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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Where are they?

Where are the Indigenous children that never came home?

An untold number of students at Carlisle Indian School disappeared. Tribal nations raise the stakes in search of answers.

This story was done in collaboration with
The Intercept.

When Yufna Soldier Wolf was a kid, she was made well aware of why her family members only spoke English, and why they dressed the way they did. Her grandfather and other elders used to recount their experiences at boarding schools, where the government sent hundreds of thousands of Indigenous children, from nearly every Indigenous nation within U.S. borders, to unlearn their languages and cultures. “A lot of them were physically abused, verbally abused, sexually abused,” she said.

READ 

Reprinted and shared with permission.

 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

A search for missing Native children at Carlisle Indian Industrial School who died on 'Outings' in Pa.

David Nepley (left), the Byberry Friends clerk, looks over a record of those buried in the Byberry Friends Burial Ground in Northeast Philadelphia. Among those buried is Gertrude Spotted Tail.
Ephriam Alexander came from Yup’ik village of Kanulik on the Nushagak River and Bristol Bay in southwestern Alaska, but died in Lititz, PA.  He is buried in the historic section of Lititz Moravian Congregation Cemetery known as “God’s Acre.”
While the setting is quite bucolic on one side, the other side of the grave of Gertrude Spotted Tail faces the back of nearby homes by the Byberry Friends Burial Ground in Northeast Philadelphia. Gertude was one of the daughters of Chief Spotted Tail of the Brule Sioux. She died while a Carlisle student visiting the Bender family in Bucks County. Gertrude and an unknown American Indian girl are buried side-by-side but no one knows which grave is which. A blank marker was placed there to mark the spot several years ago.
"People are awakening to the reality of what happened, the human-rights violations, the civil-rights violations," said Christine Diindiisi McCleave, executive officer of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, known as NABS. "We want to know the truth." One expert estimates that the number of missing children could top 10,000. And the initial investigation leads straight to Pennsylvania.

All the children missing or buried in Pennsylvania are believed to be connected to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, the nation's first federal off-reservation boarding school, founded in 1879 by former cavalry officer Richard Henry Pratt. Carlisle — now the campus of the Army War College — was built to solve "the Indian problem" by forcing native children to become ersatz white people, erasing their names, languages, religions, and family ties.
READ: A search for native children who died on 'Outings' in Pa.

Read More on the Story:
A century after deaths, Native American kids to return home (The Associated Press June 14, 2018)
Lost remains may be found at Carlisle Barracks Post Cemetery disinterment (The Carlisle Sentinel June 13, 2018)
Remains of Northern Arapaho boy will be returned to Wyoming after a century in boarding school graveyard (The Casper Star-Tribune June 11, 2018)
Disinterment of four Carlisle Indian School students begins soon (PennLive June 11, 2018)
An Opinion:
Editorial: Little Plume's long journey home may help close a controversial chapter in America's history (PennLive June 11, 2018) Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Intended Disinterment (May 21, 2018)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

US appeals court overturns South Dakota ICWA child removal ruling

Elijah Bearsheart, left, with his daughter, Keanala, 1, and family, Kehala Diserly, Kiari Diserly, 3, and Yamni Pederson, 5, as they listen to testimony during the Indian Child Welfare Act summit in 2013 at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Rapid City. The summit was called in response to charges that South Dakota breaks the Indian Child Welfare Act
Dana Hanna, a lawyer for the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux tribes, which are working on behalf of the parents, said she plans to ask the federal appeals court to rehear the case.
If that fails, an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is possible. "We are convinced, we strongly believe that the panel's decision was wrong," she said.
State Department of Social Services Secretary Lynne Valenti said she's happy with the ruling. "DSS has maintained from the beginning the (federal) district court should have abstained from exercising jurisdiction in this case, and we are pleased that our position prevailed at the Eighth Circuit," she said in a press release.
READ: US appeals court overturns South Dakota child removal ruling | The Daily Republic

Background story:
RAPID CITY -- Between choked sobs and streaming tears, more than a dozen Native American families delivered testimony in 2013 in Rapid City about how their children were taken from them by South Dakota social workers. Those stories from parents -- specifically details about the difficulty in regaining custody of Native children placed in non-Native foster homes -- filled the first day of the Great Plains Indian Child Welfare Act Summit in Rapid City.
Source: American Indians trade tales of displaced children | The Daily Republic

Monday, September 17, 2018

It was human trafficking, not adoption



Task Force Aims To Recruit More American Indian Foster Families




Indian Child Welfare Act task force (Kenneth Ramos)
Indian Child Welfare Act task force (Kenneth Ramos)
PUBLISHED IN 2014

