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What our Nations are up against!

What our Nations are up against!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Rural Matters — Coronavirus and the Navajo Nation

Navajo Nation Doc: Matthew L.M. Fletcher

From the New England Journal of Medicine, here.

The Navajo Nation, Diné Bikéyah, is 27,000 square miles of high-altitude desert, steep canyons, red rock spires, and extinct volcanoes, which, at this time of year, are still spotted with snow. The population density is among the lowest in the contiguous United States: seven people per square mile. If you didn’t know better, the vast landscape would seem a perfect setup for social distancing.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Midnight Shine - Sister Love (Celebration of Sisters!) @midnightshineon

Ø  Adrian
Sutherland, Midnight Shine founder and frontman, wrote Sister Love from a poem written by his sister Iris Sutherland – she shares co-writing credit on the song. 
Ø  Adrians
Mom played acoustic guitar, keyboard, and sang, instilling in him his love of music, and inspiring him to play. 
Ø  Sister
 is Midnight Shine’s 2nd most streamed song on Spotify – second only to Heart of Gold (which now has more than 227,000 YouTube views).
Ø  Sister
 reached #1 on Canada's Indigenous Music Countdown when it was released.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Coming Up: Native America Calling

Native America Calling is a national call-in program that invites guests and listeners to join a dialogue about current events, music, arts, entertainment and culture.

The program is hosted by Tara Gatewood (Isleta Pueblo) and airs live each weekday from 1-2 pm Eastern.

Join the conversation by calling 1-800-996-2848.

There is no one way to address the coronavirus threat. The state of Alaska has relatively few COVID-19 cases. But some vital modes of transportation are already shut down and Native villages are working on keeping potential virus exposures at bay. It's a different story in urban centers that the U.S. Census says is home to nearly seven out of every 10 Native Americans. In Los Angeles, the Native population is large and diverse. Organizations like United American Indian Involvement is helping elders and others coping with a significant and growing health threat. We'll hear the various ways leaders are tackling the coronavirus emergency to suit the needs of their people.


Isolation because of the coronavirus doesn't stop the need to raise awareness of a tragic statistic for Native people. May 5th is the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls. Organizers are encouraging virtual walks, candles in windows, and twitter campaigns to keep the light on the disproportionate number of victimized Indigenous women and girls.

The COVID-19 pandemic axed the much-anticipated U.S. theater release of the film, "Blood Quantum." The good news is audiences can now see it online. The film is about a zombie outbreak near a Mi'gmaq reserve in Canada. It's directed by First Nations filmmaker, Jeff Barnaby and has a host of Native stars, including Michael Greyeyes (Cree), Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Blackfoot and Sami), Forrest Goodluck (Diné/Mandan/Hidatsa /Tsimshian) and Gary Farmer (Cayuga/Tuscarora/Mohawk).

Expecting mothers face added anxiety because of the coronavirus pandemic. They may be separated from their newborn if they test positive for the virus or are showing symptoms. At the same time, just going to a hospital to give birth increases the chances of getting exposed to coronavirus. We'll get medical advice on what precautions pregnant women can take and hear from those who facing difficult decisions during their pregnancies. Have a question? Send us an email at

The global COVID-19 pandemic generates fear and confusion for a lot of people. As always, scam artists are ready with new and creative ways to exploit people's fears and steal their money. The Federal Trade Commission is coming down on marketers who falsely claim to have COVID-19 cures. The agency is also warning about phone calls from criminals pretending to be sick family members needing money. We'll get reminders on how to protect yourself from the latest frauds and scams.
Coming up...

Friday, April 3, 2020

Covid-19 in Indian Country

Today's Headlines
Friday, April 3, 2020
A travel advisory near Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico. The tribe has confirmed a COVID-19 case and is asking community members to limit travel outside the reservation. (Photo-Pueblo of Zuni, Facebook)
Some Pueblos communities confirm first cases of COVID-19

Volunteers deliver traditional herbs to elders in Rapid City

Doctor discusses anxiety and stress during the pandemic
Coming up...
The federal government's response to the COVID-19 crisis includes a $2.2 trillion stimulus package. Of that, $10 billion is aimed specifically toward helping tribal health, housing, education, and business recovery, among other things. The crisis is already severely affecting tribes, businesses and individuals. Health and business experts are still not able to predict the full extent of the financial damage. We'll talk with tribal policy and economic experts about what the stimulus package makes available for tribes and how you might see those funds working in your community.
Native child adoptions, court hearings and in-person family visitations are some of the things grinding to a halt because of efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus. Many child welfare advocates are also worried that states may use the current confusion to withhold information important to adequately assessing cases where the Indian Child Welfare Act may apply. We'll check in with the National Indian Child Welfare Association on suggestions they are providing for tribal child welfare agencies, attorneys and individuals about how to navigate the new normal of COVID-19 restrictions.
The Trump Administration took the unprecedented step of disestablishing the Mashpee Wampanoag's more than 300 acre reservation in Massachusetts. Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell described the action as "cruel" and "unnecessary." It sent shock waves through Indian Country and unnerved some tribal leaders who fear such a precedent could lead to more trust land reversals in the future. We'll get updates about the issue and get reaction from tribal leaders.
As the country grapples with an unprecedented pandemic threat, there is another health concern on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent report shows rates of sexual transmitted disease (STDs) are at an all-time high. The revelation comes in the Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2018 report. Native Americans have some of the highest rates for diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. We'll talk about what can be done to prevent further infections and how that is affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
Many people turn to prayer, traditional practices or messages of encouragement during times of personal or communal crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic limits people's ability to connect in groups to heal. But there are still ways to find fellowship and access spiritual solace. We'll get perspective from three people about what they are leaning on during this crisis. How are you managing? Send us an email to with how you are getting through this challenging time.


Native America Calling is a national call-in program that invites guests and listeners to join a dialogue about current events, music, arts, entertainment and culture.

The program is hosted by Tara Gatewood (Isleta Pueblo) and airs live each weekday from 1-2 pm Eastern.

Join the conversation by calling 1-800-996-2848.


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.  

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.
"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.

"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.


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.


Generation Removed

Did you know?

Did you know?


Help in available!

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

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Diane Tells His Name

Please support NARF

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.

Indian Country is under attack. We need you. Please join the ranks of Modern Day Warriors. Please donate today to help Native people protect their rights.

where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?