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Standing Rock

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

LAKOTA SPRING: PUBLIC HEARINGS ON SOUTH DAKOTA ICWA SCANDAL

 
 photo HoweandSheehanofLPLP_zps09c2ee71.jpg They call it the Lakota Spring: Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation are partnering with the Lakota Peoples Law Project [LPLP] to engage in a massive, far-reaching organizing effort to recover their children, stolen from their families in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act [ICWA]. The LPLP and Bureau of Indian Affairs [BIA] officials are scheduled to co-host a three-day summit, May 15-17, on the current state of Native foster care and ICWA violations affecting Lakota children. To prepare for the summit, tribal officials are convening two public hearings: the first on April 20, from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM, at the Grand River Casino in Mobridge, S.D.; the second on April 28th, from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM, at the Prairie Nights Casino in Fort Yates, N.D. The purpose of the hearings is two-fold:
At these hearings Lakota relatives who have lost children to the foster care system will be invited to speak, on camera, about their experiences with the Department of Social Services. . . . The Standing Rock tribal government is making a substantial investment to explore having its own family welfare system and to secure long term direct federal funding to support it.

In addition, the "LPLP is also circulating an online petition to encourage members of Congress to attend the May summit."
The push for the summit with the BIA comes out of a report that Lakota tribal officials recently submitted to Congress, highlighting the serial violations of the ICWA that are routine in South Dakota. The report, combined with previous efforts on the part of the tribes and the LPLP, demonstrated a deliberate pattern of stealing Lakota children from extended families perfectly able, willing, and qualified to care for them, and illegally placing them with white families — in part, for "perverse financial incentives." The result was a hellish record of physical, psychological, and even sexual abuse (including rape) for many Indian children, and State officials subsequently prosecuted two of their own child welfare officials for blowing the whistle on these crimes.
For historical background, see Denise Oliver Velez's front-page piece from yesterday on "Stolen Generations," and Meteor Blades's diary on the long-term effects of stealing children from their families (some of whom are Kossacks today). For greater background about the current "removals" going on among the Lakota, read the LPLP's diaries on the cover-up of rape and other abuse of Indian children in the South Dakota foster care system, and on NPR's coverage of the report to Congress. See also my own diary on the racism and "perverse financial incentives" that keep the illegal practice of Indian child removal going strong.
If you live in the area of either hearing, you can help in two ways: First, if you know of Native families who may be affected by these issues, please help spread the word. Second, contact your elected representatives, and encourage them to support the efforts of the Standing Rock members (and those of other affected Lakota nations) to recover their stolen children and enforce compliance with the ICWA.
Source: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/04/15/1201757/--New-Day-This-Week-In-American-Indian-News-Stolen-Masks-Stolen-Children-Sherman-Alexie

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Two Worlds - Lost children of the Indian Adoption Projects

If you thought that ethnic cleansing was something for the history books, think again. This work tells the stories of Native American Indian adoptees "The Lost Birds" who continue to suffer the effects of successive US and Canadian government policies on adoption; policies that were in force as recently as the 1970's. Many of the contributors still bear the scars of their separation from their ancestral roots. What becomes apparent to the reader is the reality of a racial memory that lives in the DNA of adoptees and calls to them from the past.
The editors have let the contributors tell their own stories of their childhood and search for their blood relatives, allowing the reader to gain a true impression of their personalities. What becomes apparent is that nothing is straightforward; re-assimilation brings its own cultural and emotional problems. Not all of the stories are harrowing or sad; there are a number of heart-warming successes, and not all placements amongst white families had negative consequences. But with whom should the ultimate decision of adoption reside? Government authorities or the Indian people themselves? Read Two Worlds and decide for yourself.

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As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

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