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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Leland Morrill on ICWA lawsuits

From Turtle Talk: 

Doe v. Pruitt, Another (Fourth) Federal ICWA Case Filed (N.D. Okla)

My biological father and I meeting for the first time...My biological father and I meeting for the first time...

Turtle Talk Link:

NOTE: "Here is the complaint", click on the COMPLAINT to download the PDF file for the 20-page complaint to read in full.

Doe v. Pruitt, Another (Fourth) Federal ICWA Case Filed (N.D. Okla)

"Doe Pruitt Complaint" Cae 4:15-cv-00471-JED-FHM Document 2 Filed in USDC ND/OK on 8/19/15

This appears to be a lawsuit against the ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978) where the opposition has found two enrolled Cherokee Nation Citizens who are urban and assimilated like the United States has wanted to happen, a biological mother ("Jane Doe" Cherokee) and pre-adoptive father ("Richard Roe" Cherokee) and they are using the Urban Natives to "divide and conquer" the ICWA in Oklahoma using these 18 year old, barely adult biological parents for their agenda and using a newly born infant ("Baby Doe" born July 2015) for this case.

This is a case where they claim it is an voluntary adoption for from the biological parents ( barely 18) to pre-adoptive parents and the Cherokee Nation should not have any say or notice regarding this, one of their citizens. This would bypass the childs biological famnily or any other member of the Cherokee nation or any other indian famnily from adopting this child. Keep in mind the Cherokee Nation is a Sovereign Nation within a nation and should have priority because this infant is born from a citizen of their nation.

Where it gets sticky is this involves both a State in American (Oklahoma) and a Sovereign Nation, Cherokee Nation. In 1994 Oklahoma Legislature expanded their Oklahoma ICWA:

"B. Except as provided for in subsection A of this section, the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Act applies to all state voluntary and involuntary child custody court proceedings involving Indian children, regardless of whether or not the children involved are in the physical or legal custody of an Indian parent or Indian custodian at the time state proceedings are initiated." (10 Okla. Stat. §40.3)

In all Indian child custody proceedings of the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Act, including voluntary court proceedings and review hearings, the court shall ensure that the district attorney or other person initiating the proceeding shall send notice to the parents or to the Indian custodians, if any, and to the tribe that is or may be the tribe of the Indian child, and to the appropriate Bureau of Indian Affairs area office, by certified mail… (10 Okla. Stat. §40.4)


27. The 1994 amendments to OICWA also amended §40.6 which now states:

The placement preferences specified in 25 U.S.C. Section 1915, shall apply to all preadjudicatory placements, as well as preadoptive, adoptive and foster care placements. In all placements of an Indian child by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), or b) any person or other placement agency, DHS, the person or placement agency shall utilize to the maximum extent possible the services of the Indian tribe of the child in securing placement consistent with the provisions of the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Act. This requirement shall include cases where a consenting parent evidences a desire for anonymity in the consent document executed pursuant to Section 60.5 of this title.2 If a request for anonymity is included in a parental consent document, the court shall give weight to such desire in applying the preferences only after notice is given to the child's tribe and the tribe is afforded twenty (20) days to intervene and request a hearing on available tribal placement resources which may protect parental confidentiality,  provided that notice of such hearing shall be given to the consenting parent. 

So Jane and John Doe (annonymous biological parents where Jane Doe is a CITIZEN of the CHEROKEE NATION and a "resident" of the US State OKLAHOMA) their infant born July 2015 is still covered under the Oklahoma ICWA Law for PUBLIC and PRIVATE ADOPTIONS of NATIVE AMERICAN CHILDREN.

I think this case is interesting because we know in the Baby Veronica Case the attorneys "misrepresented" the spelling of Dusten Brown's name even though Christy Maldanado (Baby Veronica/RONNIE BROWN's hispanic bio-mother) knew Dusten Brown for several years and would know how to spell his name but also because it states on page 8:

"Jane Doe did not learn that she was a member of the Cherokee Nation until approximately May 20, 2015 when she discussed the matter with her estranged Father"

The above wording: "estranged Father" and "did not learn that she was a member of the Cherokee Nation until approximately May 20, 2015" seem suspect in this "complaint".

