Open Letter to Senator Heidi Heitkamp

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Sep 282018
 

Senator Heitkamp,

As a North Dakota constituent, I am very concerned by your silence during these Senate hearings concerning Judge Kavanaugh. I, along with many North Dakotans, am disturbed by the inappropriate disruptions by protestors and discourteous, insulting behavior of Democratic senators on the committee.

I am wondering how you would feel if you were in honorable Judge Kavanaugh’s position, or how you would feel if the shoe were on the other foot as a committee member having to endure this level of rudeness.

I am wondering why you haven’t made a statement calling for civility and respect.  Do Democrats want the developing chasm between Americans to continue to widen? Or do you, Senator Heitkamp, value unity and respectful dialogue?

This is a very important question for me, personally.   I will be attending hearings as a member of your Congressional Commission – the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children over the next couple years.  Having attended contentious hearings in the past with my husband, I am very aware of the potential for angry, insulting behavior directed at me during these hearings – especially if I ask a question someone might not like.  I remember an angry, packed, out-of-control hearing in Billings that frightened even my husband so much that he decided against openly testifying. He handed his written testimony to a staff person and we left. My husband was afraid of being physically hurt at that hearing – and that was in the late 90’s or so when things were a lot more civil than they are today.

I am a human being. I get hurt, I bleed, just like everyone else.  Courteous behavior in the public square used to be normal and anticipated.  I want to know that manners and civility are not only expected but insisted upon at public hearings of any type, anywhere in this country.  I want to know – I NEED to know – that I will be physically SAFE at the meetings I attend.

If you are refusing to stand up for civility and safety at a hearing inside a Congressional building in DC – at the hearing for a Supreme Court Justice no less – how can I expect you to stand up for my safety at hearings across the country?  Will you stand up for my safety?

Despite your campaign claim that you value all voices and prioritize standing up “for North Dakotans and making sure that their voices are heard in the halls of Congress” and that you “make it a point to meet with, listen to, and fight for North Dakotans every day” – this is not how I have ever been received by your staff.  Despite several attempts to schedule direct meetings with you over the years, I have yet to have even one meeting with you.
In late 2013, I actually felt ridiculed by your DC staff when attempting to meet with an aide.

Watching you sit silently now while Judge Kavanaugh’s children are escorted out of the hearing for their safety – I have no confidence you will be a voice of protection for me, one of your constituents, at the hearings I will be attending as member of your commission.

Senator Heitkamp – please show your mettle and take a stand for what is right.  Please show us that you value all voices as you say you do – and make a statement against the out-of-control behavior currently exhibited during the Kavanaugh hearings.  Please make it clear that respectful, considerate behavior – including from members of the committees – is expected at any and all government hearings.

It is impossible for our nation to come together and reach any kind of consensus without it.

Elizabeth Sharon (Lisa) Morris
Chairwoman
Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW)

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.