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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Oregon: Houses Passes Bill to Place Native American Foster Children in Culturally Appropriate Care #ICWA

  House Bill 4148 was passed in the Oregon House of Representatives on Thursday, February 20. The legislation seeks to place Native American and Alaska Native foster children in culturally appropriate care.  

WOULD ALIGN OREGON WITH FEDERAL LAW: This bill modifies the current dependency law in order to better fit with the Indian Child Welfare Act and mandates the Oregon Department of Human Services to provide reports every other year on American Indian and Alaska Native children in the welfare system.  
This new legislation essentially works to protect Native American children in culturally appropriate environments within Oregon’s foster care system. “Culturally appropriate” meaning that the cultural identity of Native American foster children will be protected through carrying on their traditions and connection to their family and tribe whilst they are in the foster care system.   
The bill is a response to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, which was created “to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children from their families and the placement of such children in foster or adoptive homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture.”  
4148 is a direct follow up to concerns about over-representation of Native American children in the foster care system, who made up 4.8 percent of Oregon’s system in 2018, though they make up only 1.6 percent of the total population.  
SOURCE

Friday, February 21, 2020

How a white evangelical family could dismantle adoption protections for Native children- VOX

The federal court case could have a sweeping impact on Native families and tribal sovereignty.
This cultural difference — that a family’s fitness is determined by its wealth, and that those concerns should outweigh a child’s connection to their family and heritage — is essentially why the Indian Child Welfare Act was created in 1978. The law recognizes the history of federal policy aimed at breaking up Native families and mandates that, whenever possible, Native families should remain together.

Sarah Kastelic, the executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, said that ICWA acknowledges important familial and tribal bonds that have long been disregarded, and that Native ways — such as extended families living under the same roof — have often been used to show unfitness in child welfare proceedings. “No matter the picket fences and swimming pools and things, most of the time, kids want to be with their families,” she said.

READ: The Native adoption case that could dismantle the Indian Child Welfare Act, explained - Vox

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Modern day treaty could help make Alaska a model for state-tribal child welfare partnership


House Bill 221 is "long overdue," according to Rep. Tiffany Zulkusky, Yup'ik, (D) Bethel, chair of the House Committee on Native Affairs.



Tribes say an end to hostilities with the state of Alaska is long overdue.

A bill that would require state acknowledgement of federally-recognized tribes had its second hearing Tuesday and was approved and moved out of the Alaska House Special Committee on Tribal Affairs.
At the hearing questions were raised and addressed about the impact of the legislation on state jurisdiction and sovereignty.

Two witnesses gave legislators a look at what could be a national model for a state-tribal partnership, in 2017 the state of Alaska and a dozen tribes signed an Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact.

Nicole Borromeo, Athabascan, general counsel for the Alaska Federation of Natives, said a compact is like a modern-day treaty. "[This one] specifically defines the services and supports that are going to be carried out by our tribes and tribal organizations on behalf of the state as well as the funding streams required," she said.

“I want to call the committee’s attention to the fact that this is the first ever compact that has been negotiated at the state level. And that is something for all of us to be proud of,” Borromeo said. “We [Alaskans] tend to be at the top of the list of undesirables and at the bottom of the good list. In this case we are truly breaking ground and we're on the cutting edge of law and policy. It's just something that all Alaskans should know about and be able to celebrate.”

Francine Eddy Jones, director of tribal family and youth services, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)
Francine Eddy Jones, director of tribal family and youth services, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)

Francine Eddy Jones, Tlingit, is director of tribal family and youth services at the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.
🔻


The Journey Home: Wayne William Snellgrove

(reblog from 2013)
Wayne (center) with his brother and a-mom Ann Snellgrove
Torn Apart 32 Years Ago By Canadian Policy Toward Aboriginals, A Mother And Son Meet For The First Time.


September 21, 2003| BY MARGO HARAKAS


He called himself Lost Cub, and for years he tried futilely to find his way home.


Then in 2002, feeling that at last he was closing in, Wayne Snellgrove hired a private investigator to follow up on the final four names on his list. He needed a shield, a buffer from the searing pain of renewed rejection. When the Canadian investigator finally telephoned her news, Snellgrove took the phone to the bedroom, closed the door, and, lying down on the bed, braced himself.


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"I found your mother," she said. Then it all tumbled out.


Nora Smoke, a Saulteaux Indian living on a reserve in Saskatchewan, told the investigator, she loved Wayne, always had, that it was the happiest day in her life that he had found her. She had never forgotten the child she'd never seen.


"Please tell my son," Smoke pleaded with the investigator, "I've always thought of him."


