Federal Indian Policy is hurting families –

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Apr 272016

Our citizenry is our greatest Resource. The primary objective and ulterior design of our Federal Government is to secure the rights and safety of our citizenry under its jurisdiction. The Republican Party Platform of 1856 (Convention, 1856) states “that, as our Republican fathers, when they had abolished Slavery in all our National Territory, ordained that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, it becomes our duty to maintain this provision of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it by positive legislation…” 

Whereas; The United States government has given tribal governments the right to decide their own membership criteria; and the United States government has given tribal governments exclusive jurisdiction over any child deemed a member by tribal government, affording tribal governments the right to involve themselves in and interfere with private family matters anywhere in the country; and has given tribal governments the right to take children against family wishes; 

And Whereas; many Indian Reservations are struggling with epidemic gang activity, child abuse, sexual abuse, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, corruption and violence.

And Whereas; tribal members living on a reservation, although U.S. Citizens, are not afforded the protection of the Bill of Rights. Freedom of Speech, Assembly and Press have been abridged and freedom of Religion infringed upon;

And Whereas; The Bureau of Indian Affairs holds land in “Trust” for tribal members;  allows tribal governments management of  the land, and tribal governments can arbitrarily remove land and property from a member at any time; and Tribal members have been deprived of liberty and property without due process of law;

And Whereas; many Tribal governments have no system of checks and balances; and many tribal governments have been found to commit election fraud in relation to tribal government offices; and most tribal governments, claiming tribal sovereignty, refuse oversight or audit; and spurious executive officers have been set over tribal members, tyrannical and unconstitutional laws have been enacted and enforced; and tribal members have no recourse against tribal leadership and its control;

And Whereas; the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have been shown to have mishandled millions of dollars in tribal funds, and tribal governments receive more money per head, as much of the federal funds tribal governments receive are based on the tribal membership numbers or the U.S. census;

And Whereas; Financial benefits for most Reservations were supposed to end after twenty-five years according to the vast majority of treaties, and the continued gifting of funds from the federal government to tribal governments has continued despite not being a treaty right;

And Whereas; the effects of decades of victimization and stewardship by two governments has affected people emotionally and spiritually, bringing some to believe they are incapable of managing their own family affairs;

And Whereas: Equal Protection and Freedom of Association are constitutional rights, and more power given to tribal leaders means less freedom and constitutional rights for tribal members;

And Whereas; 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 rampant crime and corruption of the reservation system;

And Whereas; Congress, has plenary authority over tribal governments and reservation systems, and through statutes, treaties, and the general course of dealing with Indian tribes, has assumed the responsibility for the protection and preservation of Indian tribes and their resources, although does not have financial responsibility;

And Whereas; campaign contributions to federal candidates from Tribal Governments, Tribal Gaming, and their associates and agents has reached millions of dollars each campaign cycle;

And Whereas; 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;

‘Dakotans for Honesty in Politics’ asserts that all these things have been done with the knowledge, sanction, and procurement of the Federal Government and Congress is responsible for this crime against the Constitution, the Union, and humanity.

Be It Resolved: ‘Dakotans for Honesty in Politics’ requests Congress, before the country and before the world, acknowledge the value of our entire citizenry and move to protect every citizen with the full force of law.  We ask for a stop to current federal Indian policy which denies millions of people their full constitutional rights. We advocate equal protection under the law.

Be It Resolved: ‘Dakotans for Honesty in Politics’ insists the Federal government honor treaties which state federal funds were to end over a century ago, and cease putting a price on the heads of our children and families by giving federal funds tied to tribal membership rolls and U.S. census to tribal leaders. By tying federal funds to a head count on tribal rolls, federal government officials have encouraged tribal governments to view our children as dollar signs and chattel. The financial motivation for tribal governments to seek and claim children who have tribal heritage but whose families have no political connection to Indian Country will be recognized and abolished.

Be It Resolved: ‘Dakotans for Honesty in Politics’ insist on complete constitutional and civil rights for persons of Native American heritage living inside and outside of reservation boundaries, including the right of all parents and relatives of any ancestry to arbitrarily refuse jurisdiction of a tribal government over their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

‘Dakotans for Honesty in Politics’ support the protection of all citizens living on or near Indian reservations from discrimination by United States, State and Tribal laws and policies.

  •        We support the original intention of the Alaskan Native Claims Settlement (ANCS), an act dissolving the reservation system and establishing Tribal assets as corporations and declaring all Alaskan tribal members to be stockholders of those assets as well as US and State citizens, entitled to all the protections therein.
  •        We support a study of how the ANCS fared over the years, and what positive and negative effects it had on the tribal population, including those who left the communities to live their lives elsewhere.
  •        We support a study to be done on groups of people of Native American heritage who have never been part of a federally recognized tribe and compare their physical, emotional, and financial health to those who are members of federally recognized tribes to ascertain the practical benefit of current federal Indian policy.
  •        We support the possibility of using the Alaskan Act as a template, with improvements, for federal Indian Policy across the nation. This would allow tribal members independence, self-sufficiency, and the full protective cover of the United States Constitution.