I also find it interesting that at 18 years of age (page 10) "Jane and John Doe are well aware of their rights under ICWA and OICWA. However, they believe they are making the best decision about Baby Doe's care, custody, control, and future upbringing and they do not want the Cherokee Nation to interfere with the plans they have carefully made"

I also find it suspect this 18 year old couple was coached into (page 11) "42.  As Indian parents, Jane and John Doe are aware of their right to revoke their consent at any time until the adoption is final. If the tribe attempts to interfere with their private placement adoption, and it becomes apparent that Richard and Mary Roe will not be permitted to adopt Baby Doe, Jane and John Doe will revoke the consents already given and will not give consent to anyone else for Baby Doe's adoption."

It goes on and on and on...please read the case number. If you followed the Baby Veronica Case you will understand how the wording of this "complaint" could be suspect/coaching of the 18-year-old non-married couple.

These cases are hard to read and you might have to read several times to understand ( I do at least ) and then you can form your own opinion.

PLEASE SHARE the case widely.


Also coming up I will be writing about meeting my biological father on August 4th who looked for me for 46 years after he came back from the Vietnam War to find his family was gone...Can any of you parents image, especially Vets who have been to war and seen families killed, murdered, caught in crossfire, again imagine coming back from war  like from Iraq or Afganistan and finding your children are gone and the mother of your child dead...and you are suffering from PTSD and everything else that comes with serving in wartime.... ??

...that story will be coming up as soon as I can write it effectively...



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lost Daughters: Is Knowing Our Parentage Our Right?

My grandparents grave...I took this photo at my father's funeral
Please read this post at Lost Daughters. Lost Daughters: Is Knowing Our Parentage Our Right?

"Knowledge is power. Information is power. The secreting or hoarding of knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility." -Robin Morgan

By Trace Hentz

For adoptees, I think it is OUR right to know both sides of our ancestry and family and clan system.  If I could redo adoption, when a child is adopted, the adoptee keeps their name and knows every detail, including their medical history and ancestry. When you adopt a child, you are borrowing them. They are someone else's child. You don't own them. But you agree to parent them to adulthood.

AND it must be our legal right to know our parentage! Closed adoption creates a fantasy family, and fantasy creates trauma which is not healthy for anyone.

For me the only way to find my father Earl Bland was to contact my mother Helen Thrall - who didn't want to meet me. (I was a secret and she had not told others.)  After the shock and rejection wore off, two years later, I sent her a threatening letter.  Helen wrote me back, gave me his name and I jumped on a plane and met my dad in Illinois. 

Then I met relatives and learned who I am.

Absolutely NO ONE should have to live a mystery, live a lie and not know their identity.

Why would a mother not tell us a father's name? Is it because they were ashamed in some way? Grow up, people. The scandal is in her head and burying the truth won't help. It's a "belief" problem, not an adoptee issue. Adoptees grow into adults and need the truth to live our lives.

Rejection by a mother is one thing but her withholding who your father is should be a crime. She should not have that power over us. She doesn't have that right!

I did DNA with Earl since we were not sure Helen was telling the truth. Yup, 99.9 percent, Earl is my dad.

Adoptees live much better knowing the truth.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

And so it goes: Research on Orphan Asylums

not available anymore

 By Trace Hentz (author of One Small Sacrifice)

I know it’s a sign when a couple of my friends mention “Orphan Asylums” to me in a single day. How children were called “inmates.”

I have no recollection of my time as an inmate in a Minnesota orphanage – this happened after I was born in St. Paul, MN and was shifted from The Catholic Infant Home (where unwed mothers wait out their pregnancy) to the St. Joseph’s Home for Children (Orphanage) then to a Catholic foster care (a house on Harrison St.) in Superior, Wisconsin. Apparently Catholic Charities moved infants/children across state lines without any scrutiny or trouble at all.  And all the paperwork they created on me was sealed. (I phoned back when I was 21 and they refused my request for my file.) And I have two Catholic baptismal certificates – one with my mother Helen Thrall and a later one with the adopters Everett and Edith DeMeyer who are listed on my birth certificate as my biological parents. (Best to hide proof and evidence of a stranger adoption brokered by Catholic Charities.)

