Appointed to Congressional Commission on Native Children

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Jun 202018
 
Opening doors. Commission on Native Children

Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children

On Monday, May 21, 2018, Elizabeth Morris, Chairwoman of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, was appointed by Speaker Paul Ryan to the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children. We deeply appreciate and thank him for opening this door. It is an opportunity to communicate the experience and wisdom of a large demographic of persons of tribal heritage whose views are rarely surveyed or acknowledged.

The Commission has been tasked with conducting a comprehensive study of Federal, State, local, and tribal programs that serve Native children, including an evaluation of

(A) the impact of concurrent jurisdiction on child welfare systems;
(B) the barriers Indian tribes and Native Hawaiians face in applying, reporting on, and using existing public and private grant resources, including identification of any Federal cost-sharing requirements;
(C) the obstacles to nongovernmental financial support, such as from private foundations and corporate charities, for programs benefitting Native children;
(D) the issues relating to data collection, such as small sample sizes, large margins of error, or other issues related to the validity and statistical significance of data on Native children;
(E) the barriers to the development of sustainable, multidisciplinary programs designed to assist high-risk Native children and families of those high-risk Native children;
(F) cultural or socioeconomic challenges in communities of Native children;
(G) any examples of successful program models and use of best practices in programs that serve children and families;
(H) the barriers to interagency coordination on programs benefitting Native children; and
(I) the use of memoranda of agreement or interagency agreements to facilitate or improve agency coordination, including the effects of existing memoranda or interagency agreements on program service delivery and efficiency.

We appreciate your prayers for this commission and its work.

COMMISSION ON NATIVE CHILDREN’S DECEMBER 2019 PRESS RELEASE

NATIONAL COMMISSION ON NATIVE CHILDREN HOLDS FIRST OFFICIAL MEETING

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 27, 2019
CONTACT: Carlyle Begay, asbwsnc@gmail.com

The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children will conduct a comprehensive study of supports for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children

[Washington, D.C., November 2019] – The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children, established by Congress, held its first official meeting from October 30-November 1, 2019. The bipartisan Commission is the vision of former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who provided opening remarks along with Tara Sweeney, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Comprised of 11 individuals specializing in juvenile justice, social service programs, Indian education, and mental and physical health, the Commission will conduct a comprehensive study of the programs, grants, and supports available for Native children at government agencies and in Native communities. They will then have three years to issue a report containing recommendations to address the challenges currently facing Native children, with the goal of developing a sustainable system that delivers wraparound services to Native children.

Native children (including American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children) suffer from health and well-being challenges at a much higher rate than their non-Native peers, often experiencing trauma that impacts their ability to learn, thrive, and become resilient adults. Resources and supports for Native children are currently inappropriate, insufficient, or limited by bureaucracy so that they are ineffective. The Commission has a unique and historic opportunity to fundamentally change the trajectory of Native children for the better. In her opening remarks, Senator Murkowski said to the Commissioners, “The Commission can address education issues and childhood trauma in a more holistic way…Sometimes it doesn’t take a lot of money to give a child support, love, and care.” Former Senator Heitkamp added, “I want the Commission to give us hope that things can change and that we can do better. You are the ‘Hope Commission’…Collect and rely on data and research, and lead with your heart; it will take you where you need to go.”

The Commissioners are excited to take on this charge. Gloria O’Neill, Chair of the Commission and President/CEO of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council in Anchorage, Alaska, stated, “We are looking forward to moving the needle on positive outcomes for Native children. We have a great opportunity as there is great alignment in Congress and our partners in the federal government to get things done.”

Over the next couple of years, the Commission will be holding hearings in and reviewing documentation from tribal communities throughout the country to hear from Native children, their families, tribal leaders, and community members. The Commission will also
hear from respected researchers and experts as they consider their recommendations. The first public hearing of the Commission will be held in Arizona in March 2020.

The Commissioners of the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children are:

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

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

Carlyle Begay
Former State Senator
Arizona

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

Jesse Delmar
Director, Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety
Arizona

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

Don Atqaqsaq Gray
Board Member, Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation
Alaska

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

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

Melody Staebner
Fargo/West Fargo Indian Education Coordinator
North Dakota
###

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

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Apr 142017
 
child abuse

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

Please share this with your friends.

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

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

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

Thank you – and PLEASE Share….

Learn More.

https://DyingInIndianCountry.com

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

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

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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….

FIVE THINGS you can do to help fight ICWA.

 Comments Off on FIVE THINGS you can do to help fight ICWA.
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.

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.

 Comments Off on Not Just Lexi: ICWA Hurting Untold Children Across U.S.
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/

.

SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN – Endemic on Many of our U.S. Indian Reservations –

 Comments Off on SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN – Endemic on Many of our U.S. Indian Reservations –
Nov 162015
 
Spirit Lake Town Meeting, February , 2013

On Nov 22, 2013, Mr. Martin, below, senior aide to Senator Cantwell, made several disparaging remarks concerning ACF Regional Administrator, Thomas Sullivan.

In a rant, Mr. Martin said Mr. Sullivan no longer had his job, Mr. Sullivan lied about his mandated reports, and a hearing would prove the lie. Mr. Martin also accused me of “cherry picking” tragedies within Indian Country and said Spirit Lake is a story on its own.

However, THAT SAME DAY, I was forwarded the email at the bottom of this note. It is an email from ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan to his superiors. It is timed stamped just three hours after my meeting with Mr. Martin. When shown the letter, Mr. Martin apologized.

Despite Mr. Martin’s claim in his apology below, he did know who Mr. Sullivan was – as he interrupted me with an exclamation before I had even finished introducing Mr. Sullivan to the conversation. ie: I was in the middle of saying, “Tom Sullivan, Regional Director of the… ” when Mr. Martin cut me off with his initial disparaging statement.

At any rate – we do need to continue to share Mr. Sullivan’s letter with as many as possible. Most importantly, we need to share it with the new chair of the House Government Affairs committee – ie “Oversight committee” – The Honorable Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah.

Mr. Sullivan has repeatedly reported that the ACF, BIA, FBI and US attorney have not been doing their jobs at Spirit Lake and other reservations. They are allowing tragedy to occur despite the pleas of the people living there. We do need our government to investigate Mr. Sullivan’s claims and the claims of others on reservations across our nation. We want that hearing Mr. Martin suggested.

Yet – two years later, a thorough hearing has not happened and the problems remain – again swept under the rug.

We need friends from every state to contact their Congressional offices as well as their own State Senators and Representatives, and ask for an investigation of Mr. Sullivan’s horrific claims.


Further — IF YOU HAVE PERSONAL STORIES CONCERNING SEXUAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSE THAT HAS BEEN IGNORED BY FEDERAL AND TRIBAL OFFICIALS – PLEASE REPORT YOUR STORY TO –

Report.ToOGR@mail.house.gov

~ PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH YOUR FRIENDS.

———————————————–

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: “Elizabeth Morris”
Date: Nov 22, 2013 10:16 AM
Subject: Re: Mr. Tom Sullivan’s email concerning Spirit Lake
To: “Martin, Kenneth (Indian Affairs)”
Cc: “Thompson, Mariah (Indian Affairs)”

Thank you for your note, Mr. Martin. I appreciate it.I hope you will also concede at some point that we are not “cherry picking.” It is time to admit the depth of what is happening on many reservations. No more playing politics with the lives of a vulnerable community – let alone vulnerable children.

My sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews – at the very least – are worth much more than that, (if I can speak personally. It is after all, for personal reasons that my husband and I began this work in the first place.)

But I will not stop with just our extended family. Too many people have come asking for help.

We insist that the facts Mr. Sullivan and others have presented be acted upon.

Thank you again for your response.

—————

On Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 8:31 AM, Martin, Kenneth (Indian Affairs) wrote:
Ms. Morris,

Thank you for the email. I apologize as I must have misspoke, as I have no information on the issues surrounding Mr. Sullivan and did not intend to insinuate otherwise. Thank you for the opportunity to clarify.

Kenneth Martin

—————-

From: Elizabeth Morris [mailto:administrator@caicw.org]
Sent: Thursday, November 21, 2013 8:15 PM
To: Thompson, Mariah (Indian Affairs); Martin, Kenneth (Indian Affairs)
Subject: Mr. Tom Sullivan’s email concerning Spirit Lake
Ms. Thompson and Mr. Martin

Shortly after our conversation concerning Mr. Tom Sullivan of the ACF, I received this email. It appears to address some of the very issues we had discussed.

Mr. Martin, you had suggested that a hearing would prove Mr. Sullivan had lied. I wonder if it might come to that.

I would appreciate your comments concerning the below. Thanks –

—————————————-

Begin forwarded message:

From: “Sullivan, Thomas (ACF)”
Date: November 21, 2013 1:45:05 PM EST
To: “Mcmullen, Marrianne (ACF)”
Cc: “Chang, Joo Yeun (ACF)” , “McCauley, Mike (ACF)” , “Greenberg, Mark (ACF)”
Subject: Spirit Lake

Marrianne:

In the early evening of October 21, 2013, CNN broadcast a detailed and substantive report entitled “Sex Abuse Rampant on Indian Reservation” about the epidemic of child sexual abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation. That broadcast ran a little more than 6 months after former Acting Assistant Secretary Sheldon’s April 15, 2013 letter to me prohibiting me, in my official capacity as Denver Regional Administrator for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), from filing any more Mandated Reports about child sexual abuse at Spirit Lake. Since that policy applied only to me, I believed it was retaliatory and discriminatory.