To further protect children in the Dakotas and across America, we ask Congress to:

  1. Guarantee protection for children of Native American heritage equal to that of any other child in the United States.
  2. Guarantee fit parents, no matter their heritage, have the right to choose healthy guardians or adoptive parents for their children without concern for heritage.
  3. Recognize the “Existing Indian Family Doctrine” as a viable analysis for consideration and application in child custody proceedings. (See In re Santos Y, In Bridget R., and In re Alexandria Y.)
  4. Guarantee United States citizens, no matter their heritage, have a right to fair trials.
  •       When summoned to a tribal court, parents and legal guardians will be informed of their legal rights, including USC 25 Chapter 21 1911 (b) “…In any State court proceeding for the foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to, an Indian child not domiciled or residing within the reservation of the Indian child’s tribe, the court, in the absence of good cause to the contrary, shall transfer such proceeding to the jurisdiction of the tribe, absent objection by either parent…”
  •        Under the principles of comity: All Tribes and States shall accord full faith and credit to a child custody order issued by the Tribe or State of initial jurisdiction consistent within the UCCJA – which enforces a child custody determination by a court of another State – unless the order has been vacated, stayed, or modified by a court having jurisdiction to do so under Article 2 of the UCCJA.
  1. Include well defined protections for Adoptive Parents.
  2. Mandate that a “Qualified expert witness” be someone who has professional knowledge of the child and family and is able to advocate for the well-being of the child, first and foremost.
  3. Mandate only parents and/or legal custodians have the right to enroll a child into an Indian Tribe. Because it is claimed tribal membership is a political rather than racial designation, we are asking that parents, as U.S. citizens, be given the sole, constitutional right to choose political affiliation for their families and not have it forced upon them.
  •        Remove the words “or are eligible for membership in” 1901 (3)
  •        Remove the words “eligible for membership in” from 1903 (4) (b), the definition of an ‘Indian child’ and replace with the words “an enrolled member of”

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/

VIEWPOINT : Law could tear children from a ‘tribe’ they love

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Mar 292007

By Lisa Morris,
Published Thursday, March 29, 2007, Grand Forks Herald

RONAN, Mont. – At 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 9, Patrick and Virgina Swartz of Van Buren County, Ark., were getting their two girls ready for bed. The 10-year-old twins already were in pajamas when police suddenly arrived. Brandishing a court order, they took the frightened girls and drove them 60 miles to the home of an elderly relative. The girls couldn’t even tell their friends good-bye.

By all accounts, the Swartz’s, owners of an Arkansas trucking company, took good care of the girls. In October 2002, the birth mother, Virginia’s fourth cousin, had arranged for them to adopt the twins. However, another relative with four of the twins’ siblings began custody action. With the support of the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation, she won.

Neither the birth mother, the Swartzes NOR the relative are Indian. So why was this tribe from Arizona involved?

Because the twins’ natural father is Indian. And although he has “undisputedly abandoned the children,” his status as an enrolled member of the tribe makes him “relevant to this case,” the Arkansas Court of Appeals declared.

This gave the tribe jurisdiction under the Indian Child Welfare Act. The tribe wanted the twins placed with the siblings, “irrespective of the fact that other full and half-siblings are scattered among several other states,” according to the court.

Again, why take children from the only safe, nuclear family they’d ever had?

The appeals court found that the “best interest” of the twins wasn’t the only issue. Citing the Indian Child Welfare Act, the court found that “maintaining the integrity of the Nation, its culture, its children, and its progression through time not to become extinct” also had to be considered.

Neither the tribe nor the court adequately explained how moving the girls from the nontribal home they loved to a nontribal home they didn’t know would preserve the tribe.

The Indian Child Welfare Act’s original goal was to combat abusive practices that took Indian children from tribal communities and put them in unfamiliar environments with strangers. The trauma that Indian children suffered from, among other things, being forced to enroll in far-off boarding schools is undeniable.

But today, the reverse is happening. Children who never have been near a reservation are being removed from environments they love and forced to live with strangers chosen by tribes.

Stories affecting black, hispanic, Norwegian-American and other families reflect this reality. Letters from birth parents, grandparents, pre-adoptive families and tribal members themselves can be read at www.caicw.org/

Many children falling under the Indian Child Welfare Act are primarily nontribal. Tribal governments decide their own membership, and most have decided ¼ blood quantum is all that’s necessary. Some have decided less.

Furthermore, parents can’t avoid the act by not enrolling their children. The act defines an Indian child as any “enrollable” child. So today, children with ¼ or less heritage and no connection to Indian Country fall under the act.

Any emotionally healthy child, no matter their heritage, is devastated when taken from home and forced to live with strangers. Even children of 100 percent tribal heritage are devastated if they’re taken from non-tribal homes they love and put into reservation homes they know nothing about. And remember, children with less than 100 percent blood quantum have other relatives and heritages as well.

Why should Herald readers be concerned? Because Minnesota state officials are working to disallow courts even from considering a child’s lack of involvement with a tribe.

A February agreement signed by Minnesota and tribal governments mandates that the Indian Child Welfare Act apply to all children eligible for tribal membership. This agreement does away with the “Existing Family Doctrine,” an exception used to determine if ICWA applies.

Furthermore, House File 1169 and Senate File 1221 amend Minnesota law to read that the act is “applicable without exception.” A court may not use questions about a child’s lack of contact with a tribe or whether “a child is part of an existing Indian family” to determine the act’s applicability, the change declares.

Tribal authorities argue they are most qualified to decide the best interest of enrollable children. Are they? I am birth mother to five members of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. As well-intended as some in government are, they haven’t the ability to know what’s best for families who have left to live a different life.

Please ask Gov. Tim Pawlenty and state legislators to ensure that the “Existing Family Doctrine” remains available to Minnesota families who choose not to live within the reservation system.

Morris is administrator of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare.

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Shopping for even-handedness? It starts at home

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May 142003
Freedom to live outside of 'Indian Country' - https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/masters/591/

May 14, 2003

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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