The Catholic Church (and others) created a charity and an industry with maternity homes, orphanages, churches, hospitals, big brick buildings to house priests, nuns and medical staff, all to handle the baby inmates that became their big business. Pretty clever those pontiffs denounce birth control of any kind so a steady stream of illegitimate children can be sold through their channels. And they are a non-profit so they get to keep their income. And devoted parishioners keep pumping them donations to this day.

Here is the photo of the orphanage where I was:

I was there in 1956.

This is Catholic Charities current description:
When land was bought for the Minneapolis Catholic Boys’ Home in 1885, the intersection of 46th Street and Chicago Avenue was a half-day’s ride from the city. The green countryside that stretched south to Minnehaha Creek promised a pastoral experience for children. Both the Minneapolis Catholic Boys’ Home and St. Joseph’s Home for Children in St. Paul were founded to address a critical need of the late 19th century: children left parentless by epidemics and other hardships of pioneer life. The nuns who staffed the homes offered motherly care to hundreds of children well into the 20th century.  The 1960s saw two important shifts. First, society turned to favor foster placement over orphanage care. The Minneapolis Catholic Boys’ Home and St. Joseph’s Home for Children were consolidated on the Boys’ Home property under St. Joe’s name.  Today, St. Joe’s continues to serve the community as a part of Catholic Charities. Several programs for children, including an emergency shelter, health clinic and mental health services, operate at St. Joe’s. SOURCE  (I want to note there are Orphan Cemeteries, too.) (How clever of them to leave out the adoptions they did. Really!)

(My thanks to my Librarian friend Karen Vigneault-MLIS for sending me sources on these asylums. Karen is a member of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California.)

For any one looking to find an ancestor at an asylum, some have individual websites with census that has names and dates and even parents names on many of these young inmates.

A few friends have told me what their adoptive parents paid for them. I don’t know what I cost mine.
And I thought about the many Catholic-run Boarding Schools for American Indian children who were also made inmates, imprisoned to be assimilated and educated, all to KILL THE INDIAN.

My mother Helen had to pay to stay at the Catholic Maternity Home in Minnesota – can you believe it? She made arrangements to pay THEM?

Wasn’t giving them me enough payment?

Monday, August 17, 2015


On July 1, 2015 a new law became effective in Connecticut that gives certain adult adoptees the right to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate.
Your are eligible to receive your original birth certificate under the new law if:
  • You were born and adopted in Connecticut.
  • You will be 18 or older on or after July 1, 2015.
  • Your adoption was finalized on or after October 1, 1983.
Pursuant to the new law, you are also entitled to receive a Contact Preference Form and Medical History Form, if they have been filed by your biological parents with the Department of Children and Families.

You must file an application and pay a fee to the Department of Public Health in Hartford to receive your original birth certificate.  The Application Form to obtain an Original Birth Certificate can be obtained from the Department of Public Health.

Notice to Biological Parents: The new law provides that you may file a Contact Preference Form and updated Medical History Form with the Department of Children and Families, which will be provided upon request to your adult offspring. The Contact Preference Form allows you to indicate whether or not, and how, you wish to be contacted. The Medical History Form allows you to provide current, updated medical health information that may be critical to the health of your offspring and their children.

For more information, please contact:
Department of Public Health, Vital Records Office: (860) 509-7700
(Original Birth Certificates)
Department of Children and Families: (860) 550-6300
(Contact Preference and Medical History Forms)

Click here to print a copy of an InformationalFlyer regarding the new law.  Please feel free to distribute!

Tiospaye #ICWA TASK FORCE 2nd annual meeting


CONTACT: Leland P. Morrill
Navajo Citizen/Santo Domingo Pueblo
Cell: 213-572-9124


Publish on your Webpages, Blogs and Facebook page the following.

