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Howdy! We've amassed tons of information and important history on this blog since 2010. If you have a keyword, use the search box below. Also check out the reference section above. If you have a question or need help searching, use the contact form at the bottom of the blog.
ALSO, if you buy any of the books at the links provided, the editor will earn a small amount of money or commission. (we thank you) (that is our disclaimer statement)

This is a blog. It is not a peer-reviewed journal, not a sponsored publication... The ideas, news and thoughts posted are sourced… or written by the editor or contributors.

2019: This blog was ranked #50 in top 100 blogs about adoption. Let's make it #1...

2019: WE NEED A TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION Commission in the US now for the Adoption Programs that stole generations of children... Goldwater Institute's work to dismantle ICWA is another glaring attempt at cultural genocide.


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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

When Two Sovereigns Collide #ProudtoProtectICWA

In this episode, renowned experts on American Indian law and policy, Matthew Fletcher and Wenona Singel, discuss the nuanced and highly complex field of American Indian Law. Matthew and Wenona begin by exploring the history of tribal sovereignty, and discuss the rights of American Indians as both tribal citizens and U.S. citizens.  We then explore jurisdiction across border lines, particularly in a criminal context. Matthew and Wenona discuss the history of violence against native women, and why, until recently, prosecution has been so difficult. The history of and current U.S. court challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act are also examined.

Reasonably Speaking Podcast — “American Indian Law: When Two Sovereigns Collide”

by Matthew L.M. Fletcher
 

Turtle Talk Blog
Turtle Talk is the blog for the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University College of Law. It is the leading law blog on American Indian law and policy. Matthew Fletcher is the primary editor and author. It specializes in providing access to primary documents related to current topics in American Indian law and policy — court opinions and pleadings, federal government documents, scholarly materials, and other sources.

States and Their American Indian Citizens
Fletcher, Matthew L. M., States and Their American Indian Citizens (November 13, 2017). 41 American Indian Law Review 319 (2017).

Tribal Jurisdiction - A Historical Bargain
Fletcher, Matthew L. M. and Jurss, Leah, Tribal Jurisdiction - A Historical Bargain (February 3, 2016). Maryland Law Review, Vol. 76, No. 3, 2017.

Indian Children and the Federal-Tribal Trust Relationship
Fletcher, Matthew L. M. and Singel, Wenona T., Indian Children and the Federal-Tribal Trust Relationship (April 28, 2016). Nebraska Law Review, Vol. 95, No. 4, 2017.

Statutory Divestiture of Tribal Sovereignty
Fletcher, Matthew L. M. and Singel, Wenona T., Indian Children and the Federal-Tribal Trust Relationship (April 28, 2016). Nebraska Law Review, Vol. 95, No. 4, 2017.

Friday, March 15, 2019

#ICWA is vital: US and Tribes Stand Together #ProudtoProtectICWA

U.S. and Tribes Stand Together to Protect Native Children & Uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act

by Native News Online Staff
Published March 15, 2019
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday in Brackeen v. Bernhardt, in which the United States and tribal nations stand together in defense of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the American Indian and Alaska Native children that it serves. A nationwide coalition of 325 tribal nations, 57 Native organizations, 21 states, 31 child welfare organizations, 7 members of Congress, and dozens of scholars of federal Indian law and constitutional law also stood with the parties in court during their amicus briefs supporting Native children and families through the Indian Child Welfare Act.
“ICWA is vital to the well-being of Native children and the stability and integrity of Native families today. We can’t afford to go back to the days when massive numbers of Native children were forcibly removed from their loved ones and were often separated from their families with little hope of ever seeing them again. It’s not an option,” said the Protect ICWA Campaign.
The National Indian Child Welfare Association, the National Congress of American Indians, the Association on American Indian Affairs, and the Native American Rights Fund urge the ruling of the district court to be reversed.
A decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected within a few months after the oral argument.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

High levels of perceived Poverty justifies removal of American Indian children (again?)

