By Trace A. DeMeyer
Last night at Western New England University Law School, the panel (Dr. Atwood, Dr. Briggs and I) were asked if the INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT of 1978 (ICWA) is failing to protect Indian children.
HECK! This federal law (and courts who administer it) failed RONNIE BROWN, right? She's been adopted by non-Indians!
New allegations unconfirmed about Baby Veronica. (SOURCE: http://jlhardee.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/judge-daniel-e-martin-jr-of-charleston-sc-under-investigation-for-baby-veronica-case/)
Back to last night:
ICWA has strong language, clear language and has been federal law since 1978. These COURTS took a child who is Cherokee and placed her with non-Indians, which is a clear violation of ICWA. (It appears a few justices on the Supreme Court and the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare and Nightlight Christian Adoption Agency do not like ICWA as the law either.)
These clever lawyers violated a federal law and an innocent child was forced into a stranger adoption. The public relations campaign by Jessica Munday to SAVE VERONICA was intended to thwart ICWA, too, and it wildly succeeded by their accounts.
ICWA is no joke. It's part of righting a wrong on Indian families. ICWA is making amends for a century of government-sanctioned child-snatching by people who hoped to dis-empower Indians by destroying future generations - ultimately to destroy tribal sovereignty. Thousands of children were placed in closed adoptions. Some tribes lost all their children. It's easy to dismiss this if you never read about the history or met an adoptee who is American Indian or First Nations.
I realized last night that these law students don't know the reason or the history of ICWA - NONE of it. Maybe the Supreme Court missed it in their law school too. Maybe they didn't read about what led to the passage of ICWA, this necessary and needed federal law.
(Go to NARF.ORG for the ICWA testimony) (I included some in One Small Sacrifice and Two Worlds.)
Is ICWA working in South Dakota today? No.
Talk to Janice Howe, a Lakota grandmother, who will tell you of the outright racism and blatant violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act that rip apart Native families in South Dakota. Native grandmothers, who have a natural and federal right to their grandchildren by ICWA, are denied custody and ignored every day. Instead, their grandchildren enter a network of state and state-contracted institutions, at taxpayers expense.
Read this follow-up report and comments on NPR's investigation in South Dakota: http://www.npr.org/blogs/ombudsman/2013/08/13/211654459/s-dakota-indian-foster-care-listening-to-your-responses