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Old 07-06-2005, 10:35 AM   #1
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Meskwaki Baby Battle

Here's an article out this morning. The link at the bottom is another article with pictures of the baby and mother.

It's too bad the girl thinks her baby is better off with a white family and it's too bad the tribe won't allow mothers to enroll their kids. The enrollment issue was that way out here for a long time too.

Adoption Laws Frustrate American Indian

Wednesday July 6, 2005 9:46 AM


By TODD DVORAK

Associated Press Writer

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Kelly Buffalo, an American Indian from the Meskwaki tribe, believes her newborn son will have a better future if he is adopted by a white Indiana couple. Some in her tribe disagree.

Shortly after Buffalo gave birth six weeks ago, tribal officials temporarily took custody of her son, asserting the tribe's privilege under state law to protect the cultural heritage of the child and the tribe.

On Tuesday, a tribal judge reversed its decision and granted full legal custody to the mother, who says she will continue pursuing adoption for her son, Braven. But the first step involves receiving consent from the Meskwaki Tribal Council.

``This is really frustrating,'' Buffalo, 22, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. ``It's my baby and should be my decision. I'm probably more mad at what is happening than anything else.''

Larry Lassley, executive director of the tribe, said the tribe has the authority under the Indian Child Welfare Act to intervene in adoption cases involving children of tribal members.

Lassley said the law was designed to prevent state and private adoption agencies from wrongfully taking away descendants of tribal members, as well as ensuring the option of keeping those children within the tribal community.

``The tribal council initially determined that the best interests of the child was to have the child remain within the boundaries of the Meskwaki settlement,'' Lassley said. ``It can be a very important and serious decision to make ... and a determination could be made in spite of the mother's view on who adopts her child.''

The Meskwaki tribe, which operates a lucrative casino in Tama, is the only federally recognized tribe in Iowa. Officially known as the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi, many of the tribe's 1,200 members live on a 7,000-acre settlement along the banks of the Iowa River, 45 miles west of Cedar Rapids.

Buffalo said she has filed a petition seeking a meeting with the tribal council to make her case. A date for the meeting has not yet been set.

Even though Buffalo is a tribal member, it's unlikely the child will ever be formally enrolled in the tribe because his father is white. And under tribal tradition, women alone cannot enroll their children in the tribe, she said.

``I don't really see the purpose of why they want to keep a child around who won't benefit from staying here,'' Buffalo said


http://www.whotv.com/Global/story.asp?S=3556395
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Old 07-06-2005, 11:49 AM   #2
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I know this is a touchy subject. I admit, I don't know anything about Meswaki's. I don't know if their tribal council has their s**t together and the community is a healthy one--or not. But, and it's a big 'but', given the other facts; that the mother has no confidence in her People (very, very sad), given that Dad is White (yeah, get over it) I think ALL options for placement ought to be considered. THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD is what is supposed to be at the root of these decisions. When the dust settles, I hope this baby has the opportunity to become a healthy, well adjusted and socialized individual.
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Old 07-08-2005, 12:29 AM   #3
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Plenty fox and Proud, I agree. Maybe there are some things wrong within the tribe or something that she doesn't want her baby there. Although depriving the child of their culture is horrible. If the baby when witht the white family would he know his culture. And on the other hand, Why would she wanted her baby in a place where (technically) it's not going to be wanted. In a sense that is what the council is doing when they wont enroll people. But again do you need a number or a card or piece of paper to tell u that you are native?
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Old 07-08-2005, 12:30 AM   #4
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sorry full of contridictions today
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Old 07-14-2005, 03:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadian_Guy
my thoughts on this story about kelly buffalo is that she should take care of the child and it more seems that adoption is more of an ascape from responsibilty, how does she know it will get a better life? will money bring this better life I dont think so , I mean sacrifiing ones knowing of ones herritage for money etc . that dont cut if for me. Kelly buffalo needs to be andult about this and since she had the child then be an adult and raise the child
Could she be thinking about more than money? How about how that child not being enrolled will be reminded about that every day of his life? Looked at by some as not being Meskwaki and having no voice. Maybe she's not wanting to escape but trying to help him escape from what she thinks might be his treatment later in life. It's a double edged sword this enrollment crap. It does make you kinda wonder why a nation would fight so hard keep a child it won't recognize as one of it's own.
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Old 07-14-2005, 04:02 PM   #6
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I agree with what most of you are saying. I raised four foster children and the mother was about 98% white.(all teenagers) I don't think money is the issue but I do feel like this child should have the chance to be proud of his Mesquakie heritage and the rest of his family if he has any. The requirement for enrollment sounds odd to me and why doesn't some of the girls family step up to see to this child. He didn't ask to be born!!!!
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Old 07-14-2005, 04:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadian_Guy
my thoughts on this story about kelly buffalo is that she should take care of the child and it more seems that adoption is more of an ascape from responsibilty, how does she know it will get a better life? will money bring this better life I dont think so , I mean sacrifiing ones knowing of ones herritage for money etc . that dont cut if for me. Kelly buffalo needs to be andult about this and since she had the child then be an adult and raise the child
It takes TWO to make a baby. Where is Dad in all this? Does he agree to the adoption? WHITE or NOT a Dad, too, needs to step up to the plate and accept the responsibility for the life HE has created whether it is a result of 15 minutes of lust or a lifetime with a soulmate.
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The Creator said, "A foreign race of white people will come, who will become your friends. You should treat them well."

