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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Indian Child Welfare Court in Duluth aims for better outcomes for Native American families

READ: Indian Child Welfare Court in Duluth aims for better outcomes for Native American families | Duluth News Tribune

‘Share Your OCS Story’ | First Meeting held in Wasilla #ICWA

WASILLA — The first of a handful of “Share Your OCS Story” meetings hosted by Alaska House Representative Tammie Wilson, of North Pole, was held at the Mat-Su Legislative Offices in Wasilla on Saturday.

Wilson said the six meetings, which are being held throughout the state, are a way of documenting people’s experiences with the Alaska Office of Children’s Services (OCS) for the Alaska State Legislature and the Governor’s office.

Wilson said the meetings are follow-ups on previous work her office has done in trying to address what some see as systemic problems with OCS. She said her office had previously documented more than 100 cases with gaps in proper documentation that occurred during family reunification efforts.
“I started this panel, I figure the best way to go is I ask parents if they want a public setting to be able to share their stories,” Wilson said, “That way we could then share with the legislature and governor and anyone else who could help us get this straightened out.”

Wilson said she’s concerned that family reunification efforts fall short, especially when compared to foster and adoption efforts, once children are in the system.

Twenty-two people showed up at the Saturday meeting, and shared stories of following case plans and doing everything necessary to get their kids back, only to have items indefinitely added to their case plans before they could see their children again. Others said they were shuttled through a revolving door of high-turnover caseworkers, who missed doing their part to provide needed pieces for reunification.

Former state legislator Lynn Gattis of Wasilla also testified at the meeting.

“I as a legislator, I got call after call after call,” Gattis said. “They don’t’ know where else to go. They call us. They cry. Many times I’ve had grandparents who wanted to be involved, where they weren’t being challenged. And no one called them back.”

Wilson said she understands it can be difficult for people to come forward and talk about their experiences with OCS; some might be afraid that speaking out could affect their own cases, and for others, it may just be difficult to speak about something painful in a public forum.

But she hopes the meetings across the state will shed some light on the experiences that Alaskans have had with the office, and that documenting what works and what doesn’t might lead to solutions.
One of those solutions may already be forthcoming.

Currently, Alaska Native children have stronger protections in place that prevent them from being adopted out to non-family members when a safe home with a relative is available. Those laws also require consultation with tribes.

That’s because they have federal protections under the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Wilson said she thinks all Alaskan families should have more the more stringent protections required by ICWA, with family members such as grandparents having to be consulted before a child is fostered or adopted outside of the family.

To that end, she said, she’s co-sponsored House Bill 10, short title, “Child In Need of Aid/Protection; Duties.”

Gabrielle LeDoux of Anchorage and George Rauscher of Sutton are co-sponsors on the bill.

“What it does, is change everything to the ICWA standard,” Wilson said. “They have to have active participation, make sure the parents do have the resources necessary to get children back, and a higher standard making sure the family is contacted in putting them in a home with the family.”
The Office of Children’s Services did not immediately return comment for this story.
A “Share Your OCS Story” meeting was held in Juneau on Thursday, and another is scheduled to be held in Kenai on Saturday. For more information about the meetings, call Rep. Wilson’s office at 907-465-4797.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Fletcher Commentaries on “The New Trail of Tears”

For Rep. Bishop: Repost of Fletcher Commentaries on “The New Trail of Tears”

  • The first commentary, “Framed by a Friend,” is here.
  • The second commentary, “Turning Indian History against Indians,” is here.
  • The third commentary, “Indians are Saudi Arabia, Not Israel (Oh, and Crying Toddlers)” is here.
  • The fourth commentary, “”Indians as Unmotivated, Dependent Victims” is here.
  • Monte Mills’ guest commentary is here.
  • The fifth commentary: “Tearing Down American Indian Educators and Parents” is here.
  • Commentary on NSR’s DAPL column is here.
  • The final commentary: “Repeating the Mistakes of the Past in ‘The New Trail of Tears,’” published in the LA Review of Books, is here.
Don’t forget Kelli Mosteller’s response to NSR in the Atlantic.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Voice from the Margins

Reflections about Roots and Resistance

The goal that inspires me to act is the possibility of building bridges of understanding and healing rather than reifying walls of conflict and division. This path, demonstrated by Ogema’s example, has enabled the Ojibwe people and many other oppressed groups to survive despite the power of destructive storms.

