v. [490 U.S. 30, 64] Lee, 358 U.S. 217, 219 -220 (1959); Felix v. Patrick, 145 U.S. 317, 332 (1892).


In Bridget R. –In re Bridget R. (1996) 41 Cal.App.4th 1483 (Bridget R.). January 19, 1996 , LLR No. 9601041.CA, Cite as: LLR 1996.CA.41 – The Pomo Twins

[33] As we explain, recognition of the existing Indian family doctrine is necessary in a case such as this in order to preserve ICWA’s constitutionality. We hold that under the Fifth, Tenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, ICWA does not and cannot apply to invalidate a voluntary termination of parental rights respecting an Indian child who is not domiciled on a reservation, unless the child’s biological parent, or parents, are not only of American Indian descent, but also maintain a significant social, cultural or political relationship with their tribe.

[145] *fn11 We note in passing that Congress in 1987 failed to approve amendments to ICWA which were described in materials considered by the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs as having the effect of precluding application of the existing Indian family doctrine. (See Hearings before the Senate Select Com. on Indian Affairs, United States Senate, 100th Cong., 1st Sess. on Oversight Hearings on the Indian Child Welfare Act, Nov. 10, 1987, Appendix B, pp. 167-171.)

In re Alexandria Y.
(1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 1483, –

which applied the “existing Indian family doctrine” to a proceeding to terminate parental rights and implement a pre-adoptive placement.

…., the Fourth District held that “recognition of the existing Indian family doctrine [was] necessary to avoid serious constitutional flaws in the ICWA” (In re Alexandria Y., supra, 25 Cal.App.4th at p. 1493), and held that the trial court had acted properly in refusing to apply the ICWA “because neither [the child] nor [the mother] had any significant social, cultural, or political relationship with Indian life; thus, there was no existing Indian family to preserve.” (Id. at p. 1485.)

The court observed that not only did neither the mother nor the child have any relationship with the tribe, but also that the father was Hispanic, and that the child was placed in a preadoptive home where Spanish was spoken. “Under these circumstances,” the court commented, “it would be anomalous to allow the ICWA to govern the termination proceedings. It was clearly not the intent of the Congress to do so.” (Id. at p. 1494.)


From Santos y,
In re SANTOS Y., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law, In re Santos Y. (2001) , Cal.App.4th [No. B144822. Second Dist., Div. Two. July 20, 2001.]

“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, “to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families” (25 U.S.C. § 1902).”

The court paid “particular attention to In re Bridget R., and quoted from Bridget R.’s due process and equal protection analysis at relative length.”

They also said, “We do not disagree with the proposition that preserving Native-American culture is a significant, if not compelling, governmental interest. We do not, however, see that interest being served by applying the ICWA to a multi-ethnic child who has had a minimal relationship with his assimilated parents, particularly when the tribal interests “can serve no purpose which is sufficiently compelling to overcome the child’s right to remain in the home where he . . . is loved and well cared for, with people to whom the child is daily becoming more attached by bonds of affection and among whom the child feels secure to learn and grow.” (In re Bridget R., supra, 41 Cal.App.4th at p. 1508.)”

Finally, Santos states, “Congress considered amending the ICWA to preclude application of the “existing Indian family doctrine” but did not do so.”

RE: Santos Footnotes, – Existing Family Doctrine:

¬FN 15. Accepting the doctrine: Alabama (S.A. v. E.J.P. (Ala.Civ.App. 1990) 571 So.2d 1187); Indiana (Matter of Adoption of T.R.M. (Ind. 1988) 525 N.E.2d 298); Kansas (Matter of Adoption of Baby Boy L. (Kan. 1982) 643 P.2d 168); Kentucky (Rye v. Weasel (Ky. 1996) 934 S.W. 2d 257); Missouri (In Interest of S.A.M. (Mo.App. 1986) 703 S.W.2d 603); New York (In re Adoption of Baby Girl S. (Sur. 1999) 690 N.Y.S. 2d 907); Oklahoma (Matter of Adoption of Baby Boy D. (Ok. 1985) 742 P.2d 1059); Tennessee (In re Morgan (Tenn.Ct.App. 1997) WL 716880); Washington (Matter of Adoption of Crews (Wash. 1992) 825 P.2d 305).