ARCHIVE PHOTO

How does measuring poverty and welfare affect American Indian children? (aka #povertyporn)

For one group of children in particular, American Indians and Alaska Natives, exceedingly high poverty rates have had profound impacts on community wellbeing and long-term cohesiveness. Given the best available data, from the U.S. Census data, child poverty rates among American Indians and Alaska Natives have consistently exceeded 40% for almost the past 30 years.*

However, a recent National Academics of Sciences (NAS) report affirms what many in these communities have long known—that the data on poverty are sparse and not as reliable for this group as it is for other groups or communities in the U.S.:

“Small sample sizes in population surveys have made it particularly difficult to reliably measure poverty rates among American Indian and Alaska Native children. Moreover, we know little about the effectiveness of a number of important programs and policies – whether provided by the tribes, by the states, or by the federal government – that affect this population.”

As a result, it is quite difficult to accurately track the impact that various programs have had on child poverty over time or how applicable standard assessments of what poverty looks like actually are to American Indian communities.
Are conditions as bad as indicated by the official poverty rates shown above? (see website)

Historically, high levels of perceived poverty have been used to justify the removal of American Indian children from their households by state foster care systems. As recently as the 1970s, state welfare agents were removing almost one third of all American Indian children from their households and placing them in state foster or adoptive care systems. (Mannes, 1995)

One of the aims of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 was to stop the removal of American Indian children from their households due to poverty. A number of studies had confirmed that social workers were removing American Indian children from households not due to maltreatment or being orphaned but simply due to the perceived poverty status of the household (see MacEachron, Ann E., and Nora Gustavsson, 2005). The ICWA legislation was intended to improve tribal control over the determination and placement of American Indian children within the foster care system.

Congress reaffirmed tribal government authority and oversight of the placement of its own citizens – its children. Tribal courts were delegated the authority and jurisdiction over the placement of its own citizens (and those eligible for tribal citizenship enrollment) in foster or adoptive homes.

For instance, Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy; Director of Education; Akomawt Educational Initiative) describes a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of family and neglect in his Passamaquoddy community in Maine:

“In Maine, parents would often leave their children with their grandparents or other extended family members when they would leave for seasonal work elsewhere. To the state, however, this constitutes neglect and could qualify a child for removal. In reality, our children’s needs were commonly met by extended family and community beyond the nuclear family.”

Mr. Newell served as a senior advisor on a recent documentary film called “Dawnland,” which exposes the impact of such practices on American Indian children and their parents decades later in the state of Maine. The film depicts the long-term trauma and damage that resulted from the removal of children from their families; it also shows the damage to the children caused by their removal from their kinship network and cultural connections.
Individuals with little exposure to or experience with American Indian communities would have little to no knowledge of these forms of social safety nets.
Assessing economic conditions may also be quite difficult for individuals who are unfamiliar with American Indian communities and practices. There are important culturally-specific safety nets that exist in many American Indian communities; most of which would be unknown to outsiders. Individuals with little exposure to or experience with American Indian communities would have little to no knowledge of these forms of social safety nets.

The recent NAS report indicates that even standard measures of poverty are difficult to measure for the American Indian population. However, neither the Official Poverty Measure (OPM) nor the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which includes taxes and federal government in-kind transfers, account for community or kinship in-kind transfers or from tribal governments. In certain American Indian communities, for instance, hunting, trapping, fishing and other subsistence activities are important parts of the economic and social interactions of community members. These activities do not show up directly as cash income nor are they identified as federal government in-kind transfers. As a result, the OPM and SPM measures may not accurately depict the general welfare of American Indian families or children. In fact, they may understate the resources in some families and whole communities.

While this does not dismiss the fact that child poverty is probably still too high in many American Indian reservations, it does indicate that there may be other activities or practices that exist in non-market (even non-governmental) forms to assist families. Subsistence activities and the sharing of resources is difficult to document with administrative records or tax returns; nevertheless, these safety nets have played an important role in these communities for hundreds if not thousands of years. Individuals with little exposure to or experience with American Indian communities would have little to no knowledge of these forms of social safety nets.

