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Old 03-05-2007, 01:24 PM   #1
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White boy most dangerous threat to Seneca Nation

Koby Hammer Parker is a handsome 4-year-old boy, whose brown hair and brown eyes reflect his Seneca Indian heritage.

But despite his appearance, centuries of Seneca tradition say Koby is not legally a Seneca Indian and can never be one.

That's because, even though Koby's father is Seneca, his mother is white.

And because the Senecas and other Iroquois Indian nations are matrilineal societies, meaning their bloodlines flow from their mothers, Koby is not a Seneca.

However, a Seneca Peacemakers Court judge ignored that matrilineal tradition in a custody battle between Koby's mother and father.

The Seneca judge, Joyce Gates - Koby's great-aunt, as it turns out - used the authority of the national Indian Child Welfare Act and signed an order transferring his case from Erie County Family Court to the Seneca courts.

Bloodlines are an emotional issue on the Seneca territories, going far beyond the custody of this one child.

Some of the nation's top leaders and business owners, even though they are full-blooded Senecas, have children not legally considered Senecas because they do not have Seneca mothers.

Like Koby, these children can never join the 7,200 enrolled members of the tribe. They can't vote in Seneca elections, or own a business or land on Seneca territory. And they are not eligible for the $6,000-a-year dividend each Seneca now gets from the nation's two moneymaking casinos.

But Koby, despite his lack of a Seneca bloodline through his mother, has been declared a Seneca minor while a Seneca appellate court considers the custody fight.

Besides leaving his mother, Katherine Hammer, a nervous wreck, the case is causing a stir on the Seneca territories.

"The most dangerous person on this reservation, right now, to our sovereignty, is that white boy," said Michael D. Waterman, a Seneca who has represented clients in the Seneca courts for the past 20 years as a lay advocate.

Why is a little boy such a danger to Seneca tribal sovereignity?

"Because it changes our status as a people," Waterman said. "If they're going to start recognizing Seneca men and their white [women's] children, their black [women's] children, their Asian [women's] children, our bloodline is going to be depleted."

Gates did not return a telephone call for comment, nor did the boy's father, Glenn Parker, or Martin E. Seneca Jr., a lawyer who represented Parker in the proceedings.

"This case is a private Seneca family matter," said Robert Odawi Porter, a senior policy adviser and counsel for the Seneca Nation.

Waterman may be defending matrilineal rights, but he also has developed a bond with Hammer and her son.

"She sits on pins and needles," he said, "wondering if today's the day the Seneca marshals are going to give her the letter that says [she] can no longer pick up [her] kid."

That's exactly what happened to Hammer last summer. Koby had just spent 10 days visiting his father, she said, when Parker called and told her he could pick up their son at the Peacemakers' Court on the Cattaraugus Territory.

Hammer had an uneasy feeling, she said, wondering why Koby would be at the court.

She had gone first to Erie County Family Court, seeking child support and custody, a case that was set to be heard by Judge Kevin M. Carter.

She said Parker denied to the court that Koby was his son, even though Parker and Hammer had lived together until his birth. A court-ordered paternity test, she said, confirmed that Parker was the father.

But rather than fight against child support and custody in Erie County Family Court, Parker got an order from his aunt transferring the case to the Seneca courts, Waterman said.

"Erie County doesn't have a clue of Seneca Nation law, custom and traditions," Waterman said.

Sharon S. Townsend, the administrative judge who oversees the state courts in Western New York, disputes that notion. She said she and other judges have been meeting with Senecas and other tribes in the state to settle these jurisdictional cases.

"We are trying to defer jurisdiction to the Seneca Nation if there is a basis for that," she said. "Whether there was in this case, I don't know."

When Hammer went to pick up her son at Peacemakers' Court, a Seneca marshal gave her a court order instead. It said Parker had been granted custody of Koby. Joyce Gates - Parker's aunt, and Koby's great-aunt - was one of the two judges who signed the order.

Koby and his father, Hammer said, were nowhere to be found.

"I panicked," Hammer said. . . . I had him for 31/2 years and all of a sudden he's gone."

She said her father had large signs printed, and she and her parents stood at the entrance of the Cattaraugus Seneca Territory to protest.

"Grandson Kidnapped By Seneca Nation," one of the signs said. "Please Help."

Senecas who stopped to talk, she said, were supportive. Seneca elders suggested she contact Waterman.

"I said you're white, so's your kid," Waterman said about the first time they met. "What are you doing in our courts?"

Hammer said she was unable to find out where Koby was for nearly two months last summer.

It took Waterman 45 days, he said, before he was able to persuade an appellate judge to take the case away from Gates because of her conflict of interest.

