Silence About Conditions at Pine Ridge Reservation

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Jun 122017
 

by Thomas F. Sullivan

For generations, the residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation have lived with unemployment and poverty rates that have never been seen in the majority community even during the Great Depression.

According to an MSNBC Report on Pine Ridge on May 29, 2014, “Roughly four out of five residents are unemployed and well over half live in deep poverty…… Life expectancy is just 48 years old for men and 52 for women….. About 70 percent of the students will drop out of school before they graduate.”

That last statistic is especially troubling and is inconsistent with the claim frequently stated by tribal leaders that “Our children are sacred”.

According to that same MSNBC Report, “In a startling new draft report, issued in April 2014 by the Bureau of Indian Education which oversees 183 schools on 64 reservations in 23 states, focuses attention on BIE’s inability to deliver a quality education to its students. BIE schools are chronically failing. BIE operates ‘one of the lowest-performing set of schools in the country.’ During the 2012 – 2013 school year, only one out of four BIE-funded schools met state-defined proficiency standards and one out of three were under restructuring due to chronic academic failure…. BIE students performed lower on national assessment tests than students in all but one other major urban school district.”

Given these conditions which have persisted for generations as well as the almost total absence of any economic activity on the reservation, it is not surprising that there is a high level of dysfunction as well. This dysfunction is exemplified by the following health and social welfare measures:

* The infant mortality rate at Pine Ridge is one of the highest in the nation at 3 times the national average;
* The incidence of diabetes is 8 times the national average;
* Eight out of every ten people at Pine Ridge are alcoholics. Given this fact it is highly likely that most newborns on this reservation are born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), a severe developmental delay. Care of children with FASD requires an extended time commitment, great patience and resilience, none of which is in abundant supply in most reservation homes:
* Drug use and abuse, both prescription and illegal, is rampant;
* The teenage suicide rate is 150 percent of the national average. In the first 8 months of 2015. There were 19 completions by youth between the ages of 9 and 24 and more than 100 attempts by children from the same age group. Within the last week, a 12-year-old girl hanged herself on a tree behind the Sue Anne Big Crow Youth Center. Shortly before a 14-year-old boy recently completed, he was being counseled by one of his teachers. She told him that Lakota tradition teaches that a spirit set free by suicide is doomed to wander the earth in lonely darkness. “You don’t want that, do you?” His response was chilling, “Anything is better than here”.
* The level of domestic violence is at epidemic levels. In CY 2014 the Tribal Department of Public Safety prosecuted 470 cases of domestic violence. During the same period one of the Tribe’s domestic shelters reported they had responded to more than 1,300 cases of domestic violence:
* In CY 2016 there were 17 homicides on Pine Ridge, a rate 4 times the current homicide rate in the city of Chicago:
* For the last several years, the Pine Ridge reservation child protection staff has been investigating, relying on rigorous standards, every case of reported child sexual abuse and confirming, on average, 2 ½ cases per week for every week during each of those years. Considering that most estimates are that 10 percent or less of such abuse is ever reported, the seriousness of this level of child sexual abuse cannot be overstated.
* Research data are clear, children who are sexually abused are 2½ times more likely to attempt and/or complete suicide than children who have not been sexually abused.

On May 1, 2015, in the New York Times Ron Cornelius, the Great Plains Director of the Indian Health Service is quoted as saying, that “the recent suicides were an incredibly sad situation that IHS was committed to working with the tribe to address this heartbreaking problem.” It is not clear to me from the public record available to me just what the IHS has done to fulfill this commitment. At that time I was the ACF Regional Administrator in Denver and heard from friends on and around Pine Ridge, “There are a lot of ‘suits’ traveling to Pine Ridge. They are not meeting with anyone from the Reservation. They spend all of their time in a conference room talking with each other. They seem to make it a point to avoid any tribal members.”