Challenges to ICWA often focus on an erroneous assumption that these policies are race-based.
However, providing tribal government jurisdiction and authority over its own citizens’ welfare is based on American Indian tribal sovereignty- not race. Tribal citizenship enrollment and eligibility is based on tribal government rules which are often specific to a particular tribe and may require showing direct lineal descent from certain enrolled ancestors; there may be other additional conditions for tribal citizenship such as a minimum blood quantum, residency requirement or demonstrated relationship with the community. In the current court case, Brackeen v. Zinke, where oral arguments are scheduled to begin in the Fifth Circuit court this week, the same arguments have been made. ICWA has played an important role in stopping the seizure of American Indian children from their communities. Misunderstanding of how American Indian communities care for their own children and the inability to assess non-monetary well-being of American Indian communities should not play a role in the removal of children from their homes. ICWA plays a critical role in safeguarding these children and maintaining the local and tribal authority for placing American Indian children in foster or adoptive care. Let’s not go backwards.

Sources:
“7 Other Policy and Program Approaches to Child Poverty Reduction.” National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Page XXX. doi: 10.17226/25246
Mannes, M. (1995). Factors and events leading to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act. Child Welfare, 74(1), 264–282.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. A Roadmap to Reducing Child Poverty. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. “7 Other Policy and Program Approaches to Child Poverty Reduction.” Page 203. doi: 10.17226/25246.
MacEachron, A. E., Gustavsson, N. S., Cross, S., & Lewis, A. (1996). The effectiveness of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. The Social Service Review, 70(3), 451–463.

Author

Randall Akee

David M. Rubenstein Fellow - Economic Studies, Center on Children and Families, Future of the Middle Class Initiative



*
Editor Note: The government takes the land AND causes the poverty, then they want more LAND and take the children to achieve this goal. The genocide cycle never ends...  That is the sport of colonization and empire. Trace

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

#ProudtoProtectICWA






The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a long-standing federal law protecting the well-being of Native children by upholding family integrity and stability within their community; and the “gold standard” in child welfare policy.
October 2018, Judge Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that ICWA was unconstitutional in its entirety based on the Equal Protection Clause and the 14th Amendment. January 2019 in defense of ICWA an impressive array of state and national organizations joined in support of Tribal nations and representatives headed by Casey Family Programs and joined by CWLA and other organizations. On Wednesday, March 13 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will be hearing oral arguments for the appeal of Brackeen v. Bernhardt (previously known as Brackeen v. Zinke).
The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) is hosting a Twitter chat on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at 12pm ET to educate people about ICWA, discuss why the law is important today, hear the Native youth perspective, and encourage people to get involved in standing up for ICWA. Simply tag, follow, retweet, and join the virtual conversation through the designated hashtag—#ProudtoProtectICWA.

The business of Indian adoption

Archive: Terry Cross
Adoption of native children broke families apart while others profitted

Char-Koosta News

PABLO– Sandra White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota) said she was 18-months-old when she recalled being taken in a red pickup truck. “I remembered sitting between these two strangers,” she said. “I didn’t know where I was going. I had an outer body experience from the trauma of it all and I remember watching myself drive down the dirt road with these people.”

The strangers were White Hawk’s adoptive parents and they were a white missionary couple originally from Illinois. White Hawk said she suffered abuse during her upbringing in their home. “It was difficult being the only Native person in town and there was racism,” she said. “My adoptive mother suffered from mental illness and I was subjected to abuse.”

White Hawk said she was placed in the foster care system through a referral made by a Catholic church that operated on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. “Churches received federal funding for referring Native children into the foster care system on my reservation,” she said. “The truth is this is a business and it’s tearing many Native people from their homes.”

White Hawk collaborated with filmmakers Drew Nicholas and Megan Whitmer to document her experience as a foster care survivor in the film “Blood Memory,” which was screened at Salish Kootenai College. “I’m thankful that this story could be shared,” White Hawk said. “There are many survivors out there without a voice.”

The film investigates the epidemic of Native American children being taken from their homes since the Indian Civilization Act (1819), which resulted in over 60,000 Native American children being forced to attend government funded boarding schools throughout the country. Whitmer said she was horrified reading through old accounts from boarding school staff. “They discussed the money they were receiving from the government,” she said. “They talked about how the schools were cheaper than what it would cost to kill the Native people but this was a business since early on.”

