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ICWA, what are your thoughts on this issue?

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  • ICWA, what are your thoughts on this issue?

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    Editorial: ICWA shouldn't hurt Indian children
    Tuesday, October 9, 2007
    Filed Under: Opinion

    "It was May 2005, and Max was almost 6 years old. His front teeth were rotten, and his mother did not understand how to administer his asthma medicine. Max's sister, Nicole, suffered from dissociative disorder and was struggling with nightmares and memories of fights between her parents. Though she was more than 3 years old, she had not been potty trained.

    The children's parents had chronic drug and alcohol problems; on at least one occasion, the mother called police because her husband had threatened to kill her. That May, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge ordered the children placed temporarily in the home of an aunt, where subsequently they seemed to thrive, according to testimony from social workers and therapists. The aunt would later be awarded custody.

    But a novel ruling this summer from the Maryland Court of Special Appeals threatens to throw Max and Nicole's lives into turmoil again simply because they are Native American. Although the children's biological father is non-Indian, Max and Nicole's mother is part Yankton Sioux, making the children subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The 1978 federal law seeks to keep Native American families intact; it applies to Max and Nicole even though they have not had contact with the Yankton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, and their mother has lived in a non-Indian home since she was a few months old.

    The ICWA makes it more difficult for courts to remove children from a dysfunctional Native American home than from one of any other race or ethnicity. Government agencies, for example, must prove that "active efforts" -- rather than the more typical "reasonable efforts" -- were made to rehabilitate drug-addled or psychologically impaired Indian parents before taking away their children. If an agency is unable to help the parents, the law strongly urges a search for Native American guardians. Max and Nicole's aunt -- a relative on their father's side -- is not Native American. A lawyer for the tribe argued that the Circuit Court had not made the required "active efforts."

    Get the Story:
    Editorial: A Tribal Question (The Washington Post 10/9)
    Username: [email protected], Password: indianz

    -Since I'm going through college and training currently in the Human Services field, the issue of ICWA is of great importance to myself. I have varying opinions on the issue of ICWA, even though I already have taken an ICWA class and interacted with people directly working for ICWA. I would like to hear from any folks about their knowledge or experience with these cases and if you feel good or bad about how ICWA is utilized? Thankyou, Wocuswoman

  • #2
    ....They should just leave those kids where they're at....if they're doing fine,then leave them be.If the aunt wants,she can let the family have contact and visitation,but I don't think it's right to yank them away from a life in which they are thriving into an uncertain one with people they don't know.It could be detrimental,and those poor kids have been through enough already....keep smilin'1


    • #3
      It stinks from both perspectives.

      On the one side they have an aunt that loves them but doesn't know how to teach them their native ways. Maybe later they'll be posting on some native site saying... I'm native cuz my mom and dad are but we weren't raised by them and I'd like to know more about my heritage.

      On the other side, if their forced to move again and live with strangers that are native they will be living in turmoil again. who knows what will happen and if they'll receive the proper love and support it would take to make them happy adjusted children.

      All I have to say is shame on their parents!
      The only time its too late to start dancing is when you're dead.


      • #4
        So just to be the devil's advocate...its fair to point out the while the mother did have them, she was raising them in a "non-indian" home as well. This brings to mind for me all the Native moms and dads that have chosen to raise their families in non-native homes; where the focus is placed on "blending in" with the white race, and no longer practicing any type of native culture with them. There are plenty of these families, who are good parents, that have chosen to disregard their culture. Do we take their kids away as well? Of course not. More opinions and ideas are welcome.


        • #5
          The tribe has the decision whether to take jurisdiction of the case or to leave it in the jurisdiction where the case was brought after notice is given to the tribe. At times the tribe will refuse jurisdiction if the child is doing well and the best interest of the child is being met. I don't know the details of this case, and a newspaper is always going to leave out pertinate details so we're not getting a clear picture of what is going on in this instance.

          This is just my opinion, but I think that tribe's would be more willing to refuse jurisdiction if the courts comply with ICWA and follow the state plan on file...sometimes I think the courts disregard ICWA, of course in the best interest of the child they say or other motives, so the tribe may not be so cooperative. The point is, it's the child that is ultimately affected, not the judge or attorneys or social workers involved in the case. I have seen cases that makes me believe that ICWA is still very necessary and it works to the benefit of the child...its the adults that tend to muck things up, whether its the parents, guardians, attorneys, social workers, or court system.

          What does the paper mean that the mother was in a non-Indian home? Was she adopted out when she was younger before ICWA? Or was she an example of acculturation?


          • #6
            Like someone said before me, there is alot of important information missing. Information that would be very benficial for everyone to understand.
            What EXACTLY were the questions asked to the family.... what were the questions asked to the tribe...WHAT WERE THE "ACTIVE EFFORTS".
            What is the lifestyle of the parents now.... the children seem to be thriving. That is the most important of all....that our children thrive. They are our future....
            As long as they are enrolled members to "A" tribe.... they will always have the tribe behind them. The tribe can tell the Aunt what is to be expected. The tribe can tell the Parents what is to be expected.
            Any person can have a child.....but that does not mean that makes them a parent.
            We as Native People need to realize that WE are NOW raising the "7th" Generation...and need to start loving everything that the Creator has given us!

            As long as the ICWA worker knows of this placement, and knows that these children are not living in the enviroment in which they were taken....this is a good place for them.
            It is now up to the parents to decide if that bottle is more "IMPORTANT"!
            Now, ICWA will work with the parents towards reunification. It will not be easy...but getting children back and learning new ways of living will be its greatest reward...


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