Rejecting the doctrine: Alaska (Matter of Adoption of T.N.F. (Alaska 1989) 781 P.2d 973); Idaho (Matter of Baby Boy Doe (Idaho 1993) 849 P.2d 925); Illinois (In re Adoption of S.S. (Ill. 1995) 657 N.E.2d 935); New Jersey (Matter of Adoption of a Child of Indian Heritage (N.J. 1988) 111 N.J. 155, 543 A.2d 925); South Dakota (Matter of Adoption of Baade (S.D. 1990) 462 N.W.2d 485); Utah (State, in Interest of D.A.C. (Utah App. 1997) 933 P.2d 993.)
United States Code Title 25 – Indians Chapter 21 – Indian Child Welfare

§ 1911. Indian tribe jurisdiction over Indian child custody proceedings(b) Transfer of proceedings; declination by tribal Court: 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, upon the petition of either parent or the Indian custodian or the Indian child’s tribe: Provided, That such transfer shall be subject to declination by the tribal court of such tribe.

(Ftn 1) “The 2000 Census indicated that as much at 66 percent of the American Indian and Alaska Native population live in urban areas,” the Senate Indian Affairs Committee wrote in a views and estimates letter on March 2 2007. http://www.indianz.com/News/2007/001803.asp
(ftn2) 14th Amendment, Section 1: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and therefore have all the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

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Jewish relative keeps custody of Indian kids

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May 092010
 

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But it’s not always a slam-dunk…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May 072010
 

The following is excerpted from a letter written five years ago to Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell and other members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs by a foster mother. Senator Campbell never responded. This letter, and lack of response, mirror the frustrations and despair of parents, foster parents, extended family, and adoptive parents all over the United States:

Senator Campbell,

We are white foster parents to an Indian child who is just over 3 1/2 years old. He has been in our home since he was 18 months old, over 2 years. His birth mother, a member of an Indian tribe, voluntarily placed him in foster care with county Social Services in December 1997.

In January 2000 the tribe moved to take jurisdiction of the case because the county had filed for termination of parental rights. The Tribal Chairman wrote the county in late October 1999 suggesting that the tribe would prefer that the county seek long term foster care for the child rather than termination and adoption. The county, because of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, was unable to meet the tribe’s request. It was only then that the tribe filed its motion to have jurisdiction transferred.

In the county DSS case file are at least two psychological profiles that indicate the child’s interests are best served by remaining in a stable, familiar environment. There are also psychological reports that indicate that contact between the child and his mother are harmful to the child, that the birth mother has reached a developmental “ceiling” of around 9 -12 years of age, and that she’ll never be able to care for the child (The Tribal Court has ordered that visitation between the child and his birth mother resume).

We understand the importance of the Indian Child Welfare Act. However, we have a very difficult time understanding how the Act is benefiting this child. As it stands, because of the Act, he’s about to lose his home, his family, his stability, his security. He sees a speech therapist twice weekly, an occupational therapist twice weekly and a mental health therapist bi-weekly. Tribal Social Services, if it can’t find an Indian home willing to take this special needs child for the next 15 years, will begin looking for a series of short-term placements. Do you really believe that this is in his best interest? To be shuffled from foster home to foster home to foster home for the next 15 years?
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What is a Qualified Expert Witness?

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May 052010
 

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Qualified Expert Witness:

According to Chief Judge-Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribal Court, Director-Northern Plains Tribal Judicial Institute-University of North Dakota Law School*, three stages of ICWA contain a requirement of qualified expert testimony to support state court action – foster care placement, termination of parental rights and deviating from the foster care and adoptive placement preference due to the extraordinary needs of the child. 25 U.S.C. SS1912(e); 1912(f), BIA Guidelines, F. 3 at 67594. The failure to produced qualified expert witness testimony may vitiate any proceedings held in state court. See In re. K.H., 981 P.2d. 1190 (Mont. 1999); Doty-Jabbar v. Dallas County, 19 S.W.3d 870 (Tex. App. 5th Dist. 2000). The ICWA does not define, “Qualified Expert Witness.”

However, IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF H.M.O. , No. 97-262, MT 175, (1998), it is stated “the Guidelines for State Courts; Indian Child Custody Proceedings (the Guidelines)”, defines expert witnesses for ICWA purposes. Matter of M.E.M. (1981), 195 Mont. 329, 336, 635 P.2d 1313, 1318.

The Guidelines: D.4. Qualified Expert Witnesses

(a) Removal of an Indian child from his or her family must be based on competent testimony from one or more experts qualified to speak specifically to the issue of whether continued custody by the parents or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious physical or emotional damage to the child.