However, former Pine Ridge Tribal Judge Saunie Wilson, in a power point presentation to a west coast conference on youth suicides in early 2017, described the 20 professionals sent to Pine Ridge by IHS to “solve” the reservation suicide epidemic in the following terms, “They had, No background checks, No licenses to work in South Dakota and No knowledge of reservation culture, mores or society.” Unfortunately, this is the same inept approach IHS used when there was a comparable burst of youth suicides on Montana’s Fort Peck Reservation several years earlier. I was invited by the Tribal Chair to sit in on the IHS meetings with Tribal staff as an impartial observer for the Tribe. As a result, I could observe what IHS was doing in response to the youth suicide burst on that Reservation. They were clearly not effective then. How could they believe they would be effective several years later?

On April 5, 2017, at a meeting of the Pine Ridge Tribal Law and Order Committee, the following statement was made by Richard Little Whiteman, a Council member and Chair of this Committee, “I haven’t seen this level of violence since the 1970s”. The Committee also heard reports that the number of law enforcement officers, once numbering more than 100 sworn officers, now was little more than 20, had the impossible task of policing a geographic area comparable in size to the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined 7 days a week, 24 hours every day.

What is especially puzzling is the deafening silence from both the media, those who by their titles and their government positions have direct responsibility to correct such problems and those who claim they are advocates working on behalf of the welfare of women and children.

For example, if either the city of Cambridge, MA or Berkeley, CA, each with a total population of approximately 100,000, had the same level of youth suicide completions as Pine Ridge, the following would be occurring:

1. There would be youth suicide completions just about daily in each of these communities.
2. There would not be enough curb space to park all of the media trucks providing a direct link to the community for their viewers. After all the media had ignored multiple detailed, factual reports about the dysfunction in these communities and predictions about what would follow from that dysfunction. Recognizing their prior error in not covering all of the dysfunction, media outlets were competing to provide the most offensive coverage. They characterized their coverage as “presenting the facts.”
3. Members of Congress would be convening hearings in these communities in an attempt to elicit some hints as to the cause of such dysfunction even though they had never mentioned these communities until the funerals began to be held when the dysfunction in these communities could no longer be ignored. Based on past experience the best that the local congressional delegation will be able to do is to appoint a study committee charged with reporting back on the cause of all the suicides within three years. No action would have to be taken to assist these communities until the study report was produced.
4. Advocates would be elbowing their way to get in front of any operating TV camera to push their unique solutions to such dysfunction even though they had not only known about the extreme dysfunction in these communities but they had also been silent about it until the funerals began.
5. State, county, and local officials would point at each other, claiming they had little or no responsibility to correct these problems. It was the responsibility of that “other guy” (whoever that unidentified person was) until federal funds were made available. Then the competition would be cut-throat. Each would cite their “expertise” on matters of this kind even though each had just established an extensive written record claiming they knew nothing about such matters in their efforts to avoid any responsibility (political punishment for refusing to deal with the dysfunction in their communities until the funerals began) for what was happening in these communities.
6. Federal officials whose organizations had been widely praised for formally adopting mission statements claiming they were responsible for the well-being of every citizen in their service area would initially deny any responsibility for such dysfunction, pointing at state, county or local officials as the parties responsible for addressing and correcting such behavior. When and if Congress appropriates funds to address and correct these problems, these same federal officials will distribute those funds without first establishing performance measures to determine the effectiveness of how these funds are spent. If the past is any guide, it will be several years before performance measures will be put in place.

If this is the response to the massive dysfunction and resulting epidemic of youthful suicides in communities like Cambridge or Berkeley, can anything better be expected at Pine Ridge?

Pine Ridge is a small, Isolated, rural community with little political power. They have been ignored and will continue to be ignored.

The sexual abuse of American Indian children should have resulted in a high-level commitment to stop the abuse once it had been uncovered years ago.

During the last two Administrations, I brought the twin epidemics of child sexual abuse and child/youthful suicides in Indian Country to the attention of the political leadership of the Administration for Children and Families and the Department of Health and Human Services with multiple, detailed, factual, written presentations. These presentations detailed the pervasive extent of the abuse, the long-term impact on the abused individuals, their families and the community at large and the substantial public cost of such abuse. They had no effect. It was as if they had never been read.

Until one is prepared to focus on and widely and continuously publicize the hypocrisy of those who know the facts and who deny or ignore them, thereby allying themselves with those who abuse children, nothing will be done to correct this barbaric situation. Until those who have chosen silence in the face of widespread child sexual abuse are publicly identified and shamed in all major media outlets for their alliance with sexual predators, attempting to stop the barbarism is a fool’s errand.

