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Monday, January 17, 2022

Coming Up: Supreme Court ICWA cases

SCOTUS BLOG

There are also four cases challenging the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. Congress passed ICWA to respond to concerns that state child-welfare practices were causing large numbers of Native American children to be inappropriately removed from their families and tribes and placed with non-Native foster families or adoptive parents. ICWA established minimum federal standards for most child-custody proceedings involving Native American children. The en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit struck down some provisions of ICWA as unconstitutional. According to the 5th Circuit, some provisions violate the 10th Amendment because they impermissibly “commandeer” the states. Those provisions, it concluded, include a requirement that state agencies bear the cost and burden of providing expert testimony to support placing Native children in foster care, a requirement that state agencies provide remedial services to Native families, and a requirement that state agencies maintain certain child-placement records.

The 5th Circuit also affirmed the district court’s judgment that ICWA’s preference for adoptive placement with “other Indian families” and “Indian foster home[s]” violates the equal-protection component of the Fifth Amendment. The 5th Circuit upheld other provisions of the act. The court has relisted a total of four petitions, two filed by the federal government and a group of Native American tribes seeking to revisit 5th Circuit holdings invalidating provisions, and two filed by the state of Texas and private challengers seeking to overturn parts of the 5th Circuit decision upholding other ICWA provisions. The petitions are Haaland v. Brackeen, 21-376, Cherokee Nation v. Brackeen, 21-377, Texas v. Haaland, 21-378, and Brackeen v. Haaland, 21-380.

REFRAME FILM FESTIVAL
What does blood have to do with identity? Kendra Mylnechuk, an adult Indigenous adoptee, born in 1980 at the cusp of the enactment of the Indian Child Welfare Act, is on a journey to reconnect with her birth family and discover her Lummi heritage.
 

Renewed Debate over U.S. Indian boarding schools

 

Oney M. Roubedeaux

As tribes wait for investigation to conclude, debate over Indian schools continues

Tribes across the Southwest dread the possibility that thousands of unmarked graves might be uncovered by a federal investigation into abandoned Native American boarding schools expected to wrap up early this year.

The investigation, ordered by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, came in the wake of the discovery this year of more than 1,200 unmarked graves at two long-shuttered boarding schools in Canada’s British Columbia and Saskatchewan provinces.

The probe also has renewed debate over Indian boarding schools, which were established in the 19th and 20th centuries with the primary objective of assimilating Indigenous youth into white culture by denying the use of their languages, dress and other cultural aspects.

Most boarding schools were closed in the 1980s and early 1990s, but dozens of schools remain open, with 15 still boarding students as of 2020, according to the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. Some are controlled by local tribes, while others are operated by the Bureau of Indian Education, a division of the Department of the Interior.

Boarding school alumni are widespread among Indigenous communities, and their thoughts about their experiences vary widely.

“She’s brought awareness for our Native people, for our children,” retired elementary school teacher Oney M. Roubedeaux said of Haaland. “I feel like that is opening up a box of worms. I mean, just a whole big old span of our people that nobody paid attention to.”

Roubedeaux, who is Ponca and Otoe-Missouria, was 6 in 1971, when she rode a Greyhound bus from Stillwater, Oklahoma, to Concho Indian Boarding School in El Reno with her brother, who was 8. She is the youngest of 17 siblings, many of whom attended boarding schools.

After her mother’s death in 1973, Roubedeaux was separated from her brother when she transferred from Concho to the Seneca Boarding School.

She said one of her other brothers was beaten to death in his room in Chilocco Indian School, 20 miles north of Ponca City, in 1980, the year it closed down. By the time she left Concho, there had been three student deaths, one being her best friend’s brother.

After her mother’s death, Roubedeaux was placed in foster care.

She went through 10 foster homes before one foster mother realized Roubedeaux – who was 16 – could not read or write. The teachers at the public and boarding schools she attended had never taken the time to teach her, Roubedeaux said.

She caught up, she said, with help from her foster mother, and eventually obtained a degree in special education from the University of Central Oklahoma. Roubedeaux, who lives in Pawnee, concluded her 20-year teaching career in March 2020.

Although “not everything was good,” she said, boarding schools gave her self-reliance, which was her biggest reclamation of agency.

“Boarding schools were a learning experience for me as a young child … it took me through life, to be able to rely on myself,” Roubedeaux said. “To this day, at the age of 57, I can still do that.”