Your refusal to announce this new policy with any of the other 1500 ACF employees across this country is a clear signal to me that I have been singled out for this retaliatory and discriminatory action which, because of your silence, continues to this very day.

Your continuing exclusion of me from any participation in efforts to address the problems at Spirit Lake is further evidence of retaliation and discrimination.

Mr. Sheldon’s letter to me was accompanied by letters to the BIA’s Ms. Settles and US Attorney Purdon. Unlike his letter to me, his letters to them were full of high praise for their efforts in addressing the epidemic of child sexual abuse at Spirit Lake..

Since I had no contact with Mr. Sheldon after October 11, 2012 and since at that time he had made clear his displeasure with my Mandated Reports, and since I had responded to that displeasure with extensive factual documentation of conditions at Spirit Lake, I was surprised by his letter to me. His unqualified endorsement of the efforts of Ms. Settles and Mr. Purdon was and still is shocking, lacking, as it did, any factual basis for the high praise heaped on them. This contrasted sharply with the factual detail provided in my Mandated Reports.

Believing that Mr. Sheldon must have had some factual basis for the position detailed in his letters to Ms. Settles and Mr. Purdon, I have asked twice for those facts. None have been provided. My emails have been ignored by both you and Mr. Sheldon. I can only presume there are no facts available to justify your position.

My sources have been complaining to Tribal, state and federal agency leadership for more than five years about conditions at Spirit Lake and the maltreatment of children there. Their complaints have been ignored and continue to be ignored. Their documentation unread and then shredded.

I have filed 13 Mandated Reports. All have been ignored or characterized as rumors or exaggerations by Tribal, state, BIA, DOJ as well as other federal agencies. Facts and truth mean little to those charged with defending both the status quo at Spirit Lake and themselves. More importantly the safety of abused American Indian children at Spirit Lake appears to have meant even less. As a result of their misleading puffery more than 100 children remain in the full time care and custody of sexual predators available to be raped daily.

On September 23, 2013, I sent an email to Mr. Sheldon concerning the situation with a young suicidal boy who had fled his foster home. You responded that “Marilyn Kennerson is working with the BIA and tribe to make sure all appropriate measures are being taken to assure this child’s safety.” My sources inform me that nothing has changed for this young boy.

Claims have been made that every allegation in my Mandated Reports have been investigated. Many of my sources say otherwise because they have not been interviewed by anyone in law enforcement. This claim becomes even harder to believe when the US Attorney for North Dakota has indicted, sought a plea deal or prosecuted only one case of child sexual abuse originating on the Spirit Lake Reservation in the last 25 months. I have been told by experienced child protection workers from Spirit Lake that in a typical year there are, on average, 50 cases of child sexual abuse reported, investigated, confirmed and referred for prosecution. Why has the US Attorney prosecuted only one case of child sexual abuse from Spirit Lake in the last 25 months, a case where the actual sexual abuse occurred between 2007 – 2009. Just learned the US Attorney for North Dakota has filed one more charge of child sexual abuse in the last few days, doubling his numbers for the prior 24 months.

Law enforcement at every level at Spirit Lake, including the FBI, BIA, Tribal police and the US Attorney have allowed the Tribal Council to determine which criminal activities will be investigated and prosecuted. For confirmation of this fact please review the last page of the Spirit Lake Tribal Council Meeting Minutes for September 27, 2013, attached for your convenience.

The apparent unwillingness of government at any level to protect the children at Spirit Lake from abuse creates the impression there is a large, unannounced experiment being conducted at Spirit Lake to determine what harm, if any, would be done to abused children who are returned to the care of either their abusive biological parents or abusive foster parents before these parents have completed their court-ordered rehabilitation therapy. But in order for such an experiment to be conducted there would have to be a rigorous research design, with control groups, opportunities for informed consent and extensive data collection. No such safeguards are apparent but children continue to be placed with abusive adults. How strange, all we have is abused children being returned to abusive parents with none of the other elements required for a legitimate research project. Why is such experimentation on these children being tolerated?

Certainly, no one can claim the hypothesis that abused children can be returned to their abusive homes without harm to those children has been proven. Who is responsible for attempting to prove it at Spirit Lake?

A perfect example of this experimentation and the Tribal Council’s control of criminal investigation and prosecution at Spirit Lake is the Tribal Court order from 5 – 6 months ago returning to a biological mother her children even though she has been charged with and convicted in Tribal Court of sexual abuse of her children – she was discovered by police in bed having sex with a male friend while all her children, one of them totally naked, were in the same bed.

The biological mom lives with her children’s grandfather. The children were recently evaluated at the Red River Advocacy Center (RRAC) and it was determined that two of the girls, ages 6 and 7, were being sexually abused by that very same grandfather. The recommendation of the RRAC was that these children were “not to be left alone with the grandfather”. There is a young teenage son in this family who attempted suicide three times before his 14th birthday. The grandfather who has never been charged or prosecuted for his criminal sexual assaults on his granddaughters is the uncle of a Tribal Council member. There is no indication that anyone from law enforcement has launched an investigation of the grandfather’s alleged sexual abuse. It is likely that Council Member would oppose any Council Motion to refer this situation for criminal investigation of his uncle.

The father of these children has petitioned Tribal Court to assume custody. I understand his petitions have been routinely dismissed even though he is ready, able and willing to assume responsibility for his children, caring for them in a safe home. The mother of these children is an enrolled Tribal member. Their father is not.

Conducting an assessment at this point after more than five years of complaints from my sources and after my 13 Mandated Reports seems to simply delay the desperately needed corrective action to get those 100 children to safety. As one of my sources recently wrote, “…when will the government realize we are serious about this….kids are being raped and nobody in law enforcement gives a damn”.

Natalie Stites, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and former Project Coordinator in the Attorney General’s office on the Rosebud Reservation writing in LastRealIndians.com in December, 2011 speaks words that need to be considered here, “There are thousands of Lakota, Dakota and Nakota children experiencing abuse and neglect….. Over a third of women raped today were sexually assaulted as children. Sadly all too often abused and neglected children become perpetrators themselves as adolescents and as adults……..There are many complex reasons for the conditions facing the children today: lack of compassion, colonization, epigenetics, grief, violence, the feminization of poverty, the school-to-prison pipeline, organized sexual abuse, unemployment, mental illness, addiction, racism, cultural oppression. These are the roots of our current situation…………….

However, try explaining this to the 5 year old boy who hasn’t eaten a meal in two days, or a beaten 8 year old girl caring for an infant and a toddler like she’s the parent, or a 15 year old youth who faces and eventually joins his addicted parents and the drunken strangers they bring home to party every night. Try explaining to these children why family members, social workers, policy makers, police, courts, schools, health care providers cannot protect them, even after their own parents fail them, or abandon them, or hurt them. Who takes responsibility for this? We must.”

When will we take responsibility?

After your assessment? How long will that take?

How many more months will the Tribe allow this experimentation with their children to continue?

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Thomas F. Sullivan
Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver

———————————————-

From: Mcmullen, Marrianne (ACF)
Sent: Friday, November 01, 2013 6:22 AM
To: Sullivan, Thomas (ACF)
Cc: Chang, Joo Yeun (ACF/ACYF) (ACF); McCauley, Mike (ACF)
Subject: Spirit Lake
Good morning Tom: Attached and below is a memo about ACF’s work on Spirit Lake moving forward.

Tom, as a courtesy based on your expressed interest in matters at Spirit Lake, I wanted to let you know that Children’s Bureau has been actively working with the Spirit Lake tribe on improving their child protection services.

Currently, the National Resource Center for Child Protective Services, funded by CB, is conducting an assessment of Spirit Lake social services. As you may know, numerous assessments have been started over the past 18 months, but leadership changes have stalled and ultimately stopped these processes. Now, however, the new Tribal chair and the new social services director are moving forward with the assessment. Once this assessment is complete, it will provide a roadmap for the policies, practices, procedures and staffing levels that the Tribe needs to establish a successful agency. The Children’s Bureau will work hand-in-hand with the Tribe to follow that map and to ensure that all available resources are brought to bear for the Tribe to be successful in better protecting its children.

I want to be clear with you that the Children’s Bureau is leading this effort for ACF and will manage work with both the Tribal leadership and the Tribal social services staff moving forward. The Children’s Bureau will also be the principal liaison with the state of North Dakota, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Dept. of Justice to address child protective issues at Spirit Lake.

As the Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary, the Children’s Bureau, and the Administration for Native Americans have worked to address concerns at Spirit Lake over the past year, it has become clear that Region 8 IORA involvement has damaged some of the most critical relationships needed for achieving progress for the children and families of Spirit Lake. It is our full intention to rebuild these relationships and move forward in a collegial and productive direction.