But Koby's case then was transferred to the Allegany Territory Peacemakers Court in Salamanca. He said Koby was granted status as a Seneca minor while the jurisdiction question is weighed before the appellate court there.

Waterman also got the court to give the parents joint custody while the case is pending.
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Old 03-05-2007, 09:28 PM   #2
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Reverse Racism Against Babies? So just because this baby's mother is not Seneca, that dilutes his father's blood away to nothing, making him a "White Boy"? Wow, I want to support all of our Native tribes and their rights to self determination, but to put a child out and shut the door behind him is just sickening to me. I have to go hug my babies right now, cause my heart is just crying for an innocent child being treated like throw away trash.
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Old 03-06-2007, 09:18 AM   #3
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Wow, poor little thing I agree with LW i need to go give loves to my babies now too!
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Old 03-06-2007, 09:30 AM   #4
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oooohhhhhhh, this goes way beyond self determination,theres several dangerous implications here that could eventually threaten all nations.
the first one that caught my mind was the use of the indian child welfare act to gain custody when the sni doesnt recognize children of non seneca women.the indian child welfare act of1978 applies to custody cases in state courts where an indian child is involved.....its a trying to have your cake and eat it too thing. with one breath the sni says this child isnt ours; his mother isnt seneca and he doesnt meet the enrollment standards. then with another breath they say of course we have jurisdicton, hes seneca. its a dangerous contridiction that will challenge the integrity of both the indian child welfare act and a tribes right to set enrollment standards.
the second thing i noticed was that the sni court took the case from the eire county courts.... theres already alot of annimosity between the six nations and new yorks court system over land claims and casinos. the UCE has been at battle with the six nations for years. with allegations of bomb threats to ndn owned businesses, acts of vandallism and assaults. its not been an easy time for six nations peoples. and now there are people standing at rez borders with signs saying the seneca kidnapped a child? thats no better than setting a match to tinder. all this,and lets not forget the inevitable emotional harm this whole thing is going leave with the child, may not be fully seen for many years to come.
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Old 03-06-2007, 11:18 AM   #5
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None of my business. So, I'll just keep my trap shut.
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Old 03-06-2007, 11:43 AM   #6
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jus a question .. if a seneca woman has a child with a white, african american, asian american .. or who ever .. does the child still have the "right" to become seneca or do both parents have to be seneca ..
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Old 03-06-2007, 12:06 PM   #7
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Its a matrilineal tribe, meaning the tribe is given rights passed through the mother's side. Therefore, if the child has a non-indian father but the mother is still Seneca then the child is considered Seneca.
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Old 03-06-2007, 12:07 PM   #8
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jus a question .. if a seneca woman has a child with a white, african american, asian american .. or who ever .. does the child still have the "right" to become seneca or do both parents have to be seneca ..
in a way its really screwed up.with the six nations pretty much everything is determned by who your mother is. a child is born to his mothers clan and stays with that clan for life. without belonging to a clan by birth you,for the most part,just dont belong. basically if your mother isnt enrollable niether are you.
it may not seem fair or even wise, but thats the way it is. its a matter of self determination in the same way as any other nation sets a standard blood quantum.

where things get really unfair is in cases where you have something like a man fom a matrilinial based nation hooking up with a woman from a patrlinial nation. thier children may technically be full blood but niether nation will count them and they're left out in the cold.
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Old 03-06-2007, 12:11 PM   #9
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This is straight from their website for genealogy:

"enrollment/membership in the Seneca Nation Of Indians is based on MATRILINEAL descent. In other words, the mother must be an enrolled member in order for the children to be enrolled. Keep in mind that our census records list ONLY members. If an enrolled Seneca man married a non-Seneca woman, the names of the wife and the resulting non-enrolled children DO NOT APPEAR in our records. "
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Old 03-06-2007, 12:45 PM   #10
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this is totally messed up ..

so what was the point behind saying ..

"Because it changes our status as a people," Waterman said. "If they're going to start recognizing Seneca men and their white [women's] children, their black [women's] children, their Asian [women's] children, our bloodline is going to be depleted."?
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Old 03-06-2007, 01:03 PM   #11
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you hit the nail right on the head....

if they stick to enrollment standards then they cant use the indian child welfare act

if they used the indian child welfare act to claim a child they dont recognize then the enrollment standars are out the window.

either way,for better or worse, somethings gonna change
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Old 03-06-2007, 01:18 PM   #12
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Whether we approve or disapprove is not relevant.