According to the Boarding School Healing Coalition, 367 Indian boarding schools operated in 29 states, from Alabama to Alaska. Seventy-three were operating in 2020, and 15 of them still boarded students. Oklahoma had the most, with 83 schools, some of which still are operating. Arizona was second with 51 schools, 25 of which are open and three of which board students; New Mexico was fourth with 26 boarding schools.

Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Oklahoma, organized in 1871, is the oldest of four federally operated boarding schools in the nation.

Today’s boarding schools are a good thing, said Constance Fox, who is Cheyenne and Arapaho and graduated high school from Riverside in 1984.

“I think they’re a good thing because of the uniqueness Native students have,” said Fox, who’s a self-determination adviser for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Oklahoma. “For many, it was all they had, good and bad. I hope they continue. I know there’s been a lot of positive strides made … I go back to Riverside and it’s a whole different place.”

Fox said Riverside has upgraded its buildings and athletics department over the years. When she attended Riverside, Fox said, no advanced courses were offered, but teachers now are recruited for such courses.

“I have friends that have kids and grandkids that go to boarding schools and it’s because they want to … because there is still discrimination in public schools,” Fox said. “Being around their Native people makes them want to do better and want to succeed. So, I think that’s a dynamic that has changed over the years.”

Fox attended Concho from grades 3 through 8 and graduated from Riverside as valedictorian. She holds a bachelor’s degree in tourism management from Northeastern State in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and a master’s degree in education from the University of Oklahoma.

Fox, who lives in Yukon, has worked for the BIA for nearly three decades, mostly in the area of self-determination.

Fox said boarding schools – specifically the adults who worked at them, who she says practically raised her – helped shape her passion for self-determination and her career working to better tribes.

“What at the time was negative to me ended up really being positive,” Fox said. “I learned so much about self-responsibility, and that came from the dorm parents, teachers, and other people who worked at both Concho and Riverside.”

Fox said she fully supports Haaland’s efforts and thinks her investigation shows goodwill to create an understanding of the traumas her ancestors suffered and the impact it has in 2022. Although closure can’t begin without acknowledging the history, she said it is hopeful to begin the healing process for the families and tribes impacted.

Hopi journalist Patty Talahongva got her start in journalism at Phoenix Indian High School in the 1978-79 school year. She is the executive producer of newscasts by Indian Country Today, a national nonprofit digital news publication focusing on Indigenous issues.

Although Talahongva, who lives in Phoenix, knows about the brutal history of her grandparents’ boarding school experiences, her year at Phoenix Indian School was different.

“People want to cling to this idea that it was always, always bad,” Talahongva said. “I would say there’s always good in whatever story, no matter how bad it got.”

By the time she was in school, Talahongva said, children were allowed to speak their languages freely, and cultural customs were celebrated, not suppressed. The overall experience, she said, made her more independent. The school, which opened in 1891, shut down in 1990.

Even the launch of Indian Country Today’s newscast in April 2020 has roots in boarding schools.

Talahongva said the newscast began a month after the pandemic was declared, so studio options were few. The solution? The former grammar building of Phoenix Indian School, built in 1935 and now used as a visitors center. Indian Country Today used it for seven months before moving into a studio at Arizona PBS.

“Those kids who went to school in that building were never encouraged to go to college, get a degree, or do whatever they wanted to do,” Talahongva said. “They were certainly never encouraged to become (television) anchors and producers. I can hear our relatives laughing. It’s like, ‘Take that, government. We’re using the building you put up to hold us down, and we’re broadcasting to the world.’”

This story was originally published by Gaylord News, a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Nancy Marie Spears, a Gaylord News reporter based in Washington, D.C., is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Cronkite News contributed to this story.

Alberta not included in ‘Sixties Scoop’ Healing Foundation inaugural grant funding

WEBSITE


The Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta (SSISA) feels it was left out when it comes to accessing new funding.

In December 2021, the Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation announced eight Indigenous organizations will get just over $1 million in funding under the foundation’s 2021 Pilot Grant Program.

The SSISA, however, was not one of them.

“We’re talking about thousands of people in Alberta shut out of a process that nobody was aware of,” said Sandra Relling, president of the SSISA.

“We thought that perhaps it might be upcoming, so we were waiting for some sort of feedback either on their website or through the emails we sent to the organization looking for information on the process.”