(b) Persons with the following characteristics are most likely to meet the requirements for a qualified expert witness for purposes of Indian child custody proceedings:

(i) A member of the Indian child’s tribe who is recognized by the tribal community as knowledgeable in tribal customs as they pertain to family organization and childbearing practices.

(ii) A lay expert witness having substantial experience in the delivery of child and family services to Indians, and extensive knowledge of prevailing social and cultural standards and childbearing practices within the Indian child’s tribe.

(iii) A professional person having substantial education and experience in the area of his or her specialty.

44 Fed.Reg. 67584, 67593 (1979).

Despite the third category, H.M.O goes on to say:

33…” courts have held that social workers must have qualifications beyond those of the normal social worker to be qualified as experts for the purposes of the ICWA. See, e.g., In re Elliott (Mich. Ct. App. 1996), 554 N.W.2d 32, 37 (citation omitted); Matter of N.L. (Okla. 1988), 754 P.2d 863, 868 (citations omitted). Those courts based their conclusions on the legislative history of the ICWA which requires “expertise beyond the normal social worker qualifications.” See In re Elliott, 554 N.W.2d at 37 (citation omitted); Matter of N.L., 754 P.2d at 868 (citations omitted); see also House Report for the Indian Child Welfare Act, H.R. 1386, 95 Cong., 2d Sess. 22, reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. 7530, 7545. Based on these cases and legislative history, we hold that a social worker must possess expertise beyond that of the normal social worker to satisfy the qualified expert witness requirement of 25 U.S.C. § 1912(f).

34 As discussed above, Jackman’s report contains no substantive information regarding her qualifications and experience other than that she was a social worker employed by the Department. On the basis of the record before us, we hold that the District Court abused its discretion in concluding that Jackman was a qualified expert witness for ICWA purposes.

QUESTIONS:

If a child is 1/2 Hispanic and has been raised in a Hispanic community, speaking Spanish, does the prevailing social and cultural standards of the tribal community still take precedence in the placement of that child?

What if the child is 9/10 tribal, but his parents simply chose to raise him in an alternate community with alternate standards and customs?

What is the “tribal community?” If the child lives in an inner city tribal Community, would that then be the child’s tribal community? Does an inner city tribal community have the same customs, cultural standards and child rearing practices as a closed reservation does?

Wouldn’t a witness be more qualified and expert in the well being of the child if the witness understood the community in which the child has been raised and the community within which the family exists, rather than the community in which the tribe exists?

Who is the Expert Witness testifying for?
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Iowa Supreme Court Tossed “Indian Child” Definition

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May 032010
 

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From:

Jennifer Delgado – The Daily Iowan
Issue date: 12/11/07 Section: Metro

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Nov. 30 (2007) that the state’s definition of an “Indian child” is an ethnic classification breaking the 14th Amendment equal-protection clauses in both state and federal Constitutions.

In the future, Iowa will have to come up with a new definition of what constitutes an “Indian child” – one that could possibly be based on tribal membership, UI law Professor Ann Estin said.

The decision comes after a custody case that began in Woodbury County, Iowa, involving two children born in Sioux City. The state removed the children from their home because of their parents’ record of substance abuse. Their mother is a member of the Winnebago tribe; their father is white.

The Winnebago tribe, located in northeastern Nebraska, tried to intervene in the custody proceedings, claiming the children fit the definition of “Indian child” under Iowa law and should be returned to the tribe. But because of this new ruling, the tribe cannot legally get involved in the custody battle.

In the Winnebago tribe, children of members are only eligible for membership if they have at least one-fourth degree Winnebago blood – the two children are only one-eighth degree.

In 2004, the Winnebago tribe passed a resolution stating that the offspring are seen as “children of the Winnebago tribal community” because their mother is a member.

“The Winnebago tribe tried to establish this definition, but the court won’t let it fly,” said Estin, who teaches Indian law.

According to the Iowa Indian Child and Welfare Act, any unmarried Indian who is under the age of 18 or a child who is under 18 that an Indian tribe identifies as a child of their community. Enacted in 2003, its purpose is to clarify state procedures and policies for the federal act. Estin said she believes this ruling is not a step backwards because the federal legislation is still in place, which trumps the state legislation. The 1978 federal law is similar to the Iowa statue but includes Indians who are eligible for membership and who are biological children of a tribal member.’ Estin said a law based on ethnicity is difficult to uphold, and the Iowa statute has gone beyond the federal law.

