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Thursday, March 29, 2012

WA #NDN tribe gain full control on Child Welfare matters

Port Gamble S'Klallam Obtain Full Control Over Child Welfare Matters

After a decade-long effort in conjunction with the federal and state departments of Health and Human Services, the state Attorney General's Office, and tribal lawyers, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe has achieved a landmark goal -- complete control over the welfare of their own children. The 1,000-member Tribe in western Washington became the first in the nation to assume all control of guardianships, foster care, and adoptions for their children. Under an agreement with the federal government, the Tribe has disengaged the oversight by DSHS and is now solely responsible for its child-welfare cases.
The contemporary practice of removing Native American children from reservations in child-welfare cases has been likened to the infamous boarding-school era, when the federal government forcibly placed Native children in state or religious institutions to “assimilate” them into “American” culture.
To break away from this system, Port Gamble S'Klallam's children and families coordinator Jolene George has spent years working with DSHS to draft policies on how they would handle child-welfare protocols, which are listed under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act. "We will no longer lose our children," George said. "We didn't do this with a grant. We put our efforts, our money and whatever we could to do this."
Francine Swift, a member of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribal Council, said it's vital to have children stay on the reservation so they don't forget their ancestry and traditions. She said that before the Indian Child Welfare Act, children were adopted out and lost complete contact with their relatives, ancestors, and culture. "We never want to see our kids go through this again," Swift said.
 
 
 
This is one excellent example of tribes in action - and it is happening in more states! Happy Dance!
Trace

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Takeaway Podcast ICWA

What our Nations are up against!

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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

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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.