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Thursday, January 17, 2019

More than 280 Indian tribes and 50 tribal organizations have joined the tribal amicus brief Brackeen v. Zinke #ICWA

Photo of Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, authorization provided by the Idaho Attorney
General Office, 2019.


Published January 17, 2019
BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden supports the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) by filing an amicus brief after meeting with tribal legal counsel from Idaho tribes.  On Thursday, January 10, 2018, at the Idaho Statehouse, legal counsel for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes (Brandelle Whitworth), Coeur d’Alene Tribe (Eric VanOrden), Nez Perce Tribe (Darren Williams), and Kootenai Tribe of Idaho (William Barquin) met with Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and his senior staff to discuss the ICWA and the Brackeen v. Zinke case.
After the meeting and upon the request of his own staff, Mr. Wasden joined with the Attorneys General of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin in the bi-partisan group of states filing an amicus brief in defense of the ICWA.
Just last month, the Fort Hall Business Council authorized the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes to join the tribal amicus brief in BrackeenMore than 280 Indian tribes and 50 tribal organizations, including the Association on American Indian Affairs, the National Congress of American Indians, and the National Indian Child Welfare have joined the tribal amicus brief.
The Brackeen case involves a challenge by individual plaintiffs and the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana to the constitutionality of the ICWA and its regulations.  In October 2018, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that much of the ICWA and its regulations were unconstitutional.  The case is currently on appeal to in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
A press release by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and a copy of the states’ amicus brief may be found at https://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/attorney-general-becerra-leads-bipartisan-coalition-21-attorneys-general-brief-0.

State of Idaho Attorney General Joins Indian Tribes in Defense of the Indian Child Welfare Act

by Native News Online Staff

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Adoption Did Not Solve the Indian Problem



Adoption didn’t solve the “Indian Problem.” Its weight simply shifted to our small shoulders. No one told us “we” represented “them.” We had to find that out for ourselves. Some of us are still looking. Bitterroot is a roadmap. - Susan Harness
An author recounts how 1960s policies ripped apart families and communities, including her own.

MUST READ: Adoption didn’t solve the ‘Indian Problem’ — High Country News

See her other posts on this blog... HERE
 HERE

Susan Devan Harness, author of Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption is a member of the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes, a writer lecturer and cultural anthropologist living in Fort Collins, Colorado.

STOLEN GENERATIONS

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

'Between two worlds:' Saskatchewan Premier apologizes to 60s Scoop survivors

Sixties Scoop Apology - Government Of Saskatchewan

REGINA - Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe apologized to survivors of the '60s Scoop Monday for failing them and leaving them "caught between two worlds."
"On behalf of the government of Saskatchewan and on behalf of the people of Saskatchewan, I stand before you today to apologize. I stand before you to say sorry," Moe said before around 200 people at the legislature.
"We are sorry for the pain and the sadness that you have experienced. We are sorry for your loss of culture and language. And to all of those who lost contact with their family, we're so sorry."
About 20,000 Indigenous children were seized from their birth families and relocated to non-Indigenous homes starting in the 1950s until the late 1980s.


MORE

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Bringing Our Children Home: An Introduction to the Indian Child Welfare ...

NICWA Survey



click the links and answer the questions... I did... Trace

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Contact! Métis survivors 60s Scoop Portal


The Métis National Council and the Government of Canada will be working collaboratively, Nation-to-Nation, to develop a process to engage with survivors, knowledge holders, and leadership to address the legacy of the Sixties Scoop. 
CONTACT
Métis National Council
#4 - 340 MacLaren Street
Ottawa, ONT K2P 0M6





Telephone: 613-232-3216
Fax: 613-232-4262

Fraud and corruption in adoption #HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Over the past decades,hundreds of thousands of large-hearted Westerners—eager to fill out their families while helping a child in need–have adopted from poor and troubled countries. In many cases—especially in adoptions from China or former Soviet bloc countries—these adoptions were desperately needed, saving children from crippling lives in hard-hearted institutions.
But too few Westerners are aware that in too many countries, there’s a heartbreaking underside to international adoption.
For decades, international adoption has been a Wild West, all but free of meaningful law, regulation, or oversight. Western adoption agencies, seeking to satisfy consumer demand, have poured millions of dollars of adoption fees into underdeveloped countries.

Those dollars and Euros have, too often, induced the unscrupulous to buy, defraud, coerce, and sometimes even kidnap children away from families that loved and would have raised them to adulthood.

Since the fall of 2008, the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism has been releasing our reporting on aspects of this problem. Where did Westerners get the idea that the world was overflowing with healthy orphaned babies in need of new homes? How is a child with a living family transformed into a “paper orphan,” adopted for someone else’s profit? Whose lives have been scarred by corrupt adoptions? What U.S. policy changes might prevent children from being wrongfully taken from their birthfamilies, simultaneously helping to keep Americans from unwittingly creating an orphan instead of saving one?

This website offers a collection of the Schuster Institute’s releases on intercountry adoption, as well as many of the source documents, independent research, government materials, and other resources that will help interested readers pursue the topic further if they wish.


read: Fraud and Corruption in International Adoption | Gender & Justice Project | Schuster Institute | Brandeis University

Friday, December 21, 2018

Fact Check: Goldwater Institute’s statements about the Indian Child Welfare Act #ICWA

Timothy Sandefur speaking at the 2014 International Students for Liberty Conference.

