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Friday, February 28, 2014

32nd Annual Protecting Our Children: National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect

NICWA is pleased to announce that at this year's Protecting Our Children Annual Conference, First Nations Repatriation Institute Founder and Director Sandy White Hawk will facilitate a special meeting for American Indian and Alaska Native adoptees, former foster children, and their birth relatives.

The session is open to anyone touched by adoption. Participants are welcome to share their experiences or just come and listen. White Hawk will lead the discussion on what it was like growing up not having words to describe what adoptees experienced. She states, "We can share our stories and find out we are not alone."

White Hawk is quick to emphasize, "We will not bash our adoptive parents. Coming to terms with our adoption experience does not mean we encourage separation from our adoptive parents or relatives. There are those who are estranged from their adoptive parents, others who are not. And still others suffer from rejection of adoptive parents with whom they would like to have relationship. It is complicated. We support each other in our process, wherever we are within that journey."

Birth mothers, fathers, and other relatives are also encouraged to attend. White Hawk elaborates, "Adoption impacts everyone. Our birth mothers and fathers have often suffered the loss of their children without the benefit of any resource to express the pain, confusion, and guilt associated with relinquishing a child. We want to give them space to tell their stories. There are also birth mothers and fathers who don't experience these negative things, which we are also grateful for and invite their participation too. All are welcome."

To register for our conference, visit www.nicwa.org/conference/
NICWA is pleased to announce that at this year's Protecting Our Children Annual Conference, First Nations Repatriation Institute Founder and Director Sandy White Hawk will facilitate a special meeting for American Indian and Alaska Native adoptees, former foster children, and their birth relatives.

The session is open to anyone touched by adoption. Participants are welcome to share their experiences or just come and listen. White Hawk will lead the discussion on what it was like growing up not having words to describe what adoptees experienced. She states, "We can share our stories and find out we are not alone."

White Hawk is quick to emphasize, "We will not bash our adoptive parents. Coming to terms with our adoption experience does not mean we encourage separation from our adoptive parents or relatives. There are those who are estranged from their adoptive parents, others who are not. And still others suffer from rejection of adoptive parents with whom they would like to have relationship. It is complicated. We support each other in our process, wherever we are within that journey."

Birth mothers, fathers, and other relatives are also encouraged to attend. White Hawk elaborates, "Adoption impacts everyone. Our birth mothers and fathers have often suffered the loss of their children without the benefit of any resource to express the pain, confusion, and guilt associated with relinquishing a child. We want to give them space to tell their stories. There are also birth mothers and fathers who don't experience these negative things, which we are also grateful for and invite their participation too. All are welcome."

FMI: www.nicwa.org/conference/


Thursday, February 27, 2014

United Nations alerted to human rights violations of #BABYVERONICA case

 Baby Veronica with her father Dusten Brown

Kristen Carpenter and Lorie Graham on Human Rights and Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl


Kristen Carpenter and Lorie Graham have posted a very compelling and powerful paper about the Supreme Court’s decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.  It is required reading for anyone interested in the case, and is destined to be the definitive paper on the international human rights aspects of the case.

The article is titled Human Rights to Culture, Family, and Self-Determination: The Case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. Here is the abstract:
The well-being of indigenous children is a subject of major concern for indigenous peoples and human rights advocates alike. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl that the Indian Child Welfare Act did not prevent the adoption of a Cherokee child by a non-Indian couple. This occurred over the objections of her Cherokee biological father, extended family, and Tribal Nation. After the decision, Baby Girl’s father and the adoptive couple contested the matter in a number of proceedings, none of which considered the child’s best interests as an Indian child. The tribally-appointed attorney for Baby Girl, as well as the National Indian Child Welfare Association and National Congress for American Indians, began examining additional venues for advocacy. Believing that the human rights of Baby Girl, much like those of other similarly situated indigenous children, were being violated in contravention of the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples Rights, and other instruments of international law, they asked us to bring the matter to the attention of the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples Rights (“UNSR”). We prepared a “statement of information” to alert the UNSR of the human rights violations occurring in the case. With the permission of the attorneys and organizations involved, this chapter introduces the Baby Girl case, contextualizes the claims in international human rights law, and then reproduces the statement of information, and portions of the UNSR’s subsequent public statement. It concludes with an update on the Baby Girl case and broader discussion about the potential for using international law and legal forums to protect the human rights of indigenous children.

