Tell Congress How to Best Meet the Needs of Native Children

 Comments Off on Tell Congress How to Best Meet the Needs of Native Children
Mar 132020
 
Little girl on trike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NATIONAL COMMISSION ON NATIVE CHILDREN HOLDS FIRST OFFICIAL MEETING

 Comments Off on NATIONAL COMMISSION ON NATIVE CHILDREN HOLDS FIRST OFFICIAL MEETING
Dec 292019
 
Commission on Native Children

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.

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

[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 Commission on Native Children, DC, DOIhealth 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
###

Merry Christmas

 Comments Off on Merry Christmas
Dec 262019
 
Merry Jesus Christmas native

CAICW Chairwoman Elizabeth Morris earned a Master of Arts degree in public policy this last summer as a ‘Graduate with Distinction.’ She is now working on her Doctor of Philosophy: Public Policy: Social Policy.

Morris’ master thesis, ‘The Philosophical Underpinnings and Negative Consequences of the Indian Child Welfare Act’ examines documented interactions between North American tribal communities and alternate governments from colonial times on, and the legal history, constitutionality, and social impact of current federal Indian policy. It is just under 350 pages long and can be accessed at https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/masters/591/ or on Pro-quest.

The Congressional ‘Commission on Native Children’

In May of 2018, Morris was appointed by Speaker Paul Ryan to the “Alyce Spotted Bear/Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children” (AKA the ‘Commission on Native Children’). The Commission finally had its first working meeting at the end of October this year…
• Representatives from the Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Interior, Dept of Health and Human Services, and Dept. of Education – and their various agencies, including the ACF, BIA, BIE, OJS and more – met with the Commissioners at the DOI in Washington. They each presented descriptions of their varied tribal programs and budgets in the millions.
• Four ‘detailees’ have been assigned to the Commission; one each from the DOJ, DOI, DHHS, and DOEd. Through these detailees, the Commissioners will get the agency data necessary to make decisions about program effectiveness.
• The commission will be holding hearings around the country. For the year 2020, the hearings are scheduled for Phoenix, Alaska, and Hawaii. (Although Hawaiians are not members of a federally recognized tribe and therefore not wards of the federal government.) There will be hearings in additional areas in 2021.

PLEASE PRAY for this commission – and keep watching the CAICW Facebook page for updates on hearings.

CAICW.org UPDATE


• CAICW filed a motion and an en Banc amicus in the Brackeen (Un-constitutionality of ICWA) case in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in October. We are making an additional Constitutional argument.
• We don’t post the stories of families who contact us on the CAICW Facebook page anymore because people have gotten into trouble for contacting us. But these families do still need prayer. There are several families to pray for right now – but there is one, in particular. A one-year-old boy is currently being transitioned into his birth mother’s home. Despite drug use, DWI’s, and jail time just last week, unsupervised overnight visits are taking place. The little boy screams and tries to get away from the birth parents when they come for him.
• CAICW has avoided fundraising for about six years. This isn’t because funds aren’t necessary, but because we no longer want to waste time or energy worrying about it. Living and working as frugally as possible is preferable. This is why there is no office or employees. Home offices work fine, and in 2014, living frugally meant camping in the DC area for six weeks, living on about 25 dollars a day – including subway fare. We choose and prefer to trust God and remain focused on the children. While we gratefully accept unsolicited donations, we don’t want money to be a primary focus. There is no way we can come close to matching the finances of our opponents anyway. What will win this battle is God – in prayer, partnerships, and perseverance.

Nevertheless, being small – and busy with the tasks we all know need to be done – we aren’t able to communicate as often as we would like. Thank you for your patience and prayers. Please keep returning to this site as well as Facebook for updates as we are able.

Thank you so much for your encouragement and support. Have a Blessed Christmas and New Year.

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

 Comments Off on SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHTER: The Indian Child Welfare Act Fact Sheet
Sep 122016
 
ICWA rules, CAICW

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

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

The Truth about ICWA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOM SULLIVAN – FIRED for reporting Child Abuse

 Comments Off on TOM SULLIVAN – FIRED for reporting Child Abuse
May 092016
 
Tom Sullivan - Regional Administrator ACF

The BIA and ACF in Washington DC have finally accomplished their goal of firing Tom Sullivan for his persistent reporting of physical and sexual abuse of children on many reservations – most specifically Spirit Lake.

Our DC Bureaucrats are entirely unaccountable. When people get fired for actually doing their jobs, is it any wonder that so many federal employees are reluctant to stick their necks out against the status quo?

(Read some of the past documentation:)

  • Defender of Abused Children about to be fired by DC Superiors for refusing to shut up about rampant sexual abuse –
  • SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN – Endemic on Many of our U.S. Indian Reservations –
  • ACF Regional Director Blowing the Whistle on Child Abuse –
  • ACF Director Tom Sullivan Suspended –
  • May 6, 2015 Termination letter:

    [gview file=”https://caicw.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/MU-Tom-Sullivan-Termination-Decision-5-6-16.pdf”]

    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.

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

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

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

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

    Tom Sullivan - Regional Administrator ACF

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-1

    Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-2

    Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-3

    Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-4

    Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-5

    Proposed Removal 752CD - Thomas Sullivan - 03102016-6

    Christmas 2015 Newsletter

     Comments Off on Christmas 2015 Newsletter
    Jan 162016
     
    ICWA

    The two months in DC this spring were busy, but exceedingly blessed. I visited every office in the Senate and House, sitting down one-on-one with staff from about 100 House offices and 29 Senate offices as well as directors in the BIA. I dropped off information at all the others and sent a follow-up email to every single one. I also built a database using the business cards and notes from the meetings, and wrote CAICW’s comments to the BIA concerning their new guidelines and proposed rules. (https://caicw.org/2015/05/11/our-comments-concerning-icwa-rules-proposed-by-the-bia/)

    The interest and reception received at several offices was both comforting and surprising. I have not felt as “listened to” on many of our previous trips. We did develop new relationships in new offices – some surprising ones. We now have a database to work from over the rest of this session.

    But the most exciting thing was watching God’s daily answers to prayer concerning the entire trip. Having gone on faith – dependent on God to help in the speaking to Senators and Congressmen as well as for providence – was an adventure. While many argue that my work isn’t “Christian” (saying I am rocking boats) – the fact is, this trip was incredibly blessed and wouldn’t have happened at without His guidance and providence. We do not have tons of money to pay for junkets to DC or high-priced lobbyists. I went in a van and spent most of the time sleeping in it. I even spent four days living in Union Station.

