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. 

 

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From Elizabeth Morris, Chair of CAICW:

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

Standing Rock Chair Archambault Gives Surprising Answers in Interview:

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Jan 062017
 

“…Then I saw it just turn to where it’s ugly, where people are fabricating lies and doing whatever they can, and they’re driven by the wrong thing.”  

“I don’t want that pipeline to go through. I just don’t …want any kids to get abused, I don’t want any elders to get abused, I don’t want any rapes to happen. They don’t want any authority down there. What do you do then? Do I have to close it down with force?”

Q&A: David Archambault II, chairman of Standing Rock Reservation

With the protest at Standing Rock entering its eighth month of resistance, a lot can be said about the resolve of the water protectors and their mission. They have gained international media attention, defied corporate interests and are now weathering a harsh winter. With the support of outsiders and each other, and as long as Dakota Access Pipeline construction lights shine down from the surrounding hills, water protectors believe they have a reason to be there. In this interview, I sat down with David Archambault II, the chairman of Standing Rock Indian Reservation, to discuss what his role is and how people in Eugene can support their cause.

Standing Rock Indian Reservation—

Christopher Trotchie: What is the best way for people in Eugene to help?

Dave Archambault II: I get that question asked all the time, “What can I do?” and I don’t think there is one answer. Whenever they come and they ask, there is so much that can be done. … What we try to do is just put the information on what the tribe is doing because there’s so many different interest groups, and we have a website called Standwithstandingrock.net. And if it’s something like divest from banks that are funding this, or if it’s writing a letter to Congress, or writing a letter to the administration, or writing requests or asks to the company or whoever, we have some templates on there. When it comes to donations ⎼ the tribe didn’t ask for funds ⎼ but people want to give to the tribe, and we’re thankful for that. So we have a tab on the website where you can donate on there, or if you want to give to whoever, there’s 5,500 different GoFundMe accounts. You could fund whatever you want. What I tell people is, it’s up to you whatever you want to do; follow your heart. And that usually takes you in that direction that you need to go.

T: What do you think the general condition of the camp is right now?

DA: Well I haven’t gone down there lately, because when the first storm came, I asked everybody to leave. And the second I made that statement somebody else from Standing Rock made the statement “don’t leave.” And then there’s been a lot of criticism on me saying that I sold out, and that I have a house in Florida, and that I have another house in Bismarck, and that I received money. And none of that’s true, but it’s just how everybody has turned on me. So it makes me curious about [what people’s intention are]. What are they here for? When we had the decision made by the Corps of Engineers not to give an easement, and to do an [Environmental Impact Statement] and to consider rerouting ⎼ those were the three things that we’ve been asking for the last two years. … So the purpose of the camp was fulfilled, and we got what we wanted. I understand that it’s not over. This new administration can flip it, so what we’re doing now is trying to do everything we can to make sure that that decision stays, but even then it’s not guaranteed. Right now it’s dangerous ⎼ tomorrow we’re going to get 15 inches of snow, 55 mile an hour wind. It’s not safe at the camp. And from what people are telling me, there’s a lot of empty tents all over and a lot of trash, and if we don’t clean up, when the flood waters rise all that stuff is going to be in the river. So we’re going to, at some time, get down there and clean up.

T: What is the biggest misconception about you currently?

DA:  Just the perception that I’m not here for the fight is false and it’s wrong, and that’s kind of disturbing to hear all the fabricated lies about me when people don’t know me. People really don’t know who I am. And when somebody says something, and it’s believed and it’s passed on, it’s sad because we we’re the ones who started this whole thing. This tribe is the one who stepped up and filed the suit when we knew that we didn’t have a chance. We knew that the federal laws that are in place are stacked against us. They’re in favor of projects like [the pipeline], but we had to do it.

T: What is the impact of the protest on the tribe as a whole?

DA: On Standing Rock, we have eight districts. We have 12 communities. We have highways. We have our schools. We have ambulance services. And now because people choose to stay at the camp, we have to make sure that they’re out of harm’s way. So when the storms happen, we’re going to have a shelter here in Cannon Ball, and people are going to come. And they’re going to expect food, and they’re going to expect heat, and they’re going to expect blankets. So we provide that because it’s an emergency shelter. And then when the danger is gone, they stay there. They don’t leave. And the community says, “We want our gymnasium back.” … There’s really nothing going on. There’s no drilling going on. But they want to be there, and I think it’s because there was a good feeling when it first started. When we came together, tribal nations came together, and we prayed together, and we shared our songs, we shared our ceremonies. And it was a good strong feeling, but nobody wants to let that go. Nobody wants to move on. Those things that we learned from that lesson are things that we can take home to our communities and apply. We come from communities that are dysfunctional. We fight our own family, we fight each other’s families in the community, but what happened here was we were able to live without violence and without drugs or alcohol, without weapons. And we were able to do it with prayer and coming together. That lesson right there is something that we need to take back to our communities, but we don’t want to now. There are people down there that don’t want to leave. They think it is the greatest thing. But when you ask me ‘what’s the status,’ the things that I hear if I go down there, I don’t hear the good things anymore. I hear ‘this person did this,’ ‘they took this,’ and now I’m getting accused of doing that. So what we’re doing is bringing that dysfunction into something that was beautiful, and we’re letting the lessons slip through our hands. And we’re not learning. We’re hanging on to something that’s not there anymore. And so, I know that there’s a chance that this pipeline has to go through, but it’s not the end. It’s not the end of everything. We have to take the things that we learned, and accept it as a win. We have to take the processes, the policies, the regulations, the rules that are going to change because of what happened here, and take it as a win. Whether that pipeline goes through or not, I think we won.

T: How do you feel about the example that Standing Rock has set for other land struggles in the United States?

DA:This isn’t the first pipeline that anyone’s stood up to. This isn’t the first infrastructure project anyone’s stood up to, and I don’t think it is going to be the last. But it is something that we have to be mindful about though: if we’re going to take on the oil industry, it’s not going to be at the pipelines. We have to change our behavior, and we have to demand alternatives, and we have to start doing things different, and we have to stop depending on the government. This country is so dependent on oil. The whole nation is dependent on oil. If we want to fight these things, it’s not going to be where it’s being transported. It’s going to be at the source, and it’s going to be with the government.

T: Who is responsible for the camps?

DA:There’s never been anybody that was responsible. It was forever evolving from day one. The way it started was there were kids who said, ‘We don’t want this pipeline to go here.’ We don’t want oil in our water. So they ran from Wakpala to Mobridge over the Missouri River. They did it with prayer. Then the second thing that happened was a group of people got together in April and said we need to set up a spirit camp. So the first spirit camp was set up with prayer and then there was a ceremony, and in the ceremony individuals were identified to help with this. So when we had our first meeting, [there were] 200 people from Pine Ridge and 300 from Cheyenne River coming the next day. Where are they going to go? Where the spirit camp was set up was already bursting at the seams. … I brought the different groups together and I said, “We need to coordinate. We need to know what each other are doing.” Then they said I was colonizing them, and that I was trying to control them, trying to dictate to them because I was IRA government. It seemed like every time the Standing Rock Sioux tribe tried to help, we got bit. So you ask me who is running the camp down there? It’s whoever the people want to listen to and there is always someone who doesn’t want to listen. That is the disfunction. The good thing about the tribal government is [even] if the people don’t want to listen to me, it’s a role that everyone accepts. Down there, if someone does not accept it, [the leadership] will change. That is how it has been going. It’s been forever evolving from the first time we set up until today. Even now if I go down there, they’re not going to want to have anything to do with me because I asked them to leave.

T: Do you genuinely want people to leave the camps?     

DA: Yeah. There is no purpose for it. What’s the purpose?

T: There seems to be some concerns for safety in the camps; how should these concerns be addressed?

DA: I don’t want that pipeline to go through. I just don’t want anyone to get hurt, I don’t want anyone to die, I don’t want any kids to get abused, I don’t want any elders to get abused, I don’t want any rapes to happen. They don’t want any authority down there. What do you do then? Do I have to close it down with force?

T: I don’t know… Do you?

DA: No, I’m not going to do that.

T: Why not?

DA: I don’t want that. I don’t want Wounded Knee. I don’t want to fight my own people.

I tell you what, when I say stuff and when I do stuff, it feels like no one is behind me. And I feel like I’m the only one that thinks like this. I feel like I’m the only one that really understands, and it makes me question whether or not I’m Indian.

Am I Indian enough? How come I don’t want to be there? And how come I don’t want to put people’s lives on the line? How come I don’t want to think it’s okay for them to die? I must not be Indian. I must not be Indian enough.

