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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Indian Child Welfare Act Turns 40


It Takes a Movement to Raise an Indian Child


As the Indigenous peoples of this land, countless generations have built a base of wisdom about how to raise our children in community.

Last month, a federal district court made an egregious ruling ignoring the government-to-government relationship between tribal nations and the federal government. In Brackeen v. Zinke, the U.S. District Court in Northern Texas ruled in favor of Texas, Indiana and Louisiana and several foster and adoptive families, declaring that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a race-based law lacking a present-day articulation of its need. The court found ICWA to be unconstitutional. In this context, it is important to elevate the lingering effects of historical governmental policies and practices on Native children and families — including the removal of tribal nations from their traditional homelands to reservations, relocation of Native peoples to major cities, and numerous efforts to assimilate Native children.
Prior to contact with European immigrants, tribal practices and beliefs about raising a child allowed a natural system of child protection to flourish. Traditional Indian spiritual beliefs reinforced that all things had a spiritual nature that demanded respect, including children. Not only were children respected, they were taught to respect others. Extraordinary patience and tolerance marked the methods that were used to teach Indian children self-discipline. At the heart of this natural system were beliefs, traditions and customs involving extended family with clear roles and responsibilities. Responsibilities shared by extended family and community members made protection of children the responsibility of all people in the community. Within the natural safety net of traditional tribal settings and beliefs, child maltreatment was rarely a problem.

As European migration to the United States increased, traditional tribal practices in raising children were devalued or lost as federal programs sought to systematically assimilate Native people. Efforts to “civilize” the Native population were almost always focused on children. It began as early as 1609, when the Virginia Company, in a written document, authorized the kidnapping of Indian children for the purpose of civilizing local Indian populations through the use of Christianity. The “Civilization Fund Act” passed by Congress in 1819 authorized grants to private agencies, primarily churches, to establish programs in tribal communities designed to “civilize the Indian.”
Removing and relocating Native people onto reservations between 1830 and 1871 forced tribes to leave behind customs tied to their traditional lands, adjust their economies, and change their ways of life without the support promised by the federal government.

A class in penmanship at the Red Deer Indian Industrial School. Photo courtesy Victoria University Archives.

From the 1860s through the 1970s, the federal government and private agencies established large boarding schools, far from reservations, where Indian children were placed involuntarily. Agents of the federal government had the authority to withhold food and clothing from parents who resisted sending their children away. In boarding schools, children were not able to use their Native languages or traditional customs, were required to wear uniforms and cut their hair, and were subjected to military discipline and standards.

As the federal government began to recognize how the removal and reservation of tribal communities hurt Native people, it instituted the Indian Relocation Act of 1956, moving thousands of Natives to large cities. This program not only broke down family systems, but also left families and individuals stranded away from their communities and natural support systems in unfamiliar environments.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the child welfare system became another avenue that state and federal governments used to force the assimilation of Native children. During this era, 25 to 35 percent of all Native children were separated from their families — and 90 percent of children removed were placed in non-Native homes.

In 1978, the passage of ICWA acknowledged the inherent sovereign right of tribal governments and the critical role they play in protecting their member children and maintaining families.

In the face of centuries of unjust treatment of Native families and communities by federal and state governments, tribal governments have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of our families and to raise our children within tribal communities. Advocates in Indian Country are uniting because we know the adage “it takes a village” is truer now that it ever has been — today, it takes a movement to raise an Indian child.


Sarah
 Kastelic is executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) — the only national American Indian organization focused specifically on tribal capacity to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Before coming to NICWA, Kastelic served the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), including founding the NCAI Policy Research Center.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Powwow Welcomes Returning Natives


At the Gathering for our Children and Returning Adoptees Powwow in 2015, the American Indian community in Minneapolis welcomes home Native people who were raised in foster care or adopted out. (Photo courtesy of Red Lake Nation News.)
By Camille Erickson

Each year, the Minneapolis American Indian Center fills with adoptees, formerly fostered individuals and families for the Gathering For Our Children and Returning Adoptees Powwow. Now in its fifteenth year, the powwow is held on Saturday, Nov. 3 2018 at the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC) to once again provide a vital space for community healing and celebration.