If anyone wishes to read this paper, I have the pdf.  Email me: tracedemeyer@yahoo.com

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Great Divider: How the Baby Veronica case is the sign



By Trace A. DeMeyer

OK, as promised, I have more thoughts after I went to the hallowed halls of Yale Law School last Friday to hear a review of the Baby Veronica Case - and to hear what NCAI, NARF and the Tribal Supreme Court Law Project at Yale were doing while this major case was going on... and I reported to you yesterday what they said essentially…

There weren't any surprises for me unless you count how these panelists didn't use the time to discuss the genocide that actually occurred prior the passing of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 and the child abductions by social workers and missionaries - nor did they mention human trafficking and the Nightlight Adoption Agency dealings with Maldonado, the birthmother.  They did mention boarding schools.

So, I was truly upset. From what I heard, it appears American Indians are eons behind in civil rights and we can't seem to win a case in the Supreme Court.  I’d heard that warning years prior but this time at Yale was a bit more in my face. This case was about adoption by non-Indians, something I lived myself.

We had Justice Alito writing an opinion that Veronica is 1.2% Indian.  NARF attorney Joel West Williams asked the Yale audience, "Who in America is 1/16 or 3/256th anything?"  Yet we have a judge issuing his opinion by measuring an Indian for their Indian-ness which equates to measuring a child’s blood? This is still happening?

·        JUSTICE ALITO delivered the opinion of the Court:
This case is about a little girl (Baby Girl) who is classified as an Indian because she is 1.2% (3/256) Cherokee. Because Baby Girl is classified in this way, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that certain provisions of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 required her to be taken, at the age of 27 months, from the only parents she had ever known and handed over to her biological father, who had attempted to relinquish his [**736] parental rights and who had no prior contact with the child. The provisions of the federal statute [*2557] at issue here do not demand this result.
·        Jun 25 2013: Judgment REVERSED and case REMANDED. Alito, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Kennedy, Thomas, and Breyer, JJ., joined. Thomas, J., and Breyer, J., filed concurring opinions. Scalia, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Sotomayor, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Ginsburg and Kagan, JJ., joined, and in which Scalia, J., joined in part. Read more here
·         

I couldn’t sleep ... Dusten Brown never had a chance. He went to Iraq knowing the Capobiancos had his daughter but he had to serve a year and a JAG lawyer took his case.  The puzzle remains why Maldonado mysteriously breaks up with him and severs all communication. Was she punishing her high school sweetheart Dusten by selling his baby or was she manipulated by the adoption agency to take their money?

Then it hit me - keeping America ignorant of Indians, culture, actual history - this all works to take Indian children.  Judgment is easy.  Third World poverty (which we didn’t create) somehow equates to abuse of children.  Add their general ignorance of sovereignty and culture, what it means to be Cherokee or Lakota or Navajo or any tribe - and it means you can't win public opinion polls or cases before the Supreme Court? 

Ignorance about Indians? Exactly!

It's been going on since colonial contact. Please, let's not call them settlers anymore but invaders. America has always been the Great Divider, building its fences, writing its laws, counting on classism and racism to divide us. 

America wins every time when it perpetuates this ignorance of Indians.  Do Indians do a good job of educating others about culture, or what's important to us?  Not really. We're way behind in any civil rights movement.  We've had movies romanticizing us over 100 years and it's hard to kill those "savage" “redskin” stereotypes drilled into all our heads!  

What do Americans know about Indians? Nothing.  Practically zilch.

America's "taking care" of Indians only works to create HATE among Americans who view us as privileged in some way that they are not.  Like why do we even have a law that keeps nice white people from adopting Indian babies? Trust me, ICWA is under attack.

I do know that Indians are way ahead in surviving every broken treaty and then fighting each other over small scraps of power. Some tribes even subscribe to "blood quantum" as if they need to purge their citizen rolls of those who may be too white or too black.

