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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

This Week In American Indian News: ICWA Summit Off?

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We lead today with an update on the Lakota/Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA] summit scheduled for mid-May. I did not think this was public, but as of Saturday morning, the Associated Press is reporting it in a local South Dakota news outlet, so it's now out there.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the "Lakota Spring," including a pair of upcoming hearings organized by the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in preparation for the summit. The BIA agreed to the summit after members of Congress, under pressure from Sioux tribal members, demanded an investigation into reports that South Dakota state officials intentionally engaged in repeated violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act [ICWA] by improperly removing Indian children from their families and placing them in white foster or adoptive homes. In any other context, we'd call that what it is: Kidnapping. In South Dakota, it's called capitalism, since it's a moneymaker for both white families and the state.
Well, after much apparent hemming and hawing, the BIA has released its agenda for the summit - an agenda, I remind you, that was supposed to be a joint project between BIA officials and tribal leaders.
And it's a whitewash. In the multiple senses of that term.
Yes, I do know this, because I've seen the agenda.
Standing Rock officials agreed to this summit on condition that it would address the facts of the kidnapping of their children and work to correct the ongoing violations. They did not agree to help cover them up. Among their very reasonable conditions was that former South Dakota Senator James Abourezk, the original architect of the ICWA, be included in the program to speak about the conditions that compelled him to act in the first place. (Here's a hint: The conditions in 1970s Indian Country looked very much like the conditions in South Dakota today.)
I've seen no official public response from the BIA yet, and I'm not taking bets at this point as to whether the summit will actually occur.

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Takeaway Podcast ICWA

What our Nations are up against!

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Survivors, write your stories. Write your parents stories. Write the elders stories. Do not be swayed by the colonizers to keep quiet. Tribal Nations have their own way of keeping stories alive.... Trace

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Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

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Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

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where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.