    As some of you know, I flipped my camper truck over on ice in January and totaled it. I came out of the wreck without a scratch, but lost the vehicle I intended to drive to DC. But – we felt at peace about it. If God wanted me in DC, he would provide the way. And He did. In March, God provided a wonderful Dodge Conversion van whose owner had originally wanted $4000 on Craig’s List, but called me and told me he would take $1500 for it due to the work we do. A supporter then sent the funds for it. I was told it was top of the line in its day – and it ran 100% smoothly the entire trip.
    At the suggestion of a friend who used to live in Maryland, I found my way out the end of one of the metro lines. There, I was able to shower at a campground, go to Starbucks for Wi-Fi, find varied parking lots to sleep in, and took the metro subway train into DC for the day.

    I never knew when funds would come or where they would come from. One day, I counted the little I had left and put most of it onto the metro card. I decided not to worry. I knew I had enough to get to DC for two more days. Well, getting home the second day would be a challenge. I didn’t have enough for that. But…I decided not to panic or tell people. I wanted to wait on the Lord. If He was the one wanting me to be here, doing this, He would provide.

    It was just a day after that when someone called me to tell me to go get a room – she would pay for it. Another person put some money into my account. There were little gifts here and there – a woman pressed a $10 bill into my hand. Never from strangers – always from someone who knew a little bit about our work. Not once during this trip was I without food, gas, metro money – or any of the resources we needed to get the job done.

    One of the most wonderful things was an awesome Church Family the Lord led me to. I literally stumbled onto an incredible group of people – a remnant of a longtime neighborhood church. It was the first day I was searching for a Starbucks out near the end of that train line. I took a wrong turn, so then took a U-turn, and there was this marquee type sign on a church lawn, announcing a free dinner that very day and hour. Sooo…feeling hungry – I stopped. Following a wonderful meal, they had a Bible study outside by the fire pit – and I fell in love with them. They were such a gentle, loving, searching, praying group. It was so filled with the spirit – a tremendous blessing of prayer and fellowship.

    Lastly, when what was thought should be my final week drew near, I did not know how I was getting home. But again, didn’t want to say anything – trusting God that when it was time to go, He would provide the way. And He did – five different people sent funds within the last few days of my stay.

    From making do on very little, to canvassing the halls of Congressional buildings, to sitting next to homeless in Union Station, to enjoying the fellowship of an awesome church, to walking the streets of NoMa – watching, listening, thinking, praying – there is so much to tell. Please continue to pray for God’s guidance in everything we do – and pray for the fruit of whatever it is we are supposed to accomplish.

    The rest of the Year:

    The year actually began in Brandon, Manitoba, where I was blessed with the opportunity over Christmas to help two elderly friends for about 6 weeks. Henry had suffered a heart attack, and Nettie needed a companion until he was able to leave the hospital. I can’t even begin to write down the myriad things I was able to learn from them both – in addition to the prayer time with them. It was a tremendous lead-in to going to DC. I’m so grateful to their extended family for asking me to do it.

    I was also blessed this year with opportunity to frequently care for my grandson. My daughter is in school full-time and working part time, so I spent many wonderful days at her apartment as well as with my oldest son.

    I was able to take my grandson with me on a two-week trip to Montana in our marvelous van. We spent a few days at Family Bible Camp near Glacier Park, and then visited several wonderful friends and supporters up and down western Montana.

    In the summer, I also spent two weeks in Minneapolis, reading to my Dad at the nursing home. In October, following prayerful encouragement from a friend, I brought him home to live with me.

    My Dad is bedridden, but we’ve been able to put together a good system that serves him well. We are blessed with an aide who comes in to care for him a few hours a week, giving me a little time to do office work, and my brother (who is an engineer) came up and built an awesome wheelchair ramp in under 24 hours – using almost total reserved wood from a porch he had taken down at his house.

    The book “Dying in Indian Country” – endorsed by Congressman Kevin Cramer and telling Roland’s story – was released under a new publisher in December and, (if interested), is available through our site – http://DyingInIndianCountry.com – or through Amazon, which also has the eBook version.

    Throughout the months of 2015, I continued online studies for a Bachelor’s and ran CAICW. Families continue to contact us on a regular basis, asking for assistance with protecting their children. At this point in time, we have fifteen families asking for prayer, emotional support and/or legal assistance. Ten are birth families, five are adoptive families.

    All thanks, glory and credit to the Lord Jesus Christ, without whom we can do nothing. Blessings in your new year.

    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.

    May 282015
     

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

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

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

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

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

    May 232015
     
    Roland and his newborn, 1990

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Take the hit and appear to be a busybody.

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

    May 182015
     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    From the assurance of equal rights and equal justice, to the power of democratic participation and mutual aid, we are joined together by principles as old as time immemorial – principles embodied both by men and women whose ancestors lived on this continent centuries ago, and by those who have newly arrived on our shores. This is my pledge to you – here, today: that, because of our partnership – because of the record we’ve established; because of the foundation we’ve built – no matter who sits in the Oval Office, or who serves as Attorney General of the United States, America’s renewed and reinforced commitment to upholding these promises will be unwavering and unchangeable; powerful and permanent.

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

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

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

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

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

    Make a statement and simply preface it with this statement:

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

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

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

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

    http://www.iheartdesi.org/

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

    May 112015
     

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

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

    Dear Ms. Cave and Ms. Appel,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The guidelines and rules claim to clarify existing law for the protection of families – despite marginalizing the rights of birth parents as well the reality of extended non-tribal birth family. There is no acknowledgement that the vast majority of eligible children are multi-racial and 75% of eligible families live outside of Indian Country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2. There is no need for a certain blood quantum. Tribal governments have complete say over whether a child is a member and subject to ICWA.
    – Our response: Families should have final say concerning membership – not tribal officials. We oppose this unwarranted and unwanted mandate over our families.

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

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

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

    6. No one is to question the placement decision of tribal court, because pointing out problems – for example, that a certain home has a history of child abuse – undermines the authority of tribal court.
    – Our response: We have documentation of many, many children placed in known danger by tribal courts, with the child victim ending up abused, raped, or even murdered. 3-year-old Ahziya Osceola of Florida, whose body was found stuffed in a box just last month, is case in point. – We oppose this mandate over our families and – for the sake of our children – will continue to question potentially dangerous custody placements made by any entity in any jurisdiction – appealing to media as often as necessary.