We have Supreme Court Justices using the blood quantum argument and you see that is not entirely their fault (they all went to law school but didn’t even have a course on Indian Law at those Ivy League schools) but it tells me - do not go anywhere near them. They are not even aware of their ignorance.  Dusten Brown didn't have a chance, not in that court.

We Indians shouldn't go anywhere near that court or any court with that level of stupidity. No, you can't tell America they are stupid.

What the panel did say was each and every tribe needs to create and have their own child protection network. I agree since it's pretty evident that you can't trust any non-Indian social worker to go to the reservation and use their mother- father “family unit” example.  Only Indians can decide who the right people are to care for its children.  That person might be an auntie, grandmother or another relative, depending on who in the tribal family is willing and able.

And the panel said we need more American Indian lawyers who become judges - because the way it is now - Indians can’t win.

For many years Vine Deloria and others did try very hard to educate others (with their brilliant books) on the white man’s level, even earning degrees in white man’s colleges like Yale and Harvard, but it all comes down to this:  whites don’t really care.

And if we really think about it, this is a very dangerous situation to be in.


Footnote:  I attended white schools like most everyone else - Really nothing I learned was true or real about Indian culture or history. I learned more sitting at the kitchen table of my friend Ellowyn who is Oglala Lakota, who gave me an education about Indians not written about anywhere.  Then there was my one adoptive aunt (a first-born American) who calls me a liar when I told her there were Indian Boarding Schools, and this was right after I visited Haskell in Kansas. No, Americans are not learning about Indians or the truth of our history. 
The Baby Veronica case is the sign, whether we wish to see it that way or not - but we can no longer ignore the ignorance or the danger surrounding this case.

Swept Away: South Dakota's Native Children Denied Due Process in Custody Cases

Stephen L. Pevar, center, speaks to the crowd gathered for a press conference on March 21, 2013 at the Adobe Eco Hotel in Rapid City, South Dakota. Pevar, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union's Racial Justice Program, spoke about the unjust practices executed by the state of South Dakota in handling child custody cases involving Native American families. Pevar represents the Rosebud and Oglala Sioux tribes in the lawsuit filed against the state.

2/20/14

This is Part I in a series about Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik, which charges South Dakota State and local Pennington County officials with violating the rights of Indian parents and tribes in state child custody proceedings.
The class-action lawsuit challenges the alleged systematic removal of Indian children in South Dakota from their families and tribal communities without proper hearings, violating the constitutional right to due process and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of South Dakota, and Dana Hanna of the Hanna Law Office in Rapid City, South Dakota, filed the lawsuit in March 2013 on behalf of two tribes—the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe—and three Indian parents who allegedly suffered the loss of their children without regard for state law and without receiving timely and adequate hearings as mandated by the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause and ICWA.
On January 28, 2014, a federal court denied a motion by South Dakota officials to dismiss the case.

On October 25, 2011, Stephen Pevar was driving home from work in Hartford, Connecticut, doing what he always does: unwinding by listening to NPR. But on this chilly, overcast evening, there was one story that grabbed his attention, made it hard for him to relax. It was a report out of South Dakota, where he had worked in the early 1970s as an attorney with the South Dakota Legal Services on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation.
As details of the story unfolded, Pevar's mood darkened. He turned up the radio and listened intently to accounts of Indian children allegedly being taken from their homes by South Dakota social workers, often disappearing into state custody that apparently operated with virtually no accountability or oversight. According to the report, state workers were placing Indian children with white foster families even though Indian foster homes were available. Moreover, social workers were said to be severely restricting, and sometimes denying, Indian parents from having contact with their children during their time in foster care.
Pevar knew that if even half of these accounts were true, the State of South Dakota Department of Social Services, in collusion with court personnel and even judges, might be engaged in systemic violations of federal law under the Indian Child Welfare Act and the Due Process Clause of the Constitution.
Stunned by what he had heard, Pevar glanced at the clock on his dashboard, steered his car into a parking lot and pulled out his cell phone. As National Staff Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union and a noted expert on federal Indian law, Pevar speed-dialed the ACLU's executive director in South Dakota and left a voicemail.
“Robert, it's Stephen. Listen, I'm in Connecticut, but there's a story on NPR that's going to be on the air there in about an hour. I need you to listen to the story and call me first thing in the morning. We need to talk.”
From his home office that evening, Pevar immediately swung into action, doing research and sending emails to colleagues in South Dakota and beyond to express interest in filing suit if the accounts in the story could be proven. For Pevar, who has authored one of the seminal volumes on Indian law, The Rights of Indians and Tribes, the story was going to stay fresh for more than a passing news cycle. It potentially represented a wholesale state-level defiance of federal law designed specifically to prevent the destruction of tribal life in America by way of procedural and calculated separation of children from their families and tribes.
“As I listened to the [NPR] story, my concern was whether all the hard work that Congress had devoted to investigating the plight of Indian children and in passing the Indian Child Welfare Act was going to waste,” says Pevar. “Were South Dakota officials following the procedures required by ICWA and the Due Process Clause [in the Constitution]? According to this news report, they were not. And if that were the case, something needed to be done about it. I felt a personal responsibility to get involved.”

