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Showing posts from February, 2012

Indian Child Welfare Act, three interviews; part one

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An interview with Diane Garreau, published in Indian Country Today in February 2012 and supported by the George Polk Program for Investigative Reporting. A related investigative story, Rough Justice in Indian Child Welfare,archived here. More ICWA stories here and here.
Native parents face extraordinary hurdles in keeping their children—including cultural misunderstandings and legal barriers that are unimaginable to many non-Native people. In this second decade of the 21st century, American Indian children in states across the country are still taken from their families and placed in foster care or adoptive homes at a much higher rate than other kids—just as they were before the passage of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal statute intended to help keep Native families intact. In Alaska, Native children make up 20 percent of the child population but 51 percent of those a state agency has placed in foster care; Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, North Dakota and Washington also…

Indian Child Welfare Act, three interviews; part two

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An interview with Indian-child-welfare advocate Frank LaMere. A version of this article was published in Indian Country Today in February 2012. It was part of a year-long project supported by the George Polk Program for Investigative Reporting.

Frank LaMere, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and executive director of the Four Directions Community Center, in Sioux City, Iowa, is a longtime advocate for Indian child welfare who works with many Native parents and families. He talked about what’s good, what’s bad and what needs to be done in an issue that is critical to the survival of the nation’s Native communities.
Has the perception of Indian child welfare changed since the recent NPR series exposing South Dakota’s IWCA problems or the CNN story on the Cherokee father who regained custody of his daughter via ICWA? The media stories you mention were shared widely, and I feel good about that—even though the CNN story was critical of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The exposure brought attention t…

Indian Child Welfare Act, three interviews; part three

An interview with counselor Danialle Rose; a version of this article appeared in Indian Country Today in February 2012. It was part of a year-long investigative project supported by the George Polk Program for Investigative Reporting.

Danialle Rose, of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, is a licensed certified social worker and mental health professional with Capitol Area Counseling Service, central South Dakota’s state mental health center. Her job there as an in-home family therapist finds her working with children and families on the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe’s reservation. Rose’s background is both academic—she has a masters in social work from the University of California, Berkeley, with a focus on children’s mental health—and rooted in her community.
“Because I grew up on my reservation, I’ve been a part of the culture my whole life,” sys Rose. “I’ve also participated in ceremonies that have strengthened my ability to understand and to do this type of work.”
As she drives home from her j…

South Dakota Indians sue for early voting

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A version of this article appeared on the investigative news site 100Reporters.com in January 2012.

Native Americans have never had an easy time getting to the polls in South Dakota. In 1977, its attorney general called the extension of the Voting Rights Act to cover them an “absurdity” and told the secretary of state at the time to ignore it. Native people hadn’t voted in the state anyway until the 1940s, even though the Indian Citizenship Act had given them that right in 1924. When South Dakota polling places were finally opened to Native Americans, they faced barriers for decades, including harassment. Prior to the 2002 general election, the state sent agents to Indian reservations to question newly registered voters in an apparent effort to root out voter fraud; no one was ever charged. On the morning of the 2004 election, a judge stopped poll watchers from following Native Americans out of voting places and taking down their license-plate numbers.
Now, members of the Oglala Sioux T…