Los Angeles Foster Family Recruitment Event sponsored by:
The ICWA Task Force of Los Angeles and
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services American Indian Unit.
Date: September 26,2015
Place: Cathedral Center of St. Paul's Episcopal Church (ECHO PARK)
Address: 840 Echo Park Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90026
RSVP by September 18, 2015 at 626-938-1722

Friday, August 14, 2015

Indigenous man credits powwow for helping step away from addictions

Gabriel Whiteduck shares his story through song and dance

By Terrence Duff and Corinne Smith, CBC News 
Gabriel Whiteduck shares his experience with First Nations youth through workshops.
Gabriel Whiteduck shares his experience with First Nations youth through workshops. (Supplied)
"When I first came into powwow, I was suffering from addictions - drugs and alcohol," said the 33-year old, in a recent interview with the Cree Radio CBC.
"It was a way to put that down and take up something. I picked up the drum and dancing, I was able to really apply myself positively."
Whiteduck is a powwow teacher, dancer, drummer and singer. Algonquin and Plains Cree, he's originally from Prince Albert, Sask., and is now based in the Algonquin First Nation of Kitigan Zibi, Que.
Gabriel Whiteduck dancing at a powwow
Gabriel Whiteduck dances traditional men's style. (Supplied)

For Whiteduck, powwow culture has been a powerful force of change in his life. While becoming a father was a defining turning point in his adult life, he credits powwow dancing and drumming as a source of renewal. He wants to share that personal experience with other First Nations youth, through his workshops and teachings.
"The odds are against our young Native men and women, unfortunately," he said.
"My story is a celebration. I really celebrate that gift that was given to me, that was given to us, the gift of being able to move and speak freely."
He started travelling in the James Bay area of Northern Quebec a few years ago, visiting communities to lead powwow workshops and attend gatherings. Last summer he took part in the first ever powwow in Ouje-Bougoumou, a predominantly Christian Cree community that has in the past resisted that kind of gathering.

Cultural identity

Powwows don't have the same long history in Eeyou Istchee as they do for other First Nations, but the practise is spreading fast. Whiteduck believes it's important for people to remember that they have a distinct aboriginal cultural identity, whether or not they participate in powwows.
As "intertribal events" they simply add another dimension to First Nations cultural expression, he said. "It's a subculture underneath who we already are."
Whiteduck says when he visits communities, he's not there to tell people how to be Aboriginal. But he believes the powwow is a way to express your culture.
"I was once a person like that, I was very shy and nervous and I think about those people in the audience, so when I dance I try to give some of my confidence off towards them as much as I can," - Gabriel Whiteduck, powwow dancer
He dances and teaches traditional men's dancing, but says everyone's style is very personal. What he keeps in mind in the powwow circle is to connect and relate to his audience.
"I like to dance for the people that are watching, the people that feel they have barriers, they want to dance but they have the confidence or the courage to get up and dance," he said.              
"I was once a person like that, I was very shy and nervous and I think about those people in the audience, so when I dance I try to give some of my confidence off towards them as much as I can."
Whiteduck says it's very important to encourage youth to find a way to express themselves and tell their story, and he hopes powwow culture is one means to do that.
He wants to meet more youth and encourage them to bring their own songs and stories, of their lives and the land, to his workshops.

Listen to the interview:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Indigenous Adoptee Gathering in Kemptville is about healing and cultural realignment