Another Broken Circle
That same month, Dana Hanna was sitting in court, waiting to present a case he was working on that was unrelated to ICWA. Hanna is a veteran litigator and trial lawyer who specializes in federal Indian law with his own private practice in Rapid City.
Hanna, whose case was next on the docket, was going over briefs when he became aware of the case being presented to the judge, involving two Indian parents. He glanced up,  and says he saw something extraordinary happen.
“I couldn’t believe what I saw: The parents were not advised of any rights—no rights—the prosecutor read a brief statement, the judge turned to the parents and said, 'Do you have anything to say?'” Hanna recalls. “They said they wanted their children back. But the court granted DSS’s petition for custody and foster care placement of their children for the next 60 days, and then scheduled the case for an advice of rights hearing two months down the road.
“They were advised that they had some legal rights two months after the state took custody of their children and placed them in foster care!”
Hanna had already been retained by the Oglala and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes to represent them in Pennington County, which has had a notorious reputation for decades for its violation of the rights of Indian parents and children. But on that day, Hanna sat in disbelief at the proceeding taking place right before his eyes in which parents were stripped of their children with less concern or effort than the handling of a traffic ticket.
Because the couple were not his clients, he could not intervene. But soon after, Hanna began researching these emergency “48-hour temporary custody hearings” required by law two days after a child has been removed from its parents' custody. What he learned was shocking.
“Once I got involved, I realized that nobody in the tribes was getting any semblance of a fair hearing,” says Hanna with incredulity. “And it's in these temporary custody hearings where critical decisions are being made about the fate of their children. These hearings are closed, they are not transparent, no lawyers were ever present on behalf of the parents, [the parents] were never advised of their rights. And that's the way these cases have been handled for years.”
Hanna began gathering transcripts and court records and contacted the ACLU South Dakota office to inquire about potential litigation.
Although the State of South Dakota appeared to be flagrantly operating outside the scope of the Indian Child Welfare Act, Hanna says, “This case is not just about ICWA. It’s about the systematic denial of due process and fundamental fairness: Indian parents and children have a constitutional right to have a meaningful hearing, one in which they can present evidence and be heard, before the state can take their children for two months and place them in foster care. Since 2010, they have been denied that right in the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court.”

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/02/20/swept-away-south-dakotas-native-children-denied-due-process-custody-cases-153659

Sunday, February 23, 2014

#BabyVeronica case discussed at Yale, missing aspects of #HumanTrafficking



From left: Claire Chung, 3L, Supreme Court Advocacy Clinic, Yale Law School;  Joel West Williams, Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund; Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director, National Congress of American Indians. Introducing them is Sparky Abraham, 3L, Yale Law School (moderator). The lecture hall was filled to capacity with law students. (Photo by Trace A DeMeyer)

By Trace A. DeMeyer

I plan to write a longer piece on this discussion but essentially the panel said that the Capobiancos won this case in the media first which paved the way to their winning permanent custody of Veronica Brown in rulings handed down by the Supreme Court and the South Carolina Supreme Court.  Despite 17 total amicus briefs, written support by 393 tribes, 600 groups interested in this case including some adoption agencies, and 19 State's Attorney Generals in support of Dusten Brown keeping his own daughter, the Supreme Court did not and does not rule in favor of Indians.  American Indians don't win in public opinion polls either.  Tribes are actually discouraged from taking cases to the Supreme Court.  Out of nine Indian Law cases, only one won in the Roberts/Alito-controlled Supreme Court.