    Some tribal governments are reticent to admit they do not have enough safe homes to place children in, and not wanting to place the children off the reservation, they have placed children in questionable homes. (Based on reports from ACF Regional Director Thomas Sullivan and Tribal police officer LaVern Littlewind)
    Abuses are rampant on some reservations because the U.S. Government has set up a system that allows extensive abuse to occur unchecked and without repercussion.
    It has become increasingly apparent that to some in federal government – as well some in tribal government – that it is more important to protect tribal sovereignty than it is to protect our children.

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

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

    According to the BIA, the only ‘best interest’ of importance is keeping the child with the tribal government. The BIA rules repeat that Congress has:

    “a presumption that ICWA’s placement preferences are in the best interests of Indian children; therefore, an independent analysis of “best interest” would undermine Congress’s findings.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    However;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thank you for listening to all the stakeholders.

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

    Attached:

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

    References:

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

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

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

    May 102015
     
    Jose Rodrigues 2005 - a Victim of the Indian Child Welfare Act

    The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued new ICWA guidelines on February 25. These guidelines, effective immediately, are not binding. But the proposed rules, matching the guidelines and currently in comment period, will be. Washington DC

    These rules negating the rights of children have been proposed despite well-documented evidence of wide-spread physical and sexual abuse in Indian Country.

    The most recent example: Last month, ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan (Administration of Children and Families) released a 29-page Whistle Blower report detailing consistent and rampant physical and sexual abuse of children in Indian Country.

    The ACF and BIA are both very aware of Mr. Sullivan’s report and other reports. The BIA does know physical and sexual abuse is rampant in many corners of Indian Country.

    Hard enough to understand why our federal government will be enforcing rules that so deeply infringe on the personal, parental, and privacy rights of citizens of every age and heritage – it is impossible to understand why the BIA has the authority and gall to write rules which so obviously increase risk for abuse of displaced children.

    READ the 29 page Whistle Blower report on rampant child abuse written by Regional Director Tom Sullivan of the Administration of Children and Families: Thomas F Sullivan WB April 2015

    Additional documents from Mr. Sullivan:

    Tom Sullivan’s 12th Mandated Report, February 2013, concerning Suspected Child Abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation

    Tom Sullivan’s 13th Mandated Report, March 2013, concerning Suspected Child Abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation

    Letter’s from George Sheldon say “Ignore Tom.”

    ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS FROM TOM SULLIVAN

    Reading the BIA’s proposed rules alongside Mr. Sullivan’s detailed report should clear up any question as to why these rules are brutally dangerous to children of every heritage in every state of this country. The rules state that it does not matter if the child has ever lived in Indian Country nor does it matter if the child has any significant heritage. All that matters is whether the tribal government wants to claim the child as a member.

    Reading the rules will also clear up any question as to who the ICWA is factually intended to protect. They are not written to protect the rights and safety of children. They are written to protect the claimed rights of tribal leaders and to protect tribal sovereignty.

    The proposed new BIA rules for ICWA can read here: http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc1-029447.pdf – (Beginning in middle of the page, right – “Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.”) The Public Comment period ends May 19.

    Finally – we are questioning why the Administration for Children and Families under HHS has ignored Mr. Sullivan’s reports, and why they have recently suspended him for supposedly not filling out a leave of Absence form correctly.

    You have about ONE WEEK LEFT to make comments CONCERNING the new Rules for ICWA – the BIA’s “Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.”
    Comments must be received on or before May 19, 2015. You can submit comments via e-mail to comments@bia.gov; include “ICWA” in the subject line of the message.
    You may also mail comments or go through the federal rule making portal at – http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=BIA-2015-0001-0001

    OUR SUMMARY: https://caicw.org/2015/04/12/educating-congress-on-the-new-bia-regs-concerning-our-children/#.VU8OWiFVjBE

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

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

    1) READ the BIA ICWA Rules – http://www.bia.gov/…/…/public/documents/text/idc1-029447.pdf (Beginning in middle of the page, right – “Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings.”)
    2) CALL your State Senators and Congressman! (If you need their phone numbers, please ask us – write ‘administrator@caicw.org’ )
    3) PLEASE COMMENT ON THE NEW FEDERAL RULES CONCERNING ICWA… Comments must be received on or before May 19, 2015. You can submit comments via e-mail to comments@bia.gov; include “ICWA” in the subject line of the message. You may also mail comments or go through the federal rule making portal at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=BIA-2015-0001-0001


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

    Tom Sullivan’s 12th Mandated Report, February 2013, concerning Suspected Child Abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation

    Tom Sullivan’s 13th Mandated Report, March 2013, concerning Suspected Child Abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation

    Letter’s from George Sheldon say “Ignore Tom.”

    ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS FROM TOM SULLIVAN

    .

    When Supporters ask what I need…

     Comments Off on When Supporters ask what I need…
    Apr 282015
     

    A couple people commented that they think what I am doing is amazing. The reality is that God is amazing. Without God having provided the means to do this – we (as an org) wouldn’t be here.

    Following the flipping of my camper on ice in January – in which I climbed out of the totaled cab without a scratch – God provided the most wonderful van for me to use for travel and for sleep. It is awesome and so comfortable.

    – God provided the gas, the new tires, and I haven’t been without pocket money this entire time. I have not wanted for food. In fact, some days I feel like I have too much food.

    – God even provided clothing to use while in DC. Even the coat on my back, and the computer I use.

    – And God is providing awesome meetings, and understanding ears.

    Supporters ask what I need. I could answer – gas cards, money put on my metro subway card, etc. But I wouldn’t know how to tell a person to send it, because I don’t have an address.

    So we will continue to trust God for the day to day needs.

    We need to trust Him for the outcome of the work as well. We are not powerful. I am not all wise or amazing or infallible or anything like that. Lord knows – and so do all my friends and family – that I am extremely fallible. I try to organize my work and be practical about everything – but continue to make mistakes every single day.

    I feel like I embarrassed myself at an event last Friday night.

    But… if we are doing our best with all our heart, mind and body – we are not responsible for the outcome. That’s in God’s hands. We are only responsible to do the work set in front of us every day, to the best of our fallible ability.

    I just wanted to say that – so that it is understood.

    When supporters ask what I need – it is really and truly prayer.