The Institute’s claim that ICWA harms Indian children relies on dubious assertions and dog whistles.

Mary Katherine Nagle Perspective Dec. 20, 2018

Passed in 1978 to protect Indian children from predatory state welfare and adoption practices, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) keeps Native children with Native families and prioritizes Native homes in adoption cases. A longtime target of evangelical Christian organizations and anti-Indian hate groups, ICWA’s most recent challenge came this fall from a federal judge in Texas, who ruled the law unconstitutional in Brackeen v. Zinke. In Brackeen, the plaintiffs argued that because ICWA’s language refers to “Indian” children, the act violates equal protection and is therefore unconstitutional.
The Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank, litigation organization and veteran opponent of ICWA, joined Brackeen earlier this year to challenge the law. In September, Timothy Sandefur, vice president of litigation at the Goldwater Institute, spoke at the Cato Institute, another libertarian think tank based in Washington, D.C., about the 40th anniversary of ICWA...

Mary Katherine Nagle of Pipestem Law checked the facts and Sandefur’s analysis of them and provided context to some of the statements. 


BIG READ: Fact check: the Goldwater Institute’s statements about the Indian Child Welfare Act — High Country News

Excerpt:
This is a gross mischaracterization of the law. It’s hard to understand what Goldwater means by “Indianness generally” — but ICWA does not apply to humans who have “Indianness generally.” ICWA only applies to citizens of federally recognized tribes. Indeed, the statute has no application unless an “Indian child” is at issue, and “Indian child” is defined as “Any unmarried person under the age of 18 and is either (a) a member of an Indian tribe or (b) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe.“ The act is directly and inextricably linked to citizenship in a sovereign nation. If a child and his/her parents are not citizens of a sovereign nation, ICWA will have no application to that child‘s foster placement, adoptive placement, or the possible termination of the parents’ rights — regardless of how much “Indianness” generally that child may have in the eyes of Goldwater or anyone else. –Mary Katherine Nagle

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

NPR Airs Inaccurate Story about Indian Child Welfare Act Custody Case

Published December 19, 2018
NORMAN, Okla.  —  The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) issued the following statement after National Public Radio broadcast and published “Native American Adoption Law Challenged As Racially Biased” - an inaccurate and imprecise story about an Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) custody case:
NPR violated its ethics policy by failing to thoroughly fact check its reporting and allowing racist language and views on air unchallenged. “Native American Adoption Law Challenged As Racially Biased” by Wade Goodwyn contains multiple factual inaccuracies, lacks context, and propagates racist language and ideas.
Goodwyn says "It turned out that Mason's mother - and therefore - Mason, was part Indian." This is a misleading and incorrect statement: The child's mother is a tribal citizen, therefore the child is also a tribal citizen. This designation is foundational to federal Indian law. To frame it otherwise is inaccurate and irresponsible, especially given the sensitivity owed to children involved in ICWA cases. Goodwyn also discloses the identity of a child involved in adoption proceedings – a violation of their safety and privacy.
Goodwyn uses a quote from the child’s adoptive parent: "Mason didn't even look Indian in the least regards." This is deceptive and racially-coded language that defines the child's identity by physical appearance or skin color. These types of depictions of Native people are blatantly racist and should have been addressed by editors before publication and in the story. In ICWA cases, the child’s identity is based on a political connection to a sovereign nation, and is not based on racial identifiers. This framing runs counter to NPR’s policy of respect and accuracy.
The Goldwater Institute's Timothy Sandefur, who was chosen as a primary source, provided a misleading argument that ICWA is a matter of race, not of citizenship. This is disinformation often raised by groups that seek to diminish and destroy the political identity of Indigenous peoples and the sovereign status of tribal nations. By airing these views nationally, NPR has provided a megaphone for anti-Indian ideas and a platform for racism against Native people. As per NPR ethics, reporters should check sources’ "facts," as advocates can skew the context of the story.
NPR has an ethical obligation to report these views in their social and political context but must also be committed to reporting these ideas responsibly. The network’s ethics policy makes this clear in numerous ways, and NAJA urges NPR to immediately correct the story. NPR should also review its policies and personnel that allowed an unchecked platform for racist ideas that propagate hostility and racism toward Indigenous people.
It is the position of NAJA that NPR is in violation of its own ethics policies by failing to conduct due diligence before publication. The network continues to suffer missteps and stereotypical coverage of Native communities, and NAJA has repeatedly offered free cultural competency and ethics training to NPR staff and editors in the past with no response. However, the offer remains and NAJA would be happy to work with NPR to facilitate more accurate, and ethical, journalism.
NAJA is sponsoring an Indian Child Welfare Act reporting symposium at the University of Oklahoma. Learn more here.

NPR Airs Inaccurate Story about Indian Child Welfare Act Custody Case

by Native News Online Staff

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Stunning and Beautiful: Bitterroot : A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption

Bitterroot : A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption

Author Susan Devan Harness, American Indian Lives Series

Her website: www.susanharness.com


About the Book

In Bitterroot Susan Devan Harness traces her journey to understand the complexities and struggles of being an American Indian child adopted by a white couple and living in the rural American West. When Harness was fifteen years old, she questioned her adoptive father about her “real” parents. He replied that they had died in a car accident not long after she was born—except they hadn’t, as Harness would learn in a conversation with a social worker a few years later.