What I saw happen was something that was beautiful. Then I saw it just turn to where it’s ugly, where people are fabricating lies and doing whatever they can, and they’re driven by the wrong thing. What purpose does it have to have this camp down there? There are donations coming, so the purpose is the very same purpose for this pipeline; it’s money. The things that we learn from this camp — the things that were good, that people are doing whatever they can to hold onto — are slipping through their hands at this moment. And I feel like no matter what I say or what I do now, because it flipped and it turned, I have to be really careful; because they will say that I’m trying to facilitate this pipeline. That’s the last thing that I want and I’ve always said that. … We were offered money; I don’t want money. We were offered that land; I don’t want that land. I don’t want anything. I just don’t want that pipeline. It’s symbolic if I can stay with that course. We are so close, but there is a chance that it could go through. If it goes through, I’ll be the worst chairman ever, and if doesn’t go through, I’m the worst chairman ever. So there is no win for me. I don’t want a win; I don’t want anything from this. What I see is something that is so symbolic it could change… We have a chance to change the outcome for once: the outcome of who we are as people. There is a real opportunity here, and that is what I want. That is what I’m hoping for, is that we take these lessons that we are learning and change the outcome of who we are and what we are about and the future of our people.

From http://www.dailyemerald.com/2017/01/05/2468239/

Our Note: Chairman Archambault: We understand the difficulty, angst, rejection, self-doubt and pain that can come with positions of higher office. Most leaders understand these feelings. Unfortunately, leaders are often required to make necessary decisions to lead people to the most beneficial and healthy outcome for the community. That is what the leader is there for. Leaders need to be men of strength and courage, who set aside the taunts of others and plow forward with wisdom and justice.  SO – – If you KNOW it has gotten ugly, and you KNOW children, elders and the community in general are being hurt by the protesters – SEND THEM HOME.

Org Digs up Proof that Buffet is Funding Anti-Pipeline Protests?

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Nov 232016
 

Big Green campaigns kill jobs and enrich Buffett 

Billionaire bankrolls anti-pipeline agenda and gets richer through secretive foundations

(THIS ARTICLE IS QUOTED FROM: http://www.cfactcampus.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/SandPiper_Resource_Sources.pdf)

“Opponents of the Sandpiper Pipeline Project across Minnesota have portrayed themselves as simply
being a home-spun coalition of family, student, hiker, and Native American grassroots activists.
It’s a nice fable. But it’s false.

In truth, according to new research conducted by CFACT policy analysts Ron Arnold and Paul Driessen, the anti-Sandpiper campaign is being funded and coordinated by a number of shadowy out-of-state
foundations and financiers – including the Tides Foundation and billionaire railroad tycoon Warren
Buffett. 1

Arnold and Driessen note that while some small local and state groups – such as Friends of the
Headwaters and Occupy Minnesota – are involved in this debate, these organizations have little money
or clout.

The true leader of the campaign against Sandpiper is in fact Honor the Earth, a Native American group
that wants “No more mines. No more pipelines.”4 It’s not incorporated and files no income tax reports of
its own.3 Instead, Honor the Earth is a “project” of the Tides Foundation 2, which also serves as its fiscal sponsor.

99% of Honor the Earth’s money – nearly $1.5 million – was funneled to it by out-of-state donors. 5
Honor the Earth is also sponsored by the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), another Native
group. However, Minnesota corporate records show no incorporation entry for the anti-pipeline IEN.
And only $120,000 of the IEN’s $2.2 million in tax-exempt foundation money came from inside
Minnesota. 6

In fact, behind these “grassroots” groups is a formidable $25 billion in foundation investment
portfolios.7

“That’s the real power behind the scenes: Out-of-state donor puppeteers who pull the activists’ strings,”
said Driessen.

The Tides Foundation is one of the biggest environmentalist donors. It is a massive, secretive San
Francisco operation created to hide the names of donors who want to block development.8
Our researchers also uncovered that Tides has given over $700,000 to Honor the Earth to oppose
development, particularly pipelines – first Keystone XL and now Enbridge’s Sandpiper pipeline, both of
which are potential competitors for oil-by-rail companies.9

Tides also gave over $670,000 to the Indigenous Environmental Network to oppose pipelines. 10

Amazingly, the Tides Foundation’s biggest donor is multi-billionaire Warren Buffett and his family.
Mr. Buffett is one of President Obama’s most important friends, advisors, and major campaign
contributors. At Buffett’s urging, and because of constant pressure from environmental and climate
activists, Obama vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline and is blocking other pipelines.

Warren Buffett’s interest in blocking pipelines like Sandpiper is likely financially motivated.
Most oil that isn’t shipped by pipeline is shipped by rail cars – like the BNSF Railway and Union Tank Car
Company, both of which are owned by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.

So it appears Minnesota’s anti-pipeline activists are, perhaps unknowingly, helping Warren Buffett
maintain his railroad’s oil transport operations, using their activism to help strangle competition from
Sandpiper and other pipelines.

“No wonder $30.5 million in Buffett money went to the Tides Foundation – which funds dozens of antipipeline
activist groups. His $30.5 million investment is generating billions in oil-by-rail revenues,”11
commented Arnold.

In an ironic twist, the Greens, by stopping the pipeline construction, may in fact be placing the
environment more at risk. This is because railroad tanker cars all too frequently have accidents, like the
horrible spill in Lac Magantic, Quebec, which caused huge fires that destroyed much of the town and
killed 54 people.12

These allegedly grassroots groups are actually part of a tightly orchestrated, generously funded antipipeline
campaign to help the vested interests of the oil-transporting BNSF Railway, its parent company
Berkshire Hathaway, and CEO billionaire Warren Buffett. It’s the Attack of Buffett’s Puppets.

“It may be a game for them, but they’re playing with lives, livelihoods, and living standards,”
commented Driessen. “They’re getting rich on the backs of poor and middle class families whose energy
costs are skyrocketing and whose families and communities are put at risk when companies are forced
to ship oil by less safe tanker trucks and rail tanker cars, instead of by modern pipelines,” he added.

Journalists, citizens, and political leaders who care about honesty and transparency need to ask:

• Why did “No more pipelines” Honor the Earth get over $700,000 from a San Francisco money-funnel
for Warren Buffet’s oil-by-rail fortune?
• Why are the anti-pipeline groups so secretive about their money and ties? What else are they
hiding?
• Why aren’t Minnesota’s news media, legislature, governor, and attorney general digging into this?
• Why aren’t they investigating the dangers of truck and rail oil transport, compared to pipelines?

Protesters who are ranting about Sandpiper, Keystone, and other pipelines must be asked:

• Didn’t anyone tell you you’re actually campaigning on behalf of the interests of Warren Buffett and
the Tides Foundation?
• Do you know who is really bankrolling and calling the shots in this anti-Sandpiper campaign?
• Are you happy to be working for pennies for oil-by-rail billionaires, helping them get even richer?
• Did you know you might be endangering American lives along these oil-by-rail lines through cities?

SOURCES:

  • Ron Arnold and Paul Driessen; Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money
    machine. Washington, DC: Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (2014).
  • William Walter Kay, “The American Environmental Movement – The American Counter-Movement
    Perspective,” April 2015, http://ecofascism.com/review38.html
  • Cory Morningstar, “Keystone XL: The art of NGO discourse – Buffet acquires the Non-Profit Industrial
    Complex,” [Part IV of The Keystone XL: Art of NGO Discourse series. See also Part l, Part ll, Part lll],
    http://theartofannihilation.com/keystone-xl-the-art-of-ngo-discourse-part-1v-buffett-acquires-the-nonprofit-industrial-complex/
  • and http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/12/keystone-xl-the-art-of-ngodiscourse-3/

Original research by Ron Arnold, Paul Driessen and the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow.

1 Warren Buffett funds Tides and its foundation and center and other entities through his family’s Novo
Foundation, of which he is the sole donor.
2 http://www.tides.org/impact/stories/show/story/single/title/honor-the-earth/.
3 Page 5 of a 12-page document titled “Tides Fiscal Sponsorship Services” explains the relationship
between Honor the Earth and Tides. http://www.tides.org/fileadmin/user/pdf/Tides-Fiscal-SponsorshipServices.pdf
4 http://www.honorearth.org/ 5 The proprietary database Foundation Search shows the following, which includes only the top 4 donors
(full list of 17 foundations and amounts available on request):

Search Criteria: Recipient name matches “HONOR THE EARTH”

buffet-and-pipelines

Grant Total: $1,423,568 # Grants: 55 # Foundations : 17
TIDES FOUNDATION SAN FRANCISCO California 24 $716,068
THE POSS FAMILY
FOUNDATION BROOKLINE Massachusetts 4 $230,000
THE FRANCES FUND INC NORTHAMPTON Massachusetts 4 $122,000
SURDNA FOUNDATION
INC NEW YORK New York 2 $100,000

Two grants totaling $20,000 came from Minnesota donors.

6 The proprietary database Foundation Search shows the following, which includes only the top 5 donors
(full list of 23 foundations and amounts available on request):

Search Criteria: Recipient name matches “Indigenous Environmental Network “
Grant Total: $2,183,750 # Grants: 65 # Foundations : 23

TIDES FOUNDATION SAN FRANCISCO California 24 $670,388
TRUE NORTH FOUNDATION GRASS VALLEY California 2 $363,000
JESSIE SMITH NOYES FOUNDATION INC NEW YORK New York 8 $250,000
ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION PRINCETON New Jersey 2 $182,950
BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF MINNESOTA FOUNDATION ST. PAUL Minnesota 3 $150,000

Three grants totaling $120,000 came from Minnesota donors.