    Apr 122015
     
    ICWA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    According to the new rules, effective immediately

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

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

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

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

    ‘Factual good’ for our children is irrelevant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tom Sullivan responds to vindictive DC Superiors –

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

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

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

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

    —————————————-

    Ms. Mcmullen:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thomas F. Sullivan
    Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver

    ACF Director Tom Sullivan Suspended –

     Comments Off on ACF Director Tom Sullivan Suspended –
    Mar 262015
     
    Tom Sullivan - Regional Administrator ACF

    We believe ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan is being punished – not for minor paperwork infractions related to his recovery from surgery as claimed in the letter below, but because he has strongly spoken out against his DC superiors in attempt to protect the children of Spirit Lake and other reservations.

    It is ironic that these same superiors paid absolutely no attention to the paperwork he had submitted concerning the number of children currently living with known sexual offenders. But heaven forbid he not turn in a form related to his medical leave of absence.

    Even more ironic is that forms related to National Security within the State Department have apparently been passed off as non-essential by many in the current executive branch of government.

    But heaven forbid a lower-level manager, known for telling the truth, fail to (gasp)…dot an ‘i’.

    His absence due to hip surgery appears to be a convenient opportunity for his superiors to finally “punish” him.

    Please contact your congressional delegation and ask them to protect this brave and honorable man.

    Letter from DC ACF Acting Director James Murray to Tom Sullivan:

    (https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/9b0b4460-d9e3-40b5-8ca0-8a9d3aff6d54)

    DATE: March 23, 2015

    FROM: James Murray
    Acting Director Office of Regional Operations

    .TO: Thomas Sullivan Regional Director

    SUBJECT: Notice of Proposed Suspension (Fourteen Days)

    You are hereby notified that it is proposed to suspend you from duty with out pay for a period of fourteen calendar days, from your position as Regional Administrator, Denver Region VIII, GS-15, in the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF). This action is initiated pursuant to Title 5 USC Part
    752, which.affords you the right to make an oral reply and/or to submit written material
    to the deciding official named below, before a decision is rendered. You will remain in a .
    duty status until a decision has been rendered by the deciding official named herein. The reason for this action is as follows:

    Charge #1: Failure to Follow Proper Procedures for eave Notification and Requests. The Agency records show that you were on approved Annual arid Sick Leave from
    February 9 to February 20, 2015. You were scheduled to return to duty on Monday
    February 23, 2015. On February 24, 2015, Marrianne McMullen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs addressed an e-mail message to various officials including you. The message was intended to set up visits to two regions including the Denver region. In the e-mail, Mrs, McMullen asked about your availability for th.e week of March 16 to 20, 2015.

    You responded to Mrs. McMullen by e-mail at 2:43 pm on February 24, and copied me. Your message reported that you “had hip surgery one week ago today.” You indicated that it was unlikely that you would be cleared to travel ta Denver for the meeting during the week of March 16 to 20, 2015.

    Mrs. McMullen replied promptly to inquire how long you would be on leave and who is acting in your absence. You replied to state that the length of leave is contingent on the surgeon’s approval and you would return when he cleared you,

    You did not request leave as required. You did not notify me that you were going to be absent. Neither did you submit any leave request in ITAS. You failed to follow basic and standard procedures for notifying your supervisor of the absence and requesting
    leave as required. I determined that your total disregard for such basic and necessary

    Page 2-

    procedures cannot be condoned. HHS leave regulations found in the HHS Instruction • 630-1 requires that employees normally must notify Management of absences, and submit appropriate leave requests in advance. In cases where advance notice is unforeseeable,employees are required to notify the supervisor of absences and make a request for leave no later than one hour after the scheduled reporting time on any given day.’ As a Regional Administrator in a senior position of authority, you must have known or should have known of these basic and standard requirements. The fact that you elected to ignore or disregard the !eave procedures is very disturbing, in light of your position as a senior and experienced management official. Several days elapsed after the e-mail exchange on February 24, 2015. You did not subsequently notify me of an approximate date of your return or make a proper request for leave, indicting the leave type and the expected duration. Neither did you submit any medical documentation to substantiate the absence.

    On March 5, 2015, I sent you a “Directive to Comply.” I reminded you of the HHS regulations which require employees to notify their supervisors of absences and employees’ responsibility to request leave. I cautioned you that failure to comply with the applicable leave procedures may result in appropriate corrective action and/or a charge of absent without leave (AWOL). I specifically directed you to submit a leave request for the period of your absence commencing on February 23 through the date that you anticipate returning to duty. In addition I instructed you to furnish acceptable medical documentation to substantiate the request for Sick Leave or Annual Leave in lieu thereof. Finally, I directed you to comply with the instructions no later than March 12, 2015, to avert a charge of AWOL and for appropriate corrective action.

    You replied to me on the same day, March 5, 2015. You relayed a copy of an e meil message you addressed to the Region VIII timekeeper, CarolDelgado at 4:26 pm on March 5, 2015. Your message to the timekeeper indicated that you requested Annual Leave for partial day absences on February 23 thru March 1, 2015. You claimed that you were working six to seven hours per day during that period. You further stated that you worked eight hours per day on March 4 to March 6. In this regard, your actions are a flagrant violation of several applicable regulations and standard procedures. You did not request to perform Telework and for notify me of your intention to do so. You do not have a current telework agreement and you are not approved to participate in the Telework Program. It is very disconcerting that you demonstrated such a total disregard for compliance with the Agency’s Telework policies. The manner in which you took it upon yourself to allegedly perform work at a remote site, without even notifying me and/or any of your superiors constitutes a grave offense. Your conduct demonstrates a total disregard for the Agency policy and applicable regulations, which you are charged to uphold and enforce. In addition, your actions evince stark disrespect and lack of consideration for your supervisors. In addition, your assertions that you were working every work day between February 23 and March 5, 2015 were submitted and advanced after the fact. You had an obligation to notify your supervisor that you intended to work at a remote site and to obtain approval in advance. You elected not to do so. Your
    notice to the timekeeper and to me was in fact retroactive, coming as it did on March 5, 2015, apparently in response to my directive issued to you earlier that day.

    Page 3-

    In light of all the facts noted above, and in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I cannot approve or verify that you worked at a remote site on the dates you cited and I cannot properly certify or verify the work hours as such in the Agency time records. In consideration of the foregoing, I am proposing to suspend you from duty without pay for a period of fourteen calendar days. This action will promote the efficiency of the federal service.