Anyone ever hear of the "two row wampum belt"? Quickly translated, it means that the Governments of the New nations and the First Nations shall not interfere with each others laws.
This case will be worked out between everyone involved. Yes, it appears that the two row wampum belt theory is going to be tested because of the transferring of jurisdiction by the Seneca judge.

I wish them well.
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Old 03-06-2007, 01:31 PM   #13
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None of my business. So, I'll just keep my trap shut.
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Old 03-06-2007, 06:57 PM   #14
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The matrilineal system our Haudenosuanee people use might not seem fair to some, but it was the way given to us by the peacemaker centuries ago and has not changed. Most native nations go by a matrilineal or patrilineal system so it's not unique to us. And this article is not saying this kid is being shut out in the cold... on the contrary, the father's family is using a double standard to hang on to the child by saying he's half native even though the tribe does not formally recognize him. But the court is granting him temporary status so that this case does not go to an outside (white) court system.
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Old 03-06-2007, 06:57 PM   #15
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where did you find this article btw?
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Old 03-06-2007, 07:07 PM   #16
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oooohhhhhhh, this goes way beyond self determination,theres several dangerous implications here that could eventually threaten all nations.
the first one that caught my mind was the use of the indian child welfare act to gain custody when the sni doesnt recognize children of non seneca women.the indian child welfare act of1978 applies to custody cases in state courts where an indian child is involved.....its a trying to have your cake and eat it too thing. with one breath the sni says this child isnt ours; his mother isnt seneca and he doesnt meet the enrollment standards. then with another breath they say of course we have jurisdicton, hes seneca. its a dangerous contridiction that will challenge the integrity of both the indian child welfare act and a tribes right to set enrollment standards.
the second thing i noticed was that the sni court took the case from the eire county courts.... theres already alot of annimosity between the six nations and new yorks court system over land claims and casinos. the UCE has been at battle with the six nations for years. with allegations of bomb threats to ndn owned businesses, acts of vandallism and assaults. its not been an easy time for six nations peoples. and now there are people standing at rez borders with signs saying the seneca kidnapped a child? thats no better than setting a match to tinder. all this,and lets not forget the inevitable emotional harm this whole thing is going leave with the child, may not be fully seen for many years to come.
We had a saying in law school - "bad facts make bad law." Child custody cases always involve bad facts. No good will come from this, for anybody.
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Old 03-06-2007, 08:01 PM   #17
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where did you find this article btw?
yeah, where did you find this?
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Old 03-06-2007, 08:10 PM   #18
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yeah, where did you find this?
I found it on Indianz.com.
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Old 03-07-2007, 11:15 PM   #19
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oooohhhhhhh, this goes way beyond self determination,theres several dangerous implications here that could eventually threaten all nations.
the first one that caught my mind was the use of the indian child welfare act to gain custody when the sni doesnt recognize children of non seneca women.the indian child welfare act of1978 applies to custody cases in state courts where an indian child is involved.....its a trying to have your cake and eat it too thing. with one breath the sni says this child isnt ours; his mother isnt seneca and he doesnt meet the enrollment standards. then with another breath they say of course we have jurisdicton, hes seneca. its a dangerous contridiction that will challenge the integrity of both the indian child welfare act and a tribes right to set enrollment standards.
the second thing i noticed was that the sni court took the case from the eire county courts.... theres already alot of annimosity between the six nations and new yorks court system over land claims and casinos. the UCE has been at battle with the six nations for years. with allegations of bomb threats to ndn owned businesses, acts of vandallism and assaults. its not been an easy time for six nations peoples. and now there are people standing at rez borders with signs saying the seneca kidnapped a child? thats no better than setting a match to tinder. all this,and lets not forget the inevitable emotional harm this whole thing is going leave with the child, may not be fully seen for many years to come.
Well, the one indian nation that used the child welfare act and made the one gal keep her child when she wanted to adopt him out to a white home did'nt have alot of impact.. especially to other tribes, and he could'nt be enrolled by his own tribe either. The difference really between these two cases is that the SNI court gave him status as a minor... so at the moment the kid IS recognized but could be temporary. The child could be adopted in and given a clan to make this permanent.
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Old 03-08-2007, 02:45 AM   #20
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Koby Hammer Parker is a handsome 4-year-old boy, whose brown hair and brown eyes reflect his Seneca Indian heritage.

But despite his appearance, centuries of Seneca tradition say Koby is not legally a Seneca Indian and can never be one.

That's because, even though Koby's father is Seneca, his mother is white.

And because the Senecas and other Iroquois Indian nations are matrilineal societies, meaning their bloodlines flow from their mothers, Koby is not a Seneca.