PLEASE READ: Reflections about Roots and Resistance | Voices from the Margins

Dr. Carol A. Hand (Ojibwe) is a friend and an elder. Please read her wise words... Trace

American Psychological Association Weighs in on Trump’s Memorandum on DAPL

Published January 29, 2017

WASHINGTON — Longtime activist Winona LaDuke says the actions to ignore the wishes of water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota seek to dehumanize American Indians.

The American Psychological Association weighed in this past week after President Trump’s issuance of a presidential memorandum regarding construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline with this statement:

“The American Psychological Association is concerned by President Trump’s apparent attempt to clear the way for the Dakota Access Pipeline to move forward as originally planned, which threatens the welfare of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

“Native Americans have been historically marginalized and mistreated by the United States. Research has linked historical trauma to health disparities, including increased likelihood of early death due to substance abuse, unintentional injuries, assault, homicide and suicide.

“APA urges the Army Corps of Engineers to continue to search for alternative routes for the oil pipeline that do not endanger the water supply, sacred burial grounds and treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux. It is critical for the corps to consult with the tribe in this process, as stipulated in the December 16 memorandum by the assistant secretary of the Army for civil works that halted construction on the pipeline project pending further review.
“This pipeline affects not only Native American citizens but millions of American citizens downstream, who are at risk of suffering the effects of possible exposure to toxic oil spills and dealing with harm to the environment. 
“Given our skills as psychologists, we stand ready to participate in constructive problem resolution, as well as provide support for those who were and remain in harm’s way — physically, psychologically and spiritually.

“We ask that the new administration not repeat the mistakes of the past, and that it respect the sovereignty, welfare and culture of our native peoples.”

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Genocide of the American Indians was the worst ethnic cleansing in history

By John Robles


An elder with the Mi'kmaq Nation, Dr. Daniel Paul, spoke with the VoR and revealed some of the true yet hidden history of the American Indian people, few of whom remain after the worst genocide in the history of all mankind. The Indians of the Americas practiced Democracy for centuries before the Europeans invaded and even the US Constitution was written based on Indian principles. The Indian people were a peaceful people who lived lives based on honor, mutual respect and reverence for the land.

In the third and final part of an interview with Indian Historian and Mik’maq elder Dr. Daniel Paul, the discussion continues regarding the genocide of the American indigenous peoples. Dr. Paul discusses the disingenuous “apology” (in 2012) by the US Government which was attached to a Defense Bill, the continued suppression of the real history of North America in the school systems of the continent and the continued institutionalized racism Native Americans face.

PART 1: Democracy existed in the Americas long before the Europeans invaded – Mi’kmaq Elder
PART 2: Indians were classified as wild animals – exclusive interview

Could a society that was based and started in that way, ever be called democratic or free or fair?
All these societies in Americas, with very few exceptions, were built on genocide. A lot of the indigenous people were wiped out. Some people with the estimate for the Caribbean Taíno people, for instance, as being somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10 million when Columbus landed. Within 50 years they were practically extinct. When you look at the overall total, it is almost unbelievable, and they talk about barbarism and people don’t discuss it too often but the Spaniards used human flesh to feed dogs. And scalp proclamations were one of the favorite things of the English here in the Americas, putting a price on the heads of men, women and children. And then the spreading the smallpox was another thing they used quite liberally in trying to eliminate populations. And then simple starvation, after they destroyed most of the food sources of the indigenous people and trading patterns, the people lived in a state of malnutrition and many were starving to death, and when you get to that state, even a common cold can be fatal to you. So, our population in the Americas was reduced, I would say, almost by 90% by time it was all over. And even in this day and age the Nigma, for instance, in Nova Scotia were down to 1,400 in 1850 and that stayed around the same until the 1940s, and then the Canadian government began to get a little bit of a conscience, or what have you, and started improving health services and food rations and so forth and so on. And today our population is up to about 25,000 now. We’re slowly mature in making the comeback.

How are the other tribes ferrying in Canada and up to the United States?
The United States has owned up to the atrocities that went on there, there’s an apology I believe, that was issued by the Congress in 2010 but as what I call a silent apology. It was never broadcast around the world or anything like that and it was part of a defense Procurement Bill that went through the Congress. But when you are looking at the overall thing, that is not what we need to be done in these countries. What we have to see is they change curriculums and began to place in those school curriculums, the real history of the peoples that were here before the Europeans invaded. And I don’t call it discovery, I call it invasion. It was an invasion by people that were superiorly armed and they brought their wars to the Americas. The French and British were fighting almost constantly on this side of the water, at the same time fighting constantly on the European soil. So, they didn’t bring peace and prosperity to the indigenous people in the Americas – we already had that. And we all had good standards of living and some people like to believe that all our ancestors were standing along the shores of the Americas, cheering on the Europeans for coming over and saving them and civilizing them and so forth and so on, which is a pile of bull.