Tom, I know you share ACF’s goal of establishing a strong social service system at Spirit Lake that can act quickly and effectively to protect children who may be in danger. It is my expectation that you will refer all future inquiries to the Department concerning Spirit Lake to the Children’s Bureau and respect the Bureau’s role in leading and coordinating the Department’s efforts to achieve the goal of protecting Spirit Lake’s children.

————————————————————

### END FORWARDED MESSAGE

————————————————————

Received a couple days later from a friend – an attorney who has worked quite a bit with Indian law –

Lisa: Thanks for keeping me informed. I read your previous email a few mornings ago and it has been on my mind. In short, I will say that your good heart and good faith, I fear, have blinded you to the fact–I believe it is a fact–that in general not a single institution or person that works with them involved in federal Indian Affairs will ultimately decide to place the interests of individuals above that of Tribes.

And that is what allows so many wrongs, including to innocent children, Indian children, to continue unabated–unacknowledged and unaddressed. That and the personal self-interest of each and every one employed by the system that supports and implements federal Indian policy, from Congress on down.

There is nothing wrong with self-interest. We all have it. But when it combines with an institutionalized policy like federal Indian policy that so powerfully supports one group goal–tribal sovereignty–above all else, this serves to allow and even justify in some people’s eyes the submergence of the individual, their rights, their property, their lives, even their children.

The well-being, even the existence, of these, is sacrificed to the twin powers of federal Indian policy support for the preservation and expansion of tribal sovereignty and the self-interest of those involved.

It is difficult and tragic. In my opinion – and while you know I have worked with the law of this a long time, you should recall I have not worked in the trenches, with the individuals on the personal basis you have – the only way to make real change is through the courts recognizing the full individual worth and rights, most importantly federal constitutional rights, of each and every person in the U.S. in contact with tribal power; and that those rights, and the federal constitution, therefore, provide the limit of such tribal power beyond which it cannot go.

Without that, I think the institutions of federal Indian policy, and the individuals within them, will not help you and your allies accomplish the noble goals you have for Indian children.

====================

My response –

Elizabeth Morris
1:04 PM (14 minutes ago)

Thanks for your note. I appreciate your honesty.
I appreciate it as a confirmation of what we had suspected. It is such a hard thing to fathom. So impossible to absorb and accept – that even our FBI and our US Attorney won’t stand up against the atrocities being committed.

However – I can’t let it – even though true – stop our efforts to bring it down.

If nothing else – the knowledge that it is indeed, true, only strengthens my resolve. I can’t let the bad guys – the bullies – win. I just can’t.

I do want to continue working through the courts. I was encouraged by Justice Thomas’ concurrence in the June case. I haven’t given up on that avenue.

But I can’t stand down in this effort, either.
Thanks for your honesty – and thank you for being a good friend.

Lisa

~ ~ What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Elizabeth Sharon (Lisa) Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)
PO Box 253
Hillsboro, ND 58045
administrator@caicw.org
https://caicw.org

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CAICW ( @CAICW )
Facebook:

Aug 272015
 

There was a comment on this site last night that most people couldn’t see.

As our followers know, I had banned certain words and names from this site long ago – and we avoid using any child’s real name or location unless the family has chosen to publicly use their names and places. The writer last night tried to use one of the names, thus the site hid her comment.

I pondered whether to open it up for view, as it illustrated the continuing hate and twisting of fact coming from those who demand complete control over our children. I wondered if it might be good for new people to see. What continues to amaze me is the disregard so many have for the rights of children and families to choose not to be involved with tribal governments.

It goes over the writer’s head that tribal members themselves are filing lawsuits against ICWA because they do not want tribal government interfering in their families.

The writer cannot seem to see or accept the rights of individuals and families. Disturbing, as that was the same mindset in 1930’s Germany, where it was honestly believed government had the absolute right to decide all matters for individuals and families – including whether they can marry a person of a different race. That government also claimed ownership over children – as is common in a tyranny. They saw children as government property – the lifeblood of the nation.

Yes… I will make that comparison. I make that comparison because our children are being treated as less than human in matters of law. On the basis of even small amounts of heritage, our children are not allowed protection equal to that of children who have no tribal heritage.

The lack of protection is not because they are not citizens under the law. Under the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, tribal members are fully United States citizens. Further, it is currently argued that even non-citizens of our country have rights under the United States constitution. Whether or not that is true, it is argued that every human, no matter what their citizenship, deserves equal protection in the United States.

But the fact is, individuals of tribal heritage are not currently afforded equal protection. Local, State and Federal officials continually refrain from ‘interfering’ with tribal government when it comes to our children, and activists for non-citizens do not speak up for the equal protection of our children.

Why? Why do our children not deserve equal protection? Why are our children less important than children – citizens and non-citizens – who have no tribal heritage?

The police went in to Indian Country in 2013 to retrieve one child who had media attention, but won’t go in and rescue two little girls kidnapped from their birth fathers by members of the Cheyenne River Reservation in 2014 – two little girls who haven’t gotten any real media attention.

You won’t hear any of the people who are obsessed with the one little girl and her father stand up for the two little girls and their two fathers – because it goes against the authority of tribal government, which is apparently what these people are truly most concerned with. Our children are being treated as less than human in matters of law and protection. Their ‘best interest’ is irrelevant if in conflict with the wishes of tribal leadership.

I make the comparison with 1930’s Germany because of three children who were handed to a woman at Cheyenne River, who was known to be extremely abusive, but wanted them because of the river money that came out last year. ICWA was used to do this. After many subsequent reports were made of her abusing those kids, they went missing. Their maternal family is still striving to get them back. Our children are being treated as less than human in matters of law and protection.

I make the comparison because of the number of children known to have been taken from safe foster homes – only to die when placed back into situations known to be abusive. A three-year-old at Spirit Lake died within the month of her removal from a safe home, an 18-mo-old at Standing Rock died within a month, a little boy at Cheyenne River died – and the list goes on. Our children are being treated as less than human in matters of law and protection.

I make that comparison because of the Spirit Lake tribal policeman who called to tell us what was really happening – that it was more important to protect tribal sovereignty than it is to protect children, and that is why so many things are hidden and swept under the rug. He provided us with taped conversations between himself and tribal social services. Our children are being treated as less than human in matters of law and protection.

I make that comparison for the young girl in Arizona – now a woman – who was forced against her will by ICWA to return to the mother who had broken her nose before she was five months old – only to suffer more physical abuse until she was able to finally get away again. She now refuses to have anything to do with the reservation. Our children are being treated as less than human in matters of law and protection.

I make that comparison for the young girl at Leech Lake – now a young woman – who tried to run away from her uncle who was raping her every night – walking in the ditches on a rainy night to avoid being seen by tribal police – only to be found and sent back due to ICWA. She eventually tried to hang herself. Our children are being treated as less than human in matters of law and protection.

I make the comparison due to the number of stories we get of severe but ignored sexual and physical abuse that many kids are going through.
I make the comparison because of the number of non-tribal members who are told they have no right to their own children – and who don’t have the money to find a good attorney to help them. They are simply ignored by local, state and federal officials who claim they can’t do anything about it. Our children are being treated as less than human in matters of law and protection.

Bottom line – Congress has decided our children are not as important as tribal sovereignty. What I have mentioned here is just the tip of the iceberg.

Many from the Cherokee Nation call us hateful for reporting all this. They think that because they don’t see it so much in their area of the world, it isn’t factually happening on many real reservations. If they are aware of what is really happening, they apparently won’t admit it. Protection of ‘tribal sovereignty’ is all that really matters.

The obsessive pathology concerning one particular child – who is factually doing very well with her adoptive parents – and the continuing push for complete control over our children against all evidence of the harm ICWA is causing – is not only disturbing, but extremely frightening.

This is not a game. We need our Congressmen to wake up, stand against the BIA on this issue, and factually protect our children.

Our children are human. They are American citizens – with the unquestionable right to equal protection under the United States Constitution.

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

Spirit Lake Child Abuse: Feb. 11 Letter from Sullivan to McMullen

 Comments Off on Spirit Lake Child Abuse: Feb. 11 Letter from Sullivan to McMullen
Feb 112014
 
Lauryn Whiteshield, July 19, 2010 - June 13, 2013

Tom Sullivan’s response to offensive, child-endangering letter by his Washington DC superior, Ms. Marrianne McMullen

February 11, 2014

Ms. McMullen:

Thank you for sending me a copy of your response to Spirit Lake Chairman McDonald’s letter to me dated January 26, 2014. Tom Sullivan - Regional Administrator ACF

Your email is heavy on conclusions but light on any rationale to support those conclusions.

1. You wrote, “ACF does not have the authority or expertise to conduct investigations of suspected child abuse, and thus Tom Sullivan will not undertake such an investigation at Spirit Lake.”

The latest version of the Administration for Children and Families 2014 Strategic Plan overcomes the “authority” issue you raise. Mr. Murray, in your presence, characterized this Plan version as just about final and did not think we would get far trying to revise it during the conference call with all the Regional Administrators earlier on the afternoon of February 5, 2014. The very same day you responded to the Chairman’s letter. The 2014 Plan states in its Introduction, “we seek to support national, state, tribal and local efforts to strengthen families and communities and promote opportunity and economic mobility.”