The business of adoption and child welfare in America is a $16 billion industry, according to 2018 reports from the business market research firm IBIS World. Nicholas has been working on the project since 2010 and said it was a learning experience. “It was eye-opening for me to learn that adoption isn’t just this beautiful thing, we’re seeing that it can be really terrible too,” he said. “It’s a huge industry and historically Native communities have been the most vulnerable.”

The film highlights the “Indian Adoption Era,” which was a federal program conducted between 1958 through 1967, which resulted in 35 percent of all Native American children being forcibly removed from their homes and adopted into white families. “There is this white superiority complex that says that we as Native people can’t take care of ourselves and that mentality has been very destructive,” White Hawk said.

Thanks to the testimony of Native American mothers who went before Congress, the Indian Child Welfare Act was passed in 1978. The legislation is now considered the “gold standard” in adoption practices and governs legislation over Native American children. “It took 20 years for this epidemic of Native children being placed in the foster care system to be addressed by the federal government,” Nicholas said. “The women who went before Congress truly were heroic.”

Since ICWA passed, Native American children are still overrepresented in the foster care system. The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) reports that rates of Native American children in the foster care system are 2.7 times greater than the general population in 2017 and 40 percent of the cases are placed by tribal authorities. In Montana, Native American children account for 30 percent of the state’s out of home care cases.

White Hawk works with fellow Native American survivors of the foster care system. “Blood Memory” is currently being screened across the country and was an official selection for the 2019 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

For more information on the film, visit: www.bloodmemorydoc.com

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Pala Tribe to protect Children in California's Welfare System

October 16, 2015 | (more tribes need to take this action in 2019)

PALA, CA – The Pala Band of Mission Indians is the first tribe in California to receive clearance to conduct LiveScan background checks for tribal foster homes under new State law (Senate Bill 1460). 
The tribe is also the first to apply to the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS) program,  Purpose Code X, to assist tribal services agencies within federally recognized tribes that are seeking to place children in safe homes during an emergency situation, when parents are unable to provide for their welfare.                                                                                                                                                       
"We are very excited to be a part of this momentous change to protect our Native youth in the welfare system," said Robert Smith, Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians. "For years, Native American children have been placed in homes that do not reflect their cultural heritage and placed with foster parents who have not had their criminal history thoroughly vetted because the tribe was not allowed to conduct these background checks. Now we can certify tribal homes that are prepared to care for these children in a timely manner and ensure that Native American children are maturing in an appropriate environment."

The Purpose Code X program provides BIA Office of Justice Services with the ability to provide tribal social service agency partners with much-needed information to help make sure children requiring emergency placement will be placed in safe homes. The program arose out of a 2014 working group formed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Interior (DOI) to identify sustainable solutions addressing the civil needs of the tribes. Under this program, BIA dispatch centers will be available to provide 24-hour access to criminal history records, so name-based checks can be done immediately.

With the changes made in California law, tribes are now able to receive criminal history and child abuse information from the California DOJ and be involved in the approval of tribal foster homes. The law also provides for the transfer of Native American children case records from a county to tribal government. Under new standards for foster homes, the tribe will be provided with a federal criminal offender check of all adults residing in a family home, as a condition for approval.

"It has been an honor to be part of the work behind SB 1460 and to see the positive impact it has made for Pala and the other California Tribes," said Season Brown, Director of Social Services of Pala Band of Mission Indians. "I'm very excited for Pala to begin the new venture of piloting Purpose Code X and being able to reduce the trauma experienced by our Native children, which is often associated with being placed outside of their Tribal community in Non-Native homes."

Purpose Code X and California State law are now working cohesively to ensure that tribes are able to effectively serve and protect their communities by ensuring the exchange of critical data.

California State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has made it a priority to protect the rights of children and focus the attention and resources of law enforcement and policymakers in safeguarding every child so that they can meet their full potential. These measures will ensure that laws and regulations enacted to protect children, inclusive of Indian welfare children, are consistently and effectively enforced.