The way Navajo Indian Leland Morrill sees it; he was a victim of trafficking when he was four years old. 
In the 1970s, Morrill, 48, was living with his grandparents on the Arizona Navajo reservation. His mother had died in a car crash a few years earlier. Besides one picture, her relatives were all she left behind for her young son.
But, as the state government would soon decide, that wasn’t enough.
The Morrill grandparents lived in a hogan, a Navajo Indian dwelling made of dirt, branches and mud, with an open fire pit. Morrill’s grandfather was blind. One day, when his great-grandmother went out with the sheep, Morrill stepped into the fire.
At the hospital, doctors determined that he suffered from first, second and third degree burns, broken bones and malnutrition. Morrill said the last affliction was through no fault of his grandparents.
“There was no electricity and no running water on the reservation. I would say everyone in that area was malnourished,” Morrill said.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), a federal organization designed to provide services to American Indian tribes, placed Morrill with a Caucasian Mormon couple as foster parents. The BIA paid them $65 a month to give him a home. Soon after, the Morrills adopted Leland and moved the family to Canada. Now, tribes across the nation are trying to recruit Native American foster families to keep their children in the tribe. Morrill has fought on the front lines in this effort. He filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl last year. The case interpreted the Indian Child Welfare Act and concerned a Cherokee girl whose mother adopted her to a non-native family without her father’s consent. The father, who ultimately lost, sought to obtain custody of his daughter again.
“I know the inequality of children not being able to speak for themselves,” Morrill said. “Who’s going to speak for them?” Fifteen years would pass before Morrill himself saw the Navajo reservation again.
During that time, Leland Morrill was one of about 2,000 Navajo children adopted annually by a Mormon family, according to the blog American Indian Adoptees. This was due to the Indian Adoption Project, a plan launched in 1958 by the BIA and the nonprofit Child Welfare League of America. The project paid states to remove American Indian children and place them in non-native or religious families to assimilate them into ‘conventional’ society. One goal was to give them opportunities the impoverished reservation could not provide for them, according to Reuters.
In the 1970s, Indian leaders went to the Senate and demanded an inquiry into the large numbers of their children disappearing. William Byler, the executive director of the Association of American Indian affairs, testified that under current conditions, tribal survival looked grim, according to American Indian Adoptees. In response, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978. Under this law, states must do everything possible to keep Indian children with their families, or at least send them to Native American adoptive or foster families that the child’s tribe selects.
But many states, such as New Mexico, Alaska and California, lack licensed Indian foster families. In Los Angeles, about 200 American Indian kids are in the foster system and the city has no licensed foster families, according to L.A. children’s court judge Amy Pellman. In California, 439 Native American children entered foster care in 2012. This is a large number, given that Native Americans make up slightly over one percent of the state’s population, according to the Child Welfare Dynamic Report System, a joint effort of the California Department of Social Services and the University of California at Berkeley. The disproportionate amount suggests that welfare agencies still may pull Indian children from their homes too quickly, which children’s social worker Roberta Javier confirmed.
“When I was growing up, I had a cousin in my adoptive family who stepped into a pile of burning trash,” Morrill said. This was similar to the incident Morrill suffered that resulted in his removal from his Navajo grandparents. “When I asked my adoptive family why he didn’t get taken, they had no response.”
Javier, who is Cherokee and Sac & Fox Indian, formed a task force with other Los Angeles Natives to recruit more foster and adoptive families. They are working on a public service announcement to air on local TV channels and FNX, a Native American channel. The key message, ‘lend a hand,’ evokes a cultural ideal. Morrill attends the task force meetings and has contributed ideas, but is not a member of any committee.
“It’s traditional in Native American culture when you see someone who needs help you step up. It’s part of being in a collective community,” Javier said.
Adopted Native children are often disconnected from their culture. Growing up, Morrill’s foster parents raised him in the Mormon Church. They did not teach him anything about his tribe or its customs.
“My dad once took me on a business trip to Pine Ridge reservation (South Dakota). I don’t think he really understood the importance of culture,” Morrill said. The reservation is home to the Oglala Sioux, a tribe that Morrill does not belong to.
Even if non-native adoptive parents do show appreciation for their child’s background, children can still feel alienated without others around like them. Jennifer Varenchik, 42, an adoptee and member of the Tohono-O’odham tribe, said her adoptive dad researched her tribe and hung their baskets in the house. But she said still felt like an outsider in her predominately white neighborhood.
“When I was in sixth grade, a black family moved down the street and I was so happy because I wouldn’t be the only one with dark skin,” she said.
But when Varenchik tried to learn more about her roots, the process was not as natural as she expected.
“I took some Native studies classes in college, but it felt really foreign to me,” Varenchik said. “I felt like it should have a deeper meaning, but it didn’t.”
After finishing college at St. Mary’s, in Moraga, Calif., Varenchik moved to Los Angeles, which she knew had a large urban Indian population (the second largest in the U.S., according to Indian Country Today Media Network). She started work at United Indian American Involvement, a nonprofit providing service and support to American Indians in California, and began attending powwows. She even reconnected with her biological siblings on the reservation in Arizona.
But not every adoptee’s story ends as happily. Javier’s own painful experiences compelled her to campaign for more Native foster families.
“I’ve been in 17 foster homes from the ages 6-16. I was separated from one of my (biological) sisters who then got lost in the system. A social worker took her to a group home and my sister ran away. Four days later, her social worker killed herself so there was a disconnect (in information),” Javier said. “It took me 25 years to find my sister.”
The task force efforts began two years ago, but members have yet to find a single foster family. They are collaborating with Los Angeles County, but Javier cites a lack of cultural awareness among officials as part of the problem. She gave the example of the county sending a non-native woman to an American Indian church sing to speak on the shortage of foster parents.
“This is like sending an African-American to recruit for a Chinese home,” she said.
But more Native adoptees are coming together to talk about the issue. Morrill has started a blog and a Facebook page where he shares his story and circulates others’.  He said his efforts are “normalizing the craziness of what it’s like to be an adoptee,” and helping disconnected Natives repatriate to their tribes. Though Morrill and Varenchik cannot control the past, they are combining their influence and education to improve the future for other American Indians.
“I’m the opposite of the people on the reservation, but I’m fighting for their rights and their children’s rights,” Morrill said.
Reach Staff Reporter Anne Artley here