“There are so many things that happen that day that are always miracles,” said Jacque Wilson, coordinator of the Bois Forte Urban Office and an organizer of the powwow.

The morning of the powwow, Sandra White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota) gathers with adoptees, formerly fostered individuals and birth relatives to visit with one another and share their experiences. White Hawk has been an organizer of the powwow since its beginning, and she remains an intrepid advocate for First Nations people impacted by foster care or adoption. Among her myriad roles, she serves as the director of First Nations Repatriation Institute.

Too often, conversations about the trauma caused by family separation and adoption remain buried under a veil of silence, explained White Hawk. Some attendees have never had the opportunity to attend a powwow or connect with the American Indian community. White Hawk works hard to foster a ceremonious and welcoming environment. “We mostly want to give them an opportunity to share in a way that they’ve probably never been able to,” White Hawk said.

For over a decade, a group of Native adoptees and formerly fostered individuals in Minneapolis have met each month to support one another. Many of them come out every first Saturday in November to welcome those returning to the circle. “Because of their healing as part of this community, they are there to greet our new people who have never been here before,” said White Hawk. Elders also share stories about the painful history of removal and cultural erasure in American Indian communities that ripped thousands of youth away from their families and tribal identity.

The space also welcomes and receives birth mothers. White Hawk hopes that the gathering can serve as a time for birth mothers to develop compassion for themselves and shed layers of guilt or shame. “For our mothers who lost [children] under all kinds of circumstances, our hope is that we continue to encourage them to be a part of our circle,” said White Hawk. “They gave us life and that was the most important thing.”

Following the morning gathering, the powwow begins in the auditorium. Community members are invited and encouraged to attend. The entrance of the color guard in the grand entry signals the celebration’s beginning. Adoptees and formerly fostered relatives follow in their stead, making their way back to the circle. In the eyes of White Hawk, the following “Wablenica ceremony” is dedicated to “taking care of the hearts of our relative who are making their way back to this circle and the hearts of our relatives who lost us.”

The ceremony can be laden with emotion, particularly grief, at the beginning, she said. But by the end, the adoptees and formerly fostered individuals stand in the circle and the community comes forward to welcome them. “Our hearts are just lifted,” she said. “Some people have never heard the phrase, ‘welcome home,’ and it makes them feel the acceptance and sense of belonging that is so needed for our people.”

For many, this is the day that healing begins.

Fifteen years of dedication from three Native women

Sandy White Hawk. (Photo
courtesy of Red Lake Nation News.)
The powwow started in 2003 with a call for healing. And Jacque Wilson, Sandra White Hawk and Tina Knafla are three women whose lives have been touched both personally and professionally by the impacts of American Indian adoption and foster care. Throughout their lives of service, they each have seen and felt the intergenerational trauma present in their communities. “There is so much pain around adoption and the loss of children because of the Indian adoption era and the boarding school era,” said Knafla, who in 2003, worked with Hennepin County as an ICWA adoptions recruiter. “I really felt like we needed to address that.”

In addition to the forcible placement of American Indian children into abusive boarding schools beginning in the 1860s, the Child Welfare League of America instituted the Indian Adoption Project from 1958 to 1967. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Children’s Bureau were also complicit in this program. The government ripped American Indian children away from their tribes and families and placed a vast majority of them into non-Native foster or adoptive homes. According to a 1976 surveys commissioned by the Association on American Indian Affairs, 25 to 35 percent of American
Indian children were removed from their families between 1941 and 1967.

After exhaustive calls for justice from Native communities, The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was enacted in 1978 by Congress. It requires the state to place American Indian children experiencing foster care with family or relatives as often as possible. But only about half of Native children in foster care in Minnesota find Native homes, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services. And the trauma from these twentieth century policies linger in the lives of adoptees and their communities who still reckon with family separation.