Harness’s search for answers revolved around her need to ascertain why she was the target of racist remarks and why she seemed always to be on the outside looking in. New questions followed her through college and into her twenties when she started her own family. Meeting her biological family in her early thirties generated even more questions. In her forties Harness decided to get serious about finding answers when, conducting oral histories, she talked with other transracial adoptees. In her fifties she realized that the concept of “home” she had attributed to the reservation existed only in her imagination.

Making sense of her family, the American Indian history of assimilation, and the very real—but culturally constructed—concept of race helped Harness answer the often puzzling questions of stereotypes, a sense of nonbelonging, the meaning of family, and the importance of forgiveness and self-acceptance. In the process Bitterroot also provides a deep and rich context in which to experience life.

NEW INTERVIEW: When Native American Children Are Adopted By White Families, It Isn't Always A Happy Ending

Author Bio

Susan Devan Harness (Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes) is a writer, lecturer, and oral historian, and has been a research associate for the Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research at Colorado State University. She is the author of Mixing Cultural Identities Through Transracial Adoption: Outcomes of the Indian Adoption Project (1958–1967).

Praise

"What does it mean to be Native when you weren't raised Native? What does it mean when the members of your birth family who remained on the reservation tell you that you were lucky to be raised elsewhere, but you don’t feel lucky? Harness brings us right into the middle of these questions and shows how emotionally fraught they can be. . . . It's time everyone learned about the many ways there are of being Native."—Carter Meland, Star Tribune

Bitterroot is an inspiration—one woman’s quest to find herself among the racial, cultural, economic, and historical fault lines of the American West. A compelling, important memoir, as tenaciously beautiful as the flower for which it’s named.”—Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, author of Presentimiento: A Life in Dreams

“One Salish-Kootenai woman’s journey, this memoir is a heart-wrenching story of finding family and herself, and of a particularly horrific time in Native history. It is a strong and well-told narrative of adoption, survival, resilience, and is truthfully revealed.”—Luana Ross (Bitterroot Salish), codirector of Native Voices Documentary Film at the University of Washington and author of Inventing the Savage

“A page-turner of a memoir that illuminates a great historical injustice. With wit and a sturdy heart, Susan Harness plumbs her own and the American West’s uneasy past to shed the burden of living ‘in between’ and find wholeness. A compelling and moving story.”—John Calderazzo, author of Rising Fire: Volcanoes and Our Inner Lives

LINK TO BUY 

Review for Bitterroot - Star Tribune
http://www.startribune.com/review-bitterroot-a-salish-memoir-of-transracial-adoption-by-susan-devan-harness/497042611/

Susan also contributed to the anthology Stolen Generations, book three in the Lost Children Book Series

Midnight Shine - I Need Angels

Monday, December 17, 2018

Goldwater Attack on #ICWA | NPR inaccuracy

Dr. Phil’s Hollywood-ized Adoption Propaganda : Earlier post

NPR has done this before. In October 2011, NPR aired a three-part series of programs on its investigation of foster care for Native American children in South Dakota.
check this out

Some Native American advocates have since issued their own report supporting the reporters' findings. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

#ICWA BREAKING NEWS



PRESS RELEASE
NCAI President Jefferson Keel (Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma) said:
“The stay granted yesterday by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is a welcome and positive step. It means that no Indian child who encounters the child welfare system in Texas, Indiana and Louisiana during this time should be denied the protections and safeguards afforded them under the Indian Child Welfare Act. NCAI will continue to support the intervening Tribal Nations and the Department of Justice as they fight to protect the best interests of all Indian children across the United States through the Indian Child Welfare Act.”

Sunday, December 2, 2018

First Nations Indigenous child and family services coming in early 2019

OTTAWA, Nov. 30, 2018 /CNW/ - Today, Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott, together with Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed, and Métis National Council President Clément Chartier, announced that the Government of Canada will introduce co-developed federal legislation on Indigenous child and family services in early 2019.

Indigenous children represent 52.2% of children in foster care in private homes in Canada. The over-representation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation children in the child welfare system is a humanitarian crisis.
Indigenous children who have been in care face greater risks of adverse health outcomes, violence and incarceration.

This broad-based legislation will be inclusive of all Indigenous peoples while respecting a distinctions-based approach. The legislation would affirm inherent Aboriginal and Treaty rights as well as affirm principles consistent with the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

READ: Government of Canada, with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation leaders, announce co-developed legislation will be introduced on Indigenous child and family services in early 2019 | Benzinga