7 ANTI-PIPELINE DONOR TOTAL ASSETS LIST.

BEN & JERRY’S FOUNDATION $4,926,500;
BRAINERD FOUNDATION $24,811,595;
CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS FOUNDATION INC $23,825,791;
COMMON STREAM INC $27,254,779;
COMPTON FOUNDATION INC $63,939,751;
DOLPHIN FOUNDATION INC $296,136;
DRT FUND $1,353,499;
EARTH ISLAND INSTITUTE INC $11,017,260;
FORD FOUNDATION $12,259,961,589;
HILL SNOWDON FOUNDATION $33,074,672;
JESSIE SMITH NOYES FOUNDATION INC $51,117,046;
KAPOR CENTER FOR SOCIAL IMPACT (MITCHELL KAPOR FOUNDATION) $39,930,915;
LANNAN FOUNDATION $223,074,452;
MARISLA FOUNDATION $49,580,734;
MAX & ANNA LEVINSON FOUNDATION $15,768,418;
NATHAN CUMMINGS FOUNDATION $444,987,710;
NEEDMOR FUND $26,800,943;
NORMAN FOUNDATION $26,290,573;
PANTA RHEA FOUNDATION INC $2,667,971;
PUBLIC WELFARE FOUNDATION INC $488,153,146;
ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION $10,173,403,442;
SCHERMAN FOUNDATION INC $121,038,255;
SILVER TIE FUND INC $1,518,649;
SURDNA FOUNDATION INC $929,596,379:
SWIFT FOUNDATION $58,156,067;
THE FRANCES FUND INC $18,166,203;
THE POSS FAMILY FOUNDATION $14,284,395;
THE SUSAN A. & DONALD P. BABSON CHARITABLE FOUNDATION $5,363,697;
TIDES FOUNDATION $150,545,700;
TITCOMB FOUNDATION $2,204,558.
TRUE NORTH FOUNDATION $2,981,527.
TURNER FOUNDATION INC $12,200,379.

Total $25,268,361,816

PROOF DOCUMENTS: IRS FORM 990 REPORTS ASSET PAGE GATHERED IN SEPARATE FILE.

8 Tides Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tides_%28organization%29

9 The proprietary database Foundation Search shows the following for Honor the Earth:

Search Criteria: Foundation name matches “TIDES”
Grant Total: $716,068 # Grants: 24 # Foundations : 1
TIDES FOUNDATION SAN FRANCISCO California 24 $716,068

10 The proprietary database Foundation Search shows the following for Indigenous Environmental
Network:

Search Criteria: Foundation name matches “TIDES”
Grant Total: $670,388 # Grants: 24 # Foundations : 1
TIDES FOUNDATION SAN FRANCISCO California 24 $670,388

11 The proprietary database Foundation Search shows the following for Tides:

Search Criteria: Foundation name matches “NOVO FOUNDATION”
Grant Total: $30,551,973 # Grants: 39 # Foundations : 1
NOVO FOUNDATION NEW YORK New York 39 $30,551,973

12 Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lac-M%C3%A9gantic_rail_disaster

DAPL: Is the Dakota Access Pipeline a threat to water quality and cultural resources?

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Oct 312016
 

If the reasons given for sustained protest don’t hold water, why are people flocking to Cannon Ball?

Fear of oil spills and cultural destruction is justified. On June 23rd of this year, 700 barrels of crude oil spilled from a pipeline near Ventura, California, threatening the Pacific Ocean. In July – an estimated 66,000 gallons of heavy oil, along with natural gas used to dilute it, spilled within 1,000 feet of the North Saskatchewan River in Canada, threatening the drinking water of several communities. And just this last Sunday, Oct 23, an oil spill in Oklahoma closed Seaway Pipeline for days. With this in mind, Standing Rock officials have a right to be concerned.

Unfortunately, America’s need for fossil fuels will not disappear overnight. Each of us uses fossil fuels in one form or another every day. Even on the Standing Rock reservation, families are filling their fuel tanks in preparation for winter. If there were suddenly no oil, many would suffer.

North Dakota’s oil industry also provides a living – feeding families – for untold men and women. Once obtained, that oil must get to the refineries one way or another. It will either be by truck, train, or by pipeline.  All three run risks of spillage – but pipelines run least risk, especially when laws are obeyed. Did Dakota Access Pipeline obtain permits legally?

All indications are they did. The ND Public Service Commission approved a siting permit in January, 2016 after doing a thorough survey. The Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), after their own survey, issued the final Environmental Assessment on July 25th. All told, the surveys covered the entire length of pipeline in North and South Dakota, and much of Iowa and Illinois.  Yet, on July 27th, 2016, ‘Earthjustice’ and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Government sued the Corps.

After reviewing all the records, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg noted that “The plotted course almost exclusively tracked privately held lands” and “tracks both the Northern Border Gas Pipeline, which was placed into service in 1982, and an existing overhead utility line. In fact, where it crosses Lake Oahe, DAPL is 100% adjacent to, and within 22 to 300 feet from, the existing pipeline.  Dakota Access chose this route because these locations had already “been disturbed…making it less likely…to harm intact cultural or tribal features.” Additionally, not only had Dakota Access identified historic properties through the help of federal, state, and tribal entities, it even gerrymandered the pipeline to stay a safe distance away. (STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBE v. U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS. )

Judge Boasberg also noted, “…only 3% of the work needed to build the pipeline would ever require federal approval of any kind and only 1% of the pipeline was set to affect U.S. waterways….” and for several months, attempts to work with Standing Rock were either rebuffed or ignored. It wasn’t until Spring, 2016 that at least seven meetings were held between the Corp and Standing Rock officials.

At the request of tribal officials at these meetings, “the Corps committed to double-walled piping” which involved a pipe carrying oil inside another pipe with liquid between and valves that initiate a shutdown in the event of a leak. Getting the Corps to commit to double-walled piping was wise of Standing Rock officials, which should have already been part of DAPL’s plan.

In March, 2016, Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault acknowledged that the Corps had made strides and indicated meetings were productive. “Yet, at the end of April, Chairman Archambault formally objected to a determination to proceed, stating, “To date, none of our request for consultation or Class III Cultural Surveys has been honored.”

After reviewing all the documentation, the Court denied the Plaintiff’s motion on September 9, 2016, concluding “the Court scrutinized the permitting process here with particular care. Having done so, the Court must nonetheless conclude that the Tribe has not demonstrated that an injunction is warranted here.”

Minutes later, despite documentation the Corps acting in good faith and court rulings, the Department of Justice, Department of Interior, and Department of the Army refused further construction on Corps land adjacent to Lake Oahe.

The current administration chose to ignore the law, and the tribal government and its supporters have chosen to obscure facts, escalate the tension, and destroy private property.

According to witnesses, the reports spread concerning private security forces with dogs attacking protesters were not true.  Protesters broke into a fenced off area, and one took a fence post and hit a dog on the side of the head with it. The blood on the dog’s mouth was its own, and was treated at a local veterinary hospital.

On October 9th, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled – again on the basis of documented good faith of Dakota Access, North Dakota officials and the Corps – to finish the pipeline up to Lake Oahe until the Obama Administration allows the final easement to proceed.

On Oct. 20, Congressman Kevin Cramer, Chairman Archambault, U.S. Corps of Engineers Commander Col. John Henderson, SRS Tribal Historic Preservation Officer John Eagle, other specialists walked the property to see and discuss the resources together. Two rock formations of concern to the tribe were partially covered with dirt and even though archaeologists disagreed on whether they were significant, the company agreed to secure those areas. Chairman Archambault believes there are burial sites in the area, but no one knows for certain and there are protocols if unknown artifacts are found.

Disagreement aside, the group respectfully listened to each other. Congressman Cramer later stated the site examination was “an invaluable relationship-building experience that helped us better understand North Dakota’s cultural landscape.  I believe those of us on all sides of the Dakota Access Pipeline issue benefited from walking together and sharing our expertise, experiences and expectations…And, I am certain…the Corps of Engineers will feel confident it has the adequate affirmation to issue the final easement…”

But if the two identified formations, significant or not, are out of the line of danger, and there is agreement to use double-walled piping – what is the continued purpose of the protests?  We don’t really know.

Witnesses state that out-siders coming from other areas of the country are “very belligerent and threatening of local farmers and ranchers in the area.” One farmer asked police to accompany the school bus to pick up and drop off their children to and from school. Law enforcement officers are stretched to the max, and officers from other cities have volunteered to come help. According to the Morton Country Sheriff’s Public Information Officer, the protests cost $500,000 a day for the state and Morton county combined. Morton County has spent $3 million and the State has spent $7 million since the end of September. Further, 126 were arrested on Saturday. Of the 246 people arrested at the initial date of this writing – 223 were not from ND. Only 9% of those arrested are from ND.

Morton Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier stated local residents are  “Afraid to go places,” but “have to get their fall work done.” Cars going 65 mph on Hwy 1806 need to suddenly come to a stop when people decide to block the road. Even if people are on the sides of the road are frightening, as locals are uncertain whether someone will step out. People from out-of-state have walked around the area in what feels to locals is a threatening manner. Local ranchers feel intimidated. Teachers on their way to work have felt threatened by apparent road-rage of strangers.