“The biggest problem is Iowa’s definition of an Indian child is it turns on the child’s ethnicity,” she said. “If Iowa wants to revise the Iowa Indian Child and Welfare Act, it has a clear signal from the Supreme Court that it’s going to have to have some tie to tribal membership.”
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ICWA Case Law & other Authority

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May 012010
 

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Cases:
Adoption of Lindsay C. (1991) 229 Cal.App.3d 404, 280 Cal.Rptr. 194
Doe v. Hughes, Thorness, Gantz, et al. (Alaska 1992) 838 P.2d 804
In re Alexandria Y. (1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 1483, 53 Cal.Rptr.2d 679
In re Alicia S. (1998) 65 Cal.App.4th 79, 76 Cal.Rprt.2d 121
In re Baby Girl A. (1991) 230 Cal.App.3d 1611, 282 Cal.Rptr. 105
In re Brandon M. (1997) 54 Cal.App.4th 1387, 63 Cal.Rptr.2d 671
In re Bridget R. (1996) 41 Cal.App.4th 1483, 49 Cal.Rptr.2d 507
In re Charloe (Ore. 1982) 640 P.2d 608
In re Crystal K. (1990) 226 Cal.App.3d 655, 276 Cal.Rptr. 619
In re Crystal R. (1997) 59 Cal.App.4th 703, 69 Cal.Rptr.2d 414.
In re Derek W. (1999) 73 Cal.App4th 828, 86 Cal. Rptr.2d 742.
In re Desiree F. (2000) 83 Cal.App.4th 460, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 688
In re John V. (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 1201, 7 Cal.Rptr. 629
In re Jonathan D. (2001) 92 Cal.App.4th 105, 111 Cal.Rptr.2d 628.
In re Julian B. (2000) 82 Cal.App.4th 1337, modified by 83 Cal.App.4th 935A, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 241
In re Junious M. (1983) 144 Cal.App.3d 786, 193 Cal.Rptr. 40
In re Kahlen W. (1991) 233 Cal.App.3d 1414, 285 Cal.Rptr. 507
In re Krystle D. (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 1778, 37 Cal.Rptr.2d 132
In re Larissa G. (1996) 43 Cal.App.4th 505, 51 Cal.Rptr.2d 16
In re Laura F. (2000) 83 Cal.App.4th 583, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 859
In re Letitia V. v. Superior Court (2000) 81 Cal.App.4th 1009, 97 Cal.Rptr.2d 303
In re Levi U. (2000) 78 Cal.App.4th 191, 92 Cal.Rptr.2d 648
In re Marinna J. (2001) 90 Cal.App.4th 731, 109 Cal.Rptr 2d 267
In re Matthew Z. (2000) 80 Cal.App.4th 545, 95 Cal.Rptr.2d 343
In re Michael G. (1998) 63 Cal.App.4th 700, 74 Cal.Rprt.3d 642
In re Pedro N. (1995) 35 Cal.App.4th 183, 41 Cal.Rptr.2d 507
In re Pima County Juvenile Action (Ariz. 1981) 635 P.2d 187
In re Richard S. 54 Cal.3d 857, 2 Cal.Rptr.2d 2
In re Riva M. (1991) 235 Cal.App.3d 403, 286 Cal.Rptr. 592
In re Robert T. (1988) 200 Cal.App.3d 657, 246 Cal.Rptr. 168
In re Santos Y. (2001) 92 Cal.App.4th 1274, 112 Cal.Rptr.2d 692, review denied (Feb. 13, 2002)
In re Wanomi P. (1989) 216 Cal.App.3d 156, 264 Cal.Rptr. 623
In re William G., Jr. (2001) 89 Cal.App.4th 423, 107 Cal.Rptr.2d 436
Mississippi Choctaw Indian Band v. Holyfield (1989) 490 U.S. 30, L.Ed.2d 29
Morton v. Mancari (1974) 417 U.S. 535
Native Village of Venetie I.R.A. Council v. State of Alaska (9th Cir. 1991) 944 F.2d 548
Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez (1978) 436 U.S. 49
Slone v. Inyo County (1991) 230 Cal.App.3d 263, 282 Cal.Rptr. 126
State Ex Rel. Juvenile Dept. of Lane County v. Shuey (Ore.1993) 850 P.2d 378

Cases (de-published or partially unpublished on ICWA issue):
In re Adam N. (2000) 101 Cal.Rptr.2d 181
In re Bettye K.(1991) 285 Cal.Rptr. 633
In re Carlos G. (1999) 88 Cal.Rptr.2d 623
In re Jacqueline L. (1995) 39 Cal.Rptr.2d 178
In re Santos Y. (2001) 110 Cal.Rptr.2d 1
In re Se.T. (2002) 115 Cal.Rptr.2d 335

Statutes and Other Authority (Specific to Indians):
Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, 25 U.S.C. §§1901 et seq.
Indian Child Welfare Act Regulation, 25 C.F.R. Part 23.
Indian Child Welfare Act, Legislative History, H.R. Rep. 95-1386, 95th Cong.2d Sess. 22, 1978 U.S. Code Cong. & Admin. News 7530.