Quick Facts
  • Indigenous children represent 52.2% of children in foster care in private homes in Canada but account for only 7.7% of the overall child population.
  • The first five Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission relate to child welfare.
  • Call to Action #4 calls "upon the federal government to enact Aboriginal child-welfare legislation that establishes national standards for Aboriginal child apprehension and custody cases and includes principles that:
        1. Affirm the right of Aboriginal governments to establish and maintain their own child-welfare agencies.
        2. Require all child-welfare agencies and courts to take the residential school legacy into account in their decision making.
        3. Establish, as an important priority, a requirement that placements of Aboriginal children into temporary and permanent care be culturally appropriate."
  • In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Canada's First Nations Child and Family Services Program was discriminatory and ordered Canada to immediately address the issue. The ruling prompted further discussion on the creation of federal legislation as a way to ensure better care for Indigenous children.
  • New federal legislation was also called for in an Interim Report by the National Advisory Committee on First Nations Child and Family Services, and in a resolution passed in May of 2018 by the Assembly of First Nations in support of the establishment of federal-enabling legislation for First Nations.
  • In January 2018, the federal government held a National Emergency Meeting on First Nation, Inuit, and Métis child and family services with representatives of the Indigenous peoples and nations, the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council, Indigenous service organizations, experts and practitioners, elders, grandmothers and youth with lived experience. At this meeting, the Government of Canada announced its commitment to Six Points of Action that included the potential for federal legislation, as called for in TRC Call to Action #4.
"For the larger part of Canada's history, Indigenous children have suffered as a result of racist and misogynistic colonial policies. As legislators, we have an obligation to do better for Indigenous children. We must support the development of policies that do not force an ultimatum between the well-being of children and their Indigenous identities."
Senator Marilou McPhedran, Senate of CanadaManitoba

Friday, November 30, 2018

Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey VIII Keynote Presentation - Terry Cross... #ICWA


Terry Cross - Founder of the National Indian Child Welfare Association Terry Cross (Ha-ne-ga-noh), an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation, received his master’s degree in social work from Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. He is the founding executive director of National Indian Child Welfare Association, now serving as senior advisor. He is the author of Positive Indian Parenting and co-authored Towards a Culturally Competent System of Care, published by Georgetown University. He has 40 years of experience in child welfare, including 10 years direct practice.

Presentation slides: http://gathering-wisdom.ca/wp-content...

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Someone finally gets it | WHY #ICWA MATTERS

Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Recognizing 40th Anniversary Of Indian Child Welfare Act

November 28, 2018 - 5:35am
U.S. SENATE News:
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.), vice chairman and chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, respectively, along with U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and U.S. Representatives Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.), led 46 members of Congress Tuesday in introducing a bipartisan resolution commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and recognizing its importance to promoting the stability and security of Tribal communities and families.
 
ICWA sets best-practice standards for child welfare and adoption proceedings involving children who are members of a federally-recognized Tribe or are eligible for membership in a federally-recognized Tribe.
 
It was designed to respond to the disproportionately high number of Native children who were unnecessarily removed from their families. When the law was first enacted in 1978, one-third of all Native children in the U.S. were placed in foster care or adoptive homes by child welfare systems unfamiliar with tribal child rearing practices, resulting in generations of displaced Native children. Over four decades, the law has become the “gold standard” for child welfare policy and keeping Native children connected to their communities and cultures.
 
“Native American children, like all children, thrive when they are able to grow up with the support of their families, communities, and cultures,” Udall said. “Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978 to ensure that best practices in child custody for Native communities are in place, keeping families togetherand kids healthy and safe. Now, on the 40th anniversary of its passage, I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues in the House and Senate to mark the important impact that this law has had on generations of Native kids.”
 
“The Indian Child Welfare Act is an important piece of legislation that respects the principles of government to government relationships with Tribes and Tribal sovereignty,” Hoeven said.
 
“The Indian Child Welfare Act or ICWA is landmark legislation enacted four decades ago to end the abusive practice of ‘adopting out’ Native children in need of aid,” Murkowski said. “Its premise is that Native children who grow up with a connection to their heritage and culture become strong adults and parents. The State of Alaska and Alaska’s 229 tribes have partnered to ensure that this important legislation fulfills its promise to our Native children. It is important that we celebrate this partnership during this 40th anniversary year for ICWA is as vital today as it was on the day it was enacted by Congress.”
 
“Forty years ago, when the Indian Child Welfare Act became law, Congress declared national policy for Tribal children,” Bass said. “Through the Indian Child Welfare Act, Congress recognizes tribes’ sovereign authority to make decisions about children who are tribal members. Eighteen national child welfare and child advocacy organizations — including the Child Welfare League of American, the National Association of Social Workers, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children — are united in their view that the Indian Child Welfare Act is the gold standard for child welfare policies and practices that should be afforded to all children. This bipartisan resolution affirms the principles embodied in the Indian Child Welfare Act, including the importance of protecting the best interests of American Indian and Alaska Native children, promoting the stability and security of Indian Tribes and families, and respecting tribal sovereignty. Congress should pass it.”
 
“At the heart of the Indian Child Welfare Act is the recognition that Tribal heritage is a profoundly special and valuable heritage to know and pass on,” Cole said. “Forty years since this monumental legislation was enacted, we affirm our obligation to serve the best interests of Native children and ensure that their Tribal heritage is not lost.”
 
In addition to Udall, Hoeven, Murkowski, Bass, and Cole, the Senate resolution is sponsored by Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Angus King (I-Maine), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) while the House resolution is sponsored by Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Don Young (R-Alaska), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Norma Torres (D-Calif.), Tom Marino (R-Pa.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), and Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.).
 
