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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tribal Policeman dies 5 hours after talking to CAICW -

He died in a car wreck on Sept. 22, 2014. Just five hours earlier, he was talking to us on the phone, telling us he had tape recorded his meetings with BIA social services and tribal court because he finally wanted his story to be public.

Lavern “Bundy” Littlewind was a BIA policeman and Spirit Lake tribal member. He wanted people who don’t live on the reservation to understand why child abuse is endemic on so many reservations. Many Tribal social services don’t protect kids. They protect tribal sovereignty.
Jastin Ian Blue Coat died 10-18-2014
Jastin "Ian" Blue Coat

The latest: Toddler Jastin Blue Coat was murdered October 18, 2014, in Eagle Butte, SD. Because of his heritage, he wasn’t allowed protection.

After a series of child murders at Spirit Lake, our federal government – in the form of the BIA, FBI and U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon - was called in two years ago to oversee, improve care, and protect the kids. Federally funded programs such as Casey Family Services and ACF were also supposed to be improving care. But that money has been poured down the drain.

There is no serious intention to protect children if the only real solutions are perceived to threaten tribal sovereignty. Protect tribal sovereignty at all costs – even at the expense of children.
Power and money have corrupted nations from time immemorial.

In all our years of going to DC about this, Representative Kevin Cramer has been the only Congressman to take real action. This year, he pushed for an oversight hearing and called the BIA on the carpet. His office asked Bundy to testify at the June hearing as well, but Bundy was nervous, thinking tribal government might use his kids against him if he spoke up. That’s understandable – many have seen that happen.

The U.S. Government has set up a system that allows crime and corruption to occur without repercussion in Indian Country. We are very grateful to Rep. Cramer. It takes real courage to address something other Congressman have been afraid to touch. We need him to remain in office, pursuing protection for kids at Spirit Lake as well as across the country.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rez Family Speaks Out - Dying in Indian Country


There’s another side to the ICWA that until very recently has received little disclosure or news coverage. Just why would a family (2-parent, single-parent, multi-generational, or blended) decide that reservation life is not what they CHOOSE for their family? The reasons are many, but some of the reasons are shocking.  

What cannot be denied is that a large number of Native Americans are dying from alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide and violence. Further, what is being hidden on some reservations is that scores of children are suffering emotional, physical and sexual abuse as a result of the accepted behavior on those reservations, and the ICWA is trapping more and more children into this unacceptable system.

While many tribal governments continue to fund congressional candidates who promise to increase tribal sovereignty, the voices of the children who are at the mercy of corrupt government continue to go unheard. The truth that must be revealed is that some tribal governments are not protecting the children in their “custody.” Some have said that there are children actually being traded and sold by the very people who are being paid to “foster” them. The Spirit Lake tribal government in North Dakota is not isolated in the mistreatment of children.

Though tribal governments claim there are accountability measures in place, in reality many children within the foster system never receive adequate care or any follow-up at all. Some tribal members report that extended family members, social workers, judges, lawyers, teachers, and other “mandated reporters” all seem to participate in this broken system where, as long as a child remains in foster care, the tribe and the custodian(s) receive a check. There is no incentive to permanently place an Indian child in an adoptive home, and no incentive to report abuse. The adults in charge simply turn a blind eye and pretend that the system works, and children are denied the most basic of human needs…real love and a safe place to call home.  

Dying in Indian Country, by Elizabeth Sharon Morris, provides a real glimpse into some of these unacceptable conditions. Dying in Indian Country tells a compelling true story of one family who comes to realize that corrupt tribal government, dishonest Federal Indian Policy, welfare policy, and the controlling reservation system has more to do with the current despair than tragedies that occurred 150 years ago.