Later in that same section the 2014 Plan states, “we seek to advance a set of key goals” followed by a listing which includes, “Promote Safety and Well-being of Children, Youth and Families;” It is difficult for me to understand how we can do any of this if we are unwilling to address and seek to stop the mental, physical and sexual abuse of children, especially when we are being informed on a daily basis about such abuse.

You have from our first meeting sought to defame me, belittling my education, experience and skills. After more than 45 years of broad-based, senior work in the design, development, management and evaluation of health and human service programs at the highest levels in both the public and private sectors all across this country. I have an established reputation for both accomplishment and integrity that will be minimally influenced by your sniping.

I will let the testimony of those who have had an opportunity to observe my work all across this Region, especially in Indian Country, and who have taken the time to speak with me about my concerns for abused children and the lifetime burden they bear due to their abuse address the issue of my expertise in these matters. On March 12, 2013, Ms. Diane Garreau, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Tribe’s ICWA Director and Founding Board Member of the ICWA Directors of the Great Sioux Nation, representing the nine South Dakota federally recognized tribes, called me and said, “I need to get someone who can speak as an expert on child abuse and neglect of American Indian kids at our Summit in a couple of months. You are the most knowledgeable person about this stuff who I know. But I also know that you have a big gag stuck in your mouth by your Agency’s leadership when it comes to speaking about this stuff. So, who would you recommend, if I cannot get you?”

Page 1

Ms. Suzanna Tiapula is an attorney and long-time Executive Director of the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse (NCPCA) who said on November 6, 2013, “I am really disappointed you have been denied permission to participate as faculty in our upcoming train the trainer course in Santa Fe, NM. We will not be as effective as we hoped because our best, you, will not be there.” This program,
as you know, was specifically focused on the development of a cadre of trained individuals from Indian Country who could go back to their homes and begin to address more effectively the epidemic of child abuse raging in their communities. This epidemic of child abuse has grown to its current size because our bureaucratic predecessors chose to ignore it.

This Santa Fe training was one of 11 three-day sessions which NCPCA had agreed to provide in Indian Country for essentially the same purpose all across this country as a result of my work with them. These sessions were provided at no cost to program participants, ACF or DHHS.

It has been clear to me that you have never wanted to admit that I had any expertise. You hoped that view would go unchallenged if you never allowed me to venture into the real world where children are being abused daily, available to be raped daily. Is that why you prevented me from making six trips last year, all into Indian Country and all dealing with these issues? Your actions facilitated the libel and slander of my sources and I by the criminally corrupt.

2. You also wrote, “Currently, the BIA is managing the investigations of incidents of suspected abuse at Spirit Lake and has referred some incidents to the Federal Bureau of Investigation”

My sources began reporting their concerns about Spirit Lake children more than seven years ago to the state, the BIA, FBI and US Attorney. Their reports were ignored. The documentation they provided went unread and then was shredded.

Is there something new to suggest these organizations will be any more responsive now? It seems clear to me that all law enforcement at Spirit Lake is engaged in the same do-nothing approach to their work as evidenced by the following five examples.

When a non-custodial father reported the suspected (she told him she was being sexually molested by a Level 3 offender living in her home) molestation of his 13 year old daughter to Tribal Social Services, Tribal Council and the BIA, the best any of them could do was to promise that the BIA would attempt to begin an investigation in 30 days. That was 60 days ago. It is not clear, after 60 days, that any investigation has even begun.

There have been three rapes of young ladies on the Reservation during the last three months. BIA law enforcement was notified in each case. In each case the young woman said she wanted to press charges against her rapist. This will be difficult because no victim statement was taken in any of these three cases.
There was no rape kit prepared in any of these three cases. No pictures of the bruises on the bodies of each of these women were taken. The FBI has, I understand refused to intervene and take responsibility for these three felonies. Each of these women is an enrolled Tribal member as are their rapists, The rapes occurred within the geographic confines of the reservation.

In the last 8 months there has been one serious beating of a young nurse who lives on the Reservation, allegedly by two female relatives of the former Tribal Chair. This victim too wants this case prosecuted and her attackers sent to prison. She has given the FBI and BIA law enforcement a statement describing her attack and providing the names of her attackers, pictures of the bodily damages she suffered and the names of several eyewitnesses to this attack. Nothing is apparently being done by anyone in the BIA or FBI to bring indictments in this matter. Both the victim and her alleged assailants are enrolled Tribal

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members. The assault took place within the geographic confines of the reservation.

The BIA knew the placement of those almost three year old twins in the home of their grandfather and step-grandmother in early May, 2013, was placing them in grave danger. This was proven less than 30 days later, on June 13, 2013, when one of the twins turns up dead, murdered by her step-grandmother. Despite knowing their own biological children had been removed from their care and custody, that they both had been charged with and convicted of child abuse of their own children, the BIA authorized the placement of these children in their full-time, unsupervised care and custody.

The BIA has apparently done nothing to insure the safety of that suicidal little boy who I brought to your attention on September 23, 2013. You assured me at that time that “Marilyn Kennerson with the Children’s Bureau is working with the BIA and the tribe to make sure that all appropriate measures are taken to assure the child’s safety.” Subsequent events made clear your words were hollow, The BIA has
also apparently done nothing for the two sisters who are placed in a foster home where “discipline” is administered by stripping these girls to their panties, duct-taping their hands in front of them and forcing them to sit on a stool in an uninsulated attic for hours at a time. The same can be said for the 13 year old
girl who told her Dad that she was being sexually molested by a Level Three sex offender. I gave Ms. Kennerson the names of these children as well as other relevant information about their placement more than three weeks ago during a meeting with her. It is hard to see how anything could have been done for these children if those who were supposed to be providing that help did not even know their names.

A few weeks after that meeting with Ms. Kennerson I requested an update on the condition of these children from her and have received nothing. It seems that if you have done nothing to protect children in these circumstances, the best strategy is to remain mute.

Tolerating such ineptitude from the BIA, FBI and other law enforcement especially when it results in a multi-generational failure to prosecute is troubling in light of a joint statement published on February 6, 2014 in the White House Blog by Lynn Rosenthal, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, Jodi Gillette, Senior Advisor for Native American Affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council and Raina Thiele, Associate Director White House Office of Governmental Affairs where
they wrote, “Improving the safety of our tribal communities is a priority of President Obama and his Administration….These important provisions remind us all that a victim is a victim, and that everyone is entitled to protection against any perpetrator.”

Attorney General Eric Holder in an article by Sari Horowitz entitled “New Law Offers Protection to Abused Native American Women” in the February 9, 2014 issue of the Washington Post is quoted as saying, “The numbers are staggering…It’s deplorable. …this is an issue that we have to deal with. I am simply not going to accept the fact it is acceptable for women to be abused at the rates they are being abused on native lands.”

If there is so much high level support for the thesis that all crime victims in Indian Country should be protected by aggressive prosecution of their assailants, why is so little occurring in Indian Country communities like Ft. Totten and St. Michael?

3. You also wrote, “The role of the Immediate Office of the Regional Administrator (IORA) is to provide leadership for ACF’s cross-cutting initiatives, emergency preparedness and response and administrative and communications support for ACF.”

On a conference call on February 5, 2014, just a few hours before you sent the response to Chairman McDonald you effectively endorsed the following language as part of or as an adjunct to the 2014 ACF

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Strategic Plan. Your endorsement was understandable since you wrote out the listing of the five functions of every IORA. That page and one-half started with: “Regional Administrators represent the ACF Assistant Secretary in the region, providing leadership, cross-program strategy and coalition building on the regional, state and local levels across government and advocacy centers. As a team they and their staff fill five distinct functions;”

“Function 1: Regional ACF Leadership
Regional Administrators maintain high-level relationships with state, tribal, territory and local government partners as well as university, philanthropic and other community partners and alert the Immediate Office of the Assistant Secretary if there are issues of concern in the states. They are the point of contact for State Commissioners/Secretaries, Governor offices; state Congressional and Legislative representatives. They represent ACF in regional, Federal Executive Boards, are ACF’s representative with the Regional Director’s office, other Federal Agency leadership, and they provide office based leadership through State Team coordination and coordination of other ACF-wide activities.”

“Function 2: Initiative Leadership
IORA lead high priority, cross-cutting program initiatives such as the Affordable Care Act, Hispanic outreach, efforts to combat human trafficking and homelessness and a number of other cross-program initiatives that do not belong to any single ACF program……..”

It is difficult to reconcile your description of the limited functions of a Regional Administrator in your letter to Chairman McDonald with your description of far more expansive functions discussed during that conference call and outlined in that page and one-half that you composed.