The full text of the resolution can be found HERE.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

“Blood Memory”

From left, Drew Nicholas, producer of “Blood Memory,” speaks along the side of Oglala Lakota tribe member Jerry Dearly, Sandy White Hawk, founding director of First Nations Repatriation Institute, and fellow “Blood Memory” producer Megan Whitmer, during a panel on the preview screening in the Beus Center for Law and Society on Nov. 20, 2018. (Jonmaesha Beltran/DD)
BLOOD MEMORY MOVIE

The Indian Child Welfare Act is vital to our continued survival

excerpt:

Over the past several years, as part of a coalition of groups including for-profit adoption agencies, the right-wing Goldwater Institute has spearheaded attacks against ICWA in multiple states, including California, Arizona, Oklahoma and Minnesota. They finally made inroads last month: After a Texas couple sued for the right to adopt a Cherokee Nation toddler, a federal district court judge, Reed O’Connor, struck down portions of the ICWA, finding that the disputed sections violate the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee by mandating racial preferences. The case may wind up before the Supreme Court, where Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh is widely believed to be a deciding vote against it.

BIG READ: Why conservatives are attacking a law meant to protect Native American families - The Washington Post

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Indian Child Welfare Act Turns 40



It Takes a Movement to Raise an Indian Child


As the Indigenous peoples of this land, countless generations have built a base of wisdom about how to raise our children in community.

Last month, a federal district court made an egregious ruling ignoring the government-to-government relationship between tribal nations and the federal government. In Brackeen v. Zinke, the U.S. District Court in Northern Texas ruled in favor of Texas, Indiana and Louisiana and several foster and adoptive families, declaring that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a race-based law lacking a present-day articulation of its need. The court found ICWA to be unconstitutional. In this context, it is important to elevate the lingering effects of historical governmental policies and practices on Native children and families — including the removal of tribal nations from their traditional homelands to reservations, relocation of Native peoples to major cities, and numerous efforts to assimilate Native children.
  Prior to contact with European immigrants, tribal practices and beliefs about raising a child allowed a natural system of child protection to flourish. Traditional Indian spiritual beliefs reinforced that all things had a spiritual nature that demanded respect, including children. Not only were children respected, they were taught to respect others. Extraordinary patience and tolerance marked the methods that were used to teach Indian children self-discipline. At the heart of this natural system were beliefs, traditions and customs involving extended family with clear roles and responsibilities. Responsibilities shared by extended family and community members made protection of children the responsibility of all people in the community. Within the natural safety net of traditional tribal settings and beliefs, child maltreatment was rarely a problem.

As European migration to the United States increased, traditional tribal practices in raising children were devalued or lost as federal programs sought to systematically assimilate Native people. Efforts to “civilize” the Native population were almost always focused on children. It began as early as 1609, when the Virginia Company, in a written document, authorized the kidnapping of Indian children for the purpose of civilizing local Indian populations through the use of Christianity. The “Civilization Fund Act” passed by Congress in 1819 authorized grants to private agencies, primarily churches, to establish programs in tribal communities designed to “civilize the Indian.”
Removing and relocating Native people onto reservations between 1830 and 1871 forced tribes to leave behind customs tied to their traditional lands, adjust their economies, and change their ways of life without the support promised by the federal government.

A class in penmanship at the Red Deer Indian Industrial School. Photo courtesy Victoria University Archives.

From the 1860s through the 1970s, the federal government and private agencies established large boarding schools, far from reservations, where Indian children were placed involuntarily. Agents of the federal government had the authority to withhold food and clothing from parents who resisted sending their children away. In boarding schools, children were not able to use their Native languages or traditional customs, were required to wear uniforms and cut their hair, and were subjected to military discipline and standards.

As the federal government began to recognize how the removal and reservation of tribal communities hurt Native people, it instituted the Indian Relocation Act of 1956, moving thousands of Natives to large cities. This program not only broke down family systems, but also left families and individuals stranded away from their communities and natural support systems in unfamiliar environments.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the child welfare system became another avenue that state and federal governments used to force the assimilation of Native children. During this era, 25 to 35 percent of all Native children were separated from their families — and 90 percent of children removed were placed in non-Native homes.

In 1978, the passage of ICWA acknowledged the inherent sovereign right of tribal governments and the critical role they play in protecting their member children and maintaining families.

In the face of centuries of unjust treatment of Native families and communities by federal and state governments, tribal governments have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of our families and to raise our children within tribal communities. Advocates in Indian Country are uniting because we know the adage “it takes a village” is truer now that it ever has been — today, it takes a movement to raise an Indian child.


Sarah
 Kastelic is executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) — the only national American Indian organization focused specifically on tribal capacity to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Before coming to NICWA, Kastelic served the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), including founding the NCAI Policy Research Center.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Powwow Welcomes Returning Natives


At the Gathering for our Children and Returning Adoptees Powwow in 2015, the American Indian community in Minneapolis welcomes home Native people who were raised in foster care or adopted out. (Photo courtesy of Red Lake Nation News.)
By Camille Erickson

Each year, the Minneapolis American Indian Center fills with adoptees, formerly fostered individuals and families for the Gathering For Our Children and Returning Adoptees Powwow. Now in its fifteenth year, the powwow is held on Saturday, Nov. 3 2018 at the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC) to once again provide a vital space for community healing and celebration.

“There are so many things that happen that day that are always miracles,” said Jacque Wilson, coordinator of the Bois Forte Urban Office and an organizer of the powwow.

The morning of the powwow, Sandra White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota) gathers with adoptees, formerly fostered individuals and birth relatives to visit with one another and share their experiences. White Hawk has been an organizer of the powwow since its beginning, and she remains an intrepid advocate for First Nations people impacted by foster care or adoption. Among her myriad roles, she serves as the director of First Nations Repatriation Institute.