Kemptville Advance
The children of the ’60s Scoop, traumatized after being taken from their families and culture, are now working on building a family of their own – with each other.
The second Indigenous Adoptee Gathering, to be held at Rideau Hill Camp in Kemptville from Aug. 25 to 27, is about healing - a safe place for adoptees to come together and share stories.
The gathering was organized by a group of four adoptees.
“A lot of us were traumatized,” said Colleen Cardinal, one of the organizers, who was taken from her indigenous home in Alberta at the age of three and adopted out to a family in Sault St. Marie.
“My three sisters and I were adopted into the same family,” said Cardinal. 
She explained the adoption impacted all three of their lives. One of her older sisters was murdered and the other lives out in Edmonton.
“There was so much trauma from those homes,” said Cardinal. “Not everyone had a good home. Some had terrible experiences.”
Cardinal was amongst the long list of adoptees who ended up in an abusive situation.
“Even one of my teachers knew we were being abused and did nothing,” said Cardinal. “When I was 10, my sisters and I ran away.  We walked to the Children’s Aid Society and told them about the abuse.  They brought us back to the house – we thought we were getting our clothes – and they left us there.”
She said both her sister eventually did manage to run away from the abusive home and she ended up having to go to the police and charging her adoptive father.
“A lot of adoptees had that same experience with physical and sexual abuse and we’re still dealing with that trauma,” said Cardinal.
She said she didn’t know she was indigenous until she was a teenager.
“The damage was already done,” she said. “My view of indigenous people was already poor from listening to mainstream media.”
She said when her adopted mother told her she was indigenous, matter-of-factly, she was offended because she internalized a lot of that racism until early adulthood.
“I didn’t understand what happened to my people and my family,” said Cardinal. “Residential schools is something no one talked about.”
She said she never knew about her biological mother’s experience in residential schools and how it impacted her parenting until much later in life.
“She never lived to tell me,” said Cardinal.
Cardinal and her sisters were removed from their mother at a young age because her mother was deemed unfit. The report for her adoption listed the reason for her removal was neglect due to a drinking problem.
“She grew up in poverty, was institutionalized and never taught how to cope,” said Cardinal. “She didn’t know how to take care of us.”
Cardinal is now in the process of researching her family history, to uncover what happened to her family. She was reunited with her mother in 1989, which proved to be a culture shock.
“I went from Sault St. Marie to Alberta – the wild, wild west – I’ve never seen so much poverty,” said Cardinal. “For a long time, I was very angry at her.”
She said understanding the impact of residential schools has helped her to see the trauma experienced by her mother.
“She had her three young daughters taken from her,” said Cardinal. 
Her mother passed away in 1999, at the age of 43, from cancer, after abusing solvents for years.
Cardinal said she, herself, was not one of the fortunate adoptees to be placed in a loving home.
“My sisters and I grew up feeling like second class citizens in our own home,” said Cardinal, who was adopted in 1975.
She said it is common to hear stories from other adoptees of physical and sexual abuse.
“Drinking and drugs are used as coping mechanisms to forget,” said Cardinal, who suffered from a drinking problem until one day realizing that she didn’t want her own kids to grow up with alcohol and violence.
“In 1998, I quit drinking and went back to school,” said Cardinal. “I focused on raising my kids and healing. The more I’ve healed, the more I’ve learned.”
She said being separated from her culture at a young age has had a resounding effect on her life.
“Even though I look indigenous, I am different,” said Cardinal. “Not fitting in anywhere is a common thing. Now we’ve created a place where we all fit in together. It’s a community of adoptees and we support each other.”
She said the adoptees are coming from all across Canada for the gathering.
The funds to make the gathering possible are being raised by the adoptees themselves, in conjunction with a grant from the United Church Healing Fund.
“We are trying to be a beacon for other adoptees and build awareness,” said Cardinal. 
She said it’s an ongoing battle to stay well.
“We come together to promote wellness and learn our culture and be able to practice is safely,” said Cardinal. “We created a family for ourselves.” 
She said if anyone is interested in offering in kind donations for the gathering, such as food or fire wood, to visit
The inaugural indigenous adoptee gathering, the first of its kind in Ontario, took place in Ottawa at the end of Sept., 2014. Roughly 65 adoptees attended the gathering last year. 
“There are a lot of us adoptees in the Ottawa area and we wanted to come together to share our stories,” said Cardinal. “Because it was such a success, we decided to have another gathering this year.”
The gathering will feature sweat lodges, drum making, multicultural activities, art therapy and workshops.
“It’s about realigning with our culture,” said Cardinal.
She said the ’60s Scoop resulted in between 10,000 and 20,000 indigenous children being taken from their homes and adopted out.
“It was a huge loss of culture,” said Cardinal. “We are now in our 40s and 50s and realizing just how big a loss it was. We want to realign and heal.”
Rideau Hill Camp was chosen as the venue for the gathering due to the infrastructure, privacy and connection to nature.
“We wanted the opportunity to return to the land for our gathering,” Cardinal said, “even though most of us were raised in urban centers.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Global Family: Lakota Law Project

Lakota People's Law Project
“Enough words, enough rhetoric, my people have been robbed with false promises for centuries. We want action.
"We want money and training to build our own foster care facilities to protect our children who are sacred. We want it now.”
Bryan Brewer
Former President, Oglala Sioux Tribe

Thank you for walking the Red Road with us.  