And the 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound athlete sobbed, sobbed like a baby, sobbed with 32 years of repressed emotion, sobbed like a kidnapped child returned to his bereft mother.


The search had ended; however, the story of a newborn's disappearance three decades ago was yet to be told.


Snellgrove, like many Canadians, calls it kidnapping. Others call it cultural annihilation or cultural genocide. Officially, it's been dubbed the Sixties Scoop.


Throughout the 60s, 70s and into the mid 80s, thousands of native children were separated from their mothers and adopted out to middle-class, non-native families in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.


"Some communities lost an entire generation," says Darrell Racine, professor of native studies at Brandon University, in Manitoba, Canada.


At best, say the critics, the action of the Children's Aid Societies, authorized at the time to administer Canada's child welfare services, was misguided. At worst, it was racism.


"It goes back to the usual manifest destiny complex white people have over red people and the idea they are more civilized than aboriginal people. They thought they were doing the aboriginals a favor," says Emma LaRocque, professor of native studies at the University of Manitoba.


The problem was those removing the children were usually white and, because of bias or ignorance of aboriginal culture, they were, say critics, unqualified to determine what was in the best interest of the native child.


That the Sixties Scoop followed on the heels of the horrific residential school program was not coincidence. The thinking there, says Racine, "was the only way to civilize the Indians was to get the child away from the parents." So the children were forced into church-run boarding schools to be purged of their language, customs and culture. (Similar boarding schools were operational throughout most of the 20th century in the United States, as well.)


In the 1960s, with the closing of Canada's residential schools, aboriginal children continued to be removed, this time on the grounds of parental ambivalence, poverty, illness, or drug or alcohol addiction.
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"Entire reserves would be assessed as dysfunctional and every child in the community would be removed," says Kenn Richard, director of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto.


And then "because of racism," says Richard, who is half native, "few white Canadians were willing to adopt aboriginal children, so placements were made through agencies in the U.S."


'I really don't belong'


Wayne Snellgrove came through an agency in Northampton, Mass. Six months before getting the 2 1/2-year-old Wayne, Richard and Ann Snellgrove, his adoptive parents, had taken home another boy, a white boy. They wanted to find for him a companion.


Despite loving and caring parents, Wayne says, "I've always had this feeling of being lost and misplaced, feeling I don't really belong here. Every time I looked in the mirror, I knew it. I had only to look at my brother to know I was different."


He describes his adoptive family as "wonderful." But his situation was far different from those that have made headlines in Canada and suggest there was little screening of prospective parents. Several stunning cases are recounted by the Native Child and Family Services of Toronto in its report titled "Research Project: Repatriation of Aboriginal Families -- Issues, Models and A Workplan." One Native child, placed with a bachelor in Kansas, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing his adoptive father with a baseball bat. The trial revealed that for years the youth had been sexually abused by his adoptive father.


Likewise, a native girl placed with a family who subsequently moved to Holland wound up a drug addict and prostitute after being impregnated twice by her adoptive father. After years of living abroad, she returned to Canada where, with the help of birth siblings, she established a new life.


 Please leave a comment! Wayne, an amazing artist and Olympic swimmer, is on Facebook.  He lives in Florida. This is his painting of a red hand.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

New court designed to keep Native American kids close to tribes, pueblos

The court's goal is to work directly with tribal members, families, and state agencies on finding the best solution for the child, all while preserving cultural ties. It's only the 6th one in the country.



