ICWA: 35 Years and they Still Don’t Get It

icwa 2Today is the 35th anniversary of ICWA. (The Indians Child Welfare Act,(,  You’d think that our christian and cultural missionaries would have gotten it by now, but they don’t  Anti-Indian websites such as the Christian  Alliance for Indian Child Welfare  (CAIDW)  and  the racist  Ciizens Equal Rights Allaince   (CERA) proclaim individual  Indians and entire tribes unworthy, corrupt,  dangerous,  disempowering, and archaic. Tribal sovereignty and maintenance of Indian family ties, tradition, and culture, are “racist.” That is, they impinge on white privilege and hegemony and obstruct desire.

Indian Country, is a their personal  Plunder Country.  They should be able to take what want:: land, natural resources, children.

Currently,  stealing children is their desire d’jour. Unlike the old days when Indian children were spirited away en masse  to missionary schools hundreds of miles from  their families and culture, which the children often never saw again, this time they are sent off individually to privileged white desperate infertiles (or fat check-booked empty nesters) who lay claim to them  through fraudulent adoption schemes.

My introduction to Indian expropriation- by-adoption happened  in the mid-1990s here in Columbus in what became known as the Rost Case involving the adoption  by Jim and Colette Rost of newborn Pomo twins Lucy and Bridget Adams  After a 4-year court battle the girls, who had never left the physical custody of the Rosts, as far as I remember, were awarded to the adoptive couple  The  Adams’ were  granted an annual one week visit with the twins and regular updates from the Rosts. Importantly, the girls  were given full membership in the tribe. “We are loyal to them,” said Irene Fox, a tribal administrator with the California tribe. “We are their extended family. We want them to know they are Pomo.”

The  case received a lot of local coverage and Cong. Deb Pryce ,  (R-Columbus) an adoptive mother herself,  vowed to “amend ” ICWA to make it easier for people like the Rosts to adopt. I don’t remember how successful she was, and I don’t see anything online tonight to help me, but I’ll try to find out when I have more time. Her advocacy of the Rosts lost Pryce, who had a good record on adoption issues previous to the case, support in the Ohio adoption reform community.


ITerry_CrossCWA was enacted to stanch  the state and church-forced flow of Indian children into the White Christian Adoption Assimilation Complex..Terry L. Cross, the founder and executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association and an enrolled  member of the Seneca Nation,  writing in today’s Indian Country, reminds us, that although ICWA affirmed the right of tribal sovereignty, it’ real purpose was to stop the removal of Indian children from family and culture:

Rather, ICWA was aimed at stopping the inappropriate removal of our children from their parents, extended families, tribes, and culture by non-Indians. In the 1970s, studies documented the horrifying experiences of thousands of American Indian families: one out of every four of our children was being removed from their families. Of these, 85 percent were placed in non-Indian homes. Often such placement meant these children were cut off forever from loving extended families, their culture, community, and traditional way of life. The resulting trauma experienced by American Indian children, families, and entire tribes was as wounding as any assimilationist policy ever inflicted upon our people.

IBill PierceCWA has always been unpopular with the adoption industry. which had made a pretty bundle off Indians.  Bill Pierce, founding president of the National Council for Adoption argued that ICWA  prevented women from freely choosing with whom to place their children, an eccentric argument from a man who violently opposed identified and open adoption.  In the 1990s, during a Canadian TV debate  with First Nations lawyers and social workers  Pierce went even farther.  He argued  that the majority of Indian families were  poor, abusive, alcoholic, and dangerous. .Children who stayed within their families r even tribes  would grow up to be alcoholics and jailbirds.(video tape in my possession.) Chuck Johnson and the current NCFA administration do not hold these views.

Pierce’s views were radical and probably an embarrassment to many adoption agents and maybe eve the NCFA board.  It is no secret, however, that ICWA’s, clamp down of easy pickin’s, had a bad affect on domestic adoptee grabbing.

The market is fluid, however, and  as one door closed another door opened.  Within a few years of ICWA adoption exotica moved from the reservation to Eastern Europe,  Russia and other countries of  the former Soviet Union, China,  Guatemala, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Ethiopia,  and Congo.  But, as sending countries today increasingly refuse to export their children to the US,  mainly due to corrupt US adoption agency and missionary practices. and increasing reports of abuse of cross-country adoptees afater they get here,  the adoption industry has turned once again to the reservation for its boodle.

neo-coloonialismCross, is well aware of renewed  colonization efforts  and the big money behind it.:

Today, with the international adoption industry suffering from tighter restrictions imposed by countries such as Russia and China, pressure to keep up with the demand for children has returned stateside. There is evidence of corrupt adoption practices caused by those whose motive is to prey upon the legitimate desire of childless couples to parent. Tragically, American Indian children are often targeted.

Cross goes on to say a couple of really important things.

First, that the Veronica Brown and Baby Deseray cases are not just about the adoption of individual children (though they are on one level) . but part of a much broader attack on Indian  Country. I am very interested  in the anti-Indian gaming interests that  have co-opted bad adoption practices and the sympathy of  certain members of the public unaware of how adoption works, to fit their own agendas. (I haven’t had a lot of time to work on this, but am planning to.) Remember, adoption is never just about adoption.

Cross writes:

One only needs to examine who is leading the call for ICWA to be repealed to question the true motivation. Anti-tribal sovereignty groups, anti-Indian gaming interests, a few unscrupulous adoption attorneys and agencies, and a fringe religious group spearhead the opposition to ICWA.

Cross’  second point is important not only to those of us who support Indian sovereignty, but to the adoptee rights movement.:  Don’t let the enemy control the discourse. Don’t let the enemy write your narrative.

Through a smart public relations campaign they have controlled the ICWA narrative for the past two years with misleading, emotionally provocative, and racially biased messages. Too little has been said about the thousands of American Indian children who have been helped by ICWA…

...As American Indian people, we will bring the darkness of such acts into the light to protect our children. We will continue to advocate that ICWA, the federal law whose protections we are guaranteed as citizens of the United States and of sovereign tribal nations, is enforced. We will hold accountable those who believe they can violate it without consequence.

We need to heed Terry Cross’s words.  Expose the adoption machine and the structures that  prop it up:  Hold the adoption industry–the individuals, agencies, the  organizations, the special interests, the religionists, the money  grubbers, the politicians, the bottom feeders– accountable. Shut down the machine.

I  think I just wrote a speech!

Today’s blog is dedicated to Raymundo Tigre-Perez, Perepecha Inter-tribal Chief:  Shaman, Sun Dancer, poet, teacher, revolutionary, Oberlin alum, Fellow Worker, friend and lover.

Raymundo Tigre Pérez

Tomorrow, you shall
forget why you are free.
Tomorrow you’ll read this aged word, ask, ask
who’s he? Quein sabe?
Just a chicano in the eve of Revolution hammering
gringo shackles, so you’ll be free
And Tomorrow.
Join me on Twitter @DBastardette

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