The Pala Band of Mission Indians is a federally recognized tribe whose reservation is located along the Palomar Mountain range approximately 30 miles northeast of San Diego. The majority of the over 900 tribal members live on the 12,000-acre reservation, established for Cupeño and Luiseño Indians, who consider themselves to be one proud people - Pala. WIKI


====================
TRIBAL HISTORY

TRAIL OF TEARS

Background:

President Rutherford Hayes, prompted by the Supreme Court holding, declared the Indians "trespassers" and ordered the tribe relocated to Pala, California, just beyond the Palomar Mountains where a 10,000-acre reservation had been established. Pala was a Luiseno reservation then, not Cupa.
This act marked the first time in U.S. history that two distinct Indian tribes were herded together in one reservation. This was a blemish upon a nation that prided itself on leading the world into the 20th Century and the cultural and political renaissance that accompanied such a transition.

On the morning of May 12, 1903, Indian Bureau agent James Jenkins arrived with 44 armed teamsters to carry out the eviction. Rosinda Nolasquez — the last survivor of the expulsion — later testified that "Many carts stood there by the doors. People came from La Mesa, from Santa Ysabel, from Wilakal, from San Ignacio to see their relatives. They cried a lot. And they just threw our belongings, our clothes, into carts."

The 40-mile journey from Cupa to Pala took three days. The Cupeños call it their "Trail of Tears."
WEBSITE 

Our friend, the late Karen Vigneault, was a tribal member at Pala and a tribal historian and MLIS librarian. Many adoptees credit her for their reunions in the book series LOST CHILDREN.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

ICWA on Native America Calling

 
Autumn Adams spent a good portion of her life in foster care. She says the Indian Child Welfare Act saved her life because she was able to stay in her tribal community. ICWA is called the 'gold standard' of child welfare policy. The 40-year-old law is under fire through a number of court cases, including a recent federal court ruling out of Texas that deemed the law unconstitutional. We'll hear from individuals who have been affected by ICWA. 
 
Native America Calling is a national call-in program that invites guests and listeners to join a dialogue about current events, music, arts, entertainment and culture.

The program is hosted by Tara Gatewood (Isleta Pueblo) and airs live each weekday from 1-2 pm Eastern.

Join the conversation by calling 1-800-996-2848. 

Monday, March 4, 2019

I am living proof that it’s best to keep Native children with their tribal communities



Strong relationships with family and culture should be a priority for Native foster youth.


(excerpt) No placement may be perfect when you are a foster youth. I can speak from personal experience.
I have been in and out of the foster system with my younger siblings since I was 9. Amid so many unknowns, one thing remains certain: I am grateful I was placed within my tribal community....

I am now raising my younger siblings, getting a degree in anthropology at Central Washington University and applying to law school. I wouldn’t be able to say that I’m graduating in June without the strength of my culture and the support from my family. In five years, I hope to be surviving law school while raising a teenage girl, my youngest sibling.

Losing our culture is not an option for us.

We go to longhouse when we can; we feast and perform traditional funerals for departed loved ones. My siblings know this history. They know these protocols and they know how to complete them in the traditional way. They know their identity. We are all stronger for this connection to our people.

It is imperative that the appeals court keeps ICWA intact, because it has allowed me to build the strong foundation to the person I am today.

READ: I am living proof that it’s best to keep Native children with their tribal communities | The Seattle Times

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Another Judge, another ICWA violation in Brackeen v. Bernhardt

Judge: State deference to U.S. law in Native American adoptions is unconstitutional

M


A Tarrant County judge on Friday ruled that the state’s requirement for family law judges to apply the federal Indian Child Welfare Act to child custody cases is unconstitutional.

Tarrant County state district judge Alex Kim issued the ruling in response to the adoption of an 8-month-old Native American girl into a non-Native American family.

Chad and Jennifer Brackeen had been seeking to adopt their second Native American child but ran into problems in the court with a portion of the Texas Family Code, which requires that family law judges apply the Indian Child Welfare Act to child custody cases involving Native American children.

