This is the sixth full commentary on “The New Trail of Tears” (TNToT), a book written by Naomi Schaefer Riley (NSR or the author). The announcement post is here.
Chapter 5 is an outrage, with NSR implicitly advocating for the complete eradication of tribal communities because Indian tribes and the federal government have made them unlivable. This chapter deals with the Indian Child Welfare Act and Indian country justice. NSR continues to condemn Indian people for the same dog whistles — they’re lazy, ignorant, and dependent.
ICWA (or, Indian Country is Hell)
TNToT tees up a series of anti-ICWA advocates here, but never really makes the argument for why ICWA is bad. NSR’s goal here is to try to show that Indian country is an unlivable hellhole. NSR believes that “for too many children the best option is be raised elsewhere” [at 146]. TNToT quotes Elizabeth Morris (a vociferous anti-ICWA voicebox for the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare), who hopes that her own children won’t grow up in Minnesota Indian country [at 145]. Morris blames the federal government’s “subsidies” for her perception that Indian families are disintegrating. [at 150] For Morris, the government has “replace[d] the father in the home. . . .” [at 150] Further, “A man does need to feel needed. But the government took care of all that.” [at 150]
Morris is an evangelical Christian who firmly preaches the “drunken Indian” stereotype as fact. She also believes that Indian children should be raised by white families: “If they seriously wanted to protect children, they would have to send them off the rez and give them to white foster homes.” Morris is affiliated with the “Citizens Equal Rights Alliance,” a white nationalist group. These are NSR’s people, leading her down the primrose path to conclude: “[T]he reservation [is] no place for . . . children.” [at 167]
NSR also relies upon Mark Fiddler (the man who wants as many Indian children in foster care as possible: “If anything, there should be more Indian children put into foster care.”). Like Morris, Fiddler condemns Indian parents and reservation homes, referring to a “cycle of dysfunctional parenting.” [at 152] Fiddler also alleges: “And a disproportionately high number of Indian children are in danger every day.” [at 149-50] Foster care in off-reservation homes as a solution to the real problems in Indian child welfare is a really bad idea. I addressed these claims here:
Studies show what should be inherently understood—plucking children out of a community they know and putting them in stranger foster care is actively harmful to kids (there’s a reason Casey Family Programs is putting a billion dollars into reducing the number of kids in foster care). Eighty percent of child welfare removals are due to neglect. Our children do deserve better: better services, better wrap around care, a better understanding of the mental health issues and chemical dependency that plagues their parents. They don’t deserve to be taken from everything familiar—their neighborhood, schools, and extended family—because of system failures in our society.
Opposition to ICWA often comes from the private adoption market, as I wrote here:
Who benefits if ICWA tumbles? As usual, the answer can be found by following the money. Start with the beneficiaries of the $14 billion private adoption market. The adoption industry long has been a foe of ICWA. Conversely, Indian tribes do not profit from the termination of parents’ rights.
ICWA requires the state to seek an Indian family to adopt where possible, but private adoption agencies don’t get paid unless an adoption with a paying family goes through. In both direct placement adoptions and adoptions following failed reunifications with parents, money works against reunification with families and ICWA compliance. Some foster parents are encouraged by private agencies to become foster-to-adopt parents, altering the goal of foster care from reunification to termination for adoption. And being told they will be able to adopt their Indian foster children just as soon as the parents’ rights are terminated creates an adversarial relationship – not one that encourages the stated goal of reunification. In addition, fees charged by private and religious adoption agencies taint direct placement adoption petitions.
The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin Legal Services Department currently seeks an Assistant Tribal Attorney-CS, SS. The ideal candidate will be a dynamic and energetic attorney capable to perform work in child support and child welfare and other projects as assigned. The Assistant Tribal Attorney-CS, SS will work as part of a team to protect and preserve the best interests of Menominee children and families. The position is located in Keshena, Wisconsin. The successful candidate may be eligible for federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.
The position of ASSISTANT TRIBAL ATTORNEY-CS, SS in LEGAL SERVICES with the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin has been posted beginning 9/28/2016 12:00:00 AM with a Close Date of 10/27/2016 11:59:00 PM.
This posting can be viewed at http://www.menominee-nsn.gov/Employment/Jobs.aspx .”
The following position is available within the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC).
The Office of General Counsel within the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) has an Attorney position available in our Washington, DC office. The open period to apply for this position is 09/22/2016 – 10/03/2016. If you are interested, it is important that you act quickly to complete the application process. For more information please go to our website www.nigc.gov , our Facebook page www.facebook.com/NIGCgov , and on www.usajobs.gov . If you have any questions regarding this position you may contact our Legal Executive Administrator Shakira_Ferguson@NIGC.gov , or our General Counsel Michael_Hoenig@NIGC.gov .