I recall when you stormed out of my conference room on the morning of Friday, June 14, 2013 abruptly breaking off a conversation about how best to address the issues I had been raising at Spirit Lake. You were clearly dis-satisfied with my response to the effect that such an effort would not be easy but was doable, would require the active participation of a broad coalition of Tribal, state, federal and local
organizations to begin to effectively address these issues and was consistent with the kind of efforts I had lead in the past. At a minimum I told you that every one of ACF program components had to be involved, not just Child Welfare, and that we had to partner with the Indian Health Service, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, Departments of Justice, Interior, Education, Labor, HUD and the Small Business Administration. These agencies and departments represented only the federal; side of the collaboration which would be necessary.

You had a far more negative perspective, apparently frustrated in your efforts to convince me that the problems were unsolvable and were quite displeased to hear my positive recommendations on how to proceed.

4. You also wrote, “We understand that reporting of alleged abuse through non-official channels has contributed to unnecessary confusion and delay. We will continue to encourage official reporting through appropriate channels in order to ensure timely and professional investigations to protect the children of Spirit Lake.”

Since I have been the only person, other than my sources, who has been reporting suspected child abuse at Spirit Lake, I can only assume this is a not so subtle swipe at me.

Before I filed a single Mandated Report I asked our Regional Counsel where I should file them. He responded that they should be filed with the US Attorney for the District where I suspected child abuse was occurring. I did.

Page 4

All of my Thirteen Mandated Reports and supporting documentation were filed directly with the US Attorney for the District of North Dakota and with the individual the US Attorney identified for me at BIA. When Acting Assistant Secretary Sheldon prohibited me from filing those Mandated Reports, I had no choice but to file information I received from my sources with him or his designee. That is exactly what I have done. I have no control over what you do with them.

It is clear based on the case of the suicidal boy who I brought to your attention on September 23, 2013, that some, if not all, of those reports were never forwarded to anyone despite your assurances that the boy’s safety was assured due to the efforts of the BIA, the Tribe and the Children’s Bureau’s Ms. Kennerson. The fact that Ms. Kennerson had to ask me for the child’s identity three weeks ago, four months after my email from you on September 23, 2013, convinced me that your words were hollow, that you had done nothing to protect this child from self-injury or abuse at the hands of his abusive foster parents. You did not even know who this child was and neither you, nor BIA, nor the Children’s Bureau nor Ms. Kennerson did anything to determine his identity. What callous dis-regard for the safety of this suicidal little boy!

I will leave it for the citizens of Spirit Lake to inform you how ineffective it is to attempt to use the telephone numbers or resources you have identified in your letter. They can describe the number of hours, days, months, and years they have spent waiting for police to respond to a call, to answer a call so they may report a crime or for the return of indictments in especially vicious crimes.

I am attaching with this email a brief, three page write-up of a graduate of the Spirit Lake foster home system. It is entitled, “My Story”. Read it and understand the despair this now strong, resilient young woman felt as her reports of abuse, rape and neglect were ignored by those who were running the system then, when she was 5, 6 and 7 years of age. She went into the system between the ages of 4 and 5. She left it at 18. Now she is in her early 20s, an alcoholic with three children of her own and two step-sons. If she is able to achieve some level of normalcy in her life, it will be a remarkable achievement. If she can keep herself and her kids on the straight and narrow, avoiding having to put her kids into the care of
others, exposing them to the abuse she lived with as a child, she will be a great success. She recognizes the pitfalls she confronts on a daily basis and works harder than any of us to avoid them. The inter- generational abuse fostered by the corrupt criminals who must be removed cannot be allowed to continue. If it does, what this young lady has written will continue to be repeated many times over.

In one home where she was placed for several years, she was raped daily. No social worker looked in to check on her welfare during those years. What were those federal staff from BIA doing while this child was being raped daily? What kind of oversight did ACF’s Children’s Bureau provide? What kind of supervision did the state provide? Why did all of these adults allow this child to be raped daily?

If this or any other young woman slips up and has their children removed from their custody temporarily, why can’t they count on their kids being placed in a loving foster home where they will not be abused or neglected?

Thomas F. Sullivan

Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver

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Letter to McMullen 021114.docx

Omnibus Bill Mandates BIA answer to Congress about Child Abuse

 Comments Off on Omnibus Bill Mandates BIA answer to Congress about Child Abuse
Jan 222014
 

THANK YOU, BETTY JO KRENZ & TOM SULLIVAN –

The omnibus bill that was just recently passed and signed by Obama includes language mandating the BIA to “report to the House and Senate Committees of jurisdiction on the progress of its efforts and the adequacy of child placement and judicial review by the tribe and the Bureau. The Secretary [of Interior?] is expected to take all necessary steps to ensure that children at the Spirit Lake Reservation are placed in safe and secure homes.”

Thanks to Betty Jo Krenz, Tom Sullivan, and the others they’ve worked with for having gotten this ship launched. Without them, the atrocities at Spirit Lake would be still just as hidden and ignored as they are on most other reservations.

We are VERY grateful for this omnibus language – but also recognize that it is two sentences in a 286 page appropriations bill. It is our job now to press in and monitor the process, ensuring that these two sentences don’t just fall by the wayside or that mere fluff is offered up and called, “enough.”

We need to encourage our varied friends and relatives to call their respective Congressmen and remind them not only how important is it to protect these kids – but how these issues are much wider spread than just Spirit Lake.

I am working on the newsletter and the blog. I am slow – but we are going to do this. 2014 is going to be a GREAT year for human rights in Indian Country. Thank you for all of you who have been so steadfast in praying the work through!

Sep 092013
 
Sweet Girl Don't Die
Baptism in Leech Lake, 2007

Baptism in Leech Lake, 2007

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

There is much benefit in enjoying ones heritage and culture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Roland Preaching a Sermon in Juarez, Mexico

Roland Preaching a Sermon in Juarez, Mexico

 

 

Aug 222013
 
Suffer the Children. Sexual Abuse of kids on the Spirit Lake Reservation

In June, 3-year old Laurynn and her twin sister were thrown down an embankment, then kicked in the head while their care-giver stood aside, smoked a cigarette and watched.  Laurynn isn’t the first child to be murdered at Spirit Lake in the last two years. Several have been killed. Other children are being physically and sexually abused as you read this.

Yet federal and state bureaucrats continue to act as it this is a non-issue. Despite numerous pleas for help, the BIA, FBI and U.S. Attorney feign assistance while the abuse continues. When an official actually WANTS to do something to help, like the man below, permission is refused…

IMMEDIATE ACTION: NORTH DAKOTA BUREAUCRAT AND DC SHUT DOWN EFFORT TO HELP SPIRIT LAKE KIDS –“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`

A gov’t official who has CARED about the deaths at Spirit Lake and sent documented report to DC calling for change has been DENIED permission to participate in a fact-finding meeting this week in ND. Please read the bureaucratic garbage he was sent in the letter below.

Further – while Rep. Kevin Cramer was willing to participate in the meeting and Senator Hoeven’s office was sending a rep, Senator Heitlkamp was not sending anyone – and Scott J. Davis, Commissioner, ND Indian Affairs, said he wasn’t going to show unless Senator Hoeven and Heitkamp were there as well! WHY are our state & federal gov’ts NOT addressing the severe abuse occurring on many reservations? Why does DC continue to set up roadblocks. We will NOT stand by and allow this to continue. Below is the letter in full.

It bloviates that a meeting is possible – but whether or not anyone makes any real effort to gather “leaders from multiple ACF offices – when it has been so clear that the DC office has ignored every single report that Mr. Sullivan has sent – is another question. Mr. Sullivan holds a non-refundable plane ticket to Bismarck this next week.

PLEASE CALL ASAP: Please ask these people to allow Tom Sullivan to travel to Bismarck next week to get documentation about the child abuse at Spirit Lake!

George Sheldon: Acting Director of ACF ~ 202-401-5383
MaryAnn: Travel Clerk – 202-401-9216

PLEASE insist that he be allowed to listen to the average people who want to speak to him, that Heitkamp’s office do their job and listen – and that the ND official get off his lazy butt and participate…

A couple more officials below as well….

From: Murray, James (ACF)
Sent: Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:11 AM
To: Sullivan, Thomas (ACF); Delgado, Carol (ACF); Rogers, Thomas (ACF); Ross, Sharon (ACF)
Subject: RE: Itinerary for THOMAS FRANCIS SULLIVAN on 8/27/13 to Bismarck (IGTOZC)

Tom,

Thanks for your patience. ACF’s response to the concerns at the Spirit Lake Nation will have to be generated through a collaborative effort by leaders from multiple ACF offices. Representatives from those offices will have to be included along with you in meetings like the one proposed below, to maximize ACF’s response. Your leadership will be critical in the work of the larger ACF group to address the issues. That being said, I have to deny the travel request at this time. We can revisit the topic once ACF has a chance to mobilize the larger leadership group to begin moving things forward. Let me know if you’d like to discuss it further and I can set up a conference call for tomorrow or early next week.