On October 15, one horse and four cattle were found shot to death. On Oct 18, the North Dakota Congressional delegation came together and issued a bi-partisan press release denouncing the unlawful butchering of livestock near the protester camp. “U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp, John Hoeven, and Congressman Kevin Cramer today called for federal resources to support the efforts of Morton County law enforcement to keep tribes, ranchers, workers, and their property safe.”

UPDATE Nov 14, 2016: Standing Rock ranchers struggle to keep buffalo alive amid N.D. pipeline protests – Washington Times reports several Standing Rock members want the protesters to leave. 

Protesters then moved to private property east of Hwy 1806 and established a “no surrender line.” When Sheriff Laney asked them to move back to the main site, they refused. When told law enforcement must enforce the law, a man threatened, “there are young men willing to cause issues” and “This is what you are going to bring on by your actions.” dapl-burning-tires-pipeline-protest-oct-2016

On October 27, the police went in to remove the protesters, who were burning mounds of tires, sending noxious fumes into the air.  Before the protesters could be moved, they also set on fire several pieces of heavy machinery and one woman shot at police. The police did not return fire, but did what they had to do to move hundreds of unwilling protesters and arsonists. 141 people were arrested.

Apparently, the local ranchers and police aren’t the only ones who would like the protesters to stop.  Many members of Standing Rock feel the same way.  Some, in fact, just want the protesters to go away.  

So What is REALLY Going on?

Why – if all have agreed that no cultural resources appear in danger, double-piping is assured, and the pipeline is following an already “used” route through the area – are protests not only continuing, but are growing? With so many issues of corruption today, we have to ask if other things are going on.

The fact is, Standing Rock and other Reservations have been in the oil business for a long time. There is substantial evidence that income from oil and gas drilling is not new to the Standing Rock Reservation.

And contrary to the en-flamed rhetoric of Jesse Jackson, who claimed DAPL is “the ripest case of environmental racism” he has seen in a long time, and that the pipeline isn’t running through Bismarck, ND, because their “residents don’t want their water threatened” – pipelines already DO run through Bismarck, as well as most of the major cities in South Dakota. It has nothing to do with heritage. Not only do pipelines already cross major population hubs, but oil and gas pipelines cross the Missouri River numerous times as well.

Further, according to reporter Rob Port, “the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation have profited enormously from the oil boom in North Dakota.”  – to the tune of millions of dollars.

Port is right. In 2014, the Fort Berthold Reservation, about 120 miles north of the DAPL protest site, started building a “transload facility, the first part of the Three Affiliated Tribes’ Thunder Butte Petroleum Services Inc. refinery projects, which will transport Bakken crude to market,” according to their former Chairman, Tex Hall. In fact, the refinery is named Thunder Butte,”for one of the most sacred buttes on the Fort Berthold Reservation.”

Oil produced on Fort Berthold accounts for 20 percent of oil production in the Bakken, Hall said. The Mandaree area leads the way as the highest producing zone.

“There are 640 wellheads on the reservation.” and “wellhead numbers are projected to peak at about 3,000. About 150,000 barrels are produced on the reservation per day. That number is expected to reach 175,000 barrels per day,” according to Hall.  These fracking wells will use water from Lake Sakakawea (part of the Missouri river) for refinery, extraction and byproduct, and feed downstream to Lake Oahe.

Yet – neither the Standing Rock tribal government nor the “water protectors” protesting the DAPL have said a word against Fort Berthold’s oil industry. Even more interesting, Fort Berthold has recently signed on as supporters of NoDAPL as well.

With the disingenuous yet emotionally effective propaganda concerning this particular pipeline growing worldwide, it is getting increasingly difficult for some to speak against it, even when faced with real facts.

So who is pushing the propaganda?

It is hard to say. In 2011 it was estimated George Soros has given at least $3.5 million to the Tides Center, which currently supports the Standing Rock protests. Further, a 2014 Toronto Sun article written by Ezra Levant revealed the Tides Foundation had paid $55,000 to Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam to oppose the development of oil sands in Canada.

Both Soros and Warren Buffet appear to have invested heavily in derailing the Keystone pipeline, which would have by-passed their holdings in getting oil from Canada south to the refinery. Soros has invested in a Brazilian oil field, while Buffet owns the railroad that would transport ND Balkan oil to the refineries. Some say they are also invested in companies that build rail cars and chemical companies that make products to mix with extracted crude. This is not the work of environmentalists.

UPDATE: Research Org Publishes Financial Connection Between Buffet and Pipeline Protests

According to Port, “It makes you wonder how much opposition to energy development, not to mention energy infrastructure…is authentic as opposed to manufactured noise…” We agree. This isn’t the first pipeline to be protested by supposed environmentalists.  It’s just the one to have gotten the most world-wide attention. Whether it has been Soros or Buffet behind the varied protests over the last few years – or whether some other powerful opponent – questions of big money behind fighting oil pipelines abound. Investors Business Daily had suggested in 2015 that Russia was involved with fighting the Sandpiper pipeline.

Sadly, there has been a lot of information about what is going on at Standing Rock that has not been reported outside of North Dakota.  After watching major media spend months hiding and spinning government corruption, then watching major media spin the pipeline into a one-sided story, many are left feeling we truly only have a voice if ‘powers that be’ allow it – and they only allow it if it benefits their agenda.

There ARE many good people at the protest who came with genuine intention to do good for Standing Rock and the environment.  They simply haven’t been told all the true facts.  Then there are some at the camp with no agenda at all – being at Standing Rock is simply an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, spend time with friends, and be part of something big.  Still others are there with an unknown agenda.

Big money aside, Bruce Ellison, an AIM attorney who has been implicated in the murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash and who repeatedly pled the 5th when questioned before a grand jury, is also there assisting the protesters. You can read more about AIM and company here.

Those who choose to donate to the Standing Rock camp need to be aware who all they are donating to.

Our hope is that all the people concerned about the well-being of children at Standing Rock would be as concerned about the following:

Tribal governments and their supporters have been documenting rampant sexual and physical abuse of children on many reservations.  The documentation is solid and has been so for at least two decades. Despite many hearings, reports and billions of dollars, the situation appears to be only getting worse. There are various practical reasons this could be occurring – but heritage and history are not among them.  You can read the documentation of the abuse here – and make your own decision as to whether an additional pipeline over the Missouri River is more of a threat to children than the high levels of abuse tribal entities have self-reported. Read the documentation – and make your own decision about what you, as a concerned and caring community member, can do about it.

Congressman Cramer stated in a constituent letter concerning the Dakota Access pipeline, “I pray for the safety of all those involved and a peaceful resolution.” We agree and pray with you, Congressman Cramer.

 

 

Additional information about where pipeline funding might be coming from: 


 

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/08/16/money-talks-from-ferguson-to-unrest-overseas-new-reports-reveal-soros-influence.html

ArchiveGrid : Grant and Proposal Files, 1970-1986. – WorldCat

These institutions’ programs concerned Native American students and … church body officials; American Indian Movement officials; and directors and other staff … was founded in 1970 through activities of the Lutheran Church and Indian People … Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (joined in 1978), and Latvian …

Indian Movement does not speak for the American Indians. … government and from a variety of religious organizations, Catholic and Protestant. … and by the churches has been used to radicalize the Indians, to stage confrontations like … Contrary to the representations of AIM in soliciting these funds, they have not been …

 

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.

 

 

President Obama, Senator Heitkamp, and Standing Rock

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Jun 072014
 

June 7, 2014

Concerning the upcoming event featuring President Obama and Senator Heitkamp at the Standing Rock Reservation on Friday, June 13th:

North Dakotans are a gracious and forgiving people and will politely welcome the president to our wonderful state.

However, before he gives his speech concerning the wonderful “Nation to Nation” relationship he has with tribal leaders and announces what further moneys and authorities he will bestow upon them – he needs to learn facts from those whom his edicts directly affect.

  • According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75% of tribal members DO NOT live in Indian Country – and many have deliberately taken their children and left in order to protect their families from the rampant crime and corruption.
  • The abuses at Spirit Lake here in North Dakota are well known, but it is also known that Spirit Lake is just a microcosm of what’s happening on reservations across the country.
  • These abuses are rampant on many reservations because the U.S. Government has set up a system that allows extensive abuse to occur unchecked and without repercussion.
  • Many, many times more children leave the reservation system in the company of their parents, who have mass exited – than do children who have been taken into foster care or found a home in adoption.  But tribal leaders can’t admit parents are consciously taking their kids out of Indian Country in attempt to get them away from the reservation system and corrupt leaders. It makes a better sound bite to blame it on evil social services

President Obama, please listen to those who do not have a vested financial interest in increasing tribal government power, and learn about the physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of tribal members by other tribal members and even many tribal leaders.

STOP supporting corrupt tribal leaders and corrupt systems and pretending all is okay in Indian Country.

Every time power to tribal leaders is increased, tribal members – U.S. citizens – are robbed of civil freedoms under the constitution of the United States.

More power given to tribal leaders means less freedom, safety and constitutional rights for tribal members.

