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Monday, August 4, 2014

Ensure children stay with blood relatives #ICWA

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Tribe makes changes to children’s code

Saginaw Chippewa Tribal members are celebrating a change in one of its codes to help ensure that children stay with blood relatives.
Tribal Spokesman Frank Cloutier said Friday that changes to the “Title II Children’s Code,” made by the Indian Child Welfare Committee, are more in line with the Tribe’s traditional culture and values.
Calling the changes progressive steps so Tribal families won’t have to rely on traditional Western culture, Cloutier said the Tribal Council hopes the changes will be the model that other Native American communities use as a template for causing positive change in their communities and memberships.
In general, Cloutier said, Native communities have never had opportunities for children to stay with extended families rather than foster care in circumstances where children are removed from their parent’s homes.
Changes to the children’s code include issues regarding adoption, child abuse, detention shelter care facilities, foster care and child care licensing.
Passed by Congress in 1978, the “Indian Child Welfare Act” was created to remedy the problem of a disproportionately large number of Native children being placed out of their homes.
Cloutier said that typically amounted to foster homes without regard to the child’s extended family.
Indian Child Welfare Committee Chair Faith Pego-Carmona said the law recognized “that there is no resource...more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children.”
Non-Native agencies had failed “to recognize the essential tribal relations of Indian people and the culture and social standards prevailing in Indian communities and families,” Pego-Carmona said, adding that the Indian Child Welfare Committee recognizes the importance of the federal act.
Cloutier said the changes are wonderful for Tribal members and that they solidify Native family values.

[We need more codes like this across Indian Country...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.

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.

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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.