The Creator sure had a strange sense of humor!

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Old 07-14-2005, 04:26 PM   #8
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I agree with you BB........we natives are hardest on each other. I don't agree with the whole enrollment process there, but they are sovereign and have that right. The poor baby.
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Old 07-14-2005, 08:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadian_Guy
my thoughts on this story about kelly buffalo is that she should take care of the child and it more seems that adoption is more of an ascape from responsibilty, how does she know it will get a better life? will money bring this better life I dont think so , I mean sacrifiing ones knowing of ones herritage for money etc . that dont cut if for me. Kelly buffalo needs to be andult about this and since she had the child then be an adult and raise the child
I understand what you're sayin, any mother should be woman enough to take care of the child she created. But as a single mother of three, I been through hell and back dealin w/ all the drama I went through havin my kids. I don't know Kelly's age or the issues she's dealin with and yes, it's sad she's makin the decision that she is. But if she feels she is not capable of takin care of her child, it's better the child go to a family who wants it, instead of being with a mother who doesn't. That child doesn't need to be in a household in which it is unwanted and who will probably be subjected to a miserable life. I agree that it's not for sure that the baby's life will be better just cuz it's with a family who has the means to support it. But I don't believe it is safe to have the child stay with a mother who doesn't want it.
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Old 07-14-2005, 11:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by nativemom
I agree with you BB........we natives are hardest on each other. I don't agree with the whole enrollment process there, but they are sovereign and have that right. The poor baby.
Enrolled or not, the child is half meskwaki and I agree that he should have the right to his heritage as well, but why can't that be up to him? He will benefit from the community only if the community will treat him the same as it would the enrolled members.. but man I've seen how alot of the disenfranchised are treated and it is often not good. I've talked to full bloods who are'nt recognized because one parent comes from across the border talk with bitterness cause they know who they are and no nation will recognize them. If the nation wants the child then should'nt they want the child totally?
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Old 07-15-2005, 09:23 AM   #11
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yes.........I just keep thinking about the baby and because of all of this controversy, the baby has had time to bond with the mother and vice versa. It is going to make the parting even harder for both. Where's the babies relatives???? Why doesn't another Meskwaki step forward??? Or even other natives?? I just feel bad for the baby and the mother.
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Old 07-15-2005, 09:59 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackbear
Enrolled or not, the child is half meskwaki and I agree that he should have the right to his heritage as well, but why can't that be up to him? He will benefit from the community only if the community will treat him the same as it would the enrolled members.. but man I've seen how alot of the disenfranchised are treated and it is often not good. I've talked to full bloods who are'nt recognized because one parent comes from across the border talk with bitterness cause they know who they are and no nation will recognize them. If the nation wants the child then should'nt they want the child totally?
Amen. There are too many 'disenfranchised' mixed blood Natives who feel lost--not totally accepted in either world. Just look at the attitudes about mixed bloods out here? Sheesh! Folks are always being accused of not being NDN enough; when for reasons beyond their control they were not brought up in the culture. I say, quit pulling the child apart and agree with Blackbear. In the end It doesn't matter how everyone else says the kid should be 'labelled', it is the self-image of the child itself; and any half-baked 'label' put on the kid, even if well meaning, is damaging.
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The Creator said, "A foreign race of white people will come, who will become your friends. You should treat them well."

