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Lisa Morris

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CHRISTIAN ALLIANCE FOR INDIAN CHILD WELFARE
February 28, 2011

My husband, 100% Minnesota Chippewa, was always afraid that if something happened to us, our kids would be forced to live on the reservation or with dysfunctional relatives. Having grown up on the res, not even speaking English until he was 5-yrs-old and had started school, and coming from a very large, extended family, he knew what things were really like. The first time he brought me to the res was for the funeral of his 2-yr-old niece who was beaten to death by her parent.

Neglect, abuse, endangerment are all very common in the family and community. Children begin using drugs and alcohol at young ages. Suicide is common. His beautiful, 16-yr-old niece hanged herself in a closet; the pain in her heart so intense that all she had to do was stand up to save herself.

Tribal government claims that the best place for kids is on the reservation, many times living with dysfunctional relatives.
We never felt like these two nieces or any of the others kids in my husband's community, really mattered to tribal or federal government.

We felt that what really mattered to both governments was money, and that his extended family and community are just pawns for those that are in control of the money.

My husband started speaking out about it, testified at several State hearings on various tribal issues, and testified concerning tribal jurisdiction before a select committee for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. We began receiving letters from families from across the country expressing pain and tragedy as a result of ICWA.

Five months before he died of cancer, we founded the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW) as a way to minister to the hearts of hurting people.

Three weeks before he died, against doctor's advice, he went one last time to DC to speak at the National Press Club and tell Congressmen that ICWA is hurting families. Part of his concern at that point was what would happen after he died to the four grandchildren we were raising.

CAICW is the only Nat’l org advocating for families affected by ICWA. Our advocacy is both judicial & legislative, as well as a prayer resource & shoulder to cry on

Read letters from parents, grandparents, foster families, & adoptive families telling how their children have been hurt by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) http://www.caicw.org/familystories.html

CAICW has been advocating for families affected by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) since 2004.
A few Issues of concern:
-- 1) Some Children have been removed from safe, loving homes and placed into dangerous situations.
-- 2) Some families, Indian and non-Indian, have felt threatened by tribal government. Some have had to mortgage homes and endure lengthy legal processes to protect their children.
-- 3) Equal opportunities for adoption, safety and stability are not always available to children of all heritages.
-- 4) The Constitutional right of parents to make life choices for their children, for children of Indian heritage to associate freely, and for children of Indian heritage to enjoy Equal Protection has in many cases been denied. - -

Harmful federal Indian policy affects children and families across the USA. In the words of Dr. William Allen, former Chair, US Comm. On Civil Rights (1989) & Emeritus Professor, Political Science MSU, “... we are talking about our brothers and our sisters. We’re talking about what happens to people who share with us an extremely important identity. And that identity is the identity of free citizens in a Republic…" - -

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Parents have told me that the org has been a blessing, and a couple of attorney's have said our legal resource pages/ case law pages were a tremendous help. I also credit God's help, and the prayer and existence of this oganization, with our being able to maintain custody of the his four grandkids after my husband's passing.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I rated it as "far exceeds expectations" because I know that far more work goes into it than I can reasonabley handle. If I were to make changes, I would GROW it further: increase the # of volunteers for prayer, website, research, connecting w/ families, increase the legal defense fund for families, & put together a legal brief addressing the constitutionality (lack there-of) of the ICWA, We need to be more available to all those that need help. We are too small to meet the present need right now.

MY ROLE:
Board Member & I respond to letters from families, pray for them, ask others to pray for them, connect them with an attorney if I can, connect them with other parents if they wish, try to raise money to help them, maintain the website and database, organize families to .

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