Horrible Child Abuse STILL Happening on Spirit Lake Reservation!

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Feb 232013
 

February 23rd, 2013

A HORRIFIC report just leaked to us: Thomas Sullivan, Regional Administrator of the Denver Office submitted this to the DC office of Administration of Children and Families just this morning –

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

This is my Twelfth Mandated Report concerning Suspected Child Abuse on the Spirit Lake Reservation. It is being filed consistent with the Revised Guidelines approved by the Attorney General.

It has been more than 8 months since I filed my first report. In that time neither my sources nor I have seen any evidence the more than 100 children cited in these reports have been moved into safe placements. Most of those children remain in the full time care and custody of known sex offenders, addicts and abusive families.

Nor have we seen any indication of any effort by law enforcement to investigate, indict or prosecute the adults who have been credibly accused of being physically and sexually abusive to more than two dozen children.

In these 8 months I have filed detailed reports concerning all of the following:

  1. The almost 40 children returned to on-reservation placements in abusive homes, many headed by known sex offenders, at the direction of the Tribal Chair. These children remain in the full time care and custody of sexual predators available to be raped on a daily basis. Since I filed my first report noting this situation, nothing has been done by any of you to remove these children to safe placements.
  1. The 45 children who were placed, at the direction of Tribal Social Services (TSS), BIA social workers, BIA supervised TSS social workers and the BIA funded Tribal Court, in homes where parents were addicted to drugs and/or where they had been credibly accused of abuse or neglect. Since I filed my first report noting these placements, nothing has been done to remove these children to safe placements. I trust the Tribal Court, with the recent resignation of a judge who failed a drug test, will begin to be responsive to the children whose placements they oversee.
  1. The 25 cases of children most of whom were removed from physically and sexually abusive homes based on confirmed reports of abuse as well as some who still remain in those homes. Neither the BIA nor the FBI have taken any action to investigate or charge the adults in these homes for their criminally abusive acts. Many, of the adults in these homes are related to, or are close associates of, the Tribal Chair or other Council members.

Since I filed my first report detailing these failures to investigate, charge, indict, prosecute those adults, my sources and I have observed nothing to suggest this has changed. Those adults remain protected by the law enforcement which by its inaction is encouraging the predators to keep on hunting for and raping children at Spirit Lake.

When was the last time the US Attorney indicted a child rapist at Spirit Lake? How many child rape cases from Spirit Lake has he declined to prosecute during the last 18 months? How many Spirit Lake child rape cases have been prosecuted during those same 18 months?

  1. Several years ago several former Tribal employees (including Tribal judges, TSS staff and Tribal elders) filed a formal complaint about TSS and the Spirit Lake BIA when they met with BIA’s Regional Director in Aberdeen, SD. The Regional Director was provided with substantial documentation of the bases for their complaint against the BIA’s Spirit Lake Superintendent.

A week after returning from Aberdeen they saw this documentation in its original unopened package on the desk of the Spirit Lake BIA Superintendent. It remained there, unopened, unread and uninvestigated for several months before it was shredded.

Similar delegations met with the leadership of the state Department of Human Services, its Child Welfare Agency, as well as with the FBI. In each case comparable packages of documentation were delivered. Since nothing ever came of these efforts to correct the situation at Spirit Lake, it can only be assumed that this documentation sat on desks somewhere, unopened, unread and uninvestigated until it too was shredded.

Since I filed my first report detailing these efforts on the part of several concerned citizens to correct the situation at Spirit Lake, to stop the abuse of children several years before I filed my first report, nothing has been done to investigate the clear malfeasance of so many high level state and federal officials. This failure to act, to correct this situation allowed the rape and abuse of children at Spirit Lake to persist for years beyond when it should have been stopped.

  1. I believe the highest obligation and priority for every public official involved in this situation is to insure the safety of those children who were abruptly removed from safe, off-reservation placements and returned to on-reservation placements in many cases to the full time care and custody of known sex offenders where they were available to be raped daily as well as those children placed in unsafe homes in the care of addicts and abusers as a result of decisions made by BIA, TSS and the Tribal Court.

I have been instructed by the leadership of my agency that my beliefs do not reflect the policy position of either my agency or my department.

From what my sources and I have been able to observe the highest priority of the state, the FBI, BIA as well as other federal agencies has been to silence us, to label us as liars, as incompetents not qualified to identify the abuse of a child, to minimize the seriousness of this situation with their fabricated, self-serving claims. Among these claims are, “It’s a new problem”; “This problem arose because the Tribe lost the person responsible for filing their forms”; “If those whistleblowers would shut up everything would be fine”; “Everything is fine”; “They are making great progress”; “You are expecting too much progress too quickly”; “They are working hard.”;“It’s all fixed.”; “We’re doing a great job for kids” “You are not a subject matter expert”.

If that attitude was held by those who served on the Grand Jury that indicted Jerry Sandusky on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, there would have been no indictments. It would have been decided that neither McQueary, the janitors nor any of those victims were credible because Jerry would have told them that all of those witnesses were lying and they would have believed him.

If just a bit of the energy devoted to trashing us was used to assist the children of Spirit Lake, all of the 100 plus children might be in safe placements now. But it appears that agencies and those involved have taken a different path for reasons known only to them and their agencies leaving these children in the care and custody of addicts and predators. These actions track the same path followed by the leadership of both Penn State and the Catholic Church when these organizations sought to protect their institution’s reputation by covering up the rape of children.

  1. The BIA Senior Criminal Investigator (CI) at Spirit Lake is a thug who should be in prison if the domestic violence allegations made by his wife and other eyewitnesses are to be believed. Because none of you, not even those in the highest levels of BIA law enforcement in Washington, DC, have investigated his wife’s complaint, sought to speak either with her or those eyewitnesses, he walks free, a fine example of the integrity and professionalism of BIA. How will BIA comply with OPM’s recent directive on Domestic Violence when it is shielding a Domestic Violence thug from investigation and prosecution?
  1. There are an unknown number of undocumented children (it is estimated by knowledgeable sources that there are more than 40 children who are trapped in this situation) who are being cared for by Foster Parents who are not being paid for their care. For most, if not all, payment is not an issue. However, without birth certificates, court orders and other documentation these children cannot be enrolled in Head Start, pre-school, school or qualified for Medicaid. Neither the state, county social services, BIA nor TSS have been willing to assist these foster parents in obtaining the necessary documentation. Since the Tribe placed all of these children with these Foster Parents, it is especially disturbing that now they deny any responsibility for them. Why is the BIA collaborating with the Tribe in this abuse of power?
  1. On September 29, 2012 a 13 year old little girl was raped in her home by a 37 year old man. Law enforcement was called. The name and a description of the rapist was provided. No rape kit was collected. More than three weeks elapsed before the alleged rapist was interviewed. The little girl’s mother was told over the phone by FBI Agent Cima that the FBI had turned the case over to the BIA.

The BIA Senior Criminal Investigator (CI) called the mother to tell her that he had spoken with the alleged rapist who told him, “That girl wanted to have sex with me. What was I supposed to do?” The BIA CI then said, “Since the sex was consensual, there was no crime here and there will be no prosecution. This little girl contracted gonorrhea as a result of this rape.

It seems strange to me that the BIA CI ruled out the possibility of statutory rape in this case when the girl was so young and her rapist was almost 25 years older. It is even stranger that all of you accept without question the self-serving tale of a 37 year old rapist, “She wanted to have sex with me. What was I supposed to do?” Surely all of you have more brains than to accept that line.

  1. On September 27, 2012 I filed a formal complaint against FBI Special Agent Bryan Cima due to his interference with my responsibilities as a Mandated Reporter of child abuse This filing was done consistent with instructions we received from the Grand Forks, ND FBI office. Since I have not been contacted by anyone asking for additional information concerning my formal complaint, I can only assume, given their complete disregard for this complaint, that the USDOJ and FBI view it as even less important than the eleven mandated reports I have filed.
  1. The BIA, for several years, has been conducting annual reviews of the Spirit Lake TSS with each succeeding review producing lengthier and lengthier lists of deficiencies requiring correction. The last one completed almost a year ago, produced a list of 75 deficiencies, most so serious they required immediate correction according to the BIA reviewers. To my knowledge none have been corrected.
  2. Five months ago on September 20, 2012, Hankie Ortiz, Deputy Bureau Director of BIA’s Office of Indian Services was quoted in the NY Times article about Spirit Lake saying, “the news media and whistleblowers had exaggerated the problem. This social services program has made steady progress.” Since I specifically asked Ms. Ortiz in my Sixth Mandated Report on October 30, 2012 to provide detail about how those of us who have been speaking out about the epidemic of child sexual abuse at Spirit Lake have “exaggerated the problem”, she has provided nothing to substantiate her lying, self-serving claims.

Apparently she has now taken a vow of silence. That vow makes good sense because six weeks after she was quoted in the NY Times, the Tribal Chair directly contradicted her fabricated defense of BIA. The Tribal Chair in a General Assembly meeting said in response to questions from an enrolled member that there were no lies in my reports and that he could not document any improvement in the condition of the children I had cited in my reports. Now, five months after her claim of “steady progress” neither my sources nor I have seen anything that would pass for “progress”.