“Dying in Indian Country is a compassionate and honest portrayal… I highly recommend it to you.” Reed Elley, former Member of Parliament, Canada; Chief Critic for Indian Affairs in 2000, Baptist Pastor, Father of four Native and Métis children

“He was a magnificent warrior who put himself on the line for the good of all…I can think of no one at this time, in this dark period of Indian history, who is able to speak as Roland has.” Arlene,Tribal Member

“…truly gripping, with a good pace.” Dr. William B. Allen, -Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1989)

Dying in Indian Country is available at: http://dyinginindiancountry.com

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Voting for Welfare of Russian children while turning backs on U.S. Children?


by Elizabeth Sharon Morris Late Tuesday night, January 1st, 2013, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed S. Res. 628, expressing disappointment over the Russian law banning adoption of children by American citizens.
Senator Inhofe, one of the two Senate Co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, and a wonderful supporter of children and families, rightly stated, “It is extremely unfortunate and disheartening that the Russian Duma and President Putin would choose to deprive the children, the very children that they are entrusted to care for, the ability to find a safe and caring family that every child deserves…It is nothing more than a political play…that ultimately leads to greater hardships and more suffering for Russian children who will now be denied a loving family.”
In addition, earlier this month, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Members sent a bi-partisan letter to President Putin urging him to veto the legislation, stating,
“We fear that this overly broad law would have dire consequences for Russian children...Nothing is more important to the future of our world than doing our best to give as many children the chance to grow up in a family as we possibly can.”
The vote in support of Russian children was unanimous by the Senate. The CCA, Senator Inhofe and many others are correctly speaking up for these children and families. Many in the CCA are also correctly concerned – for the very same reasons - about children of native heritage here in the United States. However, while ALL the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs members voted for this resolution preventing adoption of Russian children - several members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs continue to uphold similar 'Putin-like' legislation preventing adoption of American children. Take the statements above and replace the word “Russian” with the word “Indian” and it fits our argument against the Indian Child Welfare Act exactly. Further - speaking as the birth mother of several enrollable children - I need to stress that while the argument against ICWA is important for adoption, it is also important to many birth families who don’t wish to have tribal jurisdiction and control over their own children. Children who had never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal customs, some with extremely minimal blood quantum - as well as some with maximum quantum - have been removed from homes they know and love and placed with strangers chosen by social services. Facts to note: 75% of U.S citizens with tribal heritage live OFF the reservation. This includes many of 100% heritage who choose not to be involved with the reservation system. Some have moved away purposely because many reservations are not safe places to raise children. Others have never lived on a reservation. MOST enrollable citizens have less than 50% tribal heritage and are connected to their non-native relatives, some not having been connected to the reservation system for a couple generations. Although it has been felt that the Indian Child Welfare Act has safeguards to prevent misuse, stories affecting multi-racial families abound across America. Letters from tribal and non-tribal birth parents, extended family, foster parents and pre-adoptive families can be read at http://caicw.org/family-advocacy/letters-from-families-2/ In the words of Dr. William B. Allen, Emeritus Professor, Political Science, MSU and former Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights:
“... We are talking about our brothers and our sisters. We’re talking about what happens to people who share with us an extremely important identity. And that identity is the identity of free citizens in a Republic…"
Consider calling your Senators, and while thanking them for voting for S. Res. 628, ask them to support the rights of children and families of Native American heritage as well.  


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Monday, December 31, 2012

Dr. Phil Show Controversy– ICWA Hurts Kids and Destroys Families

by Elizabeth Sharon Morris

“They just took my baby after 3 years…her sobbing is forever etched in my soul. She wanted us to save her and we couldn’t. Devastated."

An adoptive mother contacted CAICW on Facebook with this message at 1 am on Saturday, November 20, 2010, just hours after losing her little girl. CAICW cried with her. Why was this little girl, who screamed for her adoptive father to help her, taken - while he collapsed on the lawn, sobbing in grief? Because she had tribal heritage.  

While many argue that it is right and good that children of Native heritage be removed from non-Indian homes and turned over to tribal governments, many others question the policy. In this case, just five months after the little girl was taken, social services called the adoptive parents and asked if they would come and get her—immediately. Apparently the home she had been taken to “didn’t work out,” so now it was OK for her to return to the home they had torn her from just a few months prior. Of course, her parents immediately dropped everything to drive the two hours to get their little girl. When she saw them, the little girl threw herself into their arms and asked if she could finally “go home.”  