Sincerely,

James Murray || Acting Director || HHS/ACF/ORO || Desk: (202) 401-4881 || BlackBerry: (202) 253-0217 || Fax: (202) 401-3449 || Email: james.murray@acf.hhs.gov

LETTER RE: Scott Davis:

> From: “Sullivan, Thomas (ACF)
> Date: August 22, 2013, 7:57:01 AM CDT
> To: “Davis, Scott J.” <sjdavis@nd.gov>
> Subject: RE: meeting
>
> Scott:
>
> Thank you for your email.
>
> It seems that both your tone and attitude have changed dramatically in the last 24 hours. It is almost like you have been told to cancel our meeting and are searching for a way to make me pull that trigger so you don’t have to. That is troubling.
>
> I see nothing in my emails to you suggesting anyone interested in helping improve conditions at Spirit Lake should be excluded from this scheduled meeting. Who they are invited by is irrelevant as long as they are at the table.
>
> In my long career I have come to despise those who seek to create a straw man in order to achieve something they are unwilling to place their own hands on. Such folks, I have found, lack both courage and integrity.
>
> I have no idea why someone would wish to cancel this meeting which is being convened, as I understand, solely to discuss how we all might work cooperatively to improve conditions at Spirit Lake. It is hard for me to believe that any responsible person wishes to stop our meeting from occurring, effectively maintaining the status quo.
>
> All the best
>
> Tom
>
> —–Original Message—–
> From: Davis, Scott J. [mailto:sjdavis@nd.gov]
> Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 4:20 PM
> To: Sullivan, Thomas (ACF)
> Subject: Re: meeting
>
> Tom,
>
> No that is not acceptable.
>
> As I said I am happy to meet with all of the stakeholders at the table.
>
> It is important to me to have everyone (federal agencies) who has a role in the solutions to these problems at such a meeting.
>
> Please let me know when you can confirm you have everyone lined up to attend.
>
> Thank you.
>
> Scott J. Davis
> Commissioner
> ND Indian Affairs

ANOTHER SPIRIT LAKE DOCUMENT: from Dr. Tilus to HHS, Mar 3, 2012-

 Comments Off on ANOTHER SPIRIT LAKE DOCUMENT: from Dr. Tilus to HHS, Mar 3, 2012-
Feb 242013
 

.

Letter of Grave Concern, Dr. Tilus, March 3, 2012 –

 

ANOTHER SPIRIT LAKE DOCUMENT:  From Dr. Tilus to HHS, Mar 3, 2012-

“..children removed from successful..foster care off reservation and brought back to an unsafe, substance abusing, violent environment because the Director said all the kids need is here on the rez”…  read more…

Letter of Grave Concern, Dr. Tilus, March 3, 2012

 

.

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

 Comments Off on Washington D.C. Feb 4-8, 2013: Lawmakers—The Good, The Bad and What Can You Do Next
Feb 102013
 

by Elizabeth Sharon Morris

The dust is just beginning to settle from our most recent trip to Washington, D.C., Feb 4-8, 2013, where we spent five days visiting lawmakers to talk about the Indian Child Welfare Act and how it infringes on the rights of children and parents across our nation. Five CAICW members, all of whom have been affected by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), joined me to share their stories and to advocate for positive changes to this law.

Our group met up in Washington on February 4 eagerly prepared to attend the 20 or more appointments that I had arranged prior to our departures. During the week we also managed to squeeze in a number of drop-in visits. As expected, our message was met with a range of responses.

We want to thank all of the lawmakers and their staffs for taking time to listen to our message. We met with at least 55 offices—35 Representatives and 20 Senators. We had meetings with the staff of 9 of the 14 members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and with staff of the two ranking leaders of the House Indian Affairs and the Senate Indian Affairs committees, as well as 3 of the 4 co-chairs of the adoption caucus. For those of you interested, a complete list of offices we visited and their general reaction to our positions can be provided in a chart by request.

What We Shared

In connection to the necessary changes to the ICWA, we talked about several serious matters that impact families and children in Indian Country. We brought attention to the recent BIA takeover of children’s services on the Spirit Lake Reservation after the murder of 2 children exposed serious deficiencies in the tribal child welfare system and rampant child abuse. We pointed out that these problems are not isolated to this reservation, and that like Spirit Lake, many tribal governments and agencies are totally unequipped to handle these problems. We also brought attention to the Native Mob gang and the current trial taking place, as well as other organized gangs that are active on reservations in five states. Gang activity has rapidly increased over the past decade and it has a direct impact on all tribal members, but mostly on the young people who seek out gangs as a replacement for the families they do not have. Gangs are now well organized crime operations that are responsible for much of the violence, drug trafficking and use, gun running, and sexual recruitment of children and women.

We also discussed the serious implications of the Violence Against Women Act. While many only understand the impact of the ICWA on adoption cases in this country, more and more people are beginning to understand that the ICWA also contributes to much larger and much more serious problems affecting Indian Country.

Trapping more and more children and families in the dangerous confines of reservation life is doing nothing to serve the best interest or welfare of the children, their families or to preserve traditional culture. It is vital that we all come together and talk as a community.

As in the past, we started our presentations by sharing stories of families that have been hurt by the ICWA. We pointed out that even parents of 100% tribal heritage have the right to determine where their children should be placed as long as the home is safe—and heritage is simply a data point, not a definition of who you are. An increasing number of individuals and families of tribal heritage are voicing reluctance to live within reservation boundaries. Many are opposed to overreaching laws, which interfere with private family affairs, such as the ICWA and other laws being written into new tribal constitutions. The ICWA and the Native Nation Building Movement, which encourage and promote individual tribal constitutions over the U.S. constitution, interfere with basic U.S. Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens who also happen to have tribal heritage.

We stressed to lawmakers that the ICWA works more to promote the tribe then the best interests of children. We urged everyone we visited with to take up these discussions and to work to seek positive reforms to protect and strengthen families across the nation.

Sierra Shares Lessons on Indian Adoption

The Campbell family, Carol, Gene and Sierra bravely shared their heartbreaking and dramatic story. Sierra and her adopted parents openly spoke about how Sierra was abused and used sexually as a child. Sierra recounted how she was first given to a man at the age of ten and how her younger sister was used in the same manner. Sierra explained how she attempted to run away over a dozen times and begged to be returned to the only family she ever felt safe with and knew she was loved—the Campbells. She told how while in a tribal foster home she was ultimately cut down from a rope she used in attempt to hang herself.

Jon Tevlin of the Star Tribune recounts Sierra’s dramatic story and covers her family’s recent trip to Washington to advocate for changes to the ICWA in an article that can be read at: http://www.startribune.com/local/190953261.html?refer=y

Steps You Can Take to Bring Positive Change to Indian Country

Contact your representatives in the Congress and Senate and encourage them to take action in regards to amending the ICWA and bringing serious changes to Federal Indian Policy. It is especially important to contact lawmakers who serve on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

  • URGENT: Contact your senators and ask them to contact Paul Wolf in Senator Cantwell’s office to request that the ICWA be placed on Senator Cantwell’s agenda for this session. The agenda is being prepared and set NOW. If the ICWA is not put on her agenda for this session it will not come up for discussion this year nor probably next.
  • Urge your senator to contact Paul Wolf in Senator Cantwell’s office to press for hearings on the Spirit Lake Reservation and other reservations where child abuse and child sexual abuse is rampant.
  • Inform your neighbors, friends and families of the importance of bringing POSITIVE CHANGE to Indian Country. Many U.S. citizens have no idea how the ICWA, the Violence Against Women Act and issues of tribal sovereignty impact all of us as U.S. citizens.
  • Continue to pray for everyone negatively affected, intentionally or non-intentionally by the ICWA, Violence Against Women Act and Federal Tribal Policy. Especially pray for the children who have no voice or representation in their own well being. And please pray for us as we work to bring these issues forward.

 

Voting for Welfare of Russian children while turning backs on U.S. Children?

 Comments Off on Voting for Welfare of Russian children while turning backs on U.S. Children?
Jan 032013
 

by Elizabeth Sharon Morris

Late Tuesday night, January 1st, 2013, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed S. Res. 628, expressing disappointment over the Russian law banning adoption of children by American citizens.

Senator Inhofe, one of the two Senate Co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, and a wonderful supporter of children and families, 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.”

In addition, earlier this month, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Members sent a bi-partisan letter to President Putin urging him to veto the legislation, stating,

“We fear that this overly broad law would have dire consequences for Russian children…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.”

The vote in support of Russian children was unanimous by the SenateThe CCA, Senator Inhofe and many others are correctly speaking up for these children and families. Many in the CCA are also correctly concerned – for the very same reasons – about children of native heritage here in the United States.

However, while ALL the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs members voted for this resolution preventing adoption of Russian children – several members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs continue to uphold similar ‘Putin-like’ legislation preventing adoption of American children.

Take the statements above and replace the word “Russian” with the word “Indian” and it fits our argument against the Indian Child Welfare Act exactly.

Further – speaking as the birth mother of several enrollable children – I need to stress that while the argument against ICWA is important for adoption, it is also important to many birth families who don’t wish to have tribal jurisdiction and control over their own 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 social services.

Facts to note: 75% of U.S citizens with tribal heritage live OFF the reservation. This includes many of 100% heritage who choose not to be involved with the reservation system. Some have moved away purposely because many reservations are not safe places to raise children. Others have never lived on a reservation. MOST enrollable citizens have less than 50% tribal heritage and are connected to their non-native relatives, some not having been connected to the reservation system for a couple generations.