State law says judges should should defer to the federal act, which says that placement of Native American children must go first to the child’s extended family, then to other members of the child’s tribe or other Native American families.

Kim said in his decision that the federal law is not applicable in the Brackeens’ case because it is unconstitutional.

On Friday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton lauded the ruling.

Paxton’s office in October 2017 filed a federal lawsuit alongside the Brackeens, challenging the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act is it applies to child custody cases, saying that it places race-based restrictions on the adoption of Native American children and does not consider the best interests of the child.

A U.S. district court the following year ruled the law as applied was unconstitutional. That decision is currently being challenged in the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Friday, March 1, 2019

15 years later, how much changed #ICWA Brackeen v. Bernhardt

UPDATE
15 years already? How I changed...but has adoption perception changed?
By Trace Hentz, ADOPTEE ACTIVIST


If  you had asked me in 2004 or 2014 what I had planned for myself, I would have not said “writing” about adoption, child trafficking, Indian Adoption Programs/Projects, the 60s Scoop, Stolen Generations and Cultural Genocide research.


As an adoptee, I'd attended the first Wiping the Tears ceremony in Wisconsin and met the organizers Sandy White Hawk (an adoptee) and elder Chris Leith.  Then my world changed.
I'd learn more hidden history. 

How adoption affected me: I'd never told my story of opening my adoption while I lived it. A few friends knew details but not all of it. I got the idea for a book when I wrote an article in 2005 about stolen generations of North American Indian children placed for adoption with non-Indian parents. That article, "Generation after Generation, We are Coming Home" was published in Talking Stick magazine in New York City and then in News from Indian Country in Wisconsin. It took me down a path I never expected.

I'd find new information, new history, meet new adoptees, and grow more concerned.*

It's true many bloggers hoped we made a strong and lasting impression, to impact and end the propaganda since the early 2000s. I am not sure we can actually gauge or measure how world views of adoption have changed. (If books on Amazon are an indication, memoirs by adoptees are now climbing the ranks over all the propaganda books about how to buy/adopt a baby.)

It's also true some blogger friends stopped blogging on adoption out of pure exhaustion!


SUPPLY AND DEMAND

If the statistics on adoption are any indication, the number of babies adopted by Americans are dropping each and every year.  There is definitely a BIG demand for infants (primarily because of infertility) but there remains a short supply of newborns/babies to adopt.  (I do think the adoption traffickers are constantly reinventing new ways to grab a fresh supply of infants.

What new poor countries or communities they will invade as this demand increases?! Read THIS) On this website we published stories ( Adoption Reality: Adoptee returned to Russia #NAAM (and) Adoption Reality: Guatemala #NAAM) and (Trafficking) on many countries who became the suppliers and traffickers of newborns and children. Child exploitation, labor bondage, organ trafficking and illegal adoption is also an ongoing problem that award winning Moroccan medical doctor in pediatrics and UN expert Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid says is not decreasing.

Indian Country has lived through this over a century with forced assimilation, child snatching and disappearing children. The government's motive: take more LAND (or what is on or under the land). Targeting children, the future of Indian Country, was obvious.

White people believe they deserve the right to adopt without considering the best needs of the Native child who is sovereign and future of their tribal nation.

On January 16, 2019, 325 tribal nations, 57 Native organizations, 21 states, 31 child welfare organizations, Indian and constitutional law scholars, and seven members of Congress joined the United States and four intervenor tribes in filing briefs to urge the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), the long-standing federal law protecting the well-being of Native children by upholding family integrity and stability.

THEY WILL STOP THE MADNESS - They know the HISTORY!