After attending a National Indian Child Welfare Association conference in Duluth in 2003, Knafla felt compelled to expand opportunities for healing with the support of the county. She began reaching out to community agencies and colleagues, including White Hawk and Wilson, to uplift resources for Native communities processing the impacts of family separation. The three women believed that a powwow would provide a needed space for healing and celebration.

Organizers obtained the sponsorship of Hennepin County and the Minnesota Department of Human Services, among other community agencies. This support continues to keep the powwow strong and sustained. “That collaboration is very unique between Hennepin County and the community,” said Knafla. “We’re still here, 14 years strong.”

The year the powwow began, Wilson worked in the juvenile justice courts representing state tribes in child welfare cases. She yearned to see foster families participating in more culturally-relevant activities. In her eyes, the powwow would provide an opportunity for foster youth to establish a connection to their identity.

“The more the children know about who they are and where they come from, the less traumatic it is for them,” explained Wilson. “It also gives them a place to look for answers when they become older.”

Although her job has since changed, Wilson continues to support people who she said have been away from their families or tribes for a generation or more. The gathering would also be an opportunity to connect families with foster care agencies to expand the availability of culturally-involved, Native homes for youth still in foster care.

“This powwow is still important to me because that trauma has not gone away on many levels,” she said. “It’s always important for [returnees] to learn who they are, because in order to be a full human being, it’s best that you know who you are, where you came from, or your people.”

Adoptees from all over the country attend the powwow in Minneapolis. “We’re trying to share what we’ve learned and get other tribes and communities to recognize their returning adoptees and birth mothers in whatever kind of ceremonies they want to do,” said Wilson.

Organizers of the powwow envision a time when reservations and Native communities across the country create their own spaces that encourage returning relatives to heal.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Indian children and families deserve better | WE NEED #ICWA

Official Statement: Joint Statement on the Federal District Court of Northern Texas denying to stay the court’s ruling on constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act

(Portland, OR, October 30, 2018)—The National Indian Child Welfare Association, the National Congress of American Indians, the Association on American Indian Affairs, and the Native American Rights Fund are disappointed that the Federal District Court of Northern Texas has denied a motion to stay their decision in Brackeen v. Zinke pending appeal by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. 
This will likely cause great uncertainty and disruption for hundreds of vulnerable Indian children and their families who are currently in state child welfare systems within the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana, especially as we enter the holiday season and the Fifth Circuit moves forward with what may be months of proceedings. 
Indian children and families deserve better, and we hope that the Fifth Circuit will move quickly to consider a motion to stay this lower federal court decision.
# # #
Read the full joint statement here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Cultural Genocide: Canada’s Darkest Secret

Canada’s Darkest Secret
Al Jazeera (2017)
Film Review
This documentary concerns Canada’s infamous “boarding schools,” a program for indigenous Canadian children started in 1876 by Canada’s first prime minister John McDonald. Under this system, native children were forcibly removed (and in some cases kidnapped) from their families to attend religious boarding schools. The goal was to forcibly totally separate the children’s from their families’ native language and culture.
The government wanted access to mineral deposits on treaty lands. Rather than going to war with their indigenous population, they stole their children to extinguish them as communities and nations.
The last boarding school closed in 1996.
Most of the film consists of interviews with boarding school survivors. They talk of being forbidden to speak their native language, harsh beatings for minor infractions, a continuous diet of mushy oatmeal, lack of heating in winter and frequent sexual abuse. The death rate for children who attended these boarding schools was 24-40%.
In 1980, a group of boarding school survivors began a long court action that in 2008 resulted in the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The goal of the TRC hearings, which went on for seven years, was for boarding school survivors to document their years of abuse and trauma for posterity.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

how the words of #ICWA made them feel

read

Beyond high fives and selfies … Indian youth explore policy issues

“The Indian Child Welfare act was created in order to protect the best interest of Indian Children and to promote the stability and security of tribal communities and families. We as youth leaders know that our identity; is who we are, is within our culture, and within the tribal community that raises us. Our membership and blood quantum has never defined us as members of our tribal communities. To us, we are raised by tribal communities, because we learn not just from our family but from the community as a whole. They teach us our languages, our traditions, they show us who we are as American Indian/Alaskan Native youth, that is a right every American Indian/Alaskan Native child should have. They should not be taken from their tribal community, because when they are, a piece of our culture is lost.”