Bureau of Indian Affairs Guidelines for State Courts: Indian Child Custody Proceedings, 44 Fed.Reg. 67584 (Nov. 26, 1979)
California Family Code
Section 7810 [Calif. declaration of policy, existing Indian family doctrine abrogated.]
California Welfare and Institutions Code
Section 305.5 [Transfer to Tribe after reassumption of exclusive jurisdiction.]
Section 360.6 [Calif. declaration of policy, existing Indian family doctrine abrogated.]
Section 11401(e) [AFDC-FC for Indian placements.]
Section 10553.1 [Director’s delegation agreement with Indian Tribe.]

Cal. Rules of Court
Rule 1410 – Persons present.
Rule 1412 (I) – Tribal representatives.
Rule 1439 – Indian Child Welfare Act.
Manual of Policies and Procedures, California Department of Social Services, §31-515 et seq – Indian Child Welfare Act.
Manual of Policies and Procedures, California Department of Social Services, §45-101; §45-202, §45-203. [Implementing section 11401(e).]
SDSS All County Letter No. 89-26, Procedures for Certifying Indian Blood for Children in Adoption Planning.
SDSS All County Letter No. 95-07, AFDC-FC Program Eligible Facility Requirements.
Appeal of William Stanek, 8 Indian L.Rep.5021 (April 1981)(decision of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.) [p. 3.]
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Original Meaning of the Indian Commerce Clause

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Apr 292010
 

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Contrary to the belief of those that want control over our children, the Indian Commerce Clause did not give Congress the right to enact a law giving those entities that control.

Professor Rob Natelson, Constitutional Law Professor at the University of Montana, Missoula, researched the issue in 2007. The results of his study were documented in a lead article published in vol 85 page 201 of Denver University Law Review (85 Denv. U. L. Rev. 201 (2007)

According to Professor Natelson, “the U.S. Constitution gives Congress only limited powers, and it says nothing about legislating for “Indian child welfare.”

So what gives Congress the power to pass a law like the ICWA?

Some say the Founding Fathers intended to give Congress that power by a section in the Constitution allowing Congress to “regulate Commerce with the Indian Tribes.” But is that true? Are laws like ICWA really constitutional as regulating “Commerce with the Indian Tribes?”

His answer: Absolutely not.

Professor Rob Natelson is one of the country’s top experts on the original meaning of the Constitution. He concluded that the purpose of the section giving power to Congress to regulate commerce with the Indian tribes was to allow Congress to regulate trade between Indians and whites – no more. Foster care, adoption, parental rights, etc. were be governed by state law, not federal law.

Professor Natelson documented his findings in a lead article published in Denver University Law Review. He also examined other claimed bases for laws like the ICWA, including the “Indian trust doctrine” – and he found they didn’t have any merit, either.

“There is not much doubt on the question,” he said. “At least according the Founding Fathers, Congress had absolutely no authority to adopt the ICWA. Eventually, the courts may see their error and strike it down as unconstitutional.”

This article – and some of Professor Natelson’s other research – can be found at www.umt.edu/law/faculty/natelson.htm

The Original Meaning of the Indian Commerce Clause – 85 Denv. U. L. Rev. 201 (2007)

The Legal Meaning of “Commerce” In the Commerce Clause – 80 St. John’s L. Rev. 789 (2006)
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Mother Wins Fight Against Tribe!!

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Jul 242009
 

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Court: Mother’s custody wishes trump those of tribe
Supreme Court rules agency can place child with non-American Indian family

By Cy Ryan (contact) Las Vegas Sun

Thursday, July 23, 2009 1:07 p.m.
Beyond the Sun

* Nevada Supreme Court

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled that a licensed adoption agency in Las Vegas can place an American Indian child with a family, despite the objections of the Cherokee Nation Tribe.

The court, in a unanimous decision, rejected the argument of the Cherokee Nation that the adoption procedures had to go through a tribal court instead of a state district court.