    Penalty Analysis and Considerations:

    The offenses you committed namely, incurring a period of absence without notification to your supervisor and without making a request for leave is a clear failure to comply with a HHS Leave Regulations. In addition, based on your own assertion, you it
    upon yourself to perform work at a remote site, without notification and /or approval from your supervisor and without the benefit of a current telework agreement In doing so, you showed a blatant disregard for the same regulations which you are charged to uphold. As a senior member of management in your role as Regional Administrator, it is expected that you enforce and uphold the Agency’s policies. It is further expected that you will serve as a model for compliance with the same. The manner in which you disregarded these regulations was in violation of the HHS Standards of Conduct and showed your disrespect and lack of consideration for your managers.

    I considered the severity of your actions and the effect upon your ability to carry out your duties and responsibilities. Your actions have eroded my confidence in you and your ability to uphold and enforce the leave regulations, which is a requirement of your position as Regional Administrator. In addition, I considered your prior disciplinary record. You sustained a three day suspension in August, 2014 for the charge of Improper Conduct. The instant. proposed action is therefore proper and progressive. I determined that the degree of discipline is !he minimal action necessary to the deficiencies and to serve as a deterrent factor. The proposal is in keeping with the recommendations in the ” HHS Disciplinary Guide”.

    You and/or your representative may review the material relied upon to support the reasons for this Notice, by contacting Garfield Tavernier, National Labor Relations Officer at (202) 260-6697, between the hours of 9:00 am and 4:00 pm Monday thru Friday. If you do not understand the reason for this Notice, contact Mr. Tavernier further explanation.

    I would like to remind you that the Employee Assistance Program (EAP} provides professional and confidential services to assist employees with a variety of personal issues or problems. If you believe that EAP could be of assistance, you are urged to contact them on 1-800-222-0364.

    You and/or your representative may answer this notice within fourteen (14) calendar days of your receipt thereof, either in person or in writing, or both, before Mrs. Marrianne McMullen, at the Aerospace Building, 901 D Street SW, Washington DC, between the hours of 9:00 am and 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. You and/or your representative may also furnish affidavits or written material to Mrs. McMullen within fourteen (14) calendar days of your receipt of this Notice. You will be afforded a reasonable amount of official time for the above purpose,if you are otherwise in a duty status. After the expiration of the time limits for reply, all of the facts, including any reply you or your representative may submit, will be given full consideration before a final decision is rendered. You will receive a written decision from Mrs. McMullen.

    Acknowledgement of Receipt

    Your signature below is only an acknowledgement of receipt. lt does not indicate your agreement with the content By signing below you will not forfeit any rights you are entitled. Failure to sign will not stay the action.

    Thomas Sullivan
    (Signature and Date)

    Background Checks in Indian Country Passes Committee

     Comments Off on Background Checks in Indian Country Passes Committee
    Feb 042015
     
    Senator John Hoeven

    Senator Hoeven’s bill “To amend the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act to require background checks before foster care placements are ordered in tribal court proceedings” passed its 3rd reading and will be headed to the floor. It might take a little while to get there as so many other things are being discussed and worked on right now.

    Please read the bill and comment. If you have questions, please contact your Senator and ask. It is important for your Senators to know this bill is important to you. If they don’t know anything about the bill, ask them to contact Elizabeth Frei in Senator Hoeven’s office to find the answers you need.

    We are concerned about the two year wait to have child protection implemented…but look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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

    Direct Link:

    https://www.congress.gov/114/bills/s184/BILLS-114s184is.pdf

    [Congressional Bills 114th Congress]
    [From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
    [S. 184 Introduced in Senate (IS)]

    114th CONGRESS
    1st Session
    S. 184

    To amend the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act
    to require background checks before foster care placements are ordered
    in tribal court proceedings, and for other purposes.

    _______________________________________________________________________

    IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

    January 16, 2015

    Mr. Hoeven (for himself and Mr. Tester) introduced the following bill;
    which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs

    _______________________________________________________________________

    A BILL

    To amend the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act
    to require background checks before foster care placements are ordered
    in tribal court proceedings, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
    United States of America in Congress assembled,

    SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the “Native American Children’s Safety
    Act”.

    SEC. 2. CRIMINAL RECORDS CHECKS.

