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Child Abuse Continues Unchecked In Indian Country - Is The BIA Another Corrupt Bureaucracy?
Contact: Elizabeth Sharon Morris, 701-430-9210
FARGO, ND, June 9, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- Today, in memory of Chippewa tribal member Roland J. Morris, Sr., the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW) is sponsoring an essay contest on June 9-15, 2013, to draw attention to the widespread and ongoing physical and sexual abuse of children living within Indian Country. The topic of the contest is "Why Children Are More Important Than Politics" with a subtopic of "Why Is Our Federal Government Ignoring Ongoing Child Abuse?" The 800-1500 word submissions can be sent to WriteUs@caicw.org. The top three essays will each win $150, $100, and $75 respectively, along with a copy of the book, "Dying in Indian Country."
Morris, who passed away June 9, 2004, was 100% Indian heritage with Ojibwe as his first language and spent his lifetime watching friends and family die physically, spiritually, and emotionally from alcoholism, violence, and suicide. He was greatly concerned for the children and distressed by the lack of concern from many adults within Indian country. He longed for the self-destruction to stop.
Morris's concern regarding a law called the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which perpetuates the abuse of children with Indian heritage, is exemplified by the "Baby Veronica" case heard in April, 2013, by the United States Supreme Court. In Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, two-year-old Veronica had been given for adoption as a newborn by her non-Indian mother, only to be later removed from the only home she ever knew on the basis of 1.12% Cherokee Nation heritage. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down their ruling this month.
Further supporting his statements was a series published in late April 2004, by the Minneapolis Star and Tribune called "The Lost Youth of Leech Lake," telling the horrific story of Sierra Goodman who was first given to a man to be used for sex at the age of ten. She tried to run away over a dozen times to get back to the only family she felt loved and safe with – the non-Indian foster family she had been taken from because of ICWA. It was only after she had been cut down from a rope when she had tried to hang herself at the age of 16 that she was finally allowed her to return. Sierra herself joined CAICW in DC (www.startribune.com/local/190953261.html?refer=y) to personally tell her story to Senators in February to show how damaging the ICWA was to her.
Through the years, Morris appeared in numerous newspaper articles across the country. In February 2004, he and his wife founded CAICW. On Friday, May 14, 2004, Washington Times reporter Jennifer Lehner wrote:
Mr. Morris said that once children are relocated to the reservations, they are subject to the corrupt law of the tribal government. Instead of preserving culture…the tribal leadership uses the ICWA to acquire funds provided through the legislation" and ICWA is "supposed to help children, but instead it helps tribal governments."
This type of abuse is very common on many reservations. In the last year, the New York Times and a Frontline documentary both told us about these same issues on the Spirit Lake Reservation of North Dakota. Former Oglala Sioux Tribal Judge Patrick Lee also wrote recently about problems in his article "Why I filed a complaint against the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council and others."
These problems of abuse are highly prevalent and yet routinely ignored by the federal government to the extent that some have begun to feel hopeless. However, the U.S. Constitution defends the rights of all U.S. citizens and CAICW is calling on Congress to equally protect children of all heritages.
CAICW is a ministry and advocacy group. CAICW has been advocating since February 2004 for families at risk of harm from the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Our advocacy has been both judicial and educational, as well as a prayer resource for families and a shoulder to cry on. Elizabeth Morris is the author of "Dying in Indian Country." You can learn more at dyinginindiancountry.com.