Together, we are making progress, step by step.
The Lakota Peoples Law Project continues to advocate for the approval of the Title IV-E Federal Planning Grant applications that Crow Creek, Cheyenne River, Lower Brule, and Yankton have submitted by sending our most recent report, “The New Boarding Schools,” to more than 100 officials in Washington D.C.

Our hope is that the widespread corruption among all levels of South Dakota government detailed in the report will urge federal officials in the Department of Health and Human Services to fund the planning of Child and Family Planning Service Programs that are so necessary for these four tribes to retain their culture and their children.
In addition to this, we have been supporting our parent organization, the Romero Institute, in circulating a new petition calling on Pope Francis to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery.

A combination of three 15th century Papal Bulls, the doctrine granted explorers the moral and legal justification to seize land and resources from Indigenous peoples. Its effects still linger, serving as a major plank of United States property law which is oriented to continue to disenfranchise, displace, and ultimately, devastate Indigenous peoples for imperialistic economic ventures.
This is the time for Pope Francis to rescind this doctrine, especially in light of his recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, and his compelling speech in Bolivia in which he said, “I say this with regret: many grave sins were committed against peoples of America in the name of God.” He went on to say, “I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the Church herself, but also for the crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.” His apology is the first step in respecting and honoring the innate rights of Indigenous peoples. Rescinding the Doctrine of Discovery will prove that Francis wants to begin a new era of cooperation.

Help! We need thousands of petition signatures before Pope Francis arrives in the United States in September. Please sign the Doctrine of Discovery petition and donate to our national education campaign.

We have also begun a thorough legal analysis of a series of lawsuits aimed at eliminating the Indian Child Welfare Act. A private consortium of adoption attorneys, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, have launched three strategic federal lawsuits challenging, not only the new proposed guidelines, but ICWA itself. 

These deceptive suits are clearly a response to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ release of the updated guidelines for the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA),

Please watch the video to understand our response to such an unwarranted and misguided attack on ICWA. We are also working on an Amicus Curiae brief to submit to the Department of Justice, revealing the deep and unethical conflicts of interest on the part of attorneys affiliated with the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys who have filed these lawsuits to promote their own personal financial gain. For more information on this evolving story, read our press release.
Since our last newsletter, we have received some national press attention! Chase Iron Eyes, Chief Counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Office, was interviewed for a Mother Jones article about his work with Native Lives Matter. We published a report to support his efforts in February of this year. Truthout highlighted our efforts in their article earlier this month, depicting the atrocities committed on the part of state and federal governments in removing Indigenous children from their families and communities.

We will continue to keep you updated on our progress in returning thousands of children stolen from their families, but until then, please continue your support by following us on social media—Facebook, Tumblr, Twitterby reading our daily blog, and by encouraging your friends and family to sign our petition to President Obama. We need to reach our goal of 100,000 signatures as soon as possible!

Please become a member of Lakota People's Law Project to be a part of our global family. Our members receive gift packages and keep us going with a small monthly commitment. We are not funded by tribes or big foundations, we depend on people just like you! Together we are making a real difference. Thank you for your friendship and support.

Lakota People's Law Project

Monday, August 10, 2015

Challenges to ICWA

August 10, 2015 –Native America Calling

The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, or ICWA, was passed in response to a high number of adoptions of Native American children by non-Natives. The law requires the government to notify the tribes and include them in the process of adoptions and placement of American Indian or Alaska Native children. In July, the Goldwater Institute filed a civil rights class action complaint in the District Court of Arizona against the Department of the Interior and the Arizona Department of Child Safety asking that parts of ICWA, and the BIA guidelines on ICWA, be declared unconstitutional.

The organization asserts that ICWA is “legally sanctioned race-based discrimination” and forces Indian children to “remain in dangerous and abusive homes.” But opponents say ICWA is the gold standard for child welfare law and continues to provide protections for Native children. Where do you stand? What is the future for the Indian Child Welfare Act?