Passed last night! Here:
Naomi Schaefer Riley offered commentary on the Dakota Access Pipeline matter in her regular column in the New York Post, “How the Standing Rock Sioux should have been able to stop that pipeline.” This column continues NSR’s mockery of Indian peoples’ economic and cultural interests expressed in The New Trail of Tears.
The lede says it all:
Quick quiz: What’s the best way to stop a company from building an oil pipeline on a piece of land you find valuable? Answer: Buy the land.
Assuming that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other affected tribes had the resources to do so, it probably wouldn’t have mattered — energy companies usually just confiscate the land under their delegated power of eminent domain, as Dakota Access has. Sure, property ownership helps, but in the end, the law is tipped in the pipeline companies’ favor.
NSR cites to the Mormons (huh?) in a strange fictional scenario, and the friends of Langston Hughes in a more realistic scenario, who could purchase cultural property that might otherwise be destroyed through development:
But the results haven’t been satisfactory to the tribe. So let’s imagine a different scenario — in which any group of people in the United States wanted to block development on a certain site. Perhaps it’s the Mormons who hear a skyscraper will be going up in the place where Joseph Smith saw the golden tablets.
Or take a real-life example: The home where the poet Langston Hughes once lived is up for sale. A group of people want to turn it into a museum. In order to do so they’re raising money to buy the building from its current owner.
A pipeline developer’s power of eminent domain would wipe all that out. Really, the only thing that could stop the exercise of that power by an energy or utility company is tribal trust property, the very thing NSR criticizes as “dead capital,” to borrow Hernando de Soto’s phrase. Inspired by de Soto, NSR recommends (in a massive non sequitur) confiscating tribal trust property (never mind the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause) and awarding that property to individual Indians (much like she does in TNToT). The US tried that when it was called allotment and then again when it was called termination — both failed miserably. Peru tried it, too, following de Soto’s recommendations. Was it successful? Not so much. Other countries too (quoting from a Slate article that described the failures):
Reports from Turkey, Mexico, South Africa, and Colombia suggest similar trends. “In Bogota’s self-help settlements,” writes Alan Gilbert, a London professor of geography who has done extensive research on land issues in Colombia and other parts of Latin America, “property titles seem to have brought neither a healthy housing market nor a regular supply of formal credit.”
Indian country is the subject of a lot of predatory lending and redlining — NSR’s ideas very likely would mean massive windfalls for businesses exploiting poor people (kinda like Donald Trump’s claim that profiting from poor people in the housing crisis is “good business” in last night’s debate). Something tells me NSR doesn’t have the best interests of Indian people in mind.
Here is the complaint in McMillan Nakai v. Jewell (D.D.C.):
If you see me present in the next year, be warned that at the first question about notice and how long it takes for a tribe to respond, I may just read this opinion out loud. As a reminder, there is a list names and addresses in the Federal Register of Designated Tribal Agents for Service of ICWA Notice for agencies to send notice to when a parent says they are or may be a member of a tribe. The First Circuit does a very nice job of detailing the type of mistakes that are just incredibly common. A note–the Court uses the Federal Register list that was in effect when the notices supposedly went out in 2015. However, a few times the Agency managed to use agents listed in the most recent (March, 2016) register.
According to the Federal Register, the designated agent and address for the Jicarilla Apache Nation was “Olivia Nelson-Lucero, Acting Program Manager, Jicarilla Behavioral Health, P.O. Box 546, Dulce, NM 87528.” (79 Fed. Reg. 72027.)
According to the certified mailing receipt, the Agency sent the notice to the designated address, but directed it to “Director, Mental Health/Social Services” rather than to “Olivia Nelson-Lucero, Acting Program Manager, Jicarilla Behavioral Health.”
Current designated agent: Jicarilla Apache Nation, Sharnen Velarde, ICWA Social Worker, P.O. Box 546, Dulce, NM 87528
The designated agent and address for the Tonto Apache Tribe was “Brian Echols, Social Services Director, T.A.R. #30, Payson, AZ 85541.” (79 Fed. Reg. 72029.) The Agency sent the notice to the designated address, but directed it to “Lyndsie Butler, Social Services Director” rather than to “Brian Echols, Social Services Director.”
Agency used current agent, 81 Fed. Reg. 10909
The designated agent and address for the White Mountain Apache Tribe was “Cora Hinton, ICWA Representative/CPS Supervisor, P.O. Box 1870, Whiteriver, AZ 85941.” (79 Fed. Reg. 72029.) The Agency sent notice to the designated address, but to “Mariella Dosela, ICWA Representative” rather than to “Cora Hinton, ICWA Representative/CPS Supervisor.”