  1. A little girl, who on the first day of pre-school gave an aide an accurate and detailed description of what was involved in giving a blow job, was removed from her home due to physical abuse. When evaluated at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Grand Forks, ND, the specialist there determined that she had also been sexually abused and required immediate intensive therapy.

Since the Tribe would be required to pay for the therapy the Foster Parents had to get approval from TSS. They were turned down initially and at least once a month for the last six months because as the TSS case worker said, “If I approve this request for therapy, I will be fired in the morning as soon as the Tribal Council learns of it.” (The Catholic Archdiocese in Los Angeles, CA followed a similar policy not so long ago so that pedophile priests were not allowed by the Church to go to therapists who were required by law to report the sexual abuse of children by their clients to law enforcement).

This little girl is the granddaughter of a convicted sexual offender who also serves on the Tribal Council. Since the BIA has taken over all responsibility for TSS activities at Spirit Lake, why is BIA preventing this little girl from getting the therapy she desperately needs? How many other Spirit Lake children is the BIA preventing from receiving the therapeutic services they need in order to recover from the abuse they have suffered?

  1. I understand two young children (two and three years of age) who had been removed from their homes in late December, 2010 and were evaluated at the nationally recognized Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Center at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine in Grand Forks, ND during the late winter of 2011 and were diagnosed with severe developmental delay – they did not and could not speak, they did not understand simple words, they acted as though they had never seen a toy and had no idea what to do with them. Their only form of interaction was to hit each other and fight.

The Founder and Executive Director of the Center evaluated these children. His expert recommendation, provided in a written report, was that these children should never be returned to the home they came out of, that it would be a crime if they were ever placed back in that home.

The TSS Director ignored this expert evaluation and recommendation and placed these children back in that home shortly after he received that written report. They are still there suffering ever more developmental delay with every passing day.

TSS and BIA staff have been reviewing and correcting any problems with paperwork for most of the last several months. Why has this expert recommendation been overlooked? This is just one more example of the continuing, grotesque failure of the BIA to protect the children of Spirit Lake.

  1. A few weeks ago I was informed about a case that is well known to you, Ms Settles, because you intervened to assist a concerned adult. This adult was concerned for the welfare of a foster child who had confided to her about his abusive home life, the refusal of the foster parent to spend money received for this child on this child as well as other examples of abuse and neglect. This child’s mother took her own life. This child attempted suicide a year ago. He has for some time been demonstrating profound depression. When a BIA social worker was assigned to his case, she closed it without even speaking with this child. When this adult spoke with Marge Eagleman, BIA Supervisor of Social Services, she was told, “well the investigator has done her job and the case is closed.” When this adult spoke with Rod Cavanagh, BIA Superintendent at Spirit Lake he said, “the investigator has a Master of Social Work degree and I trust she did her job.”

When this adult spoke with you, Ms. Settles, you ordered the case reopened. Unfortunately, it has been more than two weeks since you took that action and no one has yet spoken with that little boy. I trust all of us understand how those mindless decisions and failures to follow up can turn a difficult situation into a tragic one.

  1. The adult mentioned in # 14 is a Mandated Reporter of suspected child abuse since they are on the staff at the Four Winds School. This adult has received a letter of reprimand from the Superintendent of the school system because of their efforts on behalf of this little boy. Their son was fired from his position at the same school because of his efforts on behalf of this boy. Since you have known about these efforts to silence, intimidate and retaliate against two Mandated Reporters for more than two weeks, Ms. Settles, what have you done to correct this situation? If you have done nothing, would you please explain the rationale for your inaction?

Mr. Purdon, what will you be doing to protect the rights of these two Mandated Reporters?

The Sandusky scandal horrified the nation resulting in a widespread outcry against those who had facilitated his continuing rape of young boys by keeping silent about what they knew. He assaulted and raped one boy at a time. At Spirit Lake there are many sexual predators who have been given free rein to rape at will. Hundreds of children have been exposed to conditions that place them at risk of being raped daily at Spirit Lake.

Sandusky’s abuse became public when he was indicted. The failure of law enforcement at all levels to investigate, charge and indict is a key factor in the continuation of the epidemic of child sexual abuse at Spirit Lake. When was the last time the US Attorney for North Dakota indicted a sexual predator for his rape of a child at Spirit Lake? When was the last time the Tribal Prosecutor filed a charge of child rape against a predator in Tribal Court?

It is my understanding that some believe my Tenth Mandated Report, filed on January 2, 2013, lead to the indictment of the father described in that report on charges of Gross Sexual Imposition (a Class 2 Felony) In Ramsey County, ND. If that is true, the county attorney in Devils Lake, with that indictment, has done far more to protect the children of Spirit Lake than any of those who have received these reports and have done nothing but fabricate excuses for their inaction.

The predators have been defended by the actions of the Spirit Lake Tribal Chair and council. The state, TSS, FBI, BIA and other federal agencies’ leadership by their failure to investigate complaints, made several years ago, about such abuse have facilitated this abuse. By their delay in effectively responding to these Mandated Reports, these organizations and their leaders have extended the reign of terror inflicted on the children of Spirit Lake.

A child at Spirit Lake will be raped today because little or nothing has been done to correct the heinous conditions I have identified in these Reports. Tomorrow another child will be raped at Spirit Lake due to this inaction. And the day after that another child will be raped at Spirit Lake because of this inaction. And so on, and so on and so on, until that fateful day when the decision is made to protect the children of Spirit Lake from rape and abuse.

Thomas F. Sullivan

Regional Administrator, ACF, Denver

ICWA Abuse: Girl Tells Senate Staff she was given to a man at age of ten

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Feb 062013
 

February 6th, 2013

Where to begin? We met with staff members from seven DC Senate offices on Monday. We had come to talk about the Indian Child Welfare Act and how it infringes on the right of children and parents.

But sitting next to this young woman, who comes from the same reservation as my husband… I realized there is so, so much more we all need to talk about.

She told how she was abused and used sexually as a child. She said she was first given to a man at the age of ten. Her sisters were also given to men. She told how she begged to be allowed to return to the only family she had ever felt safe with – the foster family that the tribe, through ICWA, had taken her from. She told how she tried to run away over a dozen times – to get back to the foster home where she knew she was loved. She told how the home where the tribal govt placed her made her destroy pictures of the family she loved, and how they had cut a rope to save her when she had tried to hang herself. It was only then that they finally allowed her to return to her true home.

The feeling in Congress and across much of America is that the tribal leaders can’t be messed with. Don’t you dare step on their toes.

Holy cow. I mean, literally, ‘holy cow.’

Enough with the trepidation about messing with tribal sovereignty. I told our family’s story in the book “Dying in Indian Country” – and apparently, I didn’t even tell the half of it. I knew that things had gotten worse to an extent – but I had no idea how really, really bad it was now. The prostitution of young girls has become common place. You want to talk about sex-trafficking? Don’t forget to look at many of the reservations as well. I should say – don’t be AFRAID to look at many of the reservations as well.

Have you heard yet that the BIA had to go in and take over children’s services on the Spirit Lake Reservation?

– Have you heard about the “Native Mob” now active on reservations in three states?

One of the Senate staff members said her Senator would like to do hearings concerning Spirit Lake. I would love to see that happen – as well as inquiries into the gang activity and harm to children occurring on many reservations. Spirit Lake is not isolated. Leech Lake, Red Lake, White Earth, Pine Ridge – and more.

PLEASE CONTACT your Senators and encourage/support them in taking action. Many Senators are very afraid of stepping on the toes of tribal government – but while they cringe, girls as young as ten are being prostituted.

What this girl said today matches what I was told by another Leech Lake family last week. What they shared with us is horrific.

We NEED to let our Senators know that this is not OK in America. They MUST make is stop!

Children need to be protected. For our family, that also means getting rid of ICWA. You might not want to take that drastic a stand on the ICWA – but our family must. But at the very least – please press your Senator for hearings on the issue of child welfare and protection in Indian Country.

Please – especially press your Senator to do this if he/she is on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

1) ASK YOUR SENATOR to contact Senator Cantwell’s office – to tell Senator Cantwell that ICWA needs to be on her agenda for this session. They are preparing and setting this sessions agenda RIGHT NOW. If ICWA is NOT put on her agenda for the session – it will not be discussed for changes this year nor probably next. WE NEED AS MANY SENATORS AS POSSIBLE – ALL OF THEM – TO CALL SENATOR CANTWELL and ask that ICWA be on Senator Cantwell’s Indian Affairs Committee agenda!

2) ASK YOUR SENATOR to contact Senator Cantwell’s office and press for hearings on Spirit Lake and other reservations were abuse of children is rampant!

3) PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR THE CHILDREN, FOR US – AND FOR THE WORK IN FRONT OF US!

Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare

The REAL War on Women comes from the Cherokee Nation

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Oct 212012
 

October 21, 2012

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 refused to admit 2-year old 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.

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.