Although it has been felt that the Indian Child Welfare Act has safeguards to prevent misuse, stories affecting multi-racial families abound across America. Letters from tribal and non-tribal birth parents, extended family, foster parents and pre-adoptive families can be read at https://caicw.org/family-advocacy/letters-from-families-2/

In the words of Dr. William B. Allen, Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights:

“… 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…”

Consider calling your Senators, and while thanking them for voting for S. Res. 628, ask them to support the rights of children and families of Native American heritage as well.

 

FIND YOUR SENATOR’S CONTACT INFO

 

Dec 312012
 

From Tragedies – to Transformation…

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

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

What cannot be denied is that a large number of Native Americans are dying from alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide and violence. Further, scores of children are suffering emotional, physical and sexual abuse as a result – and the Indian Child Welfare Act is trapping more and more children into this unacceptable system.

While many tribal governments continue to fund congressional candidates who promise to increase tribal sovereignty, the voices of the children who are at the mercy of corrupt government continue to go unheard.  The truth is that some tribal governments are not protecting the children in their “custody.”  Instead, they are gathering children where they can because federal funding allocations are based on the U.S. census and tribal rolls.

An amazing transformational story, Dying in Indian Country, by Elizabeth Sharon Morris, provides a real glimpse into some of these unacceptable conditions. Dying in Indian Country tells a compelling true story of one family who after years of alcoholism and pain, comes to realize that corrupt tribal government, dishonest Federal Indian Policy, welfare policy, and the controlling reservation system has more to do with the current despair than the tragedies that occurred 150 years ago  –  then tells how, by the Grace of God, they came out of it.

 

A true story of pain, hope, and transformation –

“Dying in Indian Country is a compassionate and honest portrayal… I highly recommend it to you.” Reed Elley, former Member of Parliament, Canada; Chief Critic for Indian Affairs in 2000, Baptist Pastor, Father of four Native and Métis children

“He was a magnificent warrior who put himself on the line for the good of all…I can think of no one at this time, in this dark period of Indian history, who is able to speak as Roland has.”  Arlene,Tribal Member

“…truly gripping, with a good pace.” Dr. William B. Allen, -Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1989)

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

 

 

Washington DC, July 11, 2012 – BEST ICWA MEETINGS EVER!

 Comments Off on Washington DC, July 11, 2012 – BEST ICWA MEETINGS EVER!
Jul 262012
 

Dr. William B. Allen and Sage I apologize that it took over a week for me to get this letter out to you. The meetings we had in DC this month were the best ever . I want to tell you that so much prayer went into this – and the answers to prayer were amazing. Not only did God give Grace for the compelling and intelligent discussions we were able to have, but He provided for so many to be able to come. Even when I felt discouraged and reluctant to go, God wouldn’t allow me to stand in the way of what he has put together. He is truly worthy of praise in this.

Further, I give credit and am so grateful for the many people who have come on board in the last six months, concerned about what happened to little Veronica and not wanting it to happen again to any other child. We mourn the horrific abduction that our government allowed to happen to a defenseless two-year-old – and are amazed by the attention it has brought to this insanity called the Indian Child Welfare Act. Veronica is not alone. As you and others have talked about her – other parents have come forward and told how the same thing has happened to them. Further, the Cherokee Nation has admitted that they have over 100 attorneys targeting 1500 children this year.

Further, – the New York Times published a horrific story about the Spirit Lake Reservation just two weeks ago. A few days later, another story, this time involving the death of an infant

While not every reservation handles their children in the way that Spirit Lake has, way too many do. Nothing in that story surprised me – it echoed the many things I myself have seen on my husband’s home reservation.

ABOUT DC:

 

Attorney Mark Fiddler gave a powerful presentation on the ICWA law and how and why it must be changed. He went through the notable problems with the law and gave clear instruction on what must be done to protect the children. Several family stories were told – including the Belfords, the Helmholz, and the Anderson’s.

Johnston Moore also gave a wonderful presentation on the problems ICWA has caused families, and Melanie Duncan did a very well researched presentation on attachment issues – and how, surprise, surprise, children of tribal heritage are no different than any other child in the world.

Dr. William Allen introduced Sage DesRochers, who as a thirteen-year-old was forcibly removed from the only home she knew & loved, and placed with her birth mother on the reservation. She spoke about the trauma she went through and the relief she had when she was finally “released” (her words) from the reservation a couple years later and allowed to return to her chosen family. To this day, twenty some years later, she is upset by what the gov’t and ICWA put her through. She asked her adoptive mother (her ONLY mother, says Sage) to join her on this trip to DC.

I told how my husband and I, as parents and granparents of enrolled children, have been affected and hurt by the Indian Child Welfare Act. Jessican Munday did an awesome job MC’ing and organizing the event

Again – this is about the right of individuals to determine their lives – not governments. Most tribal members have left the reservation system. Some move away but choose to continue close relationship with tribal gov’t. Many other persons – with both large and small amounts of tribal heritage – choose NOT to raise their own children within the limited cultural perspective that some tribal gov’ts and other entities define.

Many of us, knowing that our children are multi-heritage, choose to raise and teach our children within other world views, with knowledge of and appreciation for the wide diversity of culture here in the U.S. Many of our children, as American citizens, feel most comfortable within mainstream American culture, working and learning along side all other diverse American citizens. They appreciate ALL of their varied heritages. Neither tribal nor federal government have a right to dictate what culture should be most important to our children and grandchildren.

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

“… 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 ALL FOR YOUR ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT! We could not be do this without you!!

Please continue to press in on our Congressmen – they need to hear your voice!!

CONTACTS:

Senator Akaka: Chairman of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Member of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Hawaii

CONTACT: Lotaka_Baptiste@akaka.senate.gov

Senator Inouye: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Member of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Hawaii

CONTACT: Kawe_Mossman@inouye.senate.gov

Senator Barrasso: Minority Leader; Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (Very interested in ICWA), Wyoming

CONTACT: Travis_McNiven@barrasso.senate.gov

Senator Crapo: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Idaho

CONTACT: Kathryn_Hitch@crapo.senate.gov

Senator Johanns: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Nebraska

CONTACT: Ally_Mendenhall@johanns.senate.gov

Senator Cantwell: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Washington State

CONTACT: Paul_Wolfe@cantwell.senate.gov

Senator Johnson: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Member of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, South Dakota

CONTACT: Kenneth_Martin@johnson.senate.gov

Senator Conrad: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Member of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, North Dakota

CONTACT: Jayme_Davis@conrad.senate.gov

Senator Hoeven: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, North Dakota (helped with Teach-In)

CONTACT: Ryan_Bernstein@hoeven.senate.gov

Senator Murkowski: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Member of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Alaska

CONTACT: Kristi_Williams@murkowski.senate.gov

Senator Tom Udall Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, New Mexico

CONTACT: Fern_Goodhart@tomudall.senate.gov

Senator McCain: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Member of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Arizona

CONTACT: Nick_Matiella@mccain.senate.gov

Senator Franken: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Minnesota

CONTACT: http://www.franken.senate.gov/?p=email_al

Senator Tester: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Montana

CONTACT: Mark_Jette@tester.senate.gov

_________________________________________

Senator Landrieu: Co-Chair of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Louisianna

CONTACT: Libby_Whitbeck@landrieu.senate.gov

Senator Inhofe: Co-Chair of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, Oklahoma

CONTACT: Ellen_Brown@inhofe.senate.gov

Senator Coburn: Former Member of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (Very interested), Oklahoma

CONTACT: Michael_Schwartz@coburn.senate.gov

Senator Demint: Member of Congressional Coalition on Adoption, South Carolina

CONTACT: Laura_Evans@Demint.senate.gov

House Committee for Indian Affairs

Chris.Fluher@mail.house.gov – 202-225-2761

Honorable Representative Don Young – Chair, Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-5765, F 202-225-0425, (From the State of Alaska)

CONTACT: Mary.Hiratsuka@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Tom McClintock – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-2511, F 202-225-5444, (From the State of California)

CONTACT: Kristen.Glenn@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Jeff Denham – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-4540, F 202-225-3402, (From the State of California)

CONTACT: Ryan.Henretty@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Dan Benishek – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-4735, F 202-225-4744, (From the State of Michigan)

CONTACT: Tad.Rupp@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Kristi Noem – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-2801, F 202-225-5823, (From the State of South Dakota)

CONTACT: Renee.Latterell@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Paul Gosar – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-2315, F 202-225-9739, (From the State of Arizona)

CONTACT: Kelly.Ferguson@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Raul Labrador – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-6611, F 202-225-3029, (From the State of Idaho)

CONTACT: Jason.Bohrer@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Dan Boren – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-2701, F 202-225-3038, (From the State of Oklahoma, 2nd Dist.)