Thomas F. Sullivan is a former Regional Administrator for the Administration of Children and Families under the federal HHS.  He was forced out of his job in May, 2016, after defying his DC superiors by repeatedly reporting on child abuse on several reservations. 

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

From Elizabeth Morris, Chair of CAICW:

Watch this 20-minute video for more information concerning the ramifications of Native American heritage on Constitutional protections:

Does Podesta partake in “spirit cooking” and molestation of children?

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Nov 042016
 

These issues leave us speechless, not knowing if there is truth behind the conjecture. So until more information is available, we will simply show some of the emails that are being talked about.

Well…maybe we aren’t quite speechless.

We do know this: The woman inviting Tony Podesta and his brother John to what appears to be a very sick dinner – called “spirit cooking” – has a very disturbing history. One would think her displays of “performance art should have been a red flag for mental illness a long time ago.  There is no denying Marina Abramovic, who goes by the twitter handle that includes the numbers 666 in succession, dabbles in the spirit-cooking-imageoccult.

Here is an image. We are assuming it is part of her “art” – illustrating the significance of “spirit cooking.”

According to DC writer, Cassandra Fairbanks, “Abramovic is known for her often-gory art that confronts pain and ritual. Her first performance involved repeatedly, stabbing herself in her hands. The next performance featured her throwing her nails, toenails, and hair into a flaming five-point star — which she eventually jumped inside of, causing her to lose consciousness.

“During the next, she ingested a medication to treat people who are catatonic, which caused violent muscle spasms.

“Perhaps most famously, in 1974, Abramovic placed 72 objects on a table, including a rose, a feather, honey, a whip, olive oil, scissors, a scalpel — and a gun and a single bullet. Alongside the items was a sign informing the audience that the items could be used on her in any way that they chose.

“For six hours, she remained at the mercy of the audience, allowing them to do as they pleased. During that time, she was stripped, cut, and one audience member even held the gun to her head.

“What I learned was that … if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you. … I felt really violated: they cut up my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the audience. Everyone ran away, to escape an actual confrontation,” she later said of the performance.”

(http://wearechange.org/spirit-cooking-disturbing-podesta-email-yet-warning-graphic-content/ )

Seriously? She drew in sick people to watch her gore shows, then invited them to do nasty stuff to her, then feigns surprise? And even tries to make this a statement about people in general? This woman has needed either psychiatric help (or an exorcist) for a long time – but none of her “friends” – including Podesta or, as we are now hearing, Hillary, or Huma, cared enough about her to get her help.  They were enjoying her “art” too much.

Here is the email with the Podesta invitation to the Spirit Dinner. We will leave it to you to google just what a “Spirit Dinner” is.

Podesta invitation to dinner

In this Reddit posting three years ago, the ‘artist’ explains that her work is ‘art’ when done in a studio, but ‘occult’ when done at home…

reddit-occult-confession

Second subject of the day

Various other emails have people talking about pizza and hotdogs. Many readers wonder why these two items seem to be a favorite food among Podesta’s friends.  One email even states that Obama had paid tens of thousands of dollars to order in pizza and hotdogs from Chicago, and wondered if they could go through the same channels…

obama-chicago-pizza-and-hotdogs-65000

We have a right to be upset about this email. $65,000 in taxpayer money to fly in pizza and hotdogs from Chicago?  There is a new Wal-mart in DC, just a few blocks north of the White House.  There is also a deli – “Roland’s Deli” – down the road on Pennsylvania Ave.  We are sure that if pizza and hotdogs couldn’t be found at either of these fine places, there had to be somewhere in DC where they could.

So why fly these things in from Chicago, let alone at taxpayer expense. Other emails mention not caring what kind of pizza is obtained – just so that it doesn’t have “hair” in it this time.

Some people aren’t so sure it is children’s food that is being discussed. Some are worried it is something horrific. We know that Bill Clinton has had issues with sexual addiction for decades.  We know Anthony Weiner has a problem with sexual addition.  We know Huma and Hillary have been aware of their husband’s problem for a long time, but neither have seemed to have addressed it in any significant way.  Could it be that this behavior isn’t as abhorrent in their circle as it is to so many other Americans?