Lisa Morris is the Author of the new book, “Dying in Indian Country.” Purchase your copy at http://dyinginindiancountry.com/

Rebuttal to NPR’s ICWA Series; from a Mother of Enrolled Children

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Nov 212011
 

 On October 27th, 2011, I walked through the drizzle, past Union Station and up Massachusetts Avenue to find the offices of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. I was in DC to speak to various congressional staff about harms caused by the Indian Child Welfare Act and to invite people to the ‘Teach-In’ our organization was holding on Friday, Oct. 28th in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing room. I hoped that the CCAI would be interested because ICWA has been hurting children and adoptive families across the country and at some point, there needed to be an honest discussion about it.

Finding the office in a rowhouse a couple blocks from the Senate buildings, I climbed the steps and went in. Two women quietly listened while I shared with a third the purpose of my visit. Across America, children who had never been near a reservation nor involved in tribal community – including multi-racial children with extremely minimal blood quantum – have been removed from homes they know and love and placed with strangers chosen by tribal social services.

When I was finished talking, the woman, who had been listening attentively, told me she had just finished an ICWA story for NPR, and that she supported the tribal position. I initially thought she meant she had been writer for it, but now wonder if she simply meant she had been following it. At any rate, she was kind, and I was able to tell her some of the flip side and invite her to our Teach-in. She was polite and accepted the folder of letters from hurting families. She did not come to the Teach-in.

I had heard small bits about the NPR series from two Congressional offices the day before, and over the next few days a couple of our members also notified me about it. Two of my brothers even sent me links to the article. One friend wrote to me on Facebook that the NPR series had her yelling at the radio. With so much attention to the series, a rebuttal is necessary.

As the birth mother of five enrolled children, the legal custodian of three others, the legal adoptive mother of one and emotionally adopted mother of another, I can tell you what NPR did NOT report.

First, not ALL enrollable persons want to live on the reservation or be under tribal jurisdiction.

Persons of tribal heritage are no different than any other human. Each individual has their own mind, wants and needs. Blood Quantum has nothing to do with an individuals decision to participate in reservation life: some persons of 100% heritage choose to live separate from the tribe while some who have very little heritage choose to identify totally with the tribe. The notion that there is some hereditary tie – an inherent gene binding children to a single cultural tradition or geographic location is not factual.

According to the 2000 Census –

  • There are 4,119,301 people claiming to have American Indians and Alaska Native ancestry in the United States and 562 federally funded Tribes. This population includes individuals with too little blood quantum to be tribal members as well as individuals who are members of state recognized tribes.
    Approximately 75% live outside the reservation, with about 55% living in metropolitan areas. Only about 25% live on the reservations.
    As much as 45% of reservation residents are non-Indian. (On some reservations, it is reported that as much as 80% might be non-Indian.)
    • On 30% of the reservations, the number of non-members is equal to or greater than the number of tribal members.
    • The Montana Supreme Court, in Skillen v. Menz, wrote, “Interracial marriages are a fact of life, and, as with other marriages, so are interracial divorces and custody disputes over the children of those marriages.”

The above facts are the reason we are having troubles with the Indian Child Welfare Act.

  1. Most people of Indian heritage choose to live and raise their families outside of the reservation system.
    2. Most people of Indian heritage have more than one heritage – meaning extended family from other heritages as well.

Now, while the 2010 Census indicates that the reservation populations may have increased over the last ten years (The Seattle Times, May 6, 2011, asserts this is due to “successful casinos and other business ventures, including commercial fishing operations, economic opportunity…”) the fact remains that most enrollable children live off the reservation and MOST enrollable children have non-enrolled family members.

So while it is simple to interview only people who live on South Dakota reservations and enjoy the lifestyle found there – those who were interviewed represent only a fraction of all tribal members, reservation residents, and enrollable citizens. Further, South Dakota itself and the reservations within its boundaries don’t represent all 50 states or 562 tribes.

Was NPR providing one-sided coverage?

Having taken a full year to do their investigation, why didn’t NPR interview many of the 75% of enrollable citizens who have chosen to live off the reservation? Many, like my husband, chose to leave the reservation and raise their children differently.

While some seek economic advantages, poverty itself isn’t a bad thing or the only reason for leaving. Some of our most content years as a family were living on a couple acres in the middle of a corn field, raising goats and chickens. But crime, hopelessness, and child neglect – which is not the same as poverty – is a bad thing. Many people choose to raise their children in a safer setting.

NPR attempts to discount the impact neglect has on children by stating,

“…in South Dakota very few are taken because they’ve been physically or sexually abused. Most are taken under a far more subjective set of circumstances. The state says the parents are neglectful.”

But neglect is a valid issue of concern for children of all heritages. While some readers have come to the defense of the mother in the NPR story whose children had been left alone, the fact is that there was evidence of frequent neglect. Quote from the story; “The children, however, had a plan for situations like this. If they were ever left alone or if someone was drinking at home, they were always instructed to go across the street, to their grandma’s. If she wasn’t there, the back door would be left unlocked.”

In other words – this had happened before, and often enough that the kids needed to have a plan. NPR brushes this off as if it is a non-issue that the kids would need to seek refuge from their home. NPR, it is NOT a non-issue. What is being described IS a dangerous situation. The children were left alone. No, this does not happen in every home in America. The fact that many residents on various reservations gloss over and treat such things as a non-issue is testimony to the severity of the problem – and yes, the need for intervention.

There seems to be an inconsistency within people unfamiliar with reservations who, on the one hand, decry poverty on reservations while on the other hand maintain a belief that Indian people – and in particular, children – prefer to live in conditions most other families find dangerous. What is particularly disconcerting about this assumption is the underlying idea that Indian people don’t mind living in crime ridden, dirty circumstances.

What is most upsetting about this series, having watched so many children in our extended family suffer from neglect and abuse, is the implication that most children are removed for no cause. The biggest grief my husband and I have had over the years was that more children weren’t removed sooner. I have chased a drunk off a 10-year-old girl, stood at the casket of a 2-year-old who had been beaten to death, stood in the closet where a beautiful 16-year-old had just hanged herself, begged a hospital not to release a 15-yr-old back to the streets with her newborn daughter, and sat in shock when I was called a few weeks later by a relative hoping that I had that same baby, because the 15-year-old had “lost” her the night before while drinking.

One Minneapolis social worker once told me that the only reason my husband’s grandchildren weren’t removed from their parents sooner was because of the Indian Child Welfare Act. He said that had they been of any other heritage, they would have been protected much sooner.

In one family story that NPR highlighted, the author takes the family’s word that there had never been any prescription drug abuse –which is rampant on many reservations – and thus no reason for the children to have been taken. I don’t know if there was or wasn’t, but I wouldn’t blame social services for being cautious. Many in our extended family heavily abuse prescription drugs. I have raised four extra children in my home, on top of my five, because of the neglect and abuse they suffered. We were asked to take several more because we were considered one of the few safe homes in the extended family. Unfortunately, when we couldn’t take in any more children, that didn’t mean they were going to find another safe home. That’s not how ICWA works. When a safe relative’s home can’t be found, less safe homes are considered. Indian kids are not getting the protection that other children get.

Severe drug and alcohol abuse is rampant on many reservations. Let’s stop pretending. By glossing over reality, helpless children are being subjected to further, extended abuse and neglect. It is not racist to remove children from abusive and neglectful homes and place them somewhere safe and nurturing.

This is why we started this:

– We need help bringing attention to this issue. Indian Kids need protection EQUAL to any other child – PLEASE sign this White House Petition – 25,000 signatures will prompt a White House review of the issue. http://wh.gov/bvZ 

Read between NPR’s lines. There appears an attempt to paint the picture of a helpless group of people with almost every sentence. Take for instance the statement; “There’s only electricity when it’s possible to pay the bill” – as if that wasn’t true for every family in the United States. What I am saying is, 1) Everyone in America needs to pay their bill in order to keep the lights on, and 2) Electricity is available on this reservation. The sentence is worded to give the impression that utilities are woefully intermittent in South Dakota.

In defense of one of the parents in trouble, NPR stated,

“…tribal courts can be over-run, under funded and operated only part time.”

That may be true, but it is tribal government – under the claim of sovereignty – that is responsible for making tribal courts work, not federal or state government.

As further evidence of the series being one-sided, the article points out that “…two South Dakota judges, two lawyers and a dozen tribal advocates told NPR that state law doesn’t apply. Federal law says tribes are sovereign. The experts say a state official can’t drive off with an Indian child from Crow Creek any more than a Crow Creek official could drive off with a child from Rapid City.” (Tell this to the birth father in Texas whose child was taken by tribal officials from Arizona three years ago.)

So…NPR found less than two dozen or so officials in South Dakota who think that placing a child of heritage into a non-tribal home is illegal. Obviously, there are many more in SD who view it differently. Thankfully, there are some who realize that the best interest of children is far more important than playing politics.
NPR even quoted, then discounted, a tribal ICWA worker stating,

“I get along real good with the state and I have a good rapport with them…I’m satisfied.”

NPR also brings up the memories of the old border school system, as if it has relevance to the current need to protect children. Yes, taking children years ago for no good cause from the families they knew and loved was wrong. And it is just as wrong to do it today – taking children from homes they know and love and forcing them to live with strangers on reservations.

