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Christian Alliance For Indian Child Welfare

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Community Stories

7 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Lisa M.4

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare, an advocacy and ministry, was co-founded by Roland Morris, an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa tribe. Roland was born and raised on the Leech Lake Reservation in 1945 and spoke only Ojibwe until he started kindergarten. But he as an adult, he made a personal choice not to raise his children there.
Later in life, out of concern for things he had witnessed and experienced, he founded CAICW.

CAICW does not handle adoptions or place children in any homes. It has never been a social service agency or facilitated any kind of placement at all. It is simply an advocacy - an ear to listen, understand and assist as able.

As an advocacy, it has served families of all heritages and children of all ages - the oldest child being sixteen and held on a Michigan reservation against her will. The point has been to keep children in the homes where they want to be - in the homes they feel safe and loved, no matter the heritage. Sometimes this means the home of the birth parent. Sometimes it is the home of an extended family member. Other times, it is a foster or adoptive home that the child feels safest in. CAICW has served all families to this end - the child's safety and comfort - regardless of heritage, religion, income or location.

Most often, CAICW deals with children who have been taken to a reservation against their will. This is not because CAICW has a set standard against reservations. It is because that is the direction most children are pulled. According to the last two U.S. censuses - 75% of tribal members do not live in Indian Country. Many have never lived in Indian Country.
Sometimes abuse is what the child is afraid of on the reservation. Other times - it is simply that they don't know anyone there and want to stay in the communities where they feel comfortable. Other times - the parents or grandparents have decided that they don't want their children to live within the reservation system.

In the spring of 2017, CAICW assisted a birth mom enrolled at the Spirit Lake reservation by driving her to her visitations at Spirit Lake. CAICW also helped with her initial attorney's fees. Her baby had been taken from her just after birth. She had told the county social worker that she did not want her baby taken to the reservation. She had chosen to leave Spirit Lake because she had been treated badly and didn't trust the tribal government or the social services. Against the ICWA law - the county gave her baby to the tribal social services anyway.

A mother enrolled at Leech Lake asked for CAICW's help in getting her 7-yr-old son returned from the custody of her half-brother, who had made untrue allegations and told her she could never have her son back again. This child was successfully returned to his mother.

There are also cases that involve non-tribal relatives. A grandmother in Colorado was told by the Warm Springs tribe that she could not keep her 7-yr-old grandson, who had lived with her for several years. They told her she could not keep him because she was 'white.' The grandson was not eligible for enrollment, but tribal government staff falsified a birth certificate, making it appear that the tribal grandmother was the mother - thus giving him more blood quantum. The county attorney and social workers told the family to give up. They were told they cannot win this. None of these people had apparently read the actual law. It appears common for many courts and social services to simply give tribal entities full faith in what they are presenting.
Fortunately, CAICW was able to get the family a consultation with a very good attorney who gave them the information they needed to represent themselves. They were able to prove the birth certificate was false - as well as educate the judge concerning what the ICWA said about grandparents. They won and retained custody of their grandson.

Two board members of CAICW are former ICWA children. Both, from two different reservations in two different areas of the country, fought to return to the homes where they felt loved and wanted after having been taken to a reservation. Both had been placed in the homes of relatives on the reservation where they were severely abused. Both tried running away but were prevented. One made it all the way back to her former home one rainy night - but was picked up by the police and returned again to the home where she was being abused. Their hearts go out to other children who are in situations similar to theirs.

Over half of CAICW'S clients are tribal members or the relatives of tribal members. All participants and members through the years have found CAICW online and requested assistance. CAICW does not look for clients or advertise for them.

CAICW has a limited budget and staff - and does what it can, when it can, for whom it can in the form of advocacy and guidance.
CAICW bases everything it writes and shares on documented facts - many of the facts coming directly from federal and tribal government entities and organizations. CAICW sites sources that include the U.S. Dept of Justice, the BIA, ACF, HHS, varied tribal governments, NICWA, and even Obama's White House. CAICW encourages anyone who questions the facts to contact them directly. CAICW gladly shares source documents.

The work of this ministry/advocacy isn't easy. It comes with a lot of abuse from opponents. Also, for a long period of time in 2013-2014, attacks to the website by hackers were frequent. A lot of volunteer time was wasted trying to prevent them or fix damage from successful hacks. This was resolved by blocking IP's that attempted to login or made other clear indications of a hack attempt.

CAICW has no paid staff. There is no money involved in this advocacy. Everything is done volunteer. While not easy, this is preferred, given false claims by the opposition that CAICW is centered around making money. It is also preferred in that - there is no motivation to keep the status quo. CAICW wants things to improve and has no financial stake in keeping things the same.

In fact, should goals be met and there is no longer a need for this advocacy - staff would be very happy to close up and move on. There are so many things to do in this world - finishing this task to the end and knowing it is truly done would be an incredible blessing.

But as it is - people continue to contact CAICW and ask for help. As long as children need help - CAICW will continue, no matter what.

The appreciation from families who have been helped makes all the difficulties worth it.

Review from Guidestar

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

This organization supports removing Native American children from their families for adoptive placement with white families, not because of abuse or neglect but because they have decided that a white family is the better environment in which a Native American child should be raised. They would be better served trying to help Native American people on reservations rather than removing their children for adoptive placement. This is NOT about helping Indian children, but about providing exotic children for couples who desire to expand their family. If it was about the children, they would help ALL children, not merely advocate for removal of infants and toddlers. If I could give it less than one star I would Racist organization and adoption-centric.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

This group posts material on their website that is misleading and disparaging to Native Americans and their communities. The language and material sound like a hate group to me.

The group advocates for the removal of Native children from their natural families.

5 Stella H.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

This is an anti-Native American Hate group. They really advocate for the forced removal of Native kids from the their natural families, community and tribe. Most notoriously they were heavily involved of the violent and forced removal of Veronica Brown (known in the media as Baby Veronica).

Review from Guidestar

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

This nonprofit came to my attention as I was researching the Indian Child Welfare Act. They have valid points and I wanted to know more. However, after looking at their website for about 15 minutes or less, my access was blocked by the administrator. This is causing me to question the validity of the organization. Perhaps this occurs due to a bug in the system, but one would like to think the organization would be aware of this situation and fix it.

I marked that I would be unlikely to donate or volunteer merely because of the lack of access on the website. If allowed to investigate further, I would have marked unsure or likely to donate. My decision is based solely on the restricted access on the website and not on the merits of the organization itself because I wasn't given the opportunity to get more than a precursory glance at what the merits of the organization are.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

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…" - -

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

On November 19th 2010 my 4 year old daughter was taken from our home. She was trying so hard to get someone in our family to save her, she was sobbing and begging. We couldn't do a thing...imagine. Imagine losing a member of your family because of a law that allows that to happen. Imagine having that in your head for the rest of your life. I relive that moment everyday..everyday. She is 1/2 native american and is therefore affected by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). This law was put into place to keep NA children from being taken from their homes. It
was put into place for a good reason. Now children are sometimes placed in dangerous and deadly situations because no one wants to oppose this law. We got our daughter when she was 7 months old and she was taken from us right before her 4th birthday. The best interest of the child was not taken into consideration. Her attorney thought it was not good for her, but the tribe and other "so called" professionals stated it was okay for her to be traumatized (she also has attachment disorder). When is it okay to traumatize a child? Please help us bring awareness to this problem. It happens all the time and know one knows unless it happens to you. Please help.

Review from Guidestar