Friday, February 27, 2015

Indian Child Welfare Act Doesn't Protect Indian Children From Tribes That Terminate Them.

Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn released the Revised Guidelines to Ensure that Native Children and Families Receive the Full Protection of the Indian Child Welfare Act which is designed to "...provide better clarity so that the courts can carry out Congress’ intent to protect tribal families, preserve tribal communities, and promote tribal continuity now and into the future.” That's an important goal.  It does bring to mind another question:

WHO protects the welfare of Indian Children that have had their heritage ripped from them, by their own tribal government.   In the case of Pechanga, a rich casino tribe in California, over 200 children were summarily removed from the tribe.  Where was the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the National Congress of American Indians, or the Native American Rights funds, when Indian Children were being stripped of their citizenship?

In the case of Pechanga, whose enrollment committee included a relative of the family they disenrolled, sharing the same common ancestor, destroyed the welfare of a hundred Indian children.   Where were the protections for their welfare?   Why would the BIA refuse to get involved?   They may claim they were powerless, but they certainly could have issued guidance.    WHO protects the Native American child, when it's a Native American tribe that's harming them?

In the case of two large families from Pechanga , the Manuela Miranda and the Paulina Hunter descendants, the tribe voted to end all disenrollments, even though the tribal members knew it meant foregoing the resulting significant increase in their own per capita

The tribal enrollment committee consisting of less than a quorum and including members who had NO Indian heritage, voted to disenroll Paulina Hunter posthumously by a single vote.  That single vote, from a non-Indian has harmed the welfare of 200 Indian Children.  Non Indians taking the rights of Indians, while claiming those same rights for themselves.

In the recent ICWA revision press release, it states:

Several long-term studies have been conducted of Native American adult adoptees. Despite socioeconomic advantages that many of them received by virtue of their adoption, long term studies reflect that these adoptees experienced increased rates of depression, low self-esteem, and suicide. In addition, many adult adoptees continue to struggle with their identities and have reported feelings of loneliness and isolation. Today, the number of Native American children in foster care alone is still alarmingly high, and they are still more than twice as likely to be placed in foster care overall.

Is it time for a study on the experiences of depression, low esteem and suicide on children who have been discarded, sometimes by non-Indian leaders?  Think about this:

The news release continues: Protecting Indian children reflects the highest ideals of the trust responsibility to Indian tribes and the guidelines issued today are a part of this Administration’s broader approach to ensuring compliance with ICWA.     This statement begs the question: 

WHO has the trust responsibility to protect the now individual Indian children and ensuring the protections that the ICWA, provides Indian Children?

In his remarks, Assistant Secretary Washburn noted instances in which the ICWA law and BIA guidelines were not followed, preventing the goals of ICWA from being realized. These circumstances continue to alarm tribal leaders, Indian families, and Indian child welfare advocates.  

We can't even get the Secretary to LISTEN, or respond to repeated questions for help.  Where are the Indian child welfare advocates to work on behalf of the Indian children who no longer have their heritage and whose ancestors have been desecrated by disenrollment.

There are NON-Indian children, enrolled in Indian tribes who are protected by the ICWA, while a thousand Indian children, some removed by non-Indian tribal leaders, are cast aside, receiving no protection, and to whom the Indian Child Welfare Act now does not apply.  TheBIA recognizes all tribal members as Indian, yet they have abdicated their trust responsibility to Indian children, hoping nobody will notice.


Reinstatement_Restitution said...

Thanks OP for posting this and helping us all to understand the role that Kevin Washburn envisions for the BIA in administering the federal trust obligation. We have it in his own words here:

"...provide better clarity so that the courts can carry out Congress’ intent..."

The AS-IA is providing better clarity so that Indians can see how he views the role of the BIA. The intent of how to handle Indian affairs comes from Congress. The power of enforcement on the intentions of Congress comes from the courts.

The BIA sits on the sideline and says that can't interfere. They will only act on behalf of the federal trust obligations if the courts order it.

We must understand that the BIA will say "NO" to our requests unless we can frame them within the narrow vision the AS-IA has of the role of the BIA.

The BIA will not help disenrollees. The BIA will not help children. The BIA will not help tribal members. That is not their job.

So what is their job? At Chukchansi their job is to get the Casino reopened. At Nooksack their job is to help the tribal leaders disenroll members of Filipino descent. At Pala their job is to help the EC violate civil rights.

They give deference to tribal leaders who have a proven record of lies, deceit and corruption. They refuse federal recognition to tribes that were illegally terminated. They willingly participate in the destruction of tribal people throughout the nation.

The BIA does support self-determination and self-governance. All disenrollees should work to develop arguments that show disenrollment is destroying sovereignty and the efforts towards self-determination of their tribes.

The BIA does support tribal gaming and the people who are employed in tribal gaming. Could it be that there is some kind of fund to which gaming tribes can contribute that benefits the BIA?

Smart people will learn to play the BIA and their agenda. They are not prepared to deal with Indians armed with a provocative understanding of their agenda and able to steer through the bureaucracy.

Stop trying to prove you belong. The BIA could care less. Start catching the BIA off guard with well formed arguments regarding fair and equal application of the law, protection of the rights of American Citizens, and forceful denial of their jurisdiction to interpret tribal law and justify disenrollments.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone should be allowed to interpret tribal law except the community from which it sprung. Tribal communities vote for and ensure the law and policies of their communities. Whether or not the consequences and effects of that vote are positive or negative it is nobody's place or right to "interpret," determine, or force tribes to comply to laws outside of their community. Remember the US Constitution is not valid in Indian Country, tribal law is the governing body of law and needs to represent the voice of the community, good or bad. That is true sovereignty and must not be infringed upon any more than it has already through colonization, forced assimilation, and acculturation.

Anonymous said...

What happens when the Band does not follow tribal law custom or tradition? Before casinos Indians and clans did not always get along. Reservations where set aside by the government so tribes could try and live together in sections of the land they are from. Today these clans have rights, and they should "ALL" have a say in the bands direction whether they agree or disagree. Now the custom and traditions of bands, and not honoring these customs and traditions have allowed $$$ have clans take over the bands and take away clans rights how may not agree with them. These actions have taken place even thought he whole band may not agree with these actions, threats are made against them if they don't go along. This is so disrespectful of our Ancestors. If the bad clans think its ok to take away others rights and disenroll, they should be repaired for "ALL" to loos their rights. That is the TRUTH

Anonymous said...

Adoptive couple vs. baby girl

The court held that the procedures required by the ICWA to end parental rights do not apply when the child has never lived with the father. Additionally, the requirement to make extra efforts to preserve the Indian family also does not apply, nor is the preferred placement of the child in another Indian family required when no other party has formally sought to adopt the child.

Pretty SAD !!!!!!

Anonymous said...

We "ALL" continue to allow actions such as disenrollment, ICRA, ICWA violations, individual band clans overlooking policy and procedure or custom and tradition and not honoring our Ancestry the fall out is clear. Why should others rights be honored if the Apartheid practicing bands think they should be allowed to lie and misinform. The reports are crystal clear.

Anonymous said...

Either honor and protect "ALL" members rights or be dishonored by "ALL". Come on Pechanga, our Ancestors shared the truth. The story book is crystal clear. Temecula band of Mission Indians, sometime referred to as Pechanga.

Anonymous said...

Temecula band of Luiseno Mission Indians, sometimes refereed to as Pechanga.