Too often, conversations about the trauma caused by family separation and adoption remain buried under a veil of silence, explained White Hawk. Some attendees have never had the opportunity to attend a powwow or connect with the American Indian community. White Hawk works hard to foster a ceremonious and welcoming environment. “We mostly want to give them an opportunity to share in a way that they’ve probably never been able to,” White Hawk said.

For over a decade, a group of Native adoptees and formerly fostered individuals in Minneapolis have met each month to support one another. Many of them come out every first Saturday in November to welcome those returning to the circle. “Because of their healing as part of this community, they are there to greet our new people who have never been here before,” said White Hawk. Elders also share stories about the painful history of removal and cultural erasure in American Indian communities that ripped thousands of youth away from their families and tribal identity.

The space also welcomes and receives birth mothers. White Hawk hopes that the gathering can serve as a time for birth mothers to develop compassion for themselves and shed layers of guilt or shame. “For our mothers who lost [children] under all kinds of circumstances, our hope is that we continue to encourage them to be a part of our circle,” said White Hawk. “They gave us life and that was the most important thing.”

Following the morning gathering, the powwow begins in the auditorium. Community members are invited and encouraged to attend. The entrance of the color guard in the grand entry signals the celebration’s beginning. Adoptees and formerly fostered relatives follow in their stead, making their way back to the circle. In the eyes of White Hawk, the following “Wablenica ceremony” is dedicated to “taking care of the hearts of our relative who are making their way back to this circle and the hearts of our relatives who lost us.”

The ceremony can be laden with emotion, particularly grief, at the beginning, she said. But by the end, the adoptees and formerly fostered individuals stand in the circle and the community comes forward to welcome them. “Our hearts are just lifted,” she said. “Some people have never heard the phrase, ‘welcome home,’ and it makes them feel the acceptance and sense of belonging that is so needed for our people.”

For many, this is the day that healing begins.

Fifteen years of dedication from three Native women

Sandy White Hawk. (Photo
courtesy of Red Lake Nation News.)
The powwow started in 2003 with a call for healing. And Jacque Wilson, Sandra White Hawk and Tina Knafla are three women whose lives have been touched both personally and professionally by the impacts of American Indian adoption and foster care. Throughout their lives of service, they each have seen and felt the intergenerational trauma present in their communities. “There is so much pain around adoption and the loss of children because of the Indian adoption era and the boarding school era,” said Knafla, who in 2003, worked with Hennepin County as an ICWA adoptions recruiter. “I really felt like we needed to address that.”

In addition to the forcible placement of American Indian children into abusive boarding schools beginning in the 1860s, the Child Welfare League of America instituted the Indian Adoption Project from 1958 to 1967. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Children’s Bureau were also complicit in this program. The government ripped American Indian children away from their tribes and families and placed a vast majority of them into non-Native foster or adoptive homes. According to a 1976 surveys commissioned by the Association on American Indian Affairs, 25 to 35 percent of American
Indian children were removed from their families between 1941 and 1967.

After exhaustive calls for justice from Native communities, The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was enacted in 1978 by Congress. It requires the state to place American Indian children experiencing foster care with family or relatives as often as possible. But only about half of Native children in foster care in Minnesota find Native homes, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services. And the trauma from these twentieth century policies linger in the lives of adoptees and their communities who still reckon with family separation.

After attending a National Indian Child Welfare Association conference in Duluth in 2003, Knafla felt compelled to expand opportunities for healing with the support of the county. She began reaching out to community agencies and colleagues, including White Hawk and Wilson, to uplift resources for Native communities processing the impacts of family separation. The three women believed that a powwow would provide a needed space for healing and celebration.

Organizers obtained the sponsorship of Hennepin County and the Minnesota Department of Human Services, among other community agencies. This support continues to keep the powwow strong and sustained. “That collaboration is very unique between Hennepin County and the community,” said Knafla. “We’re still here, 14 years strong.”

The year the powwow began, Wilson worked in the juvenile justice courts representing state tribes in child welfare cases. She yearned to see foster families participating in more culturally-relevant activities. In her eyes, the powwow would provide an opportunity for foster youth to establish a connection to their identity.

“The more the children know about who they are and where they come from, the less traumatic it is for them,” explained Wilson. “It also gives them a place to look for answers when they become older.”

Although her job has since changed, Wilson continues to support people who she said have been away from their families or tribes for a generation or more. The gathering would also be an opportunity to connect families with foster care agencies to expand the availability of culturally-involved, Native homes for youth still in foster care.

“This powwow is still important to me because that trauma has not gone away on many levels,” she said. “It’s always important for [returnees] to learn who they are, because in order to be a full human being, it’s best that you know who you are, where you came from, or your people.”

Adoptees from all over the country attend the powwow in Minneapolis. “We’re trying to share what we’ve learned and get other tribes and communities to recognize their returning adoptees and birth mothers in whatever kind of ceremonies they want to do,” said Wilson.