Clint Bolick – vice president for litigation at the Goldwater Institute
Mark Flatten – national investigative journalist at the Goldwater Institute
Sarah Kastelic (Alutiiq) – executive director for the National Indian Child Welfare Association
Matthew Newman – staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund


Break Music: Awe Hai Hai (feat. Andrée Levesque Sioui / Lead vocal & Francois Dorion / Conductor) (song) Francois Couture, Andrée Levesque Sioui, Akienda Lainé & Francois Dorion (artist) Yahndawa’ (album)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Child Advocate Cindy Blackstock awarded damages

Cindy Blackstock awarded $20,000 in human rights ruling against Harper Government

Ottawa Canada – June 2015 –  SOURCE

Dr. Cindy Blackstock, an Aboriginal child welfare advocate and President of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, has been vindicated by a recent ruling from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which found that a federal government official "retaliated" against her for advocating views that are contrary to those of the Harper Government.

The Tribunal has ordered the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to pay $20,000 to Dr. Blackstock for pain and suffering due to the behaviour of David McArthur, a senior government bureaucrat and former special assistant to then-Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Chuck Strahl. The dispute stems from a 2009 incident in which Mr. McArthur barred Dr. Blackstock from a gathering with First Nations chiefs from Ontario. Blackstock has also been the subject of federal government surveillance due to advocacy for First Nations children's rights.

"I was shocked when I realized that in a democracy such as Canada our federal government thinks it is right to violate the privacy of citizens who have a view that is different from theirs," Blackstock said in an interview. "By simply working towards a more fair and just Canada for all children, it seems that the federal government targeted me as a person of concern. We have to ask ourselves 'who else is being targeted and for what purpose?'"

For years, Dr. Blackstock has been a central figure in a long-standing battle with the federal government over aboriginal child welfare. She plans to donate the money that she has been awarded to various children's charities.

The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (FNCFCS) is the only national organization serving Aboriginal children and families in Canada. As national partners, UFCW Canada and FNCFCS are actively collaborating on projects to advance equality, diversity, education, and social and economic justice for First Nations children, youth, and families.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Adoptees should be able to annul their relationship with their adoptive parents

Adults deserve the right to decide whether or not to honor the contract that binds them to an adoptive family
Mother holding child’s hand
Children have no say in their adoption as minors, but they should as adults. Photograph: Tatjana Alvegard/Getty Images
Like approximately 5 million other Americans, I’m adopted. As a child, my biological parents gave me up to other people to raise. The subject of the contract between my adoptive parents and the state – me – didn’t agree to anything. I had no more say in the matter than my house did when I signed a contract to buy it.

Still, the public perception is that adoption is always a good thing – that it’s always in the best interest of the child, and that everyone lives happily ever after. But many adoptions don’t work out for a number of reasons: a mismatch of personalities, parental inability to love someone else’s child, outright dislike of the child by one or both parents.

When an adoption goes bad, like mine did, adoptive parents have options to end the relationship. Some parents have put children on an airplane alone and sent them back to their home countries. Other parents turn to a shadowy underground network to “re-home” their children with strangers. But if an adoptee wants to get out of an adoptive relationship, the only option is to be adopted by another adult – even if the adoptee is an adult.

This doesn’t make sense; adoptees should, upon reaching adulthood, have the absolute right to annul the adoption if desired.

Look at it this way: suppose you got married and it didn’t work out. You file divorce papers and are told that the only way you can divorce spouse number one is to marry somebody else. Sounds unfair, right? But once you’re adopted, you’re adopted forever – whether or not you want to maintain a familial relationship with the people who adopted you. That’s not fair either.

I already hear people arguing that non-adopted people can’t end their relationship with their parents. But that’s not really true. Children can apply for early emancipation, or they can find another adult to adopt them no matter how old they are.

Annulling an adoption does present logistical problems, because states require that a parent be listed on the birth certificate. And, when my adoption was finalized, my original birth certificate was permanently altered: the state erased the names of my genetic parents and replaced them with the names of the people who adopted me. My original birth certificate and all my adoption records were sealed by the State of California which, to this day, denies me access to that documentation even though my birth parents are deceased.