Chickasaw Nation Documentary Wins Heartland Emmy Award


“And Our Mothers Cried” vividly brings to life the Indian boarding school era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For several generations of Native American children, including some Chickasaws, attending boarding school meant separation from their families and indoctrination into a culture that wasn’t their own. The schools, which were guided by the infamous slogan, “Kill the Indian. Save the Man,” prohibited most students from speaking their own language and emphasized labor-intensive trades that would assimilate them into white culture through military-type institutions.
The documentary presents a stark contrast between these schools and schools established and operated by the Chickasaw Nation, which were designed to prepare Chickasaw children to compete in a rapidly changing world. “And Our Mothers Cried” presents compelling stories from some of the Chickasaw elders who lived through the boarding school era. Their experiences weave a complex story of sorrow and survival, but also one of hope and resilience from a time when tribal governments and culture were under attack.

Click here to watch the EMMY® Award-winning “Winter Fire—And Our Mothers Cried.”

READ MORE: Chickasaw Nation Documentary Wins Heartland Emmy Award - Native News Online

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Native perspective: Sherry Treppa: Why #ICWA is critical to the health of native children and tribal communities

Excerpt:

Congress passed the ICWA in 1978 in an attempt to reverse the ravages that forced separation of Native children from their families wrought on Indian people. In Native cultures, families are the center of our communities, and children are sacred gifts from the Creator. Judge O’Connor’s ruling not only threatens our future – it outright discounts generations of historical anguish. The ruling also ignores the rights of tribes as sovereign governments. The ICWA only applies to children from federally recognized tribes, and tribes – as sovereign governments – are the only legal authority to determine the membership of a tribe. Destroying a tribe’s ability to speak out for its future – our children – undermines the modern efforts of tribal government to overcome hundreds of years oppression because of the U.S. government’s aggressive control over every aspect of tribal citizens’ lives, including our relationships with our own children.

Sherry Treppa is chair of the Habematolel Pomo tribe of Upper Lake, Calif.

READ: here

Monday, October 22, 2018

Where are they buried?


Thousands of Canada’s indigenous children died in church-run boarding schools

Armed with everything from school attendance records to drones, researchers across Canada are racing to shed light on a bleak part of the country’s history: How many indigenous children died at residential schools, and where are their unmarked graves? From 1883 to 1998, nearly 150,000 indigenous children were forcibly separated from their families and sent to the government-funded, church-run boarding schools in an attempt to assimilate them. Once there, they were frequently neglected and abused. What happened at the schools was akin to “cultural genocide,” concluded a 2015 report from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It also found that at least 3,200 students died at residential schools over those 115 years — a much higher rate than for students elsewhere in Canada — though the commission contended that the number was probably much higher and merited further investigation.

The religious organizations that operated the schools — the Anglican Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Jesuits of English Canada and some Catholic groups — in 2015 expressed regret for the “well-documented” abuses. The Catholic Church has never offered an official apology, something that Trudeau and others have repeatedly called for.

READ: Thousands of Canada’s indigenous children died in church-run boarding schools. Where are they buried? - The Washington Post

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Constant Attacks on ICWA | Democracy Now

NAJA Calls Out LA Times for Anti-Indian Child Welfare Act Op-ed Full of “Anti-Indian Propaganda”