Read more: Indigenous organizations call for national inquiry into ’60s Scoop

Records Could Shed Light on Canada Residential Schools for Indigenous Children, Settlements


 READ

Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission said in 2015 that it had identified about 3,200 deaths of indigenous children at the school... 

WATCH:

Canada’s Indigenous Services Minister discusses deals to settle child welfare claims

The federal government, First Nations organizations and class-action lawyers announced details of two agreements in principle that, if ratified, could end a nearly 15-year-old legal battle over the racist underfunding of child welfare services on reserves and in the Yukon. Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu joins APTN National News to talk about the deal. 
 

 

 

Largest settlement in Canadian history: Feds release details of $40B deal

 SOURCE

 

The federal government has unveiled its $40-billion agreement in principle to provide compensation to First Nations children and their families harmed by an underfunded child welfare system and establish long-term reform.

As a result of the largest class action lawsuit in Canadian history, Ottawa will provide $20 billion to children on reserve and in the Yukon who were unnecessarily removed from their homes between April 1, 1991 and March 31, 2022. This extends to their parents and caregivers. Compensation will also be provided to those impacted by the narrow definition of Jordan’s Principle between Dec. 12, 2007 and Nov. 2, 2017.

Children who didn’t receive essential public services between April 1, 1991 and Dec. 11, 2007 will also be eligible for financial reparation.

The second half of the funding will go towards reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services Program, to be spread out over five years.

Approximately $20 billion will support young First Nations adults transitioning out of the child welfare system, as well as bolster prevention mechanisms to keep children at home, in their communities – work that’s expected to start in April, 2022.

KEEP READING 

**

Indigenous child welfare settlement leaves out Sixties Scoop survivors: advocate

Reaction to $40B settlement not all positive
A settlement that may become the largest ever in the history of Canada is raising concern among some over the specific date of April 1, 1991 being the cut-off point for Indigenous people to be eligible for compensation. Mark Neufeld reports.

By Mark Neufeld

Summary

  • Ottawa secured agreements in principle to compensate First Nations children harmed by its underfunding of child welfare
  • If the $40 billion agreement is approved, it would represent the largest settlement in Canadian history
  • But an advocate says the cut-off dates for the potential settlement excludes Sixties Scoop survivors

While welcoming an agreement in principle to compensate children harmed by Canada’s underfunding of child welfare, an Indigenous organization says it also excludes many Indigenous people – specifically Sixties Scoop survivors.

The federal Liberal government says of the $40 billion earmarked to be spent on the matter, $20 billion will pay for compensation and the other $20 billion will be spent on reforming the system over five years.

It says First Nations children living on reserve and in the Yukon who were removed from their homes between April 1, 1991, and Mar. 21, 2022, are set to be compensated, along with their parents and caregivers.

If the agreement is approved, it would represent the largest settlement in Canadian history.

But not everyone agrees with the cut-off dates for the potential settlement.

“I feel like they could have expanded it a little bit more to include those of us taken before 1991 and those of us taken off reserve,” said Katherine Legrange, the director of 60s Scoop Legacy of Canada.

“I think overall it’s a good thing, I just wish they had consulted with Sixties Scoop survivors and our families to include us if possible.”


RELATED:


The Sixties Scoop is when an estimated 20,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in non-Indigenous homes over a period of about three decades.

The Canadian government maintained it was acting in the best interests of the children.

Some survivors remain displaced and disconnected from families and their home communities to this day.

For First Nations children and families that are included in the settlement, Legrange cautions there could be a reopening of old wounds and relived traumas over the historical harms done to them.

She believes the guidance of First Nations elders and caregivers will be needed to prevent more pain as people come forward in the settlement.

“We need to, as Indigenous people, need to lead what that looks like,” said Legrange. “Have an advisory committee and figure out what’s the best way. How do we do this while mitigating the risks and harm to people?”

 

“I’m no longer a lost child. My story matters. That’s what I’m taking home: I matter.”

 


Burden of proof

After the residential school in Nova Scotia closed in the late ‘60s, Debbie Paul was kidnapped by a nun and brought to a white family in the U.S. She always told people this, but was missing the evidence. Until now.

WARNING: This story contains distressing details.

Standing at the site of the former Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Nova Scotia, Debbie Paul clutches a black and white picture of herself taken when it shut down in June 1967.

Paul was the last Mi’kmaw student to leave.

“This picture was taken to give to my mother and my mother never received it,” said Paul, who lives in the Sipekne’katik First Nation, just five kilometres away from the former residential school.