Organizers of the powwow envision a time when reservations and Native communities across the country create their own spaces that encourage returning relatives to heal.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Indian children and families deserve better | WE NEED #ICWA

Official Statement: Joint Statement on the Federal District Court of Northern Texas denying to stay the court’s ruling on constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act

(Portland, OR, October 30, 2018)—The National Indian Child Welfare Association, the National Congress of American Indians, the Association on American Indian Affairs, and the Native American Rights Fund are disappointed that the Federal District Court of Northern Texas has denied a motion to stay their decision in Brackeen v. Zinke pending appeal by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. 
This will likely cause great uncertainty and disruption for hundreds of vulnerable Indian children and their families who are currently in state child welfare systems within the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana, especially as we enter the holiday season and the Fifth Circuit moves forward with what may be months of proceedings. 
Indian children and families deserve better, and we hope that the Fifth Circuit will move quickly to consider a motion to stay this lower federal court decision.
# # #
Read the full joint statement here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Cultural Genocide: Canada’s Darkest Secret

Canada’s Darkest Secret
Al Jazeera (2017)
Film Review
This documentary concerns Canada’s infamous “boarding schools,” a program for indigenous Canadian children started in 1876 by Canada’s first prime minister John McDonald. Under this system, native children were forcibly removed (and in some cases kidnapped) from their families to attend religious boarding schools. The goal was to forcibly totally separate the children’s from their families’ native language and culture.
The government wanted access to mineral deposits on treaty lands. Rather than going to war with their indigenous population, they stole their children to extinguish them as communities and nations.
The last boarding school closed in 1996.
Most of the film consists of interviews with boarding school survivors. They talk of being forbidden to speak their native language, harsh beatings for minor infractions, a continuous diet of mushy oatmeal, lack of heating in winter and frequent sexual abuse. The death rate for children who attended these boarding schools was 24-40%.
In 1980, a group of boarding school survivors began a long court action that in 2008 resulted in the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The goal of the TRC hearings, which went on for seven years, was for boarding school survivors to document their years of abuse and trauma for posterity.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

how the words of #ICWA made them feel

read

Beyond high fives and selfies … Indian youth explore policy issues

“The Indian Child Welfare act was created in order to protect the best interest of Indian Children and to promote the stability and security of tribal communities and families. We as youth leaders know that our identity; is who we are, is within our culture, and within the tribal community that raises us. Our membership and blood quantum has never defined us as members of our tribal communities. To us, we are raised by tribal communities, because we learn not just from our family but from the community as a whole. They teach us our languages, our traditions, they show us who we are as American Indian/Alaskan Native youth, that is a right every American Indian/Alaskan Native child should have. They should not be taken from their tribal community, because when they are, a piece of our culture is lost.”

Chickasaw Nation Documentary Wins Heartland Emmy Award


“And Our Mothers Cried” vividly brings to life the Indian boarding school era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For several generations of Native American children, including some Chickasaws, attending boarding school meant separation from their families and indoctrination into a culture that wasn’t their own. The schools, which were guided by the infamous slogan, “Kill the Indian. Save the Man,” prohibited most students from speaking their own language and emphasized labor-intensive trades that would assimilate them into white culture through military-type institutions.
The documentary presents a stark contrast between these schools and schools established and operated by the Chickasaw Nation, which were designed to prepare Chickasaw children to compete in a rapidly changing world. “And Our Mothers Cried” presents compelling stories from some of the Chickasaw elders who lived through the boarding school era. Their experiences weave a complex story of sorrow and survival, but also one of hope and resilience from a time when tribal governments and culture were under attack.

Click here to watch the EMMY® Award-winning “Winter Fire—And Our Mothers Cried.”

READ MORE: Chickasaw Nation Documentary Wins Heartland Emmy Award - Native News Online

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Native perspective: Sherry Treppa: Why #ICWA is critical to the health of native children and tribal communities

Excerpt:

Congress passed the ICWA in 1978 in an attempt to reverse the ravages that forced separation of Native children from their families wrought on Indian people. In Native cultures, families are the center of our communities, and children are sacred gifts from the Creator. Judge O’Connor’s ruling not only threatens our future – it outright discounts generations of historical anguish. The ruling also ignores the rights of tribes as sovereign governments. The ICWA only applies to children from federally recognized tribes, and tribes – as sovereign governments – are the only legal authority to determine the membership of a tribe. Destroying a tribe’s ability to speak out for its future – our children – undermines the modern efforts of tribal government to overcome hundreds of years oppression because of the U.S. government’s aggressive control over every aspect of tribal citizens’ lives, including our relationships with our own children.

Sherry Treppa is chair of the Habematolel Pomo tribe of Upper Lake, Calif.

READ: here

Monday, October 22, 2018

Where are they buried?


Thousands of Canada’s indigenous children died in church-run boarding schools

Armed with everything from school attendance records to drones, researchers across Canada are racing to shed light on a bleak part of the country’s history: How many indigenous children died at residential schools, and where are their unmarked graves? From 1883 to 1998, nearly 150,000 indigenous children were forcibly separated from their families and sent to the government-funded, church-run boarding schools in an attempt to assimilate them. Once there, they were frequently neglected and abused. What happened at the schools was akin to “cultural genocide,” concluded a 2015 report from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It also found that at least 3,200 students died at residential schools over those 115 years — a much higher rate than for students elsewhere in Canada — though the commission contended that the number was probably much higher and merited further investigation.

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.