This email below invites Podesta to a pool party, and promises three children will be there for entertainment. Do they mean that they are funny, fun kids… or that they have a singing routine?  It may be as simple as that – but lots of people no longer trust the Clintons or their co-horts.  Trust simply does not exist, and people are ready to believe the worst.

…yet, if someone is willing to play with the occult, the possibility of worse does in fact exist.

Podesta email pool-party-with-children

 

Finally – (at least in this post) – some might remember a Laura Silsby, who attempted to take children from Haiti and was arrested for child trafficking, along with members of an Idaho church.

The Church members were freed after a short time. They were along for the ride, having believed everything Silsby told them, and knew nothing about what was really going on. Silsby did not have the paperwork she needed, despite having been told repeatedly that she needed it. The attorney representing Silsby, as it turns out, had been involved in child trafficking in the past.  Did she ingratiate herself to the church as a cover?

Something wasn’t right.  Maybe there is a lot more to this kind of thing than any of us naive bystanders will ever really know.  At any rate – here is a list of Hillary’s involvement with Ms. Silsby –

 

concerning-laura-sibley-2016

As we know…Hillary Clinton doesn’t normally help people out of the goodness of her heart. She requires a payment.  So why the interest in this ‘Church woman’ from Idaho?

Clearly we don’t have answers to any of the many questions.  There are so many scandals involving the Clinton’s, if there were anything to be concerned about in these emails, they could only be added to the pile.

We pray the FBI does its job this time, investigates thoroughly, and brings clear answers to America – as well as indictments if necessary.

 

 

Women Pushing Back

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May 182016
 

Many women do not feel comfortable in ‘transgender’ bathrooms.

– Many women who have been raped do not feel safe in ‘transgender’ bathrooms.
– Many women who were sexually abused as children do not feel safe sending their daughters into “transgender” bathrooms.
– Many, many women feel offended and abused by politicians, media and corporations who claim they MUST accept and live with it.

We are offended by powerful entities determined to shove their personal priorities down everyone’s throats – no matter what the consequences.

Can anyone give good advice as to how a mother of several children – boys and girls – is supposed to handle her daughter’s needs at a shopping center? Is she to shepherd them all into the girls bathroom so she can keep an eye on her daughter instructing her boys to stay next to the door where she can keep an eye on them as well?

Yes – times have changed and we can no longer handle daily life in the same easy manner we felt we could in the 1960’s. But do these large corporations that are shoving their outlandish demands at us not stop and think for a moment as to how many – if not most – women genuinely feel about it?

No – several have announced they are boycotting North Carolina for having passed a law designed to protect the emotional and physical needs of women and children in the state.

  • Do modest women and mothers not matter at all anymore to Deutsche Bank, Apple, Starbucks, Kellogg’s, Yahoo!, PayPal, Bruce Springsteen or Ringo Starr?
  • Do hurting, victimized women and mothers not matter at all anymore to Deutsche Bank, Apple, Starbucks, Kellogg’s, Yahoo!, PayPal, Bruce Springsteen or Ringo Starr?
  • Do they understand that a woman’s restroom is place where women go to partially disrobe behind a flimsy door – and some previously victimized women already feel anxious and vulnerable in that position just as is?

No – for some reason, only the emotional and physical needs of trans-gendered men is of importance to these persons in leadership.
What I am guessing – (as I have never seen it fully explained) – is that the problem comes when a man dressed as a woman needs to use a man’s bathroom. From what I can gather, men are not very receptive to men in dresses and there is some perhaps understandable fear for a man to enter a man’s bathroom in a dress.

Apparently – many of our male media, politicians, entertainers, and corporate moguls understand that dynamics. Perhaps they have witnessed things in men’s bathrooms that women haven’t witnessed.

Perhaps that is why they are dismissing our sense of danger when they feel it is the trans-gendered man they are protecting from danger.
Be that as it may – they don’t understand the dynamics of a woman’s bathroom. They are totally ignoring, downplaying and dismissing the intrinsic views and discomfort of most women – not to mention the very real and poignant fears of many others. Some women will choose to do anything but use a public restroom anymore.