On Friday, October 19, 2012, Indian Country Today (ICT) reported on the “Veronica” episode of a Dr. Phil Show that had aired the day before. ICT claimed that the show “attacked the ICWA, and undermined the significance of Native children remaining in their tribe and being immersed in their culture.” It also announced a grassroots Facebook campaign to boycott the “Anti-Native American” Dr. Phil Show. The mission of the campaign ICT says, “is to hold Dr. Phil McGraw accountable by boycotting until he agrees to have a show where QUALIFIED experts discuss ICWA’s importance.”

This is an interesting demand, considering the fact that there were two qualified “experts” on the set that day: Cherokee Nation Attorney Chrissi Nimmo and Judge Les Marston. Furthermore, Terry Cross of the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) had been invited too, but declined to appear.  

As a birth mother to children who are 50 percent tribal, I flatly refute claims by the tribal establishment that every single child of heritage “needs them.” No “tribal expert” knows our family or can speak for us. It is a myth that all tribal members want or need to be a part of Indian Country. Tribal members are individuals with their own minds and hearts.

The U.S. census shows that 75 percent of tribal members live off reservation. Some remain connected to Indian Country, but many extended families mainstreamed a long time ago. Many reject reservation life for the same reason our family does: it isn’t a safe place. Even though we love our extended family that live on the reservation, we choose not to live under a corrupt tribal government in a tract house surrounded by drugs, alcohol and violence. Not every Native person wants to live in or have their children exposed to these conditions.  

Furthermore, most “enrollable” children have more than one heritage. This means that they have more than one family, more than one traditional culture, multiple people who love them, and no heritage is more or less important than another.  

Tribal governments are now using the ICWA as a weapon to steal the rights and best interests of children, women and families across this country. Make no mistake—the Cherokee Nation alone has more than 100 attorneys targeting 1500 children across the United States who are in the process of being adopted. Many of these children, like Veronica, have less than 5 percent Cherokee heritage. Even that small heritage in many cases comes from families who at some point made deliberate CHOICES to leave Indian Country.
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Sunday, October 21, 2012

REAL War on Women is from Cherokee Nation


NOT ONLY is the ‘INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT’ a weapon against the rights and best interests of many children – but it is an affront on the parental rights of ALL woman ~ The REAL War on Women comes in the form of the Cherokee Nation’s affirmation that single mothers of ALL heritages MUST fear tribal interference if they give a child up for adoption without knowing for certain that the birth father doesn’t have EVEN ONE DROP of Cherokee blood.

In the Thursday, October 18, 2012, segment of Dr. Phil show, Cherokee Nation Attorney Christi Nemmo refuses to admit Veronica had only a drop of Cherokee blood, but she also doesn't deny it. She doesn't answer the question because she knows people would be horrified. She tries to make the argument that it's not about how a child looks or how much blood the child has, but that they have a right to be part of the Cherokee tribe. Watch this 3 minute clip, then read more...
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She was sidestepping the fact that this "right" is being forced on not only this child, but many children and families all across the U.S. She is avoiding the fact that not all enrollable individuals WANT their children to be forced into the Cherokee Nation, not all enrollable parents want their children to be raised on or near the reservation, and some enrolled families have purposefully taken their children and moved away.

 For example: Enrolled mothers at a home for unwed mothers in Bismarck told State Representative Lee Kaldor that they had wanted to give their babies up for adoption, but were afraid that tribal government would interfere. So although they honestly didn't feel they were able to properly raise and nurture their babies, they felt that adoption wasn't an option. Instead, some of them contemplated abortion. ( Interestingly, tribal governments don't interfere in a mother's decision to abort.)

Nemmo is also ignoring the rights of the Latino birth mother in question - and ANY mother who chooses adoption for their child. The horrifying issue that is being ignored here is that while it's bad enough that enrolled mothers don't feel a freedom of choice in deciding what is best for their children, we also have a NON-Indian Mother, who was carrying a child with ONLY A TINY percentage of tribal heritage - and that mother and child's wishes were tromped on by tribal gov't. What a nightmare for any pregnant single mother contemplating adoption - that some minute amount of heritage could give a government the legal right to interfere.    

Beth Ward is the Author of the new book, "Dying in Indian Country." Purchase your copy at http://dyinginindiancountry.com/ and get it signed with a personal note, as well as $5 off the cover price ~