    Section 408 of the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence
    Prevention Act (25 U.S.C. 3207) is amended by adding at the end the
    following:
    “(d) By Tribal Social Services Agency for Foster Care Placements
    in Tribal Court Proceedings.–
    “(1) Definitions.–In this subsection:
    “(A) Covered individual.–The term `covered
    individual’ includes–
    “(i) any individual 18 years of age or
    older; and
    “(ii) any individual who the tribal social
    services agency determines is subject to a
    criminal records check under paragraph (2)(A).
    “(B) Foster care placement.–The term `foster care
    placement’ means any action removing an Indian child
    from a parent or Indian custodian for temporary
    placement in a foster home or institution or the home
    of a guardian or conservator if–
    “(i) the parent or Indian custodian cannot
    have the child returned on demand; and
    “(ii)(I) parental rights have not been
    terminated; or
    “(II) parental rights have been terminated
    but the child has not been permanently placed.
    “(C) Indian custodian.–The term `Indian
    custodian’ means any Indian–
    “(i) who has legal custody of an Indian
    child under tribal law or custom or under State
    law; or
    “(ii) to whom temporary physical care,
    custody, and control has been transferred by
    the parent of the child.
    “(D) Parent.–The term `parent’ means–
    “(i) any biological parent of an Indian
    child; or
    “(ii) any Indian who has lawfully adopted
    an Indian child, including adoptions under
    tribal law or custom.
    “(E) Tribal court.–The term `tribal court’ means
    a court–
    “(i) with jurisdiction over foster care
    placements; and
    “(ii) that is–
    “(I) a Court of Indian Offenses;
    “(II) a court established and
    operated under the code or custom of an
    Indian tribe; or
    “(III) any other administrative
    body of an Indian tribe that is vested
    with authority over foster care
    placements.
    “(F) Tribal social services agency.–The term
    `tribal social services agency’ means the agency of an
    Indian tribe that has the primary responsibility for
    carrying out foster care licensing or approval (as of
    the date on which the proceeding described in paragraph
    (2)(A) commences) for the Indian tribe.
    “(2) Criminal records check before foster care
    placement.–
    “(A) In general.–Except as provided in paragraph
    (3), no foster care placement shall be finally approved
    and no foster care license shall be issued until the
    tribal social services agency–
    “(i) completes a criminal records check of
    each covered individual who resides in the
    household or is employed at the institution in
    which the foster care placement will be made;
    and
    “(ii) concludes that each covered
    individual described in clause (i) meets such
    standards as the Indian tribe shall establish
    in accordance with subparagraph (B).
    “(B) Standards of placement.–The standards
    described in subparagraph (A)(ii) shall include–
    “(i) requirements that each tribal social
    services agency described in subparagraph (A)–
    “(I) perform criminal records
    checks, including fingerprint-based
    checks of national crime information
    databases (as defined in section
    534(f)(3) of title 28, United States
    Code);
    “(II) check any abuse registries
    maintained by the Indian tribe; and
    “(III) check any child abuse and
    neglect registry maintained by the
    State in which the covered individual
    resides for information on the covered
    individual, and request any other State
    in which the covered individual resided
    in the preceding 5 years, to enable the
    tribal social services agency to check
    any child abuse and neglect registry
    maintained by that State for such
    information; and
    “(ii) any other additional requirement
    that the Indian tribe determines is necessary
    and permissible within the existing authority
    of the Indian tribe, such as the creation of
    voluntary agreements with State entities in
    order to facilitate the sharing of information
    related to the performance of criminal records
    checks.
    “(C) Results.–Except as provided in paragraph
    (3), no foster care placement shall be ordered in any
    proceeding described in subparagraph (A) if an
    investigation described in clause (i) of that
    subparagraph reveals that a covered individual
    described in that clause has been found by a Federal,
    State, or tribal court to have committed any crime
    listed in clause (i) or (ii) of section 471(a)(20)(A)
    of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 671(a)(20)(A)).
    “(3) Emergency placement.–Paragraph (2) shall not apply
    to an emergency foster care placement, as determined by a
    tribal social services agency.
    “(4) Recertification of foster homes or institutions.–
    “(A) In general.–Not later than 2 years after the
    date of enactment of this subsection, each Indian tribe
    shall establish procedures to recertify homes or
    institutions in which foster care placements are made.
    “(B) Contents.–The procedures described in
    subparagraph (A) shall include, at a minimum, periodic
    intervals at which the home or institution shall be
    subject to recertification to ensure–
    “(i) the safety of the home or institution
    for the Indian child; and
    “(ii) that each covered individual who
    resides in the home or is employed at the
    institution is subject to a criminal records
    check in accordance with this subsection,
    including any covered individual who–
    “(I) resides in the home or is
    employed at the institution on the date
    on which the procedures established
    under subparagraph (A) commences; and
    “(II) did not reside in the home
    or was not employed at the institution
    on the date on which the investigation
    described in paragraph (2)(A)(i) was
    completed.
    “(C) Guidance issued by the secretary.–The
    procedures established under subparagraph (A) shall be
    subject to any regulation or guidance issued by the
    Secretary that is in accordance with the purpose of
    this subsection.
    “(5) Guidance.–Not later than 2 years after the date of
    enactment of this subsection and after consultation with Indian
    tribes, the Secretary shall issue guidance regarding–
    “(A) procedures for a criminal records check of
    any covered individual who–
    “(i) resides in the home or is employed at
    the institution in which the foster care
    placement is made after the date on which the
    investigation described in paragraph (2)(A)(i)
    is completed; and
    “(ii) was not the subject of an
    investigation described in paragraph (2)(A)(i)
    before the foster care placement was made;
    “(B) self-reporting requirements for foster care
    homes or institutions in which any covered individual
    described in subparagraph (A) resides if the head of
    the household or the operator of the institution has
    knowledge that the covered individual–
    “(i) has been found by a Federal, State,
    or tribal court to have committed any crime
    listed in clause (i) or (ii) of section
    471(a)(20)(A) of the Social Security Act (42
    U.S.C. 671(a)(20)(A)); or
    “(ii) is listed on a registry described in
    clause (II) or (III) of paragraph (2)(B)(i);
    “(C) promising practices used by Indian tribes to
    address emergency foster care placement procedures
    under paragraph (3); and
    “(D) procedures for certifying compliance with
    this Act.”.

    CHRISTMAS 2014 NEWSLETTER

     Comments Off on CHRISTMAS 2014 NEWSLETTER
    Dec 272014
     

    Why we do what we do – and what’s next:

    CAICW has no paid staff. That isn’t to say that we don’t get important things done, as the Christmas newsletter shows. We simply get it done in the most cost effective way imaginable…albeit, slowly…

    We are not complaining. My husband and I got involved with the work – fighting against the current reservation system – from the pain and passion of watching too many relatives, including children, die tragically from drugs, alcohol, violence and suicide. As we delved in through the years, doing research, writing, speaking and acquiring colleagues, we learned how deep the corruption in Indian Country goes. Financial compensation has never been important. We are talking about the welfare of our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

    The first thing a person should know about CAICW prior to getting involved is that we are politically “incorrect” and have been vilified by the Montana Human Rights Network, among others, in the past. My husband, in fact, was labeled an “anti-Indian Native American” by MHRN. They were so upset by his words and actions that they continued to use him on their power point as their poster child for anti-Indian racism three years after he passed away.

    All I could think when told this by someone who had attended one of their seminars was… if all they can come up with as their worst “Anti-Indian” offender is a man of 100% Minnesota Chippewa heritage who has been gone for three years…well…then there really must not be much of a problem…

    There is much going on in Indian Country that the rest of America needs to realize. For starters, we are all aware that former lobbyist Jack Abramoff went to prison. However, no one who paid him the money, nor anyone who received the money, went to jail. Jack was gone, but obviously, the money continues to change hands – at the expense of the lives and well-being of our children.

    The Indian Child Welfare Act is not about ‘protecting’ children.It never was. (Why did Russell Means brag about being the only federally incarcerated prisoner to work for a U.S. Senator – SD Senator Abourezk?) The ICWA was about protecting tribal sovereignty and the money that tribal governments are given per head.

    Most of you have heard about the child abuse and murders at Spirit Lake. There is so much more – documented – that we can tell you. Further, what is happening at Spirit Lake is not isolated. Many reservations, due to the high levels of alcohol and drug abuse, coupled with the inability for state law enforcement to act or federal money to be audited, have become deeply corrupt. True traditional culture does not prevail. A crime and drug culture prevails.

