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By Trace Hentz (blog editor and adoptee)
We are at a crossroad again. We've had various recent attacks on the Indian Child Welfare Act, as if the history didn't exist as to why there is a federal law in place to protect Native children.
Do journalists not understand the history of the ICWA and the governments who attempted to destroy Indian culture by taking away future generations?
In 2016, trafficking in children is a $14 billion dollar industry. Children-in-the-system do produce an income for some people (lawyers, judges, social workers, foster parents.)
Indian children are protected from trafficking/adoption today with the federal law ICWA.
Why the attacks on ICWA? Do they honestly think that the Native adoptee will settle in with their white parents and never question what actually happened?
Children are young a short period of time. We are not robots. We do think for ourselves.
I cannot think of one Native adoptee who has not done a search for their first family after a closed adoption. Our identity may have been taken from us but we will go looking for it as adults.
Being placed in a non-Indian home will not prevent any adult adoptee from searching for their families and tribe.
Veronica Brown, Lexi and others have put ICWA back in the news. That is the good news with the bad news...
Here is what the Native American Journalists Assoc. did to help mainstream reporters write a better balanced story:
NORMAN, Okla. – Earlier this year, the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) was disheartened by mainstream reporting on several cases involving the welfare of Native American children.
In response to the arbitrary reporting on this issue, the NAJA Board of Directors has collaborated with the National Indian Child Welfare Association to release a media guide to aid reporters and editors when covering cases that fall under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
NAJA is hopeful this guide will be a useful resource for any media outlet covering ICWA and will help improve coverage of a complex and significant issue for American Indians / Alaskan Natives.
Ethical journalism should always inform coverage of intricate laws such as ICWA, which directly involve children and families in the Native American community.
According to the guide, some ICWA cases may be newsworthy, however, the way journalists report these stories can encourage anti-Indian sentiments and influence negative behavior toward tribes and tribal citizens.
There is no cost to access the resource guide, which is available for download on the NAJA website at: http://www.naja.com/resources/covering-icwa/.
What happened to #DustenBrown and #VeronicaBrown still lingers. This is why we need a stronger #ICWA. #ajstreamhttps://t.co/nyy1FFJSh2
— Cutcha Risling Baldy (@cutchabaldy) April 6, 2016
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