Deziray G., a 23-year-old registered citizen of the Cherokee Nation, gave birth to a son at Valley Hospital in Las Vegas on Jan. 10 2007. Two weeks later she relinquished her parental rights to a licensed adoption and child placement agency, A Child’s Dream of Nevada.

Deziray wanted her child placed with a non-American Indian family identified only as “Christine and John.”

District Judge Gerald Hardcastle signed the order relinquishing the rights of the mother.

The adoption agency also started action to terminate the parental rights of the apparent father, whose paternity was not established.

The Cherokee Nation, based in Oklahoma, filed suit in Reno asking to intervene in the case. During the two-year battle, the child has been with the family favored by the child’s mother.

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision Wednesday, ruled the wishes of the mother should be considered over a federal law that favors keeping Indian families together.

Federal law sets forth the cases where a tribal court has exclusive jurisdiction over child custody matters. The Supreme Court said the federal law is to protect American Indian children, families and tribes “from unnecessary and unwarranted separation.”

But the Supreme Court said Congress also intended to honor the desire of the parents of the child in adoption decisions.

In this case, Deziray, although a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, said she did not live on the Cherokee Nation reservation. And in her statement to the district court, she opposed any attempt to transfer jurisdiction in the case to the tribal court.

The Cherokee Nation argued that the child’s maternal grandmother was willing to be a foster parent.

The Supreme Court said there was good cause for the district court to deviate from the adoption framework in the federal law.

Although the case started in the district court in Las Vegas, it ended up in the court in Reno where District Judge Deborah Schumacher made the decision to back the wishes of the mother in the adoption dispute.
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Treaties that don’t Exist

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Jul 062009
 

From http://electriccityweblog.com/?p=4202#more-4202
June 30th, 2009 by Rob Natelson

“Government agencies and pressure groups campaigning for more taxpayer money can create a fictitious “history” almost overnight. First, they make some claim about how something has been recognized since (whenever), and before you know it, journalists are uncritically repeating it, and it is plastered all over the Internet.

“Recently I’ve seen a burst of allegations that the U.S. government assumed a treaty obligation in 1787 to provide reservation Indians with free health care. If you Google “health care treaty Indian 1787,” you will find a long list of sources – including supposedly objective news stories – making that assertion. Here’s a sample from Montana’s Lee newspapers: “A treaty dating to 1787 requires the government to provide tribal members living on reservations with free health care.”

“Now when presented with such a claim, a journalist’s crap-o-meter should start sounding like a fire alarm, because the claim is so inherently improbable. First, the reservation system as we know it didn’t exist in 1787. Second, the cash-strapped Confederation Congress would not have had the resources to meet such a commitment. (Remember that shortage of funds was one reason Congress called the constitutional convention.) Third, a treaty is a bilateral document – even if the Confederation Congress had committed itself to provide health care to the Delaware tribe, for example, it wouldn’t follow that the government had committed itself to provide health care to all Indians for all time.

“So I checked into the claim and found that — sure enough — it is flatly false. Here are some details:
* According to Charles Kappler’s authoritative collection of treaties between the U.S. Government and Native American tribes, there was no such treaty in 1787. In fact, 1787 was a year in which no U.S.-Indian treaties were signed at all!

* There were over 20 U.S.-Indian treaties before 1800, but none obligated the federal government to provide Indians with health care, free or otherwise.

* The last U.S.-Indian treaty was signed in 1868. Some of the later ones provided that the government would pay annuities to some Indians – but often even this term was left discretionary with the government. Neither my own search nor the Kappler index of all treaties disclosed any reference to a treaty obligation to provide free (or any) health care.

We can’t blame the myth wholly on activists and inattentive journalists, however — the U.S. Government bears some responsibility as well. The journalist who authored the story quoted above referred me to a PR webpage from the U.S. Indian Health Service. It states: “The provision of health services to members of federally-recognized tribes grew out of the special government-to-government relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes. This relationship, established in 1787, is based on Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, and has been given form and substance by numerous treaties, laws, Supreme Court decisions, and Executive Orders.”

Now, this statement certainly does not say that any treaties created an obligation to provide free health care. But it has problems of its own. It repeats the false 1787 date. And by stating that the Indian-federal “relationship” has been “given form and substance” by . . . treaties,” it implies that treaties created an obligation to provide health care, although they have not.

