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Support Info: If you are a Survivor and need emotional support, a national crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: Residential School Survivor Support Line: 1-866-925-4419. Additional Health Support Information: Emotional, cultural, and professional support services are also available to Survivors and their families through the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program. Services can be accessed on an individual, family, or group basis.” These & regional support phone numbers are found at https://nctr.ca/contact/survivors/ .
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Fate of Native Children May Hinge on U.S. Adoption Case
Stateline: Indian Child Welfare Act likely headed to Supreme Court
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Fate of Native Children May Hinge on U.S. Adoption Case
By Teresa Wiltz
Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts
A case before a federal appeals court
could upend an historic adoption law meant to combat centuries of
brutal discrimination against American Indians and keep their children
with families and tribal communities.
For the first time, a few states have sued to overturn the federal
Indian Child Welfare Act, which Congress enacted in 1978 as an antidote
to entrenched policies of uprooting Native children and assimilating
them into mainstream white culture.
Now, in a country roiled by debates over race and racial identity,
there’s a chance the 41-year-old law could be overturned by the U.S. 5th
Circuit Court of Appeals, considered the country’s most conservative
court. (The law applies to federally recognized tribes.)
Overturning the law, its proponents say, could significantly increase
the number of American Indian children adopted into non-Native families.
Hundreds of tribal nations vehemently oppose the lawsuit. They say it
threatens the sovereignty of Indian Country and seeks to “return Indian
children to the arbitrary and discriminatory whims of state courts and
state agencies, unfettered by the centuries-old trust obligations this
nation owes to Indian tribes and Indian peoples.”
Meanwhile, some states and private adoption attorneys pushing for change argue the Indian Child Welfare Act
interferes in state affairs and “requires them to place Indian children
in accordance with statutory requirements based on race, rather than
the children’s best interests.”
Oral arguments in the case were heard
last Wednesday in New Orleans. Whatever the outcome, the case is likely headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Graphic © The Pew Charitable Trusts
Brackeen v. Bernhardt pits Texas, Indiana, Louisiana and a coalition of
conservative legal groups, including the Goldwater Institute, against
the federal government, hundreds of tribal nations, 21 state attorneys
general, Native American civil rights groups and child welfare
organizations, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the
Children’s Defense Fund.
The plaintiffs, who include several families interested in adopting
Native American children and a non-Native biological parent who wants
her American Indian child to be adopted by a non-Native family, argue
that the law, often called ICWA (pronounced ICK-wah), is race-based and
violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Tribal nations counter that “Indian” is a political, rather than a
racial, designation. The Supreme Court agrees with that classification.
In 1974, it said that with federal hiring preferences for American
Indians in federally recognized tribes, “preference is political, rather
than racial in nature.”
The plaintiffs also charge that in enacting the law, Congress exceeded its authority over federal affairs with tribal nations.
“I want to see ICWA overturned completely,” said Mark Fiddler,
co-counsel on the Brackeen case representing adoptive families, and an
enrolled member of the Chippewa Nation. “ICWA has been a miserable
Canada's Residential Schools
The religious organizations that operated the schools — the Anglican Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Jesuits of English Canada and some Catholic groups — in 2015 expressed regret
for the “well-documented” abuses. The Catholic Church has never offered an official apology, something that Trudeau and others have repeatedly called for.
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Did you know?
New York’s 40-year battle for OBC access ended when on January 15 2020, OBCs were opened to ALL New York adoptees upon request without restriction. In only three days, over 3,600 adoptees filed for their record of birth. The bill that unsealed records was passed 196-12.
According to the 2020 Census, 3.6% of Colorado's population is American Indian or Alaska Native, at least in part, with the descendants of at least 200 tribal nations living in the Denver metro area.
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.
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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