In the photo, she is 12 years old, wearing new shoes and a new watch, unaware her life was about to take an incredible turn. Rather than return Paul to her mother, a nun with the Sisters of Charity – Halifax took her without consent to live with a white family in the United States.

When Paul pushed for answers years later, her mother said she just never came home when the school closed. “She signed no papers for me to be adopted out or taken across the United States border,” said Paul.

Debbie Paul, age 12, outside the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School on the day it closed in June 1967. (Submitted by Debbie Paul)

After the residential school closed and the rest of the students left, that nun, Sister Mary Gilberta, kept Paul back at the institution. Paul says she told her to keep out of sight. Within days, they left for the airport.

Paul would spend the next year with Sister Gilberta’s brother, John Wentworth, and his wife, Mary, in Massachusetts.

“They took me without permission,” said Paul. “And all that family did was abuse me.”

Debbie Paul survived the residential school only to become part of the Sixties Scoop, the practice of adopting or fostering Indigenous kids to white families.

Canada signed a class-action settlement agreement in 2017 and within a year, survivors of the Sixties Scoop, like Paul, were able to apply for compensation.

“I think I deserve it, to live the end of my life,” said Paul, who is now 66. “Because I went through hell.”

But in March 2020, her claim was rejected. She wasn’t told why, but she has a strong suspicion. Collectiva, the administrator for the Sixties Scoop class action settlement, can access adoption and foster records, which for the most part are held by the provinces. But Sister Gilberta acted on her own, leaving no apparent paper trail.

KEEP READING

 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

The 1950s plan to erase Indian Country

 Yes, this happened...

APM Reports: “Uprooted: The 1950s plan to erase Indian Country”

A really interesting look at the BIA Urban Relocation project.

BIA pamphlet from the Chicago Relocation Office. Edward E. Ayer Collection at Newberry Library.

Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women in the United States #StolenSisters


Violence is the third leading cause of death for native women between 10 and 24 years of age and the fifth leading cause of death for women 25 to 34 years (Simpson 5). Today American Indian women face murder 10 times the national average according to the Department of Justice. The government has failed to address the violence against Native women despite staggering statistics that provide evidence for the high rates of violence perpetrated against this marginalized group (Simpson 5). In 2015, the federal government approved an act that would provide additional resources to improve tribes’ access to databases that had data of MMIW but have not followed through. In response to the lack of a database that includes all the MMIW, I have created a web map that will visualize the Indigenous women that have been reported missing and murdered. The ultimate goal is to try to understand what is unique about the situation that causes Native American women to experience higher rates of violence. In the future I hope to be able to provide statistical analysis for my theory about the relation between map camps and missing women.

Keep Reading 

The MMIWG2 Database logs cases of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people, from 1900 to the present.

There are many lists and sources of information online, but no central database that is routinely updated, spans beyond colonial borders, and thoroughly logs important aspects of the data, and overall, there is a chronic lack of data on this violence. The Database works to address that need, by maintaining a comprehensive resource to support community members, advocates, activists, and researchers in their work towards justice for our stolen sisters.

 The Database originally included cases from the US and Canada, but starting in 2019, we have expanded its reach to include all Indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people. We will continue to pursue archival research in the US and Canada, and will rely on partnerships with Indigenous women’s collectives and organizations in other regions to include our sisters indigenous to lands occupied by other colonial entities.

The kind of information the Database cares for is determined by ongoing consultation with Indigenous communities. The Database currently logs the following:

​About Victims:

Name, Indigenous name and translation, tribal affiliation(s), birth date, age, if they were a mother, if they have other MMIWG2 cases in their family

​About Perpetrators:

Race, gender, relationship to the victim

​About the Violence:

Missing or murdered, incident date, violence perpetrated against murder victims after they are deceased, relevant issues (domestic violence, sexual assault, sex work/sex trafficking, foster care, police brutality, trans victim, death in custody, unsheltered, residential/boarding school)

​About Police & Court Response:

Reward amount (if any), case classification, conviction status, which entities located deceased individuals

​About Geography:

City, state/province, country, location type (tribal land, rural, urban)

 

Friday, January 7, 2022

Canada does it first, is America next?