You mentioned the Taíno people, I’m part Taíno Indian myself, why are groups such as Taíno listed as being extinct when actually some peoples exist?
What’s happened here is, there are probably even some people with Sundiata blood in them. But when you can’t find a member of a tribe that is full-blooded, that is the point where you would call that tribe extinct in the sense that they are no longer with us in that sense, the Biatok’s were wiped out. I believe there may be a few people around with some Biatok blood in them but they didn’t live in the traditional way or what have you.

Can you describe a little bit the present state of the tribes in Canada and the United States?
We live under the state of systemic racism. In the United States and Canada you can’t have open discrimination against us anymore such as they had 30-40 years ago but we are still not viewed as equals in these societies and we are not treated as equals, and we are still seen by the vast majority of the people here, because of lack the lack of education, as people that came from barbarous tribes, savage tribes and not as people who came from civilized a community. So, until we can overcome that kind of perception and like I said before change curriculums in schools and begin to teach the truth, we still got a long way to go before we are treated as people who have come from civilization that had every right to continue to exist and prosper in this world, and stop demeaning our people in the sense that we were never a civilized people, where in fact, we were. And how to get that information out? It is slowly happening, it is going to take a long time and at the rate we’re going, I think we’ll be at it for a couple of centuries before we really make that final step. And one of the biggest steps has to be acceptance by Europeans that the genocide of the American Indians, the indigenous people of the Americas was probably one of the worst mass ethnic cleansings that this world has ever known and begin to make that part of history lessons, so forth and so on. There were great civilizations on this side of the water, there were rural civilizations, hunter-gather civilizations, there were city dwellers and what have you, and all these. And how many people in Americas or around the world know that fact? Very few. And the reason that they don’t know is because it’s not taught.

By the ancestors of the people who committed genocide on them.
Thank you very much. I really appreciate you speaking with me.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Losing Ellowyn

By Trace Hentz (Blog Editor)

Back in December I lost Oglala relative Ellowyn Locke, age 68.  Lost in the way that I can't go visit her in Porcupine on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota or call her on the phone.  I can only visit her in dreams.  I can reread her letters.  Her artist brother Merle told me I can bring a red rose to her grave then I will feel better.

I am not doing well at all, grieving the most important friend I ever had.

Yes, I have memories, her teaching me, teasing me, photos and all the stories. I also have many gifts she made me.  My ONE SMALL SACRIFICE book cover has the family beadwork Ellowyn sewed on the doll she gifted me.

Years ago, I bought a hand bag that had Hopi dancers on a bright turquoise fabric to give to Ellowyn.  I made the mistake of taking the purse when we went to visit Sara Thunder Hawk.  Of course Sara really admired the purse and I knew I should give it to her, but I already planned to give to Ellowyn. I felt so horrible I couldn't give it to Sara.  I had brought gifts for Sara but I knew that purse was what she wanted.  I prayed and prayed Sara would forgive me!  That was my learning experience.  Imagine the most precious thing you own - like a ring.  Could you give it up?  If a Lakota elder likes it, you give it to them.  That is what we do... Material objects are never as important as giving.  I could never refuse a gift either, like when Ellowyn gave me moccasins, even though they were too big.  It would hurt her deeply if I refused them.  I learned to bring a load of gifts every time I went to see my relatives and my car would be full when I left to go back home.

In 2015, I couldn't reach her by phone and panicked. Ellowyn had been taken to a rehab facility after breaking her ankle.  By 2016, she was the longest living dialysis patient on their rez - over 10 long years.  I have photos of her on dialysis in Wounded Knee from an earlier trip (top photo).  My relative had the will to live but her body was getting weak.  She said repeatedly she would accept a new kidney if the donor was living but that wasn't likely to happen.  That call never came.

On the phone in 2016, I told her I was not ready for her to die. That was selfish of me, I know.  I felt bad when I said it.  Like a big sister, she talked to me about all the fun we had... all the years and stories.. so she comforted me!

Here's a story I wrote about her life in 2007... here

I call Ellowyn Strong Walking Woman, Winyan Washaka Mani.  She is very strong and cares deeply for her family, her relatives and her tribe.

Ellowyn taught me the most important thing I know, which is Mitakuye Oyasin, which translates to we are all related, and relatives.