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Old 07-15-2005, 10:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndnmama80
I understand what you're sayin, any mother should be woman enough to take care of the child she created. But as a single mother of three, I been through hell and back dealin w/ all the drama I went through havin my kids. I don't know Kelly's age or the issues she's dealin with and yes, it's sad she's makin the decision that she is. But if she feels she is not capable of takin care of her child, it's better the child go to a family who wants it, instead of being with a mother who doesn't. That child doesn't need to be in a household in which it is unwanted and who will probably be subjected to a miserable life. I agree that it's not for sure that the baby's life will be better just cuz it's with a family who has the means to support it. But I don't believe it is safe to have the child stay with a mother who doesn't want it.
Thank you so much, truly.

Angie
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Damme ape’semmai, "Andabichidaiboonee’ gimmadu’i.Wihyu memme hainjinee’ nahandu’i. Enne wizha sudei’ tsaangu mabizhiahkande," mai.

The Creator said, "A foreign race of white people will come, who will become your friends. You should treat them well."

The Creator sure had a strange sense of humor!

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Old 07-15-2005, 03:14 PM   #14
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I just don't understand some of this adoption stuff. Hopefully someone can help me out here.

If the tribe is wanting this baby..... then shouldn't the baby if it would be adopted by the tribe.. be enrolled? Mother or not? And if the mother can't enroll the baby.......... and the dad can't........ then what about the mothers next male relative?

Also....... how do adoptions work on the rez's where the fathers enroll the kids........ and the mother is white. Do the tribes step in then to take the baby from the mom if she wants to leave the rez with the baby?

Also........ how does all this work on rez's where mom enrolls the kids?

Thanks.
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Old 07-16-2005, 03:19 AM   #15
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man those are some good questions Mato! too bad I can't answer them for you since I'm not Meskwaki... but I know quite a few gals now that the mother was haudenosaunee and gave at least one of their children up for adoption (biggest factor was they had like 6+ kids already. Most did it in private without others on the reservation knowing.
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Old 07-16-2005, 08:38 AM   #16
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In the picture in the link of the mama holding babe looks perfect, doesn't it. From reading the articles, I get the impression that she very much loves her son and is sincerely seeking what she believes is the best for him (and herself & family).

Since the tribe has jurisdication and makes the decision to disallow the outside adoption; isn't it fortunate that the tribal judge ruled to allow her to resume permanent custody of her son.


Her dilemna/story is thought provoking. There are lots of "what if's" . I'll just post one:

what if the father or his family were the ones seeking adoption? or visitation rights? or partial custody?
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Old 07-16-2005, 10:38 AM   #17
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I am really confused, but here are my thoughts on this subject!

It seems the tribe is saying, "He is one of us, so he has to stay here. But, he is not one of us, so he can't have any of the benefits of being one of us." Will this baby, because he is not enrolled, be denied health care, education or assistance from the nation?

The father is white, therefore being adopted by a white family is keeping the baby with his heritage -- or at least half of it.

It seems the nation or tribe is forgetting the most important thing -- the well being of the child. He needs to be in an environment where he is wanted and nurtured.

The mother tried to do what she felt was best for her child. For some reason she feels she is unable to do the best for her child by keeping it. I applaud any mother who wants to give up rights to a child she cannot care for instead of keeping the child and being a poor parent. I work in social services and see a lot of kids who would be better off with different parents. Giving birth does not prepare you for motherhood.