In the pueblo of Pojoaque, there's a saying they take to heart.
"No one gets left behind, and we don't shoot our wounded," said Joseph Talachy, the governor of the Pojoaque.
When a tribal member is down, the pueblo as a whole works to bring them back up.
"We're all wounded to some extent here in the pueblo, and in northern New Mexico in general we come from very historically traumatic background," Talachy said.
For Talachy, the trauma is all too familiar.
"It wasn't until fairly recently, when I figured out that this was all a traumatic experience," Talachy said. "I thought everyone got adopted. I thought everyone got put in a different home."
Talachy was born in an Illinois prison. His biological mother is a Pojoaque tribal member who wasn't able to financially care for her kids, so she put them up for adoption.
"But given the implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978, it opened up the doors for me to come back to my pueblo," Talachy said.
The Indian Child Welfare Act, also known as ICWA, is a federal law that prevents state agencies from removing Native American children from their parents and placing them in outside communities. The goal is to keep the children as close to their cultures, traditions and tribes as possible.
"Actually under the obligations of the feds, they had to contact the tribe, in order to ask 'Hey tribe do you want your child back?'" Talachy said.
The Pojoaque governor at the time was able to find a tribal family to take Talachy in at the age of 4. Becasue of that he was able to be raised back in the pueblo, learning his culture, language and traditions. But that's not always the case for American Indian kids.
"I can't imagine what it's like for that 4-year-old child to be placed in another home and continue to be confused," Talachy said.
According to statistics from the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, about 10 percent of kids in the foster care system are Native American. Native American children are also removed from their homes and communities at a much higher rate than non-Native American kids.
"There has been this historically trauma in this whole country," said Melody Wells with CYFD. "Having a distrust, and really not wanting to work with them."
Even though ICWA was enacted in 1978, many realized there was still a disconnect with state agencies and tribes.
"Sometimes it's as simple as walking into a courtroom and not seeing people who look like you," said Special Master Catherine Begaye. "Sometimes there's been some animosity between the tribes and CYFD, not knowing what one another is doing. For lots of families the way we've been doing things, doesn't always work for them."
Judges with the children's court ran an audit and found out that there were at least 100 children whose cases would likely end up in a courtroom, which is why Bernalillo County launched the ICWA court in January.
"That spoke to the need that we have to do much better," said Judge Marie Ward with the Second Judicial Court. "If we can do this better then, ultimately it's the kids and the families that get to stay together and have better lives."
The court's goal is to work directly with tribal members, families, and state agencies on finding the best solution for the child, all while preserving cultural ties.
"This new administration really looked at it and said why is this happening? That's really not how we want to be," Wells said. "I think as we see the ICWA unit working with more and more departments and individuals we will see a shift in how CYFD does things over, across the board."
Advocates of the program said structural racism, historical trauma, and institutional bias has had an impact with how New Mexico's courts treat Native American families, which is why many believe this court is long overdue.
"Native people should see a system that is changing to meet their needs, instead of them having to fit our cookie-cutter version of who their family should be," Begaye said. "Native people can thrive with the right support, and if that means a child who is 4 years old is in front of me, I want to be part of the group of people who want to set them on the course so that they can lead their people to a better future."
CYFD created an ICWA unit, that is composed of predominately native lawyers, case workers, and supervisors. The new court here in Bernalillo becomes only the sixth ICWA court in the country, joining cities like Billings, Denver, and Los Angeles. Since the court's launch, judges have heard two cases so far.
"We want to establish trust between us and the families, that we're really here for reunification," Begaye said.
For Talachy, his life was changed by the the ICWA system.
"Without the courts, I wouldn't have the opportunities that I've been given today. Who knows where I'd be?" Talachy said.
He knows who he is, he knows his roots, and he hopes every Native kid who ends up in the system will know theirs', too.
"Our children are our No. 1 asset, who we are ultimately gets passed down through our children; without their well-being, our culture dies, our language dies," Talachy said.


Currently the court is only hearing cases in Bernalillo County, but the judges hope to expand it statewide in the coming years.

THE NEW COURT IN BERNALILLO BECOMES THE 6TH ICWA COURT IN THE COUNTRY JOINING CITIES LIKE DENVER AND LOS ANGELES. SINCE JANUARY, THE COURT HAS HEARD TWO CASES. C.Y.F.D CREATED THIS UNIT, THAT IS COMPOSED OF PREDOMINATELY NATIVE LAWYERS, CASE WORKERS, AND SUPERVISORS. CURRENTLY THE COURT IS ONLY HEARING CASES IN BERNALILLO COUNTY, BUT THE JUDGES HOPES TO EXPAND IT STATEWIDE.


Source: Meeting the needs of Native kids through new court

Oklahoma Bar Journal Article on the Constitutionality of #ICWA

Turtle Talk Blog

by Matthew L.M. Fletcher

Whatever one believes about Native Americans as a racial archetype, however, is not relevant to an adequate under-standing of Indian status as a legal phenomenon. Judge O’Connor and others fail to grasp that concept. 
By Austin Vance, starting on page 12, here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

What does history tell us about adoption

By Trace Hentz (Blog Editor and adoptee)

The Dakota expression for child, wakan injan, can be translated as “they too are sacred,” according to Glenn Drapeau, Ihanktonwan Dakota and a member of the Elk Soldier Society on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota.

“To us, children are as pure as the holy, moving energy of the universe,” he says, “and we treat them that way.”

What does history tell us about adoption? Most telling is the timeline of adoption history: https://pages.uoregon.edu/adoption/timeline.html

Can you see the curve American Adoption took to become a profitable industry after seeing that timeline?  Do you notice how some states stepped in and made laws? Can you see the influence of the religions and their judgements of single parents? What role did poverty and racism play? Can you see how secrecy and laws protects the industry and the people who adopt?