I don't know about you but I saw this coming - that the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) in Canada would end with money paid to victims. Canada is first. Will America be next? Or Australia?... Blog Editor TLH

In Largest Settlement in its History, Canada Comes to Agreement in Principle in Child Welfare Lawsuit

NY Times Coverage here

The Canadian government announced Tuesday that it had reached what it called the largest settlement in Canada’s history, paying $31.5 billion to fix the nation’s discriminatory child welfare system and compensate the Indigenous people harmed by it.

Agreement in principle/press release here

For those who were following this case, it involves the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, which is led by Cindy Blackstock. The settlement attempts to reform Child and Family Services and address Jordan’s Principle. This is a major settlement and significant milestone for Native children and families in Canada.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Another class action for Indigenous children off reserve #EveryChildMatters

 


This proposed class action alleges that Canada failed to take reasonable steps to protect and preserve the aboriginal identity of the Indigenous children and youth who were apprehended. Canada denied Indigenous children and youth any reasonable opportunity to maintain connections to the language and territory of the Indigenous community, group or people to which they belonged. Canada’s actions also denied Indigenous peoples’ their inherent right to jurisdiction over child and family services. This lawsuit alleges that Canada should have taken steps to safeguard the wellbeing of apprehended Indigenous youth and children and ensure that Indigenous youth and children, and their families, were advised of any federal financial benefits to which they may have been entitled; this lawsuit alleges that Canada failed to do so. 

This conduct was systemic, lasted for decades, and eradicated the language, culture, and heritage of Metis, Inuit, and Status and Non-Status Indian (First Nations) children and youth in care. The parents and grandparents of apprehended children and youth were also harmed; in my cases, these parents and grandparents never saw their children and grandchildren again.

 

Sunday, January 2, 2022

'I had to be prayed home'

Thousands of Native children were adopted in the 1960s as a government plan of forced assimilation. This woman was one of them.

Kelley Bashew was adopted at the age of 3 months and taken from South Dakota to Glenside. She is shown on a hillside near her Meadowbrook home in April 2021.CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

While visiting the Tekakwitha Nursing Home to sing for residents, 13-year-old Denise Owen was led away from the rest of her boarding school group by a nun. A special surprise awaited her.

There, in another room in the Sisseton, S.D., facility, was her newborn sister, Rose Anne. Denise got only a glimpse of the infant, lying in a bassinet in a long-sleeve shirt and a diaper, before another nun ordered her to leave. Denise was not supposed to see her sibling, soon to be adopted.

It would be 50 years before they saw each other again.

Rose Anne, who would be raised by a Glenside dentist and his wife, became a child of the country’s American Indian adoption era, a decades-long forced assimilation of Native children first established under the Indian Adoption Project, which started in 1958 and evolved to include 50 private and public placement agencies across the United States and Canada, where the so-called Sixties Scoop was coined to describe the mass removal of children from Native homes. During the next 20 years, almost 13,000 Native children would be adopted.

Bashew experienced a loving childhood. But she always knew she was different, and felt isolated in white suburbia. Here, a series of photos from those times.CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

According to a 1969 report by the Association on American Indian Affairs, between 25% and 35% of all Native children were placed in adoptive homes, foster homes, or institutions; and about 90% of those children were being raised by non-Natives.

That was the case for Rose Anne, who, at the age of 3 months, was handed over to Salvatore and André Petrilli. The white couple of Italian and Irish descent had struggled to have their own biological children, and it was André's interest in American history and a phone conversation with a priest from St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, S.D., that led her to seek a Native adoption through Catholic Charities.

Eventually, a new birth certificate reflected the new name of Kelley Elizabeth Petrilli, the child of two Caucasian parents. Her American Indian heritage was wiped away on paper. A Montgomery County Orphans Court clerk with the last name of Custer gave the final stamp of approval to the adoption.

“When I was younger, I wanted to be white. I still feel guilt about that,” said Bashew, who lives in Meadowbrook. “I just wanted to fit in and be like my sisters. … I did not like being tall and brown and different.”

Kelley Bashew was born Rose Anne Owen in Sisseton, S.D., but was adopted by Salvatore and André Petrilli, a suburban Philadelphia dentist and his wife.CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

 PLEASE SHARE THIS POST with other American Indian Adoptees... TLH

KEEP READING


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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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.

Did you know?

Did you know?
lakota.cc/16I9p4D

Did you know?

New York’s 4o-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.

click to listen

Diane Tells His Name

where were you adopted?

where were you adopted?

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines
click to read and listen about Trace, Diane, Julie and Suzie

ADOPTION TRUTH

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

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