Friday, February 22, 2019

Brackeen v. Bernhardt | National Native Organizations Respond

National Native Organizations Respond to Reply Briefs in Brackeen v. Bernhardt

Portland, Oregon

In reply briefs filed Tuesday with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the case Brackeen v. Bernhardt, the United States and defendant tribal nations reaffirm the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
The briefs also underscore why ICWA’s protections continue to be vital for Native children and families.
For over 40 years, ICWA has acknowledged the inherent right of tribal governments and the critical role they play to protect their member children and maintain the stability of families.
Brackeen v. Bernhardt is the lawsuit brought by Texas, Indiana, Louisiana, and individual plaintiffs, who allege ICWA—a federal statute that has been in effect for more than 40 years and has helped thousands of Native children maintain ties to their families and their tribes—is unconstitutional.
It is the first time that a state has sued the federal government over ICWA’s constitutionality. 
The lawsuit names various federal agencies and officials as defendants, and five tribal nations (Cherokee Nation, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Navajo Nation, Oneida Nation, and Quinault Indian Nation) also have intervened as defendants. In addition, amicus briefs in support of ICWA were filed on behalf of 325 tribal nations, 21 states, several members of Congress, and dozens of Native organizations, child welfare organizations, and other allies.

The U.S. Constitution specifically gives Congress the power to legislate for the benefit of Native people and tribal nations. ICWA falls within that constitutional authority because it applies only to children who are either citizens (referred to as “members” in ICWA) of a federally recognized tribe, or who are both eligible for citizenship and the biological child of a tribal citizen parent. In addition, Congress has enacted laws concerning Native children from the earliest days of the United States government. ICWA provides a productive framework for states and tribal nations to partner in protecting the health and well-being of Native children.

There is a long history of Native children being removed from their families and communities without sufficient reason and often with little consideration of the rights of either the Native children or their families.

Before ICWA was enacted in 1978, as many as one out of every three Native children was removed from their home. ICWA has helped to reduce these alarming removal rates and helped more Native families stay together.  Child welfare research clearly shows that children are best served by preserving connections with their birth family and community.

Child welfare experts across the country are working together with tribes, states, and allies to continue implementing and protecting ICWA as the “gold standard” in child welfare law and ensuring Native children and families receive the services they deserve.


Striking down ICWA would not only be wrong as a matter of law; it also would have devastating real-world effects by harming Native children and undermining the ability of child welfare agencies and courts to serve their best interest.

Evidence shows that ICWA’s framework achieves better outcomes for children. National Native organizations stand with tribal nations and non-tribal ICWA allies to take action to protect ICWA and end the unnecessary removal of Native children from their families, tribes, and communities.

A copy of the reply brief of the Federal Defendants can be found here, a copy of the reply brief of the Intervening Tribes (Cherokee/Morongo/Oneida/Quinault) can be found here, a copy of the reply brief of the Navajo Nation can be found here.

A Court Battle Over a Dallas Toddler Could Decide the Future of Native American Law #ICWA



The federal lawsuit challenges a 1978 law that sought to reckon with America’s history of discriminating against Native Americans. Does it hold up 40 years later?

The Brackeens decided to fight the court’s ruling, which would send A.L.M. to an unrelated Navajo family (his biological mother is a member of the Navajo Nation) in New Mexico whom he had met once. They printed out the eight-page law and pored over it. They heard, on a foster-care podcast, about a lawyer who specialized in ICWA. After connecting with him, they soon had a powerful legal team comprising family attorneys and high-profile lawyers from a national firm. While Chad and Jennifer made their case in state court for adopting A.L.M., their lawyers sued the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.

ICWA is one of the only parts of the foster-care system that actually works, argues Kathryn Fort, a Michigan State law professor and one of the nation’s foremost ICWA experts. Fort is one of the lawyers representing the tribes in the Brackeen case. “ICWA is trying to get better outcomes for a small group of children in a system that has just horrific outcomes,” she told me. White social workers often approach her at conferences to complain about the law in a way that plays on antiquated stereotypes about Native people. “I've had many social workers ask me about why we let ‘these people’ play their Indian card at the last minute,” she said. Fort is white; they assume, she said, that she’ll be on their side.