Agency used current agent, 81 Fed. Reg. 10909
The designated agent and address for the Yavapai Apache Nation was “Linda Fry, Director, Department of Social Services, 2400 West Datsi Street, Camp Verde, AZ 11 86322.” (79 Fed. Reg. 72029.) The Agency sent notice to the designated address, but omitted Linda Fry’s name and title. In other words, it simply sent the notice to the tribe, rather to any particular person at the tribe.
Current designated agent: Ray DiQuarto, Social Services Director, 2400 West Datsi Street, Camp Verde, AZ 86322
The designated agent and address for the Crow Tribe of the Crow Reservation of Montana was “Melveen Paula Fisher, ICWA Coordinator, P.O. Box 340, Crow Agency, MT 59022.” (79 Fed. Reg. 72026.) The Agency sent notice to the “ICWA Representative” rather than to Fisher as “ICWA Coordinator.” Moreover, the notice was not sent to the address designated in the Federal Register; it was sent to P.O. Box 159 rather than to P.O. Box 340.
Agent is the same in both Registers.
The designated agent and address for the Lower Sioux was “Reanna Jacobs, ICWA Advocate, Darin Prescott, Director, 39568 Reservation Highway 1, Morton, MN 56270.” (79 Fed. Reg. 72021.) The Agency sent notice to “ICWA Representative” rather than to “Reanna Jacobs, ICWA Advocate, Darin Prescott, Director.” Moreover, the notice was not sent to the address designated in the Federal Register
Agent is the same in both Registers.
The designated agent and address for the Oglala Sioux Tribe was “Juanita Sherick, Director ONTRAC, P.O. Box 2080, Pine Ridge, SD 57752.” (79 Fed. Reg. 72020.) Although the Agency sent notice to the designated address, it directed it to the “ICWA Administrator” rather than to “Juanita Sherick, Director ONTRAC.” While sending notice to an ICWA Administrator may well be sufficient in some instances, the record in this case does not explain why it would be sufficient when the designated agent is someone who is instead the Director of “ONTRAC.”
Current designated agent is Emily Iron Cloud-Koenen, ICWA Administrator, Oglala Sioux Tribe—ONTRAC, P.O. Box 2080, Pine Ridge, SD 57770
The designated agent and address for the Santee Sioux Nation was “Clarissa LaPlante, ICWA Specialist, Dakota Tiwahe Service Unit, Route 2, Box 5191, Niobrara, NE 68760.” (79 Fed. Reg. 72020.) The Agency sent notice to the designated address, but directed it to the “ICWA Specialist” rather than to “Clarissa LaPlante, ICWA Specialist.”
Current designated agent is Carla Cheney, ICWA Specialist, Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska, Dakota Tiwahe Social Services Program, Route 2, Box 5191, Niobrara, NE
The designated agent and address for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was “Terrance Yellow Fat, Director, Indian Child Welfare Program, P.O. Box 770, Fort Yates, ND 58538.” (79 Fed. Reg. 72020.) According to the certified mail receipt and return receipt, the Agency sent notice to the designated address, but directed it to “Raquel Franklin” rather than to “Terrance Yellow Fat, Director.”
Agency used current agent, 81 Fed. Reg. 10900.
The designated agent and address for the Hannahville Indian Community of Michigan was “Jessica Brock, ICWA Worker, N15019 Hannahville B1 Road, Wilson, MI 49896.” (79 Fed. Reg. 72021.) The Agency sent notice to the designated address, but directed it to “ICWA Worker” rather than to “Jessica Brock, ICWA Worker.”
Agent is the same in both Registers.
The designated agent and address of the Prairie Island Indian Community was “Nancy Anderson, Family Service Manager, 5636 Sturgeon Lake Road, Welch, MN 55089.” (79 Fed. Reg. 72021.) The Agency sent notice to the designated address, but directed it to “ICWA Representative” rather than to “Nancy Anderson, Family Service Manager.” The record does not disclose why the notice would ensure that it would be delivered to the appropriate person
Current designated Agent is Renae Wallace, Family Service Manager, 5636 Sturgeon Lake Road, Welch, MN 55089;
The designated agent and address for the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe was “Evelyn Pilcher, ICWA Specialist, P.O. Box 509 Agency Village, SD 57262.” (79 Fed. Reg. 72020.) The Agency sent notice to the designated address, but directed it to “ICWA Director” rather than Pilcher as “ICWA Specialist,” and added “Lake/Traver” to the name of the tribe.
Agent is the same in both Registers.
At least the Agency didn’t send notice to a tribal newspaper (100% true story).