Pilamaye, thank you for letting me speak about family. I thank my relative Ellowyn for naming me and for making me her relative.

I thank you all for reading this blog American Indian Adoptees. AHO!

ICWA WATCH: Minnesota

Minnesota pledges $400K to reduce number of Native American kids in foster care

With the number of Native American children in Minnesota foster care reaching "unacceptable" levels, the state pledged this week to spend $400,000 over the next three years to reduce those numbers.

The announcement comes after a Star Tribune report found that Minnesota has more Native American children in foster care than any other state, including those with significantly larger Native American populations. Less than 2 percent of children in Minnesota are Native American, but they make up nearly a quarter of the state's foster care population — a disparity that is more than double the next-highest state.

"This disparity in outcomes for Minnesota children is unacceptable," Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Johnson Piper said in a statement Thursday.

Once taken from their families, Native American children generally fare worse than other children, according to a Star Tribune analysis. They stay longer in foster care, move among more homes and cycle more often between foster care and their birth families. Children who turn 18 while in foster care and "age out" of the system are less likely to graduate from college and find a job. One in four will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. One in five will become homeless.

DHS and the University of Minnesota Duluth teamed up to create a pilot project that in the first year will research the causes of why so many Native American children are being removed from their homes in St. Louis County, said Jim Koppel, assistant commissioner for Children and Family Services for DHS.

Using those lessons, the second year will see the university and DHS implement training for child protection workers to better respond to Native American families, and the third year will be spent measuring those results.

Koppel said a similar program implemented from 2000-2010 saw a significant reduction in the percentage of black children placed into foster care.

Last month the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded a five-year grant to UMD worth more than $2 million to create a better delivery system for the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law meant to keep Native American kids with Native American families.

UMD's Center for Regional and Tribal Welfare at UMD will lead the work and partner with Duluth's 6th Judicial District, St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Leech Lake Tribal Court and both the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage bands of Lake Superior Chippewa.

The Duluth News Tribune contributed to this report.

[[[Editor's note: When I was doing research for my book One Small Sacrifice, the people who brought testimony to Congress recited similar figures. Little has changed. Minnesota is where I was born... and I still have no original birth certificate... Trace]]]

Friday, January 20, 2017

Movie Review: After Watching Steve Jobs

Anne Heffron

I was okay watching Steve Jobs until the last ten minutes.

Then I had to keep wiping at my face with my sleeve because I would have had to walk across the room for a Kleenex.

I was at home, and I was watching the movie on my computer, so I was able to rewind and watch the last two scenes again and again: the one scene with Jobs and his daughter Lisa up on the parking structure where, for the first time in his life, he was willingly making himself late for a product launch, and the next scene where he is on stage, walking towards Lisa, ignoring the crowd, focused, for the first time perhaps, solely on her, on Lisa. The daughter he had once publicly claimed was not his. And now there he was, publicly claiming her. It was like a fairy tale magnified a hundred times, a happily ever after many other adoptees and I will never have.

It has been my experience it’s pretty easy for birth parents to deny either the existence of their child (my birth mother) or the importance of a meet and greet (my birth father). I can’t imagine what it would be like for either my birth mother or birth father to walk towards me, beaming with love or acceptance.

Do you remember being a kid and doing something really cool, like jumping off the diving board for the first time or tying your shoes or getting a 100 on a quiz at school? The kind of thing that had you running to your parents because you knew they were going to be thrilled? That’s a big part of being a kid. Accomplishing one thing after another and having your parents mirror your excitement, proving to you that you are a good person, you are worthy of this life you were given, that everything will be okay because you got this.

Imagine showing up at age 24 or 52, and saying to your finally-found mother or father, Here I am. You made me! We get to see what each other looks like! and having that person shrug and turn away or shake her head and say, You have the wrong person. It’s not me when you know 100% this person is in fact your birth mother. Or imagine if your birth father writes, My wife says you’re not family, so I can’t talk to you.

Imagine you find out you have half siblings, and either they don’t want to meet you, or they do want to meet you and suddenly, for no reason you can know for sure, cut off all contact.

This is part of adoption a lot of people don’t talk about. It’s one of the reason adoptees commit suicide. It’s one of the reason there’s a disproportionate number of adoptees seeking mental health care. When blood relatives turn their backs on adoptees, the effects are devastating, and yet many adoptees do what I did, which is to shrug it off.  I didn’t want to meet her/him anyway. I already have brothers/sisters. I don’t need more.

We shrug it off because the alternative is to feel a level of rejection so deep it can’t be compared to anything else. We shrug it off because the alternative is to feel.