    Congressman Cramer has been wonderful in that he has taken this issue head-on. He is one of the few unafraid of saying what needs to be said. He is the one who requested the Oversight hearing last June and called the Spirit Lake leaders on the carpet.

    There is much more work to do.

    1) I will return to DC in late January to resume talking to every office.Well…I have given up trying with Senator Heitkamp’s office, but there are 99 others. I will be there for a few weeks.

    2) Our legal fund for families who are fighting the Indian Child Welfare Act needs funds. Some are birth families; some are foster or adoptive families. But all are trying to protect children from being forced from their homes and placed into homes chosen by the tribal government. Many times, these children have very little tribal heritage. Some have less than 5%. One little girl three years ago had just 1% Cherokee heritage. We have had grandparents who were told they cannot keep their grandchildren because the grandparents are not Indian. We have had birth fathers whose children have been whisked away to the reservation, despite state court orders, and law enforcement has been unwilling to step on toes to retrieve them. We have had children who have never lived on the reservation – and whose families have never lived there – taken from foster or adoptive homes where they have lived happily most of their lives. We cannot pay the full fees for families, but can pay for consultations with good ICWA attorneys. This year, through this fund, a seven-year-old child’s family learned what they needed to do, won in court, and he was allowed to continue living with his grandmother.

    Our children are not on this earth to benefit tribal sovereignty. They are our children. 75% of tribal members do NOT live in Indian Country. Many, many have left due to the crime and corruption and do not want tribal governments to lay claim over their children.

    When things are wrong, they need to be admitted and dealt with – not hidden. Many enrolled and enrollable families agree.

    3) We also have families who have left Indian Country and want a different life for their children, but need help putting that new life together. So we are also in the process of finishing a business plan for a long-term therapeutic setting, similar to “Teen Challenge,” where families can come as a unit and grow healthy together.

    We appreciate your interest and hope you find us worthy.

    ~ Christmas 2014 Newsletter ~

    Luke 2:11 “…in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

    My Friends and Family – 2014 has been so busy and eventful, it’s been hard to know where to begin, let alone find time to begin it.

    In October, 2013, I took off for DC with the Blazer and a couple hundred dollars, trusting God to provide for the work that needed to be done once I got there. Once there, I visited every Senate office in DC and several house and committee offices, renewing old relationships and building new ones, telling them what is really going on in Indian Country.

    After coming home for my son’s birthday and Christmas, I traveled west at the invitation of a supporter, visiting several friends and CAICW families along the way –

    Over the course of six months, I visited several awesome families from coast to coast. I traveled from South Carolina, to North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Washington, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado – (where I was introduced to a publicist who later introduced me to my new book publisher. I also met for the first time with ACF Regional Director Tom Sullivan) – Kansas, Arkansas, and finally, Missouri. I video-taped several ICWA family stories.

    It was a blessed time. I wish I could name all my gracious hosts – but there were so many and my patient readers would think they were reading Genesis 10. Through it all, God provided tremendously – food, gas, warm homes to stay in, repairs to the Blazer and more.

    I came home at the end of March, 2014 for the birth of my grandson, ‘Roland John.’ I thought I would only stay a couple weeks and then head back to DC. But for varied reasons and difficulties, ended up staying through the summer. One of the difficulties – I was given a 1983 Toyota Huntsman camper. I intended to continue traveling, so thought this would allow me to be more independent. So I gave the Blazer to my daughter. Well… as it turns out, there had been a recall on the axle for that camper about twenty or so years ago – and this camper didn’t get one. So now I was told it was too dangerous to drive; that I had been given a two-ton planter.

    Yeah – so that put a small dent in travel plans. But again – God is good. After several weeks, a friend found an axle for $200 and put it in. The camper was finally ready by August or so…

    But the summer wasn’t wasted. While in ND and MN, continuing to work volunteer and trusting God for provision, I wrote several articles and tended to the org. I also visited a lot of extended family, had a long and good visit with (former) Spirit Lake Tribal Chair Russ McDonald, and later the ND Executive Director for Indian Affairs, Scott Davis. I also spent Mother’s Day with my daughter and baby Roland with dear friends in South Dakota.

    In June, I took a really nice SD family to the House Oversight Committee Hearing in DC. They weren’t testifying concerning the subject of child abuse at Spirit Lake, but they had a similar story and it is important for Congress to know these things are happening on many reservations – not just at Spirit Lake. I also did quite a bit of writing this summer, finished Sage’s ICWA story on video, took a couple classes through Liberty University online, contracted with a new publisher for the book “Dying in Indian Country,” and tried to sell almost everything I own through rummage sales and Craig’s list. (I intended to hit the road again so figured I didn’t need anything anymore.)

    However, once summer was over, it made more sense to stay in North Dakota and help Congressman Kevin Cramer’s campaign then to go to DC during campaign season, when very little gets done (well, outside of Pres. Obama’s executive orders). So I worked for Congressman Cramer, putting up campaign signs and making phone calls for events.

    In September, a BIA policeman – tribal member from Spirit Lake – who had first contacted me in June, contacted me again. This time he, Bundy Littlewind, wanted to share his story publically. I was sent several documents and audio tapes between him and tribal social services. After I had listened to the tapes, he called me. We talked for about an hour. He told me that all he cares about is truth. He told me he was raised to be a warrior – protecting women, elders and children. He said tribal social services only protects tribal government. I asked him if he wanted me to arrange radio interviews. He said, “Yes.”

    Five hours later, he was killed after hitting a moose on highway 2.

    Bundy wanted us to spread the documents, so in accordance with his wishes, after removing the names of the children from the material, we posted it. The response was amazing. Our CAICW Facebook page grew with hundreds of followers – many of whom members of the Spirit Lake reservation.

    In October – one of my niece – the adult daughter of Roland’s sister – came to live with me for a few weeks. She helped me with putting signs up for Congressman Cramer, attended an small event featuring Senator Rubio with me, walked with the campaign in a parade… and as a professional masseuse (YES!) gave me a couple of GREAT massages.

    In November, a nephew – the adult son of another of Roland’s sisters – came to live with me for a long term. In the short time he has been here, he has already painted two rooms in my house as well as started his flooring business in eastern North Dakota. My son – who arranges home improvement installations for Lowe’s – and nephew talk a lot about such things, and I nod my head and pretend to understand.