The website refers to Article I, Section 8, a part of the Constitution that creates congressional powers (not treaty obligations). Clause 3 of that section provides in part that “The Congress shall have Power . . . to regulate Commerce . . . with the Indian tribes.” It is true that Congress claims this “Indian Commerce Clause” gives it plenary authority to regulate Indian affairs. But as I have shown elsewhere, the only authority this provision actually granted to Congress was a power to regulate trade between tribes and non-Indians. It certainly did not confer authority to turn tribes into wards, to meddle in internal tribal affairs, or to put tribal members on the federal dole.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2009 at 1:56 pm and is filed under Blogging. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. “

Definition of Indian Child Welfare Act

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Jul 042009
 

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To all the Congressmen and State legislators that believe the Indian Child Welfare Act is a “no-brainer” good thing:

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is

1) Making it harder for families of heritage to choose to keep their children off the reservation.

2) Selling out my children and grandchildren to tribal government.

3) An anti-family, pro-government justification for the taking of children for the sole purpose of maintaining the power a select group has come to enjoy.

And no – my birth children have never been in subjected to any custody battle. However, the potential was there if my husband and I should pass away. Now, my husband has passed, and I’m all that’s left to keep them out of the hands of tribal government,

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Another Baby Dies.

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Jun 282009
 

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The house where 9-month-old Tila died on June 21, 2009, was filthy. There were no clean dishes, and alcohol bottles and cans were strewn throughout. Two other children, dirty diapers sagging, were removed from the home.

23-year old Lance Ballinger was taken into custody. He has been charged with two counts of felony domestic assault, four counts of neglect of a child, five counts of child endangerment and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in a criminal complaint filed in Mille Lacs County District Court on Thursday, June 25. These counts included the infant as well as two other kids who were at Ballinger’s house.

But he hasn’t been charged with murder yet. Mille Lacs Tribal Police Department is the lead agency investigating the death of the child.

Unbelievably, Ballinger was released from Mille Lacs County Jail just the day before Tila died – on Saturday, June 20. He had served 52 days for violating a domestic abuse/no contact order, driving under the influence and domestic assault.

Not even 24 hours later, at 5:45 a.m. on Sunday, June 21, Tila Friend-Ballinger was reported non-responsive.

Her mother, Kelly Friend, said she found the baby in Ballinger’s bed, with a bruise on her forehead, at around 5 a.m. Ballinger was passed out. Friend says that there was no bruise when she left her with Ballinger around midnight.

A preliminary breath test given to Ballinger at 8:01 a.m. gave a reading of .201.

Okay, so this dumb mother left her infant at midnight with a drunk who just got out of jail for having beat her in the past – a drunk who had a no-contact order in relation to her. The guy is scum – but so, it appears, might have been the slow-witted mother.

Apparently – this guy had assaulted Tila in November as well, when she was only 2-months-old. On November 5th, the baby was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center with head injuries.

Air-lifted with head injuries! And the mother went and dropped her off at this guy’s house as soon as he got out of jail!!

In fact, the mother had initially lied to the police about that – saying the baby had gotten hurt when another little girl had pulled her off the couch. Later she said she had dropped her daughter while trying to break up a fight between her brother and Ballinger. A third story, form Ballinger’s father, was that his son had dropped the baby during an argument with Friend.

I’m guessing the third story was probably the real one – and this dumb mother is too “love” struck – or sickeningly dependent- to protect her child from this guy! Instead, time and again she protects HIM against the world.

Anyway, Mille Lacs County Attorney’s Office DECLINED charges on March 10, 2009. They said they couldn’t press charges because “witnesses gave conflicting stories, and it was possible that the injuries were accidental.” They also said that not all of the witnesses could be found until this week.

Now, new charges have been filed on that case, because on Monday, June 22, Friend finally decided that it was time to tell “the whole story about what had happened” on Nov. 5. She said Ballinger was fighting with her brother and, while she was holding the baby, pushed her down. Then he grabbed Tila from her and dropped her again. Friend’s brother later confirmed that story. (I guess that must be the witness they couldn’t find earlier)

But if that wasn’t enough, in 2008 Friends had reported that while she was still pregnant, Ballinger had slugged her in the stomach and said ‘he would rather see it dead than her having it.’ And yet, she still hangs with the guy.

