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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


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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.

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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.