Twenty years I've studied adoption in my own investigations and I think 20 years later... adoption is not about child care at all but has morphed into child trafficking, a response to an infertility epidemic, lawyers and judges, billions of dollars, propaganda and bad history.

Supply and demand requires: Where do you find an available baby for an infertile couple in America?

What was born of this curve in 20 years: there are camps. The two most common camps for adoptees are "be grateful" and "the activist."

Not everyone wants to hear adoptees in any camp. I simply cannot believe the adoption debate has gone on as long as it has.

If adoption hurts anyone, then it should be abolished. Period.

When you see how adoption was used against Native people, then it was a criminal act. (This was important to document in the four-part book series LOST CHILDREN OF THE INDIAN ADOPTION PROJECTS: see the books in the sidebar of this blog)

My adoptive parents were miserable people, very sick. I cannot begin to calculate the source of their behaviors but their infertility and religion resulted in my being adopted by them through Catholic Charities and then abused by both of them.

If there had been careful awareness by the adoption industry's social workers prior...maybe it would not have happened. But the social workers never returned.

Who would create a system for children that would not check on adopted children?

Child trafficking via adoption is profitable. That seems to be why it won't go away.

I'm not bitter because that was the system and how it was created. But when you see the harm, and the trauma and the lifelong issues for the child in a closed adoption, how does adoption exist in any form?

Caring for children who are true orphans, without any biological family is so rare, a community could step in and care for the orphan.  It would not require a bureaucracy to do that. The decision could be made by tribal leaders. If you are a member of a tribe, the entire tribe is your family. Kinship care always worked for children who had lost their parents.

I was not an orphan. I had two biological parents who were in their 20s. Relatives told me later they could have and would have raised me.

But someone created a system that didn't allow that, and instead the adoption industry chose strangers to raise me.

I was born before the Indian Child Welfare Act was passed in 1978. I do not have my Original Birth Certificate.

I will never stop fighting for Native children. They deserve our protection.

Read my earlier post: What Being Adopted Cost Me.

Toni Morrison says that “facts can exist without human intelligence, but truth cannot.”

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Body Remembers

New research reveals that trauma experienced in childhood has long-term damaging effects on quality of life and lifespan. But the same research shows that adults play a critical role in helping children overcome this damage.

READ: The Body Remembers | On Being

Here’s a quick experiment about your past that will tell you a vast amount about your future.
Check all that apply:
  • Did you experience recurrent emotional abuse as a kid?
  • Physical?
  • Sexual?
  • Did you experience physical neglect?
  • Emotional neglect?
  • Did anyone in your childhood home have substance abuse issues?
  • Did anyone struggle with mental illness?
  • Did anyone participate in criminal behavior and/or go to jail?
  • Was your mother ever treated violently?
  • Did you experience divorce or parental separation?
How many checks do you have? This is what clinicians call your ACE score. It stands for “adverse childhood experiences” and study after study has confirmed that it has a huge influence on your lifetime health. For starters: The life expectancy of individuals with ACE scores of six or more is twenty years shorter than it is for people with no ACEs. And a person with four or more ACEs is twice as likely to develop heart disease and cancer.


Editor Note: Being adopted is high stress, too. We have posted about ACE on this blog - use the search bar.

Native American Court to Run Under Bigger Concept of Family

In 2017, Second Judicial District Children’s Court judge Marie Ward and ICWA court hearing officer Catherine Begaye (Diné/Navajo) sketched out an ICWA court blueprint for New Mexico.

But it wasn’t until a November 2018 visit by Judge Katherine Delgado, who helped start an ICWA court in Adams County, Colo., that pushed Ward and Begaye to accelerate. The Second Judicial Court in Albuquerque presides over the largest amount of overall child welfare cases as well as ICWA cases in the state, Ward said. A few months after Blalock’s January 2019 appointment to cabinet secretary, CYFD created an internal, all-Native female ICWA team of four ICWA caseworkers, an ICWA supervisor and two children’s court attorneys. The ICWA unit educates ICWA court caseworkers, guardian ad litems, lawyers and affiliated parties on the historical and intergenerational trauma that a Native family has experienced. “They need that expertise and knowledge so that Indian families can receive support,” Chavers said.

READ: Native American Court to Run Under Bigger Concept of Family - Youth Today

What our Nations are up against!

What our Nations are up against!

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.

Generation Removed

Did you know?

Did you know?
lakota.cc/16I9p4D

Dawnland

Help in available!

Help in available!
1-844-7NATIVE (click photo)

click to listen

Diane Tells His Name

where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?