…Women – it seems you need to get over it, because apparently this man cannot. For some reason – his emotions are snow-flake, and yours are merely the product of feminine drama, childishness, immaturity, and hatefulness.

Talk about misogyny. Again – here is evidence that the ‘war on women’ comes primarily from the left.

Needless to say – I am no longer a fan of any of the above boycotting entities. The size and prominence of some of them in daily business makes them difficult to avoid, but not impossible. Fortunately, I do not own any Apple products and have never been a Starbuck’s regular. I can work on eliminating the rest of the boycotters from my life. I can switch my allegiances to corporations and entertainers that respect women.

It is not only insane but unconscionable that the potential for feeling offense by a very small number of people should put millions of others into this unarguable position of offense and extreme discomfort – if not danger.

What on earth is going on with our nation and world. Insanity reigns.

 

‘Women Pushing Back’ is a new Facebook community supporting Women offended by ‘transgender’ bathrooms, mothers standing up for the safety of their families, Grandmothers fighting for morality & sanity, and any other person fed up with what has been happening to our country over the last decade. If we want our communities to remain within the boundaries of sanity and reality, we must fight for it.

https://www.facebook.com/WomenPushingBack/

Our world has gone nuts

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May 142016
 

Our world appears to have gone crazy. Those wishing to remain within the boundaries of sanity and reality must fight for it, as well as for our children.

Many of us in America are at a loss to understand how our world has gotten so crazy so quickly.  What has been known for centuries to be right and good is now, suddenly, in the last twenty years been turned the opposite.  What all have known to be evil is now considered good – and what has been good is now said to be evil. Darkness takes the place of light, and light for darkness. Bitter is now ‘sweet’ – and sweet is exchanged for bitter.

sBrothers and Sisters – stand fast for what you know to be true. Stand strong for what you know to be good and right for your children and grandchildren. And when you have done all – continue to stand.

You are not the crazy one.

Unfortunately – it is not just our worldview and way of life that is under attack.  Christians around the world are being persecuted and even murdered – crucified, church’s blown up, heads cut off –  simply because they acknowledge Jesus is Lord and Messiah.

None of us know where the current persecution of Christians and Jews across the world is headed.  But most of us realize we are just at the beginning of whatever is coming.

In the 1930’s, a European government began pushing new laws and world view upon its people.  Many – in their hearts – recognized the evil.  Further, contrary to popular belief, many citizens did not agree or go along with it.  Many, unfortunately, died in their efforts to stop the evil.

Praise God – although that evil government went on to torture and murder millions – they did not prevail with their intention to take over Europe and then the world.  They did not go on to murder millions more.

They were stopped. And if we care at all for the world and our children – it is incumbent on us all to stand in the gap – stand strong – and stand up for what is right and good. …and having done all, to stand firm.

 

For more encouragement and information, visit “Women Pushing Back” on Facebook….

https://www.facebook.com/WomenPushingBack/

 

 

 

Heitkamp feigns surprise over abuse of kids on rez

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Jun 152015
 

June 15, 2015

On June 10, 2015, the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing “Addressing the Need for Victim Services in Indian Country.” We agree ALL assault victims in the U.S need help, however we disagree the solution is more funding to tribes.

The adage—the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results applies. Crime and corruption thrive with funding and lack of accountability.

Hearing testimony:

1) One rape or child sexual abuse reported every other day on some reservations.

2) Violence accounts for 75% of the deaths of Indian children between 12 and 20.

3) Many leaders/social workers contribute to the abuse

Senator Heitkamp says she is “horrified”—though she’s been told numerous times over years and admits she saw the same stats in the 90s as AG. Her solution: additional funding to tribal governments.

The Senate Committee and BIA have long been aware of well-documented and rampant sexual abuse and youth suicide on reservations. Yet, Senator Heitkamp claims we must figure out why NA children are disproportionately placed in foster care.

Rampant reservation crime thrives with ‘tribal sovereignty.’ Many CAICW members abandoned rez life because of crime and corruption. According to the U.S. census 75% of tribal members do NOT live in Indian Country. Despite claims of tribal leaders, many reject their version of what’s culturally relevant and necessary.