READ: Thousands of Canada’s indigenous children died in church-run boarding schools. Where are they buried? - The Washington Post

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Constant Attacks on ICWA | Democracy Now

NAJA Calls Out LA Times for Anti-Indian Child Welfare Act Op-ed Full of “Anti-Indian Propaganda”

Naomi Schaefer Riley
Published October 20, 2018
NORMAN, Okla.  —  The Native American Journalist Association, based in Norman, Oklahoma sent a letter critical of the Los Angeles Times publishing an op-ed that allowed a writer to call for the elimination of the landmark 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act.
Here is the letter sent to the Los Angeles Times:
The Native American Journalists Association is disappointed in the lack of due diligence demonstrated by the Los Angeles Times in publishing the op-ed “Does the Indian Child Welfare Act protect tribal interests at the expense of children?” We call on the organization and the opinion section to review their policies and practices in light of its unchecked dissemination of anti-Indian propaganda.
The Times published an Oct. 12 op-ed by Naomi Schaefer Riley in which Schaefer Riley advocates for the elimination of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) by deliberately misrepresenting the law to readers – a tactic organizations labeled hate groups have used in an attempt to undermine the law.
NAJA is dismayed that the Times would publish opinions that align so closely with views held by established anti-Indian hate groups and calls on the paper to review their op-ed policies and journalistic standards. It is chilling that a revered organization like the Times would lack the ability to identify the difference between informed opinion on important and consequential Indigenous issues, and talking points advocated by anti-Indian hate groups based on stereotypes and misinformation.
For this reason, NAJA has published a guide on best practices when reporting on ICWA cases to provide newsrooms with the tools to provide readers with accurate and contextual coverage on the topic. NAJA consistently advocates for consultation with tribal leaders and authorities. Had the Times’ editors consulted any tribal leaders, they would have learned that tribal nations within the United States do NOT support the elimination of ICWA.
NAJA also recommends that reporters never refer to blood quantum when covering ICWA cases. The law applies to citizens of tribal nations as determined by that nation, not federally imposed standards like degree of Indian blood. Measuring the amount of Indian blood a child has is an inherent act of racism. However, Schaefer Riley's op-ed hinges on this idea then leans on stereotypes such as poverty, domestic abuse and drug use to paint a disparaging picture of Indigenous families to suggest that those communities lack the ability to provide children a good life.
We encourage the Times to follow the journalistic practices established by Indigenous journalists and endorsed by NAJA to provide ethical and culturally sensitive coverage to readers, instead of providing a platform for hate groups and their sympathizers to promulgate anti-Indian propaganda.

NAJA Calls Out LA Times for Anti-Indian Child Welfare Act Op-ed Full of “Anti-Indian Propaganda”

by Levi Rickert

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Namwayut: we are all one. Truth and reconciliation in Canada | Canada is...

The removal of Indian children continues to be a national crisis #ICWA



The Nation’s First Family Separation Policy 


Forty years ago, three in 10 Indian children were taken from their families.
October 9, 2018 | Christie Renick

The United States’ first family separation policy removed one-third of all American Indian children from their families and tribes. 

In the late 1960s, while employed by the Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA), a New York-based attorney named Bertram Hirsch was sent to North Dakota to assist with a kinship dispute case on behalf of the Spirit Lake Tribe. Child welfare workers were forcibly removing children from family members and placing them in white homes, sometimes out of state. One grandmother had even been jailed after refusing to give up her grandchildren.
At the time, Hirsch says, he had no idea that an alarming number of American Indian children were being taken from their families and permanently placed in homes with white parents. But as he worked on the Spirit Lake case, he began to understand the scope of the problem. And by the time 1969 rolled around, he and the AAIA were deeply engaged in a nationwide data collection project that had him contacting every foster care or adoption agency and institution he could find. He surveyed the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which had the authority to place children at that time, and state social services departments as well as juvenile probation facilities.
Hirsch’s research found that somewhere between 25 and 35 percent of all American Indian children had been placed in adoptive homes, foster homes or institutions. 
Around 90 percent of those children were being raised by non-Indians. 
Many would never see their biological families again.

By the end of 1978, Hirsch had conducted his audit twice. Congressional commissions had convened in Washington numerous times, gathering hundreds of hours of testimony on the government’s egregious treatment of American Indian communities.

In its report to Congress, a task force said,
 “The removal of Indian children from their natural homes and tribal setting has been and continues to be a national crisis.”

The government-sanctioned removals were a wound for Native families and tribes that would be torn raw with each new generation.
Hirsch, along with two Congressional staffers, wrote and rewrote a bill to shield American Indian youth from being removed from their families and tribes. A culmination of what Hirsch describes as a huge grassroots effort spanning 11 years and involving thousands of people across the country, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was passed at the 11th hour, just before the 95th Congress would come to a close, on October 24, 1978.
“If we didn’t get it passed in the 95th,” Hirsch said, “I’m not sure it ever would have passed.” ICWA defined the political relationship between two sovereigns – tribes and states. It designated that tribes can and must act as parents for their children, just as states do with non-Native children, when biological parents cannot. And it required that preference be given to tribal communities when children must be removed from their homes.
But 40 years later, states still don’t fully understand ICWA. One judge described ICWA as the most ignored federal law in the history of this country. The federal government has no ICWA data reporting requirements in place.Caseworkers and attorneys have been reported as viewing ICWA compliance as optional. Notice to tribes that an Indian child has entered foster care has been delayed by as many as four years, tribes have said.

And just last week, a federal district court judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional, rendering the fate of ICWA uncertain. 

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