READ: The Indian Child Welfare Act's Uncertain Future - The Atlantic

Case by case, Goldwater is attempting to undo federal law.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

One Small Sacrifice: Four Traumas #ICWA


The Special Place of Children in Aboriginal Cultures
Children hold a special place in Aboriginal cultures. According to tradition, they are gifts from the spirit world and have to be treated very gently lest they become disillusioned with this world and return to a more congenial place. They must be protected from harm because there are spirits that would wish to entice them back to that other realm. They bring a purity of vision to the world that can teach their elders. They carry within them the gifts that manifest themselves as they become teachers, mothers, hunters, councillors, artisans and visionaries. They renew the strength of the family, clan and village and make the elders young again with their joyful presence. Failure to care for these gifts bestowed on the family, and to protect children from the betrayal of others, is perhaps the greatest shame that can befall an Aboriginal family.  It is a shame that countless Aboriginal families have experienced some of this repeatedly over generations.  

 By Trace Hentz (formerly DeMeyer)

I saw a photo today (see below) This book cover reminded me of this excerpt and chapter in my memoir.
via



Four Traumas (published in 2012)


            Now that we have the internet and many ways to find information, I read that adoptees are more traumatized than a prisoner of war. That’s right. It’s called post-traumatic stress disorder. A prisoner of war may escape or be released, but an adoptee may suffer their entire life.
             
I believe there are four distinct traumas in being an adoptee. They are: 1) in utero, when you feel what is happening to you or sense what is coming; 2) when you are delivered, abandoned, and handed to strangers; 3) later when you are told you are adopted and realize fully what it means; and 4) when you realize you are different, from a different culture or country, and you can’t contact your people, or know them, or have the information you need to find them.
            

 It took me years to get this. There are more traumas, too – like when I’d fill out forms at the doctor’s office. I had no medical history. I had no idea if I was sitting next to someone who could be my biological brother, sister, mother or father. It was terrifying to think I could marry my own relative! I could carry a gene or trait that I pass down to my children – and I wouldn’t know until it’s too late. If my birthparents were alcoholics, then I really shouldn’t drink. I could be pre-disposed to diabetes or heart disease or cancer or depression and not even know. My list went on and on.
             
In 2006, I found out my birthmother had diabetes, which came as another shock.
             
I realize a powerful link exists between what I’m feeling, and what happens in my body. Years ago I’d use emotional binging, working more than one job, creating drama, just to numb my emotional pain. By 18 I was a total workaholic!  I blamed myself and hated myself for everything.  What grief, too young to understand. My birthmother’s rejection destroyed my ability to trust anyone.
           
There may be some adoptees who do not wish to heal this and go on as they are, holding on to these sad feelings and self-pity, rather than do the mental work to heal. Recognizing a pattern of belief is tough, partly because you gain sympathy by stealing (or sucking) energy from others when you act sick. That is no way to live. You need to be your own person, self-energizing, and not steal energy from anyone.
            Adoptees are meant to survive this, no matter who we are or how we were traumatized. It’s a test.
            Can we heal our own minds? Yes.
            Can we love two families? Yes.
            Can we take our recovery and story back to our families? Definitely.
           
Some adoptees believe that when we meet mother or father, all pain and agony will disappear. That sadly is just hope. That is not the way it works. A reunion is just one step on the journey and it helps, but there are many many more steps just as difficult. It’s truly a test.       

Regardless of ancestry, creed or complexion, adoptees can heal this. The only one who can fix it is you.
            
 I’m uneasy around new people, reserved and shy at times. I’ve lived through many disappointments. It’s very upsetting to find out about orphan trauma now, years later, knowing no one bothered to tell me or help me while I was experiencing it. 

After multiple traumas, which I’ll describe, I came to terms with it… eventually.


P.S.
I am working on a new book with some memoir in the coming months. I wrote a research paper "Disappeared" and I want to add some of this paper to the new book.
I have a doctor appt. next week, my cancer check-up. I am not worried, I feel fine. 

Survivors, write your stories. Write your parents stories. Write the elders stories. Do not be swayed by the colonizers to keep quiet. Tribal Nations have their own way of keeping stories alive.... Trace

Help in available!

Help in available!
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Diane Tells His Name

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Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

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where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

Join!

National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network (NISCWN)

Membership Application Form

The Network is open to all Indigenous and Foster Care Survivors any time.

The procedure is simple: Just fill out the form HERE.

Source Link: NICWSN Membership

ADOPTION TRUTH

As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

Dawnland 2018