When blood relatives turn their backs on adoptees, it’s often a knife in the part of the brain where the adoptee stores self-worth. Why would I want to exist if the very people who made me either deny my existence or don’t care enough about me to meet? It’s not rocket science, and yet it’s a point a lot of people seem to miss.

I don’t get it.
I must be missing that part of my brain.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

#ICWA Alaska: cheaper, better for family to keep children (updated)

North Pole Rep. continues to press for OCS reform

Tammie Wilson
Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, addresses the Alaska House of Representatives, April 8, 2015. She is calling for an investigation into the Office of Children’s Services. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)
State Representative Tammie Wilson of North Pole continues to press for reform of the State Office of Children’s Services. Wilson cited a 30 percent growth in the number of reportedly endangered kids being removed from parents in recent years, and some constituents unhappy with how the system has treated them.

Wilson wants the Office of Children’s Services to refocus on parental treatment and assistance, instead of removing kids from homes. Wilson has resubmitted a bill that would adopt a uniform standard for when and how children can be removed, based on federal law.

”And that would be the Indian Child Welfare Act,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the federal ICWA standard, which currently only applies to Alaska Native and American Indian children, is a better formula for addressing parental behavior, and keeping kids home or with extended family.

”It also doesn’t allow as much hearsay as it does now,” Wilson said. “You actually have to have proof that something is happening within the family unit. And it also encourages more of keeping  the child in the home and putting the resources there – working with the parents versus taking the children out. ICWA is largely known as the gold standard when it comes to best practices.”

Alaska OCS Director Christy Lawton said the department is officially neutral on Wilson’s bill, but acknowledged that ICWA policy mandates beneficial services.

”We have to demonstrate that we’ve provided active efforts to prevent removal or active efforts to promote reunification,” Lawton said.

That means actually taking family members to substance abuse treatment, counseling or other help, not just recommending they get it. Lawton said it would be great to do that for all families, but notes ICWA was established to address systematic racism.

”It’s almost as if you’re saying that ICWA isn’t really needed anymore because the playing field is level, which unfortunately is still not the case in Alaska, or in many other parts of the country,” Lawton said.

Lawton also pointed to potential loss of federal support for cases involving Alaska Native families, funds contingent on meeting strict ICWA requirements the financially strapped state may struggle to achieve if applied in all child welfare cases. Representative Wilson maintained the state has enough money and just needs to do a better job.

"My aspect is if we weren’t taking children that we should not be taking, we would be able to use the resources into families that really do need those resources,” Wilson said. “Cause, it’s much cheaper and it’s better for the family to be able to keep the children in the home. And then if you need the parents to do certain types of classes, then you have those worked out at the same time”

Wilson’s take is based on case records obtained through constituents critical of OCS practices.
Wilson is awaiting response from the State Department of Law on a request for a grand jury investigation of OCS, and is holding three public hearings on the agency in coming weeks. OCS Director Lawton said she’ll continue to work with Wilson to improve agency practices.

UPDATE Submitted by mbowen on 01/20/2017

The state office of children's services is being investigated.
State Representative Tammie Wilson said last week that she had requested a grand jury investigation, but had heard nothing back from the state.
The Department of Law now says that recommendations from a grand jury have been unsealed, and will be looked at by the Alaska citizen review panel and the state ombudsman.
The Citizen Review Panel meets four times a year, and its next meeting is in March.
Representative Wilson, who started the process that led to the investigation, has also introduced legislation concerning the office of children's services: "We have draft legislation to see what's going on with OCS by bringing the standards up. We have the Indian Child Welfare Act right now for Native children, not for those other children. We've got to make sure that the higher standards are for everyone. The facts are [that] we're taking more children out of the homes, and parents never get their children back. That's just wrong."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

RUMBLE: The Indians who rocked the music world

“In those days, if you were Native American, you had to be careful of the Mormon Church. Back then, the Mormons would take Indian babies, cut their hair and turn them into servants. In fact, they made a lot of money doing that until the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1972 put an end to it. It was very common for kids of a family to live with an aunt for six months or a year. Well, as soon as this would happen, the Mormon Church would come in and say this woman has abandoned her family. They would come in and cut their hair, not allow them to speak their native language anymore and, basically, sell them. It was a bit like slave trade. It was amazing they got away with it as long as they did.”