Asked if the Indian Child Welfare Act should be amended or made stronger - Jackie Pata said no.  Pata admitted that NCAI and NARF waited too long to respond in the media to the Baby Veronica media circus, though they tried to rally support for Dusten and met in weekly committees to discuss the case and did try their own media coverage. (Too little, too late.)  Pata said by the time the Dr. Phil show happened with the Capobiancos, Dusten Brown had a gag order placed on him and he was not able to respond or play the same media game as the Capobiancos did.  

In the Q&A, a man in the audience asked Cherokee citizen and attorney Joel West Williams of NARF, "If the Capobiancos could sue the Cherokee Nation for one million dollars, then why can't the Cherokee Nation sue the Nightlight Adoption Agency for their errors in notifying the Cherokee Nation (with Dusten's name misspelled and the wrong birthdate)? These details were not insignificant and actually started the nightmare for Dusten Brown and the Cherokee Nation along with the adoption agency's failure to abide by ICWA which is federal law.  Williams said he could not comment on any pending lawsuits. 

As I have written before on this blog, the Department of Justice needs to interview Christy Maldonado and investigate the Nightlight Adoption Agency for moving and selling children like Veronica across state lines which is in violation of the Interstate Compact. (Not once did this panel use the words HUMAN TRAFFICKING.)

The way the Capobianco's PR campaign was run by Jessica Munday and Trio Solutions who played this case in the media, capitalizing on Social Media with the Save Veronica Facebook page, filling mainstream newspaper opinion pieces with sympathy for the infertile Capobiancos in their late 30s, to demonizing Dusten Brown for text messages to his ex-fiance, then confusing the public and essentially attacking anyone who supported Dusten Brown retaining custody of his own daughter, this case was doomed from the beginning.



In June 2013, the Supreme Court decided Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a widely publicized case involving the adoption of a Cherokee child by non-Natives over the objections of her Cherokee father. At the heart of the controversy was the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law designed to protect the best interests of Native children and promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families. This panel will explore the history behind this landmark law, the current landscape of Indian child welfare, and the implications of the "Baby Veronica" decision for the future placement of Native children. Additionally, panelists will discuss how their organizations collaborated with both tribal and non-tribal stakeholders to develop legal, media, and other advocacy strategies for the case as part of the Tribal Supreme Court Project.


Radio Lab coverage was also mentioned by the panel: CLICK: Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl May 30, 2013




Source materials on this case:

Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl on the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) Blog

Official website for ICWA (the federal Indian Child Welfare Act)

FOOTNOTE: There is a clear and present danger that this will happen again - I say this because the American public (and Supreme Court) is clearly anti-Indian until a white couple wishes to purchase a newborn baby and the only ones available are from Indian reservations.  To be safe, NCAI, NICWA and NARF are obviously trying to educate on the Indian Child Welfare Act since the Baby Veronica case created such a nationwide stir.
Veronica will eventually know that her biological father loved her and fought for her even with the prevailing prejudice of our times. The bright spot for me is the fact that despite this adoption and litigation, Veronica is and will always be a citizen of the Cherokee Nation - no one can ever ever take that away from her. 
More on this discussion soon... Trace

 


Across North America

Every. Day.

Every. Day.
adoptees take back adoption narrative and reject propaganda

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

Join!

National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network (NISCWN)

Membership Application Form

The Network is open to all Indigenous and Foster Care Survivors any time.

The procedure is simple: Just fill out the form HERE.

Source Link: NICWSN Membership

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ADOPTION TRUTH

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.

Our Fault? (no)

Leland at Goldwater Protest

#defendicwa

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