Leland was 48 at the time of this story. He lives in LA, CA.


(The links are old and may not work... Trace)
Leland's search and reunion is laid out in the book series (see the sidebar for the books...

Friday, September 14, 2018

Fighting for our children -- 35 years after ICWA


NEW YORK STATE OCFS


Terry Cross, the executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, reflects on the 35th anniversary of the Indian Child Welfare Act:
Thirty-five years ago today (Nov. 11, 1978), Congress enacted groundbreaking legislation, the impact of which has been arguably more profound than any other piece of federal Indian law in the modern era.

On November 8, 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act, otherwise known as ICWA, became law. While recent national attention has highlighted the law’s role in child custody and adoption proceedings involving tribal citizens, less credit has been granted to ICWA for its wider affirmation of tribal sovereignty as a guaranteed and guiding tenet of federal law. In ICWA, Congress affirmed tribal authority to protect American Indian children through their own laws, courts, and services. It recognized that tribal courts are of commensurate standing to state courts.

ICWA established minimum standards for states to follow in issues of custody and adoptions, giving tribes the right to intervene in state court proceedings as full parties. In an extraordinary acknowledgment of tribal sovereign authority for the time, ICWA provided protection to all tribal citizens no matter where they resided.

As such, ICWA served as a catalyst for subsequent legislation that further restored the capacity of tribes to govern themselves and reinforced the era of self-determination for tribal nations. Yet all of these sovereignty-affirming provisions were not the intended purpose of ICWA. Rather, ICWA was aimed at stopping the inappropriate removal of our children from their parents, extended families, tribes, and culture by non-Indians. In the 1970s, studies documented the horrifying experiences of thousands of American Indian families: one out of every four of our children was being removed from their families.

Of these, 85 percent were placed in non-Indian homes. Often such placement meant these children were cut off forever from loving extended families, their culture, community, and traditional way of life. The resulting trauma experienced by American Indian children, families, and entire tribes was as wounding as any assimilationist policy ever inflicted upon our people.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Indian Child Welfare Act #ICWA updates


The National Indian Law Library added new content to the Indian Law Bulletins on 9/12/18.

Law Review & Bar Journal Bulletin (contact us if you need help finding a copy of an article)
http://www.narf.org/nill/bulletins/lawreviews/2018.html
  • I see you- A story from the Haudenosaunee.
  • Indian Child Welfare Act annual case law update and commentary.
  • August 2016-August 2017 case law on American Indians.
  • CDIB: The role of the certificate of the degree of Indian blood in defining Native American legal identity.
  • Tribal Exclusion Authority: Its sovereign bases with recommendations for federal support.
  • Native American rights and adoption by non-Indian families: The manipulation and distortion of public opinion to overthrow ICWA.
  • Racial anxieties in adoption: Reflections on adoptive couple, white parenthood, and constitutional challenges to the ICWA.

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)