Contact: Elizabeth Morris, Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, 701-430-9210
HILLSBORO, N.D., Feb. 25, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued new ICWA guidelines on February 24. These guidelines claim to clarify existing law for the protection of families – despite marginalizing the rights of birth parents as well the reality of extended non-tribal birth family. There is no acknowledgement that the vast majority of eligible children are multi-racial and 75% of eligible families live outside of Indian Country. Every State court in the nation is required to apply these rules effective immediately.
The rules clarify that tribal governments can intercede at any point of a proceeding on the basis that the tribe's rights have been violated. Parental wishes or the best interest of a child do not need to be considered. The rules state Congress has already decided a child's best interest is with the tribe. Birth parents can still refuse tribal court, but not extended family in the case of a birth parent passing away.
The Rules further state:
- It doesn't matter if the child lives on or off the reservation,
- There is no need for a certain blood quantum. Tribal government has total say over whether a child is a member and subject to ICWA,
- EVERY child custody case MUST be vetted to see if it is ICWA, because children who are just 1% heritage might not look Indian – so courts must question EVERY child.
- If there is any question that a child is Indian – he is to be treated as such until proven otherwise,
- The tribe has a right to interfere in a family even if the child is not being removed from the home.
- No one is to question the placement decision of tribal court, because pointing out that a certain home has a history of child abuse would undermine the authority of tribal court.
The only "best interest" of importance is keeping the child with the tribe. It repeats there is "a presumption that ICWA's placement preferences are in the best interests of Indian children; therefore, an independent analysis of 'best interest' would undermine Congress's findings."
These rules reiterate the prejudicial assumption that everyone with any tribal heritage has exactly the same feelings, thoughts and needs. It prejudicially assumes it is always in the best interest of a child to be under the jurisdiction of tribal government, even if parents and grandparents have chosen and raised them in a different environment with different worldview.
For more information concerning numerous families hurt by the ICWA and how to help, please visit caicw.org.
The Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW, founded by tribal member Roland J. Morris and his wife after becoming concerned for the welfare of extended family, is both 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 & educational, as well as a prayer resource for families and a shoulder to cry on.