All of that, and yet there are people that write letters to the paper such as this one:

“WHY IS IT EVERY TIME A BAND MEMBER IS GOING THROUGH STUFF LIKE THIS THEY HAVE TO BE BASHED? I’VE KNOWN LANCE ALL HIS LIFE AND HE IS A GREAT FATHER TO HIS CHILDREN! HE DIDN’T DESERVE TO SIT IN JAIL ON THE DAY THEY BURIED HIS DAUGHTER, “YOU’S HAVE NO HEART”! WHAT SO EVER, CAN YOU IMAGION WHAT HE’S GOING THROUGH? COME ON PEOPLE QUIT LABELING OUR PEOPLE, YOUS DONT UINDERSTAND THE CREATORS REASON, AND NEITHER DO I. THIS WEIGHS ALOT ON OUR HEARTS THAT THINGS HAPPEN. THE MAN DON’T NEED YOUR INPUT RIGHT NOW, PUT YOURSELF IN HIS PLACE, I HAVE AND IT DON’T FEEL GOOD AT ALL. ALL I HAVE TO COMMENT ON HERE IS THE LOVE AND RESPECT I HAVE GOTTEN FROM LANCE AND KELLY SO PEOPLE PLEASE DONT CAUSE ANYMORE “GREIF“! ”
http://www.millelacsmessenger.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=31536:father-charged-with-assault-neglect&catid=34:current-news&Itemid=76
of contributing to the delinquency of a minor
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Here you have an opposite view of the guy –

“…look at losers myspace profile its not private he is seen drinking a good dad the baby has a joint in his mouth. Dont bring the creator into this he has nothing to do with it and dont kid your self if he was a good dd he wouldnt be in and out of jail; for bieng a drunk and beating kelly and where was kellys mom kids having kids geeez. sounds like an uncharged case of statutory rape . you need to quit defending criminals thats the problem on the rez you feel bvad for the people who screw everyone over screw lance where is justice for the baby? the guy was out for like 6 hours then he was drunk…”

It’s time Everyone woke up. What is happening in many communities is an epidemic of adults with FASD raising children with FASD, who then raise children with FASD.

Face the truth and do something about it.

The Indian Child Welfare Act is a crime – mandating that children are better off under these conditions than in safe, stable homes. One social worker told us that had my husband’s grandchildren been white or black, they would have been removed from their parents much earlier. But because they were of tribal heritage, they were left to suffer. It’s about time an attorney made a case against ICWA by demanding Equal Protection for these children.

“The mother reported that Ballinger hit her in the abdomen and said ‘he would rather see it dead than her having it.’ She said she believed he was attempting to harm the unborn child.”

Tribal officials that lobby in Wash. DC, telling congressmen that kids are better off suffering under these conditions rather then being placed in safe, loving homes (even if they are “non-tribal”) are also to blame, along with both parents.

The Indian Child Welfare Act and the phony mindset that goes with it is a crime. Tribal leaders are more interested in money per head than in the welfare of children.
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States Not Complying with ICWA – for Good Reason

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Jun 152009
 

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The Second Appellate Court in California issued a partially published opinion in Justin L. v. Superior Court, and stated in part;

“We are growing weary of appeals in which the only error is theDepartment’s
failure to comply with ICWA. (See In re I.G. (2005) 133Cal.App.4th 1246,
1254-1255 [14 published opinions in 2002 through 2005, and72 unpublished cases
statewide in 2005 alone reversing in whole or in part fornoncompliance with
ICWA].) Remand for the limited purpose of the ICWAcompliance is all too common.
(Ibid.) ICWA’s requirements are not new. Yetthe prevalence of inadequate notice
remains disturbingly high.”

Perhaps compliance is difficult because the law itself is unjust, and caring people don’t like to see children subjected to not only unjust, but dangerous law.

And under the single criterion that a home be ICWA eligable, kids are continually being placed into horrible situations with the blessing of both the federal and tribal governments.

And not just kids of tribal heritage – but children of every heritage, because a child doesn’t need to be 100% tribal to for a tribe to have jurisdiction over them through ICWA. Most tribes require only 1/4 blood quantum, meaning the child has an even greater heritage somewhere else. Some tribes require even less to claim a child. For example, a child in Texas has less than 2% tribal heritage, but the tribe is trying to claim him.

The law itself is a crime, and as long as it stays that way, there will be difficulty in getting compassionate people to comply.
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Two more families ask for help

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Jun 082009
 

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We recieved two more letters this last week asking for help.

One is from an aunt of an enrollable child. The other is a foster / pre-adoptive home. They both need lots of prayer and good legal advice.

I am still having trouble finding time to update our website with letters. I don’t think I’ve updated it in a year. But that doesn’t mean the letters have stopped coming. It just means I’m overwhelmed with the children in my home, and trying to provide for everyone.

The problems with ICWa continue to exist and are hurting children across the country.

I pray for time to update the many letters we’ve recieved.
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