CONTACT: Hilary.Moffett@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Dale Kildee – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-2611, F 202-225-6393, (From the State of Michigan)

CONTACT: Erin.Donar@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Eni F. H. Faleomavaega – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-8577, F 202- 225-8757, (From the Territory of American Samoa)

CONTACT: Leilani.metz@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Ben Lujan – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-6190, F 202-226-1528, (From the State of New Mexico)

CONTACT: @mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Colleen Hanabusa – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-2726, F 202-225-0688, (From the State of Hawaii)

CONTACT: Josh.Dover@mail.house.gov

Honorable Representative Ed Markey – Subcommittee on Indian/Alaska Native Affairs

P 202-225-2836, (From the State of Massachusetts )

CONTACT: Jennifer.Romero@mail.house.gov

_______________________________________________

Congressional Coalition on Adoption

Honorable Representative Michele Bachmann – Co-Chair, Congressional Coalition on Adoption

P 202-225-2331, F 202-225-6475, (From the State of Minnesota)

CONTACT: Katie Poedtke

Honorable Representative Karen Bass – Co-Chair, Congressional Coalition on Adoption

P 202-225-7084, F 202-225-2422, (From the State of California)

CONTACT: Jenny.Wood@mail.house.gov

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

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Jul 022012
 

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Dying In Indian Country - by Beth Ward

This is the true story of an American tribal member who, after coming to know Jesus Christ, realized just how much policies within tribal and federal government were hurting his extended family.

Roland grew up watching members of his family die of alcoholism, child abuse, suicide, and violence on the reservation. Like many others, he blamed all the problems on “white people.”

Beth Ward grew up in a middle class home in the suburbs. Raised in a politically left family, she also believed that all problems on the reservation originated with cruel treatment by settlers and the stealing of land. Meeting her husband, her first close experience with a tribal member, she stepped out of the comfort of suburban life into a whole new, frightening world.

After almost ten years of living with his alcoholism and the terrible dangers that came with it, they both came to realize that individual behavior and personal decisions were at the root of a man’s troubles, including their own. After coming face-to face with the reality of Jesus Christ, their eyes opened to the truth of why there is so much Dying in Indian Country.

What cannot be denied is that a large number of Native Americans are dying from alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, and violence. The reservation, a socialistic experiment at best, pushes people to depend on tribal and federal government rather than God, and to blame all of life’s ills on others. The results have been disastrous.

Roland realized that corrupt tribal government, dishonest federal Indian policy, and the controlling reservation system had more to do with the current pain and despair in his family and community than what had happened 150 years ago.

Here is the plain truth in the eyes of one family, in the hope that at least some of the dying in Indian Country — physical, emotional, and spiritual — may be recognized and prevented.

Unfortunately, persistent public misconceptions about Indian Country, misconceptions sometimes promoted by tribal government and others enjoying unaudited money and power, have worked to keep the situation just as it is.

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  • “Roland truly has encouraged many people…the last trip to D.C. was a testimony to God’s faithfulness.Rev. Robert Guthrie, B.Th. M.A. –Professor, Vanguard College, AB
  • “…he earned my deepest respect, and…made heroic and very honorable attempts to improve the lot of Native Americans in this country.” Jon Metropoulos, Attorney, Helena, MT
  • “‘Dying in Indian Country’ is a compassionate and honest portrayal…I highly recommend it to you!” Reed Elley, former Member of Parliament, Canada; Chief Critic for Indian Affairs in 2000; Baptist Pastor, father of four native and metis children
  • “I truly admire Roland for the message he was trying to have heard.” Ralph Heinert, Montana State Representative
  • “He was a magnificent warrior who put himself on the line for the good of all…. I can think of no-one at this time in this dark period of Indian history who is able to speak as Roland has.” Arlene, tribal member
  • “…hope emerging from despair… This is a story about an amazing life journey.” Darrel Smith. Writer, Rancher, South Dakota
  • “He’s a Christian now you know… I saw him crying on his knees on my living room floor. I was there.” Sharon, tribal member
  • “…truly gripping, with a good pace.” Dr. William B. Allen, – Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1989)

Read More:

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Haley Hernandez Reports on the Veronica Petition – 20,000 Signatures

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Jan 262012
 


Reporter Haley Hernandez followed @Save_Veronica to Columbia today, look who they spoke with about the Indian Child Welfare Act … http://ping.fm/MWk43

Delivering the Petition with 20,000 signatures to South Carolina leaders –

By: Haley Hernandez | WCBD

On New Year’s Eve, Jessica Munday watched helplessly as her close friends, Matt and Melanie Capobianco were forced to hand over their adopted little girl, Veronica, to her birth father.

Now Munday and Stephanie Brinkley (a Charleston adoption attorney) are on a mission to “save Veronica.”

“Rather than sit on the sidelines and just say ‘how sad’, I wanted to say ‘how sad, what can I do?’” Binkley said.

Tuesday they went from one government office to another, starting in Charleston and driving up to the State House in Columbia, delivering a petition from supporters of the organization.

Kathy Crawford, the district director at Congressman Tim Scott’s office said it’s a shock that this could happen to a family, “a child could be taken away from the only mom and dad that they’ve ever known and you know, we hope that the courts will do the right thing.”

The organization delivered the petition to lawmakers with more than 20,000 signatures. In an unscheduled visit, Governor Haley spoke with Munday and Brinkley and empathized with the Capobiancos.

“If you have a child you know that’s just like the precious part of your life and so my heart breaks for them, I will be happy to take this,” Gov. Haley said taking the petition. “The federal delegation and I communicate about a lot of things, because it is a federal issue doesn’t mean I can’t at least say “what are y’all doing about this?” so I’ll be happy to ask the questions, be happy to see what’s going on if anything.”

“I’m thankful that she was so receptive to us being there and so compassionate about what’s happened,” Munday said after speaking with the governor.

“This is a matter that affects the people they represent, it represents a South Carolina couple and a South Carolina child and that child needs to be heard so it’s great that they are receptive that we’re trying to be a voice for Veronica when she can’t represent herself,” Brinkley said about lawmakers listening to their concerns.

SaveVeronica.org is still taking signatures for their petition. Lawmakers said they will try to get a copy to the Senate committee that will hear the case.

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My Question: When is the Senate Committee going to hear it? I doubt they have any plans to put it on their agenda – we will need to do lots of pushing to get it there – and lots more to get a fair hearing!

Someone on the ‘Save Veronica page’ asked what one would ask the President about ICWA if one had the chance. As a birth mother, I have had several questions. These are questions that my husband and I felt disturbed by ever since our children were small:

– “Mr. President, what part of the Constitution gave Congress the right to give jurisdiction over OUR children to another government when my husband chose to raise our children apart from that government, and I have had no part in that government?

– Why is it that if I should die, another government would have the right to take our children and place them in a home neither my husband nor I would approve of?

– Why is it that strangers within that government would have more right to raise my flesh and blood children than my flesh and blood brother or sister have?” –

The bottom line is – both my husband and I had always held that OUR Children were NOT the tribal government’s children – as the NICWA logo attests. They aren’t the federal government’s children, either.

My husband did not feel his reservation was a safe place to raise children and thus raised them elsewhere. Further, we are not alone. Many tribal members have left the reservations on purpose and taken their children with them. As U.S Citizens, we have a right to choose how and where we want our children raised. We had personally chosen the friends and family we would have liked to be guardians should the need arise.

The ICWA law is poorly thought out – stepping on the lives of U.S. Citizens in order to benefit tribal leaders, not children. Which is why it is continually misapplied and has been as hurtful as it has been to many children and families – and why there are so many parents writing to you on this page wondering why they aren’t getting help to keep their kids. They mistakenly believe that ICWA was actually meant to help them.

For those who are concerned that the Veronica case involves a birth father – let me clarify:

The adoption wasn’t finalized because the tribe had intervened, but M&M were ‘parenting’ Veronica from the moment she was born. They were at the birth. The bio-dad was not. Matt cut the umbilical cord – the bio-dad did not. Melanie stayed in a room at the hospital where she could parent/mother Veronica right away. The bio-dad did not. The bio-dad made no effort during the pregnancy or after birth to contact or support the mother, and made no real effort or request to see the little girl at any point in her life. She had never met him up until the evening she was handed over to him in the attorney’s office. The judge had allowed only ½ hour for Veronica to meet this man before he was free to take her. But it took two hours for the transfer to complete because she kept crying for M&M every time they tried to leave the room.

Matt and Melanie are the only parents she has ever known.

Had South Carolina law been applied to this case, the bio-dad would not have had any standing. By state law, he has essentially abandoned her and would not have had any parental rights. He had also signed a paper sometime after her birth giving up any claim to her. But after Veronica had been with M&M for four months, he changed his mind. And because he has a small percentage of Cherokee heritage, he was able to get the tribal attorney involved.

Veronica wasn’t the only one in tears. Matt & Melanie are emotionally devastated.

And this family isn’t a rare case. This actually happens quite often, especially when dealing with the Cherokee Nation; it’s just that for some unknown reason, this time it got attention. Read letters from more families – and how they were hurt by ICWA at https://caicw.org/family-advocacy/letters-from-families-2/ and watch the story of James on the CAICW YouTube Channel ~

This does not need to happen to another child. Please Call your Congressmen and tell them this has to stop.

Find information for contacting Congressmen at SaveVeronica.org

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Nov 222011
 

Washington DC Teach-In:

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

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

Dr. William B. Allen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WE NEED HELP!

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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