It is also time to stop painting every attempt at Child Protection as something malicious. Even the boarding school system wasn’t inherently malicious. David Tickerhoof, who NPR identified as the current pastor at Saint Paul’s Church, is quoted in the article saying,

“There had to be a pretty stringent discipline system…The goal wasn’t to make them non-Indian; the effort was to really help them stand as an equal in the job environment and to do that they had to be able to communicate in the dominant society.”

Further, some parents wanted the boarding schools. The NPR article itself relates one story, saying;

“She had been sent away when she was 5-years-old. Her mother couldn’t afford to provide for her or her sister. So, she enrolled them at Saint Paul’s Indian Mission”

The mother enrolled the children. Neither the state nor the mission stole them, yet, the article goes on to intimate that the mission had done something wrong in taking the two children in.

Finally, a NPR statement which I would like to see their documentation for:

“…NPR’s investigation shows that even Native American children who grow up to become foster care success stories, living happy, productive lives, say the loss of their culture and identities leaves a deep hole they spend years trying hopelessly to fill.”

Hopelessly. Meaning – no hope. For years wandering, disabled, half a person… yet, living happy, productive lives. Make up your mind, NPR.

How many people did they interview in order to draw that conclusion? Yes, adoptive children of all heritages have a sense of loss in relation to birth family. A couple of the children I raised felt this as well. It is natural. Yet, we never saw any of the children we raised pine for a heritage, whether it be their Native heritage, or Jewish, German or Irish heritage.

Suffice it to say that every human on earth has nostalgia in their heart to one extent or another, some more than others. People of every heritage have amongst them those who grieve for what was, others who yearn for what might be, and still others who are simply content with what is That’s life. Let’s move on.

Next, there’s the bonus money:

“…according to federal records, if the child has ‘special needs,’ a state can get as much as $12,000,” and “…A decade ago, South Dakota designated all Native American children ‘special needs,’ which means Native American children who are permanently removed from their homes are worth more financially to the state than other children.”

If this is true, it is just plain sick and wrong and needs to be one of the first things the South Dakota legislature changes this next session. I am not saying “maybe.” I am saying CHANGE IT. It is pure racism – plain and simple. Excuse me? Labeling a child as ‘special needs’ just because of their heritage? Nothing could be more degrading and despicable. This is the appalling outcome of the nauseating notion that persons of tribal heritage are somehow different from other people.

Further, if that was truly a factor in the foster care/adoption rate in South Dakota, throw the book at all those responsible and put an end to the sick game.

But while it is quite provocative to point out the money per head that the state gets for the children, NPR totally left out the fact that Tribal government itself gets more money per head for our children. Sometimes, tribal governments need members to be living on the reservation in order for them to receive the funds; other times they are able to use families in their head count of enrolled members whether or not the family lives on the reservation or uses tribal entitlement programs.

According to the “Tribal Complete Count Committee Handbook” published by United States Census 2000, D-3289 (4-99):

“The programs serving tribal residents …which use Federal funding based on population statistics—[include]: Johnson O’Malley, Headstart, Home Energy Assistance, Housing and Urban Development programs, etc…”The Federal government uses census data to allocate funds to tribal, state, and local governments for a wide range of programs.”

According to Jack C. Jackson, Jr., Director of Governmental Affairs, National Congress of American Indians, Statement on the importance of an accurate census to American Indians and Alaska Natives, before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Washington, D.C., Feb. 12, 1999:

“….A significant portion of this federal aid is based on the information collected in the census. Federal programs that distribute aid to American Indians and Alaska Natives based in whole or in part on census data include the Job Training Partnership Act, Grants to Local Education Agencies for Indian Education, Special Programs for the Aging, and Family Violence Prevention and Services.”

According to Administration For Children and Families, (ACF) U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services, May 9, 2007, Child Care Bureau, Office of Family Assistance:

“Tribal Child Counts …For funds that become available in FY 2008, ACF will calculate grant awards based on the number of children under age 13. A Tribe must submit a self-certified Child Count Declaration for children under age 13 (not age 13 and under), in order to receive FY 2008 CCDF funds.”

How much money are we talking about? Billions.

From Indianz.com, “House panel boosts funds for Indian Programs”, Monday, June 11, 2007. Accessed Aug. 30, 2007 –

At a markup on Thursday, the committee approved 5.7 billion for Indian programs at the Interior Department and related agencies, including the Indian Health Service…. The bill “honors our obligations to Native American communities, making investments into better education and healthcare,” the committee said of the overall $27.6 billion package, an increase of 4.3 percent over current levels.”

And that was 2007. Yet NPR quotes a tribal social worker for the Pine Ridge reservation, Juanita Sherick, saying, in reference to State Social Workers,

“They make a living off of our children…”

…while failing to note that she, herself, is also making a living off of enrollable children.

What to do then?

Tribal social worker, Juanita Sherick, is further quoted saying,

“Give the children back to their relatives, because the creator gave those children to those families…Who has any right to take them away from those families?”

I agree with Juanita. The birth families, if they are fit, should have more authority than either government. That is why ICWA is unconstitutional. Tribal government does not own our children. As Juanita said – “give the children back” to their families.

Allow the families, if they are fit, to decide who they want to adopt their children, and what type of lifestyle they want their children to have. We have seen tribal governments fight for children with less than 1-2% heritage – children with absolutely no connection to the reservation. We can think of no other reason for tribal governments to be doing this than for money. Although most everyone will admit that it is wrong to treat children this way, under the ICWA, it is currently legal.

Sherick went on,

“Why send a private agency onto our reservation? [Children’s Home] is not calling us to request permission to come onto the reservation to do these home studies.”

NPR then states,

“Mendoza says her agency would do the work for free. They know the families, they know the homes.”

If it is true tribal agencies are interested in doing contractible work for free, this is a wonderful idea. While in our own family’s case tribal social workers weren’t willing to come and do proper home studies, the willingness of other tribal agencies to do so is wonderful.

The NPR writers add,

“across the state, grandmothers, aunts and uncles, family and tribal members would have cared for Brianna — and hundreds of other Native American children like her. They would have done so for free, keeping them close to their tribes and culture like federal law intended.”

If what NPR states is true – and I pray that it is – I am all for developing a program to do just that. Willing families would, of course, sign statements that they will not apply for or accept any welfare or entitlement funding for these children, whether through the federal or tribal government (which is still federal funds). But…NPR wouldn’t be trying to bluff us with that statement, right? There truly are enough homes willing to take in hundreds of children for free, right?

Now I have a story of my own to tell about an adoptive mother and her little girl. On Saturday, Nov. 19, the mother posted to Facebook,

“It’s nothing short of a miracle that we got her back.”

My Lord! She wrote this EXACTLY A YEAR from when she had first written us on Saturday, Nov. 20 – saying,

“They just took my baby after 3 years…her sobbing is forever etched in my soul.”

The courts had determined that because the little girl had some Indian heritage, ICWA applied and she had to go stay with a family she had knew nothing about.

For five months this mother suffered the loss daily, until April 13th, when they got a call from Social Services to come and get their little girl right away. There was a problem and she had to be moved immediately from the home she had been placed in. It was only supposed to be for a couple days, until Social Services could find another placement, but these parents were just glad to be able to see her and hold her for as long as they were allowed.

They left right away, driving a couple hours to get her. When she saw them, she ran into their arms and said she was ready to go “home” – “Can I go home?” she asked – Adoptive mom wept – but daughter held her tears until after they had left the building, then wept freely. The people she had been with had told there were monsters in the closet who would come eat her if she cried.

Fortunately, she wasn’t physically hurt during the five months. But she was, indeed, emotionally traumatized. She was NOT okay. She had been told her that her adoptive parents were wolves and would eat her, and she reported that she had been locked in a storage shed. She was only three so it’s still hard to say what actually happened, but it is known that things were not well – as evidenced by the emergency request by social services for the adoptive parents to go after her.

Social Services never took her back, and on Friday, Nov. 18, this family finalized the adoption of their little girl after having lost her exactly a year earlier to ICWA. They are now a permanent family.

The point? Let’s start to recognize that the Indian Child Welfare Act does NOT ensure the best interest of every child with heritage – nor protect them. While some families prefer and need to stay together on the reservation, others do not. Let us recognize that we must not be so prejudice as to assume that all children and families want the same things, simply because they have a certain heritage. Even children and families with 100% blood quantum are not always interested in remaining within the reservation system. Let us start to recognize that all citizens of the United States are guaranteed certain rights under the constitution. Let us also recognize that the safety of children, no matter what their heritage, is the first and most important consideration. If there is no safe home amongst relatives, they should not be placed in a relative’s home.

A commenter to the online article, Slandering the Red States, Part I, by John Hinderaker in Media Bias Nov. 6, 2011, wrote; …

“The whole premise of indians being kidnapped and ‘ruined’ because they are placed with white parents is racist to the core. Can you imagine a similar story about white kids that have a black or Latino dark skinned foster parent being robbed of their “cultural heritage”? Racism is racism and the NPR piece is noting but anti-white racism.”

So True.

Read real life stories in the Rez:  dyinginindiancountry.com

– We need help bringing attention to this issue. Indian Kids need protection EQUAL to any other child –