If one or both biological parents are willing to re-assume that role in an adoptee’s paperwork, then it should be easy to just discard the revised version and revert to the original – but it’s not. And if neither biological parent wishes to be re-listed, then adult adoptees should have the right to simply be listed as parentless. I’d be satisfied with “unknown” or “none”. And, moving forward, states should consider not altering birth certificates at all and instead just issue adoptive parents an “Adoption Decree” that can be easily voided with a court filing.

Logistical problems notwithstanding, adult adoptees deserve the right to decide whether or not to honor the contract that binds them to an adoptive family. If adoptive parents didn’t uphold the “parents” part, they shouldn’t get to keep a legal connection with the kids that they failed. There needs to be an easy, standard way for adopted children to annul those relationships.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Athabascan Adoptee Welcomed Home

By Mary St. Martin-Charles

I’ve always dreamt in Indian.  Vivid, lucid, in color and shaded with symbols.  One evening night quest, my body was carried in a stream.  The water above and below me flowed horizontally from my head toward my toes.  However, my body was carried in a current of its own and moving me ahead.  As I approached a steep hill, I began to struggle.  My brief panic subsided when I chose not to lose my strength fighting the elements I could not control. I reached deep in cool water with both hands.  Waiting below were fish who sucked on my fingers and pulled me the rest of the way home.  I think I am a Salmon.  Instinctively, I was called home.

In the year of 2014 I located my cousins and my Koyukon Athabascan tribe.  I was welcomed with tears.  Even first cousin Barb felt like she needed to have a baby shower.  When my tax return came in February 2015, the first thing I did was make reservations from Los Angeles to Fairbanks, Alaska and a second reservation with a bush plane to fly me to the Village of Koyukuk, AK.  The Native Village of Koyukuk lies where the Koyukuk river meets the Yukon.  About 300 miles from Fairbanks. No running water to the cabins. No roads in and out.

I landed in Fairbanks at 12 a.m. The summer sun still shown during mid-July midnight.  I was met   with an aunt and several cousins.  As I came down the escalator from the terminal, I was welcomed with Athabascan singing, tears and hugs.  My first cousin LaVern opened her house to me and organized a family reunion for the next evening; Barb took the day off work to spend with me.  I had my first ever family reunion with people related to me, my first native food and first stories of my father's life.

A day later LaVerne flew with me into Koyukuk, where my father lived and died on the river.  I cannot begin to explain my emotions at this time.  I cried real tears.  Tears I could not control.  I had emotions and questions overcoming my sense of self.  Anxiety set in.  I began to ask myself… am I crazy?  What the hell am I doing flying over 2k miles and into the interior of Alaska on a bush plane to meet people and see a way of life that my DNA says I am half of?  I am nuts?
I was crying inside the plane before I even exited.  My heart beating fast and I could feel it.  I could see my first cousin Marylin.  I could see Marilyn was just as scared as I was.  I could see people arriving to meet the plane on their quads and in trucks.  Even the unleashed dogs came to welcome.

Lump in my throat, crying and shaking I got out of the plane.  I embraced Marilyn first.  Then the rest of the group.  One by one they hugged me, introduced themselves and welcomed me "home."

They held a huge banner which read “Welcome” and once again I was serenaded with beautiful voices singing in Athabascan.

The next few days were life-changing for me.  Another reunion dinner was held.  I ate more Native food including moose, beaver, salmon and muktuk (whale blubber).  After dinner an Elder presented me with an Indian name that Marilyn chose for me.  I still could not believe my ears when people welcomed me "home."

During my stay, I got to see cuzns LaVern and Peter catch Salmon on the Yukon. While seining, I was reminded of my dream.  I thank the spirit of the Salmon for guiding me home and providing food for our people.  I want to go back home now even stronger than before.

I know now first-hand what I am missing and what has been imprinted in me for many generations.  My endless imprint from past, present to future which still calls me home.
It is this present generation of Native adoptees who need to continue to find our way home.  It is you, it is me.  We must follow our instinct and swim upstream.  Some of us make it, some won't but you still need to keep swimming.  If you don't fight back, the predators win.  

It's in our DNA and a matter of survival for Natives today and future generations.  Trust the forces that pull you through to carry us home.  Keep swimming upstream for yourself and all adoptees.

Mary contributed to the anthology CALLED HOME: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects. LINK TO BOOK INFO here

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Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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