Monday, January 16, 2017

60s Scoop Podcast

Podcast with Aboriginal CKCU Duane Morrisseau-Beck National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network 

by Indigenous Adoptees

Sunday January 15th, 2017 with Shirley Gagnon
Guests Duane Morrisseau-Beck (Director, National Indigenous Survivor of Child Welfare Network) and Kate Laing (Director of Commeration Projects, Legacy of Hope) talk about the 60s Scoop

(the link are not working.) (so sorry)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Children of the Tribe

Letter to Editor re: ABA J. Article on Alexandria P./R.P. Case


“Children of the Tribe”, October, sadly reports without question the Pages’ version of Lexi’s transfer to a kinship placement supported by her own attorney, the state of California and the Choctaw Nation. Worse, the article uncritically highlights the media event created by the foster parents and their counsel (and disappointingly includes photographs). The affair violated Lexi’s privacy rights, which is why state social workers attempted to block cellphone video, and may have also violated their attorney’s duties under the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct: 3.4 (fairness to opposing parties), 3.6 (trial publicity) and 4.4 (respect for rights of third persons). Hopefully, readers will not learn from this article that the best way to fight a child’s placement with her family is by creating an unethical media circus.
The article misstates the law as well. Lexi would be with her Utah relatives with or without the Indian Child Welfare Act. California law weighs placement heavily in favor of relatives, not foster families, in these cases. However, only in California could a foster family appeal the placement of their ward under its unique “de facto parent” doctrine. In addition, the Multiethnic Placement Act, enacted by Congress in 1994, explicitly excludes ICWA cases from its application. Finally, the article devolves from reportage into racial politics, asserting that this tragedy only transpired because of Lexi’s racial heritage. Lexi herself is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation. The Choctaw Nation’s citizenship requirement, like that of the United States, requires a political connection between the individual and the nation, not mere ancestry. The only reason there was a media-fueled tragedy is because counsel for the foster family pointed at the act and the Choctaw Nation to incite race-based animosity when the facts and the law were not in their favor.
Matthew L.M. Fletcher
East Lansing,MI

Updated BIA Guidelines #ICWA

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Roberts Announces Updated BIA Guidelines to Strengthen Implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act with Focus on Family Unification

by Levi Rickert

Published January 1, 2017
Guidelines provide best practices for supporting stability security of Indian families and tribes
WASHINGTON – Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Lawrence S. Roberts today announced final, updated Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) guidelines for implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) that will better protect the rights of Indian children, their parents and their tribes in state child welfare proceedings.
The guidelines explain the ICWA statute and regulations while also providing examples of best practices for its implementation, the goal of which is to encourage greater uniformity in the application of ICWA measures.

Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior - Affairs Larry Roberts. Photo Courtesy - Twitter
“The BIA’s updated Indian Child Welfare Act guidelines are the capstone of the Obama Admin-istration’s efforts to support the stability and security of Indian families and tribes by providing a more consistent interpretation of ICWA, regardless of the child welfare worker, judge or state involved,” Roberts said.  “I want to thank tribal leaders, the Indian child welfare community, and our state and federal partners for their valuable input and assistance with updating the guidelines.  The guidelines themselves will help with ensuring the rights of Indian children and their families under ICWA, and in strengthening the cohesiveness of tribal communities everywhere.”
The BIA first published its ICWA guidelines in 1979, shortly after the law’s passage.  While the Department updated the guidelines in 2015, it updated them further to complement its recently finalized regulations which became effective on December 12, 2016.
Congress enacted IWCA to address the separation of Indian children from their families at a disproportionately high rate, as a result of state agency policies and practices that placed the children in non-Indian foster and adoptive homes.
Based on 2013 data, Native children nationwide are represented in state foster care at a rate 2.5 times greater than their presence in the general population.  In some states, Native American children are represented in state foster-care systems at rates as high as 14.8 times their presence in the general population of that state.
Since ICWA’s enactment, state courts and state agencies have sometimes differed in their interpretations of the law and been inconsistent in their implementation of it.  To address this problem, the updated guidelines provide information for them to consider in carrying out the Act’s and final rule’s requirements, often drawing upon approaches states have already used.
In developing these guidelines, the Office of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs worked closely with the Children’s Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S.  Department of Health and Human Services and with the U.S. Department of Justice to produce a document that reflected the expertise of all three agencies.  Its development was also informed by public hearings, tribal consultations, and more than 2,100 written comments on the March 2015 proposed rule, as well as input received during training conducted on the final rule from July 2016 to November.
To view the updated guidelines, visit the Indian Affairs web site at:

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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.

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As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.


Original Birth Certificate Map in the USA

Why tribes do not recommend the DNA swab

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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