Film explores Native American child displacement
WESTON, WI- A Wausau-area video production company is shining a spotlight on the need for American Indian children to be connected to their culture.
Rucinski & Reetz Communication unveiled last week its video titled "Missing Threads: The Story of the Wisconsin Indian Child Welfare Act."
The hour-long documentary represents nearly three years of work and "explores the connection between family, tribal culture and children, and the consequences of severing those ties," said Susan Reetz, a partner in the communication firm.
At one time, one in four American Indian children were removed from their homes and placed with
white families, according to the film. The practice occurred well into the 20th century, spurring the passage of a 1978 federal law called the Indian Child Welfare Act was passed, requiring state, county and private agencies to follow specific processes when removing Indian children from their homes, according to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. Those processes sought to ensure that government and private agencies would make an effort to place children in Indian families. The
film documents the passage of the Wisconsin Indian Child Welfare Act, which became law in 2009, and was designed to bolster and add to the federal law.
"It really was the deprivation of a race," said retired state senator Robert Jauch, one of the sponsors of the 2009 law."It was unexcusable, unacceptable and avoidable."
Indian children could have been removed from their families for a variety areas, but many were "taken from their homes simply because a paternalistic state system failed to recognize traditional Indian culture and expected Indian children to conform to non-Indian ways," wrote B.J. Jones of the Dakota Plaines Legal Services in a piece published by the American Bar Association.
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