Despite the mass exodus from the rez, Federal government continues to back tribal leaders who claim to speak for everyone, and supports tribal sovereignty at all costs —particularly the cost of our children.

Insist politicians put children first. Tribal “leaders” do NOT speak or know what is best for everyone of heritage. Handing additional funding and control to corrupt tribal leaders IS NOT the best way to help victims.

 

 

To Those who Love an Indian Child hurt by ICWA –

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Jun 072010
 

 – I am one of those –

 – that person you are afraid of.  That person with whom children were placed, not because I could handle them, not because I even knew them …

In fact, my abilities, emotional stability, and character were never a factor at all. My husband was their grandfather. That’s all that mattered. No one from the tribe or the court ever talked to me about whether I could handle four more kids on top of my own five.  No Guardian Ad Litem called to chat.  No one seemed to care whether I could do this or not.

The Tribe did finally send a couple women over to do a “home study,” but that was a good year or more after they had already placed the kids with us. That was the first, and last, time anyone checked on our home.

And they didn’t even check the bedrooms. If they had, they would have discovered that not all the kids had their own beds. In fact, not all the kids even had bedrooms. We used two of our shops storage rooms for some of the kids.

No, the two tribal “social workers” who flew in from another state and who we were told would spend two days with us, chatted with my husband for about an hour, then asked how to get to a local attraction. They were anxious to get started with their paid vacation.  We were happy to give them directions and be finished with the faux “home study.”

That was it. Never saw them again.

So…our family knows first hand what it takes to be one of our tribe’s “acceptable” Indian homes.

How did it turn out?  I’d like to say that we became the Brady Bunch. But it’s not that simple.

In some ways, at various points of time, we did great. There was love, laughs, and kindness, along with the stress, sibling rivalry, and melt downs. The four kids, all under 7 when they arrived, started calling us Mom and Dad, just as our first five did, and all the kids, most of whom were the same age, began referring to each other as brothers & sisters.

But our lives were far from story book (Or even TV series). The reality of the effects of alcohol exposure, crack exposure, and neglect on the four wove through all of our lives. It’s one thing if a family is trying to help one child get through this kind of storm. It’s quite another when one is trying to help four without training, support, or resources – while trying to raise your own five young children at the same time.

Yup. The tribe mandated the ICWA thing, and then left us hanging.

Why did I do it? Why didn’t I just say “No?” Again, because of ICWA. I had seen the conditions in which my husband’s nephews, nieces and other grandchildren were being made to live. I knew that even though I was on the edge of losing my mind, our home was still better and safer than any other that the tribe might choose. I couldn’t turn these four away to that kind of life. Believe it or not—as much as I felt like a basket case on my better days and the wicked witch on my worst, our home was truly the best these children would get in an ICWA placement.

And we had Jesus Christ to lean on, and a wonderful, loving, large church family. Without these, I truly might have lost my mind.

Three years after my husband was given custody, he was diagnosed with cancer.  Four years later, he passed away. Through all those hard years, church brothers & sisters practically carried us.

After he passed, though, is when real troubles began. It was as if a dam of emotions, pent up and waiting, suddenly exploded. Some of it was the grief of birth children, some the impulse of teen-agers. The hardest though, was the eruption of FAE angst and the familial predilection to alcoholism as children entered adolescence one by one.

Today the storm is over. Only four of the nine are still minors. At this point in our story, despite years of trying to teach the children the dangers of drugs, all is not well.

Just last week, I gave custody of one of the grandchildren to the county in order that he be able to get the mental health help that he needs, as well as for the protection of the other children still in the home. I did this because the two grandchildren that had thus far reached adulthood have returned to the birth family—as well as the destructive family lifestyle. I now needed to change how I was doing things in order to prevent the same outcome with this child.

I just wish I had fully realized years ago how necessary trained help was, so that the other two might have benefitted as well.  (By the way, through correct interpretation of the law, as we explained it to the judge, this particular custody transfer was deemed non-ICWA.)

Long story short—Contrary to the belief of Congress and one-sided, tribal government testimony, the “best interest of the child” does NOT require a relative placement or even an Indian placement.