Naomi Schaefer Riley
Published October 20, 2018
NORMAN, Okla.  —  The Native American Journalist Association, based in Norman, Oklahoma sent a letter critical of the Los Angeles Times publishing an op-ed that allowed a writer to call for the elimination of the landmark 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act.
Here is the letter sent to the Los Angeles Times:
The Native American Journalists Association is disappointed in the lack of due diligence demonstrated by the Los Angeles Times in publishing the op-ed “Does the Indian Child Welfare Act protect tribal interests at the expense of children?” We call on the organization and the opinion section to review their policies and practices in light of its unchecked dissemination of anti-Indian propaganda.
The Times published an Oct. 12 op-ed by Naomi Schaefer Riley in which Schaefer Riley advocates for the elimination of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) by deliberately misrepresenting the law to readers – a tactic organizations labeled hate groups have used in an attempt to undermine the law.
NAJA is dismayed that the Times would publish opinions that align so closely with views held by established anti-Indian hate groups and calls on the paper to review their op-ed policies and journalistic standards. It is chilling that a revered organization like the Times would lack the ability to identify the difference between informed opinion on important and consequential Indigenous issues, and talking points advocated by anti-Indian hate groups based on stereotypes and misinformation.
For this reason, NAJA has published a guide on best practices when reporting on ICWA cases to provide newsrooms with the tools to provide readers with accurate and contextual coverage on the topic. NAJA consistently advocates for consultation with tribal leaders and authorities. Had the Times’ editors consulted any tribal leaders, they would have learned that tribal nations within the United States do NOT support the elimination of ICWA.
NAJA also recommends that reporters never refer to blood quantum when covering ICWA cases. The law applies to citizens of tribal nations as determined by that nation, not federally imposed standards like degree of Indian blood. Measuring the amount of Indian blood a child has is an inherent act of racism. However, Schaefer Riley's op-ed hinges on this idea then leans on stereotypes such as poverty, domestic abuse and drug use to paint a disparaging picture of Indigenous families to suggest that those communities lack the ability to provide children a good life.
We encourage the Times to follow the journalistic practices established by Indigenous journalists and endorsed by NAJA to provide ethical and culturally sensitive coverage to readers, instead of providing a platform for hate groups and their sympathizers to promulgate anti-Indian propaganda.

NAJA Calls Out LA Times for Anti-Indian Child Welfare Act Op-ed Full of “Anti-Indian Propaganda”

by Levi Rickert

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Namwayut: we are all one. Truth and reconciliation in Canada | Canada is...

The removal of Indian children continues to be a national crisis #ICWA



The Nation’s First Family Separation Policy 


Forty years ago, three in 10 Indian children were taken from their families.
October 9, 2018 | Christie Renick

The United States’ first family separation policy removed one-third of all American Indian children from their families and tribes. 

In the late 1960s, while employed by the Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA), a New York-based attorney named Bertram Hirsch was sent to North Dakota to assist with a kinship dispute case on behalf of the Spirit Lake Tribe. Child welfare workers were forcibly removing children from family members and placing them in white homes, sometimes out of state. One grandmother had even been jailed after refusing to give up her grandchildren.
At the time, Hirsch says, he had no idea that an alarming number of American Indian children were being taken from their families and permanently placed in homes with white parents. But as he worked on the Spirit Lake case, he began to understand the scope of the problem. And by the time 1969 rolled around, he and the AAIA were deeply engaged in a nationwide data collection project that had him contacting every foster care or adoption agency and institution he could find. He surveyed the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which had the authority to place children at that time, and state social services departments as well as juvenile probation facilities.
Hirsch’s research found that somewhere between 25 and 35 percent of all American Indian children had been placed in adoptive homes, foster homes or institutions. 
Around 90 percent of those children were being raised by non-Indians. 
Many would never see their biological families again.

By the end of 1978, Hirsch had conducted his audit twice. Congressional commissions had convened in Washington numerous times, gathering hundreds of hours of testimony on the government’s egregious treatment of American Indian communities.

In its report to Congress, a task force said,
 “The removal of Indian children from their natural homes and tribal setting has been and continues to be a national crisis.”