    My nephew was in Teen Challenge last winter, loves the Lord, and wants to work in men’s ministry as well as help found the RJM (name?) home. It is exciting to have a partner in ministry!

    Now here it is, December, and I helping some beloved friends in Canada get through a difficult time. I have been learning so much while with them – as I always do when with them – about pausing, prayer, worship, and taking time to listen to the Lord. What an awesome opportunity this time with them has been – a blessed way to end the year.

    Trusting God fully for providence – all this last year. Thank you, Jesus.

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

    PRESIDENT OBAMA, SENATOR HEITKAMP, AND STANDING ROCK:

    This letter was printed in the Grand Forks Herald and Bismarck papers Thursday, June 12, 2014, and read on air during the Jay Thomas radio show Friday, June 13, 2014

    To the Editor,
    Concerning the upcoming event featuring President Obama and Senator Heitkamp at the Standing Rock Reservation on Friday, June 13th:

    North Dakotans are a gracious and forgiving people and will politely welcome the president to our wonderful state.

    However, before he gives his speech concerning the wonderful “Nation to Nation” relationship he has with tribal leaders and announces what further moneys and authorities he will bestow upon them – he needs to learn facts from those whom his edicts directly affect.

    • One: According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75% of tribal members DO NOT live in Indian Country – and many have deliberately taken their children and left in order to protect their families from the rampant crime and corruption.

    • Two: The abuses at Spirit Lake here in North Dakota are well known, but it is also known that Spirit Lake is just a microcosm of what’s happening on reservations across the country.

    • Three: 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.

    • Four: Many, many times more children leave the reservation system in the company of their parents, who have mass exited – than do children who have been taken into foster care or found a home in adoption. But tribal leaders can’t admit parents are consciously taking 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 it on evil social services

    President Obama, please listen to those who do not have a vested financial interest in increasing tribal government power, and learn about the physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of tribal members by other tribal members and even many tribal leaders.

    STOP supporting corrupt tribal leaders and corrupt systems and pretending all is okay in Indian Country.

    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.

    More power given to tribal leaders means less freedom, safety and constitutional rights for tribal members.

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

    Thank you so much for all your encouragement and support!

    Articles we write and receive are posted on the CAICW website at https://caicw.org.
    To follow us on Facebook – go to https://www.facebook.com/fbCAICW.org NOTE: Facebook algorithms have changed. Facebook, being a business, has begun diminishing the ability for pages to get attention in a free, organic manner in order to encourage page owners to purchase advertising. Studies have shown that in the last year, organic page reach has diminished 40% – and up to 80% for some pages. You are not seeing everything we post.
    o To ensure you are getting all of our updates, please set the “Get Notifications” for the page or “Add to your Interest List.”
    o Otherwise, without paying FB for advertising, it is becoming harder and harder for content posts to be seen in the timeline. (The select options are available in a drop down on your page where it says “Liked.” (Forewarned: Scripture and our Sunday evening prayer thoughts will also come through, along with updates about families and legislation.)
    The book, ‘Dying in Indian Country,’ will be available this coming summer through Deep River Books – at half the current price.

    Some of the recent articles available at https://caicw.org

    Three South Dakota Children Given to Abuser? (Video from family) –
    – https://caicw.org/2014/05/03/three-south-dakota-children-given-to-abuser/#.U5vKmrH4IfQ
    Criminal Corruption continues at Spirit Lake (May 16, 2014, Letter from Thomas F. Sullivan) –
    – https://caicw.org/2014/05/06/criminal-corruption-continues-at-spirit-lake/#.U5vKRrH4IfQ
    Mark Fiddler Explains Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl (Published in Minnesota State Bar Association Family Law Forum | Vol. 22 No. 2 | Spring 2014) –
    – https://caicw.org/2014/06/03/mark-fiddle-explains-adoptive-couple-vs-baby-girl/#.U5vKebH4IfQ
    Letter to BIA Concerning Planned Changes to ICWA Guidelines – – This letter is in response to suggestions made by tribal leaders in an April BIA listening Session –
    – https://caicw.org/2014/05/01/letter-to-bia-re-icwa-guidelines/#.U5vKtLH4IfQ
    Tom Sullivan’s Response to ACF Superior Ms. McMullen, (July 1, 2014) – This letter is in response to testimony at the June House Oversight hearing –
    – https://caicw.org/2014/07/05/tom-sullivans-response-to-acf-superior-ms-mcmullen-july-1-2014/#.U-KACmNsLFQ
    Tom Sullivan’s Response to Chairman McDonald’s Hearing Testimony – This letter is in response to testimony at the June House Oversight hearing –
    – https://caicw.org/2014/07/05/tom-sullivans-response-to-chairman-mcdonalds-hearing-testimony/#.U-KAL2NsLFQ
    CAICW TESTIMONY: CHILD PROTECTION AND THE JUSTICE SYSTEM ON THE SPIRIT LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION: – This letter is in response to testimony at the June House Oversight hearing –
    – https://caicw.org/2014/07/05/testimony-child-protection-and-the-justice-system-on-the-spirit-lake-indian-reservation/#.U-KAW2NsLFQ
    Response to Mayo Clinic Prayer Study: – (Thinking through the obvious…)
    – https://caicw.org/2014/08/06/concerning-the-long-ago-mayo-clinic-prayer-study/#.U-JwT2NsLFQ
    “Stakeholders” – the new BIA buzz word: – – In response to the offensive use of the word “Stakeholder”
    – https://caicw.org/2014/06/20/stakeholders-the-new-bia-buzz-word/#.U-J8gWNsLFQ
    Sage’s Story: Running from ICWA (Video)
    • – https://caicw.org/2014/08/13/sages-story-running-from-icwa/
    Bundy’s Audio Tapes and documents: – Audios from BIA policeman, Bundy Littlewind
    – https://caicw.org/2014/09/25/five-hours-later-he-died-in-a-car-wreck/#.VCwQSzaZ5pk
    Letter to Eric Holder, re: His ICWA Statement at WH Tribal Nations Conference, Dec 3, 2014
    – https://caicw.org/2014/12/05/letter-to-eric-holder-re-his-icwa-statement-at-wh-tribal-nations-conference-dec-3-2014/

    And on the ‘Dying in Indian Country’ blog site –
    AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT, LIES, & THEIR FEDERAL SUPPORTERS
    – http://dyinginindiancountry.com/2014/10/12/american-indian-movement-persuasion/

    “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12: 1-2)

    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