As much as many tribal leaders want society to believe that all children of heritage are “theirs” and have a “connection” to tribal culture that will crush them if broken, it’s just not true. To some people such things matter, to others, it doesn’t.

My birth children and grandchildren, for example, would be crushed if forced to live on the reservation.  My Children may be 50% Indian, but they have been raised in much safer, loving communities than the reservation community in which they are enrolled.  Living on the reservation would have destroyed them.

Further, most children aren’t “just” Indian. Ours are also Irish, Scottish, German and even Jewish.  All their heritages are equally important.  Most children of tribal heritage have other, equally important heritages, and they are all US citizens who should be constitutionally given Equal Protection.  Meaning – contrary to common practice today, enrolled children should not be left in conditions that children of any other heritage would be removed from.  They are not mere chattel—a means for additional funding— for tribal governments.

Many children, after suffering abuse and neglect, need real help, and several tribal governments are negligent in that they place them into situations where they can not get it.

Time and again I have seen children placed by their tribe into violent, verbally, physically, and even sexually abusive, drug infested homes.  I have seen little or no attention given to the emotional and mental health issues these children have had. That isn’t to say that no tribal governments care—it’s just to say that I, having lived in this particular extended family for 30 some years, haven’t seen it.

ICWA, in all our family experience, is a crime against children. 

www.caicw.org

Shopping for even-handedness? It starts at home

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May 142003
 

May 14, 2003

I lagged behind my husband, looking at articles in the store aisle while he hurried to find what we had come for.   As I approached him, a saleswoman wove past him without a glance and strode straight toward me.  “Would you like to sign up for our optimum card today?” she asked smiling.

I knew what I had just seen, but one can’t always be certain.

“Sure,” I answered, having decided to play with her, “I’ll look at it.”  I quickly filled out the application, omitting my husband’s name.  When the woman had given me my card and moved on, I glanced around for my husband.  I saw him at the end of the next aisle and I approached him, stopping with some distance in between us.   Without a word, we knew what was on each other’s minds.  He shook his head, letting me know he wasn’t asked.   I indicated to him I was going to stay separated, and we’d see what she would do.

He moved up and down the aisles, passing her on several occasions.   She never looked at him.   I watched as she greeted all other customers with a big smile and welcome, quickly informing them of the cards benefits and helping them find a place to sit while they filled it out.   At one point as I wandered the store, she again greeted me warmly and asked if I was finding everything I needed.  She never said a word to my husband, the only tribal member in the store.

After twenty minutes, I asked him if he was ready to go.   “Just one more time,” he said, and went off down the aisle again to stand directly behind her.    She failed the test and ignored him completely.   He returned.   “If we didn’t need this right now, I wouldn’t buy it,” he said, as he handed our item to me along with the cash for the purchase.  “I’m going outside.”

I went to the person in charge and explained “if my husband isn’t good enough for your card, than neither am I.”   The man answered, “But I’ve given the card to several Natives today.  We don’t mind Natives.”  “Maybe you don’t,” I responded, but she does.”   I returned the card.  We wouldn’t be shopping there again.

My husband and I rarely cry “racism”. Most of the time we give people the benefit of the doubt.   A person can be having a bad day for any number of reasons and that may be the root of a moment’s rudeness. And many times an initial standoffishness toward tribal members has more to do with federal Indian policy and the untenable and divisive situations it has created in many communities than anything else.   One might equate it to the feelings existing in sibling rivalry, with father government favoring one son over another.   Usually that standoffishness dissolves once the ice is broken though, and is not an issue of hatred based on race.

I would like to take this time to remind those of us frustrated by federal and tribal government policies to keep in mind that it is inequitable, unconstitutional and destructive law that we are fighting, not tribal members themselves.   Although I know many in our organization are already aware of this, please keep in mind as you greet and meet your tribal neighbors that you have no idea what their individual politics are, and in no way should you ever assume they are connected to or supporting the inequities in federal Indian policy.  To be sure, many do not support it, and on many North American reservations the greater percentage of members have moved away rather than deal with tribal government.

But there is also a loftier character trait in which a person is able to be kind-hearted even toward political opponents.  Some of our group have attained that trait; it’s my prayer that we all might.