The government-sanctioned removals were a wound for Native families and tribes that would be torn raw with each new generation.
Hirsch, along with two Congressional staffers, wrote and rewrote a bill to shield American Indian youth from being removed from their families and tribes. A culmination of what Hirsch describes as a huge grassroots effort spanning 11 years and involving thousands of people across the country, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was passed at the 11th hour, just before the 95th Congress would come to a close, on October 24, 1978.
“If we didn’t get it passed in the 95th,” Hirsch said, “I’m not sure it ever would have passed.” ICWA defined the political relationship between two sovereigns – tribes and states. It designated that tribes can and must act as parents for their children, just as states do with non-Native children, when biological parents cannot. And it required that preference be given to tribal communities when children must be removed from their homes.
But 40 years later, states still don’t fully understand ICWA. One judge described ICWA as the most ignored federal law in the history of this country. The federal government has no ICWA data reporting requirements in place.Caseworkers and attorneys have been reported as viewing ICWA compliance as optional. Notice to tribes that an Indian child has entered foster care has been delayed by as many as four years, tribes have said.

And just last week, a federal district court judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional, rendering the fate of ICWA uncertain. 

KEEP READING

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Manipulation and Distortion of Public Opinion to Overthrow #ICWA

Lost Children, adopted out
CITATION
Bual, Harman (2018) "Native American Rights & Adoption by Non-Indian Families: The Manipulation and Distortion of Public Opinion to Overthrow ICWA," American Indian Law Journal: Vol. 6 : Iss. 2 , Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/ailj/vol6/iss2/6 

Excerpt:


The public’s general lack of knowledge regarding the history of ICWA and the standards set up by ICWA allows for easy manipulation by adoption agencies and ICWA opponents. A lack of understanding and sensationalized media supports a negative image of Indian tribes that overshadows the protections offered by ICWA, and the improper behavior of adoption agencies and attorneys who encourage adoptive parents to go against the clear standards set out in ICWA.117 
This is a difficult situation to address, given the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Baby Veronica, because it fails to acknowledge the historical reasoning for ICWA and maintaining a relationship between an Indian child and its tribe.118 
However, the behavior of these adoption agencies and attorneys who are creating delays in the system, and actively working the system to get around ICWA statues, should face some sort of monetary fine. Fines would need to be determined on a case by case basis, but could be based on whether there were improper delay tactics, the length of time the litigation took due to improper delay tactics, and whether the adoption agency knew or had reason to know the child was an Indian. Policies surrounding the custody of children as a whole are inconsistent and create conflicting goals and procedural issues when applied.119 
To overcome these issues, it is necessary that both legislators and ICWA supporters find a common ground where the agencies responsible for determining a child’s membership status are able to do so in a timely manner and hold foster families and Indian families accountable if they fail to follow reunification plans set by these state agencies.

Despite the intent of Congress, state courts have continuously interpreted ICWA in a variety of ways that has created loopholes around the mandates.121 
Large cases in front of the Supreme Court of the United States has brought attention to ICWA on a national level.122 
However, ICWA is often portrayed as a set of rules that ignores the best interest of the Indian child in favor of satisfying the demands of Indian tribes who may not be capable of taking care of the Indian child as well as an already established home with an adoptive family.123 
This perception has been further manipulated within the media by ICWA opposition in an effort to dismantle ICWA.
The history and purpose of ICWA has been misinterpreted by courts applying it within custody cases of Indian children. For ICWA to be successful, it is necessary that states and courts identify
the child’s tribe and give proper notification to the tribes. ICWA was established to stabilize the growth of tribes that had diminished after decades of assimilation of tribal members into mainstream American society. Despite the set guidelines within ICWA, states apply ICWA differently within each court, which creates disproportionate protection to Indian children, parents, and tribes.124  
To combat improper application of ICWA it is necessary that clarification of ICWA is provided to state child welfare workers, adoption agencies, judges, and society. 

Media uses the emotional pull within ICWA adoption cases between Indian tribes and non-Indian adoptive families to undermine the protection given to tribes under ICWA and limit tribal rights.