The mother tried to do what she thought was best. Thankfully she didn't leave him in a dumpster. She tried to place him in a loving, secure home. If the tribe isn't going to enroll the child, they need to stay out of it. Is the child Indian or not?
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Old 07-20-2005, 08:30 PM   #18
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I do'nt understand Meskwaki Tribe but i have seen times where the grandparents have taking full responsibilty of child. Which should allow the Grandfather to enroll the baby under his name and enrollment. Above and beyond the baby will be better off staying within tribal jursidiction and in their custody.There has been to many of our Tribal Children been placed in States hand and become completely lost no traces. When they are found they disconnected from tribal ways. Will grow up searching for who they are, where they come from, and why are they different from everyone else they know.

Last edited by quapawgirl; 07-20-2005 at 08:55 PM..
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Old 07-22-2005, 11:09 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Mato Winyan
I just don't understand some of this adoption stuff. Hopefully someone can help me out here.

If the tribe is wanting this baby..... then shouldn't the baby if it would be adopted by the tribe.. be enrolled? Mother or not? And if the mother can't enroll the baby.......... and the dad can't........ then what about the mothers next male relative?

Also....... how do adoptions work on the rez's where the fathers enroll the kids........ and the mother is white. Do the tribes step in then to take the baby from the mom if she wants to leave the rez with the baby?

Also........ how does all this work on rez's where mom enrolls the kids?

Thanks.
I'm not sure if I can answer all of these questions, but I think I can answer a few.

Enrollment in the Meskwaki tribe requires either that the father be enrolled, or both parents be enrolled. I think that's what I remember a friend of mine telling me. Meskwakis are a little different than other tribes in that they have a more traditional way of determining enrollment instead of relying on blood quantum. I have a friend that is from Tama that is not enrolled, but he grew up there. His mother is enrolled Meskwaki and his father is of a different tribe. He has always been proud to be from there and benefited from growing up there even though he's not enrolled Meskwaki.

If a white mother and Indian father have a baby and they are not married, and the mother wants to give the baby up for adoption, or leave the relationship with the child (move out of state, off the rez, etc.), I don't think there is technically anything anyone can do about that. It all depends on who has jurisdiction over the case. If the state has jurisdiction and the tribe refuses jurisdiction, then ICWA intervenes only in cases of involuntary removal of children from Indian parents.
And then it's only in cases where the child is enrolled in a federally recognized tribe or eligible for enrollment. I forgot that the biological father needs to give his consent for an adoption to take place, but that's pretty standard nowadays with any adoption. Alot of states are pretty careful about sticking to ICWA, and they will notify the tribe in any adoption case and it's up to the tribe if they want to accept jurisdiction and intervene, or give jurisdiction to the state.

If the tribe has jurisdiction, then the rules vary from tribe to tribe. Obviously the Meskwaki tribe takes a more vested interest in their children and wants to keep them within their community. I'm pretty sure if the child is adopted by a tribal member, or even placed with a family member under ICWA guidelines, then the child will have full access to health insurance and other benefits. Not sure about the enrollment issue if the child is adopted by tribal members because I'm not Meskwaki.

I've known people my age who were adopted out to white families before ICWA, and in my opinion they were kind of pitiful. They had no cultural "grounding" for lack of a better term. They had no idea who or where they came from, except for knowing what tribe they were, and I really feel like they missed out on a big part of their identity by growing up in a white family, even though they may have been well-cared for.

I have another good friend from Tama who lives right in the settlement, and she was telling me how good the tribe is at sticking to ICWA mandates, and making sure that children that are removed from their parents are placed with family members. I always remember, even when hearing about tough cases like this, that ICWA was designed to benefit Indian families and keep them intact. There will be some tough cases, but I believe ultimately that our children benefit when they are able to grow up Indian with their families and/or extended families around them.
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Old 07-22-2005, 11:39 PM   #20
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what about native families that may want to adopt? even if they are from different nations?

this is a sad situation. Even if the baby is half non-native ... it will be sad to not know the half that is.

I hope she changes her mind or at least looks to a native couple that wants to adopt it.
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