Here, from NICWA, NCAI, NARF, and AAIA:
The undersigned American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) organizations request that the Civil
Rights Division of the Department of Justice commences a prompt investigation into the unlawful treatment of
AI/AN children in the private adoption and public child welfare systems throughout the United States.
Yet, despite all the protections provided by ICWA, each year thousands of parents, grandparents, aunties,
uncles, and child advocates reach out to the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) desperate for
help. Their rights under ICWA and the Constitution continue to be violated by state child welfare and private
adoption systems. NICWA frequently hears stories of adoption agencies ignoring the tribal membership of
children, of state attorneys failing to provide notice to a tribe when a child is taken into custody, of child
welfare workers sometimes knowingly placing children outside ICWA’s placement preferences, and of judges
denying tribal representatives a presence in the court room. NICWA also often hears stories of Guardians ad
Litem scoffing at the importance of Native culture, state workers demeaning AI/AN parents and traditional
ways of parenting, and attorneys using professional networks to encourage other attorneys to purposefully
circumvent the “ridiculous” or “unnecessary” adoption requirements of ICWA.
I heard this informally from a Tribal employee, who had received word from Chairman Cladoosby. The news has also been announced in Indianz.com’s Twitter Feed, here.
The official NCAI Press Release Here.
Senator Coburn has filed an amendment to strip the tribal provisions from VAWA. Here
Letter from NCAI Task Force co-chairs expressing opposition to amendments like the Coburn Amendment Here
Excerpt from the letter:
The NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women is extremely concerned that misunderstandings of the political status of Indian tribes and the internal workings of the tribal court system are causing confusion on how this provision will work on the ground. Indian tribes are not a racial class, they are a political body – so the question is not whether non-Indians are subject to Indian court – the question is whether tribal governments, political entities, have the necessary jurisdiction to provide their citizens with the
public safety protections every government has the inherent duty to provide.
Amendments which place more funding in the hands of federal authorities will not address this immediate local need. We believe strongly that local government is the best government for addressing public safety concerns. For example, an amendment is being offered today which would require that tribal governments petition a U.S. District Court for an “appropriately tailored protection order excluding any persons from areas within the Indian country of the tribe.” This level of procedure for an intimately local issue is not practical and will do little to improve matters on Indian reservations. Tribal courts are the appropriate venue to issue such protection orders.
Nova Wilson, MSU Law 2008, just passed the New Mexico Bar. She is currently employed at NCAI in Washington, DC.
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