Proper application of ICWA would prevent many of the cases being reported on by news media because many years of litigation would be avoided. And most importantly, the Indian child developing ties to a family the child should not have legally been placed with could be prevented because many years of litigation would be avoided. And most importantly, the Indian child developing ties to a family the child should not have legally been placed with could be prevented.

Use the search bar on this blog to find #ICWA and stories about lost children of the Indian Adoption Projects and Programs and 60s Scoop... Thousands of children were stolen by the govt's of Canada and the US and adopted out - this blog is about survivors.
 

Pivotal moment in Indian Country | Attack on #ICWA


Photo Courtesy National Indian Child Welfare Association

Published October 9, 2018
PORTLAND, Ore. —  On Monday, October 8,  2018 the National Indian Child Welfare Association, National Congress of American Indians, Association on American Indian Affairs and Native American Rights Fund released the following joint statement on last week Thursday's ruling by a federal district judge in northern Texas striking down the 40-year-old Indian Child Welfare Act.
Read the statement:
In a decision published by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was declared unconstitutional, jeopardizing the landmark legislation protecting tribal children.
This egregious decision ignores the direct federal government-to-government relationship and decades upon decades of precedent that have upheld tribal sovereignty and the rights of Indian children and families. Through 40 years of implementation, ICWA’s goal is to promote family stability and integrity. It continues to be the gold standard in child welfare policy.
While this disturbing ruling is a pivotal moment for Indian Country, we vehemently reject any opinion that separates Native children from their families and will continue to fight to uphold ICWA and tribal sovereignty.

National American Indian Organization Release Statement on Indian Child Welfare Act Case

by Native News Online Staff

Monday, October 8, 2018

#HonorNativeLand

Partnership for Native Children Decries Anti-ICWA Decision

Calls judge’s ruling ‘an outlier, out of step with the law and constitutional jurisprudence’
The Partnership for Native Children strongly disagrees with and is disturbed by Judge O’Connor’s decision in Brackeen v. Zinke which has stricken down the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) four decades after it was enacted. This is the first decision of its kind, and is an outlier—out of step with the law and decades of constitutional jurisprudence.
With the support and guidance of a longstanding coalition of anti-ICWA activists, the plantiffs in Brackeen want to remove ICWA’s provisions that protect against removing Native children from their parents and culture, leaving unfettered access to Native children. Not content with that outcome, they wish to undermine the U.S. Constitution and centuries of established law by eradicating tribes’ Constitutionally-protected relationship with the United States government.
Although this decision is limited in application, it serves as a roadmap for other ICWA litigation intending to overturn ICWA and we should expect future litigation seeking to undermine tribal sovereignty and federal Indian law writ large.
Emboldened by the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl decision in 2013, these anti-ICWA forces—led by the adoption industry, religious coalitions, and a conservative think tank—have spent years bringing forth suit after suit in courts throughout the country, sometimes even using identical briefs in different forums, all in the attempt to have ICWA declared unconstitutional. After losing each case, due in part to their outrageous contention that ICWA is a race-based law (it is not), they have finally found a judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas sympathetic to their arguments.
While they choose to ignore thousands of testimonials from Native families who assert that those who will be most hurt by this decisions are our most sacred and vulnerable children, the Partnership for Native Children stands with Indian Country and affirms that we will continue to fight for them. We support legal efforts to appeal this unprecedented decision. We will work tirelessly to demand the media cover these issues thoroughly and responsibly. And we will work closely with those children, families, and tribes who want their perspectives finally included in the national dialogue about the best interests of our children. Their voices have been ignored for far too long.
The Partnership for Native Children refuses to go back to those the days where tribal children were removed simply because of cultural misunderstandings, for financial gain, and due to pure prejudice. We also refuse to let extremist groups use our children as a tool to undermine the foundations of Indian law and tribal sovereignty.
The Partnership for Native Children remains unwavering in our commitment to defend the constitutionality of ICWA by all available means and will continue to work in support of tribes and Native people throughout the country to ensure that Native children, families, and tribes are protected.
Here is our press release.
source:

Partnership for Native Children PR on Texas ICWA Case

by Matthew L.M. Fletcher

Saturday, October 6, 2018

U.S. District Court Decision Puts Native American Children and Families at Risk

PRESS RELEASE
The California Tribal Families Coalition joined others nationwide in expressing disappointment over the ruling.
In an unprecedented ruling that threatens Native American children and families, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor in the Northern District of Texas declared the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) unconstitutional in an opinion in Brackeen et. al. v. Zinke, filed October 4, 2018.  
While unnerving, attorneys fighting for ICWA say the decision is not applicable throughout the United States. Rather, it is limited in scope and will likely be stayed pending appeal. The decision from a U.S. District Court in Texas is not applicable in California. 
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a 40-year old remedial statute that protects Indian children, families and tribes. The original complaint was filed by adoptive parents and supported by Texas, Indiana and Louisiana, and the decision is contrary to Congressional intent, the Constitution and decades of well-established Indian law.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, leading a bipartisan coalition of Attorneys General, filed an amicus brief in the case to defend the ICWA. ICWA sets specific child welfare rules designed to ensure that cases regarding abuse, neglect and adoption involving Native American children are handled in a culturally appropriate manner. 
“Those of us who were raised in Indian Country, those of us who raise our children on the reservations, those of us who know Indian families – we know that ICWA protects our children. This targeted and well-financed attack on ICWA only reminds tribes of the long and tortured history we have endured in the United States,” Robert Smith, chairman of the California Tribal Families Coalition  and the Pala Band of Mission Indians.
About the California Tribal Families Coalition.
Comprised of tribes and tribal leaders from across the state, the California Tribal Families Coalition’s mission is to promote and protect the health, safety and welfare of tribal children and families, which are inherent tribal governmental functions and are at the core of tribal sovereignty and tribal governance. For information, please visit https://www.caltribalfamilies.org
Contact: Delia M. Sharpe, CTFC Executive Director, 916-583-8289 ordelia.sharpe@caltribalfamilies.org

California Tribal Families Coalition Press Release on Texas ICWA Case

by Matthew L.M. Fletcher

Friday, October 5, 2018

More on #ICWA

Tribes’ Statement re: Brackeen v. Zinke Decision

STATEMENT REGARDING RULING STRIKING DOWN THE INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT
We strongly disagree and are deeply disappointed with Judge O’Connor’s decision in Brackeen v. Zinke in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas striking down the Indian Child Welfare Act, four decades after it was enacted. We remain steadfast in our commitment to defend the constitutionality of ICWA by all available means for one simple reason: If ICWA is struck down in whole or in part, the victims will be our children and our families, Native children and Native families.
The apparent goal of Plaintiffs’ litigation is an extreme one — to separate children from their parents. Before ICWA, as many as one-third of all tribal children were forcibly removed from their families and their communities by state governments. Thorough and objective analysis of the systematic removal of Indian children from Indian homes found many removals were wholly unjustified. These policies devastated tribal communities and we refuse to go back to those darker days. We are heartened by the support of so many states that stand shoulder to shoulder with us in this litigation to protect families.
We are in consultation with our legal counsel and exploring all available options.  Rest assured, we consider the trial level decision today as one part of a long process. In the interim, we will seek a stay of the decision until higher courts have an opportunity to review it.  We will continue to work in state courts throughout the country to ensure the protections of ICWA for Native children, families, and tribes. We strongly believe that, in the end, our rights protected by the Indian Child Welfare Act will be affirmed and reinforced.   
  • Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Cherokee Nation
  • Chairman Robert Martin, Morongo Band of Mission Indians
  • Chairman Tehassi Hill, Oneida Nation
  • President Fawn Sharp, Quinault Indian Nation

60s Scoop Settlement

60s Scoop Settlement

Dawnland 2018

where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?

Every. Day.

Every. Day.
adoptees take back adoption narrative and reject propaganda

#WeShallContinue

#WeShallContinue

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

Read this SERIES

Read this SERIES
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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.

Our Fault? (no)