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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Two year old Ojibwe dies in foster care #BABY KIRA



Provided by Atkins-Northland Funeral Home
Kira Friedman drowned while in foster care. Police say an admitted drug dealer living in the home is to blame.

Questions surround death of 2-year-old Ojibwe child in foster care

By Danielle Taylor | Jun 11, 2016  | Cloquet, Minnesota (NNCNOW.com)

A funeral was held Friday morning on the Fond du Lac Reservation for a two-year-old girl who drowned in a plastic laundry bin in a Bemidji Foster home last Sunday.

According to a criminal complaint, Kira Friedman was placed in the shower and left unattended by her foster dad, who is now facing manslaughter charges.
"This didn't have to happen. This little girl didn't have to die. She should be right here with her parents at this time," said Patti Larsen, a family spokesperson.

Larsen, who serves as the Sacred Hoop Coalition Director, was shepherding 2-year-old Kira Friedman's case through the St. Louis County Court system on behalf of the little girl's family, and believes her death was preventable.

"The maternal grandmother identified numerous people who would be potential placements for the child," she said.

Larsen wanted to ensure Kira was placed in a Native American home. Therefore, she says the County let this child down when they removed her from a Native foster home, and placed her with a white foster family in Duluth.

"Kira was just a number, was shipped off to a place," Larsen said.

At the family's request, Leech Lake Reservation got involved to find a Native foster home. When Kira was placed in a home in Bemidji, red flags were sent up right away.

"There was too many children in that place to properly care for a child with special needs, such as Kira," said Larsen.

Larsen says keeping Kira in the hands of the St. Louis County Court System is where her parents went wrong. However, a spokeswoman with the county says the child was no longer in their custody.

In a written statement the county said, "This case has been under the jurisdiction of Leech Lake Tribal Court for close to a year and custody has been with the Leech Lake Band. This matter is under active investigation by the authorities involved, so we would have no further comment on it."

Nonetheless, Larsen stresses the importance of applying the Indian Child Welfare Act to foster children. The act is a federal law that seeks to keep native children with native families.

"Follow ICWA. It's there for a purpose. It was placed there for a purpose in 1978 when so many kids were being lost," said Larsen.

In addition to the Indian Child Welfare Act, Larsen also mentioned the Minnesota Indian Preservation Act should be followed by government agencies, when dealing with Native foster children.

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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.