However, a Seneca Peacemakers Court judge ignored that matrilineal tradition in a custody battle between Koby's mother and father.

The Seneca judge, Joyce Gates - Koby's great-aunt, as it turns out - used the authority of the national Indian Child Welfare Act and signed an order transferring his case from Erie County Family Court to the Seneca courts.

Bloodlines are an emotional issue on the Seneca territories, going far beyond the custody of this one child.

Some of the nation's top leaders and business owners, even though they are full-blooded Senecas, have children not legally considered Senecas because they do not have Seneca mothers.

Like Koby, these children can never join the 7,200 enrolled members of the tribe. They can't vote in Seneca elections, or own a business or land on Seneca territory. And they are not eligible for the $6,000-a-year dividend each Seneca now gets from the nation's two moneymaking casinos.

But Koby, despite his lack of a Seneca bloodline through his mother, has been declared a Seneca minor while a Seneca appellate court considers the custody fight.

Besides leaving his mother, Katherine Hammer, a nervous wreck, the case is causing a stir on the Seneca territories.

"The most dangerous person on this reservation, right now, to our sovereignty, is that white boy," said Michael D. Waterman, a Seneca who has represented clients in the Seneca courts for the past 20 years as a lay advocate.

Why is a little boy such a danger to Seneca tribal sovereignity?

"Because it changes our status as a people," Waterman said. "If they're going to start recognizing Seneca men and their white [women's] children, their black [women's] children, their Asian [women's] children, our bloodline is going to be depleted."

Gates did not return a telephone call for comment, nor did the boy's father, Glenn Parker, or Martin E. Seneca Jr., a lawyer who represented Parker in the proceedings.

"This case is a private Seneca family matter," said Robert Odawi Porter, a senior policy adviser and counsel for the Seneca Nation.

Waterman may be defending matrilineal rights, but he also has developed a bond with Hammer and her son.

"She sits on pins and needles," he said, "wondering if today's the day the Seneca marshals are going to give her the letter that says [she] can no longer pick up [her] kid."

That's exactly what happened to Hammer last summer. Koby had just spent 10 days visiting his father, she said, when Parker called and told her he could pick up their son at the Peacemakers' Court on the Cattaraugus Territory.

Hammer had an uneasy feeling, she said, wondering why Koby would be at the court.

She had gone first to Erie County Family Court, seeking child support and custody, a case that was set to be heard by Judge Kevin M. Carter.

She said Parker denied to the court that Koby was his son, even though Parker and Hammer had lived together until his birth. A court-ordered paternity test, she said, confirmed that Parker was the father.

But rather than fight against child support and custody in Erie County Family Court, Parker got an order from his aunt transferring the case to the Seneca courts, Waterman said.

"Erie County doesn't have a clue of Seneca Nation law, custom and traditions," Waterman said.

Sharon S. Townsend, the administrative judge who oversees the state courts in Western New York, disputes that notion. She said she and other judges have been meeting with Senecas and other tribes in the state to settle these jurisdictional cases.

"We are trying to defer jurisdiction to the Seneca Nation if there is a basis for that," she said. "Whether there was in this case, I don't know."

When Hammer went to pick up her son at Peacemakers' Court, a Seneca marshal gave her a court order instead. It said Parker had been granted custody of Koby. Joyce Gates - Parker's aunt, and Koby's great-aunt - was one of the two judges who signed the order.

Koby and his father, Hammer said, were nowhere to be found.

"I panicked," Hammer said. . . . I had him for 31/2 years and all of a sudden he's gone."

She said her father had large signs printed, and she and her parents stood at the entrance of the Cattaraugus Seneca Territory to protest.

"Grandson Kidnapped By Seneca Nation," one of the signs said. "Please Help."

Senecas who stopped to talk, she said, were supportive. Seneca elders suggested she contact Waterman.

"I said you're white, so's your kid," Waterman said about the first time they met. "What are you doing in our courts?"

Hammer said she was unable to find out where Koby was for nearly two months last summer.

It took Waterman 45 days, he said, before he was able to persuade an appellate judge to take the case away from Gates because of her conflict of interest.

But Koby's case then was transferred to the Allegany Territory Peacemakers Court in Salamanca. He said Koby was granted status as a Seneca minor while the jurisdiction question is weighed before the appellate court there.

Waterman also got the court to give the parents joint custody while the case is pending.
WOW. I suppose that is theit way and their right as a nation. On the other hand, doesn't that make it clear that Seneca women are perfectly alright to make kids with non-native men, and blood lineage doesn't matter at all, as long as the daughter, grand-daughter ectera are enrolled. There has to be families, where the kids no longer look native.
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