Protect the Indian Child Welfare Act
Protect the Indian Child Welfare Act
Hello, thank you for taking the time to read about this issue and support. We are the Esto’k Gna of Somi S’ek, the Original Peoples of so-called Texas. We have been here before any other group of people migrated or were forcibly displaced onto our lands. We aim to protect and live our Lifeways, while sharing with others about who we are. We are not protestors. We are protectors. We are carrying out the tasks given to us by our parents, our parents' parents, and the generations backwards and forwards. Today, we come to you to talk about so-called Texas and the various ways they continue to attack us: Native peoples, the land, the water, the air. We call on Ken Paxton, Attorney General of Texas and Brent Webster, First Assistant Attorney General to uphold and protect the Indian Child Welfare Act.
On September 1, 2021, Senate Bill 8 went into effect. This law bans access to people living in Texas to access abortion after 6 weeks. A point at which people don’t know if they are pregnant. It further criminalizes family or friends who help someone get an abortion after the 6-week restriction by allowing anyone to sue them and reap a $10k bounty. While this affects all people who are able to get pregnant, it disproportionately will have worse outcomes for Black, Native, and People of Color, who are already at the intersections of high criminalization and violence with lack of access to adequate health care.
A couple days later on September 3, 2021, a petition was filed asking the United States Supreme Court to review the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in Brackeen v Haaland, essentially asking them to overturn the Indian Child Welfare Act. The lawsuit is brought by Texas, Indiana, Louisiana, and individual plaintiffs alleging that ICWA is unconstitutional.
The two are connected because of money and land greed. When Native people are not wanting or able to see a pregnancy to term, and instead look towards releasing that pregnancy (get an abortion), they are denied access, criminalized, and/or told to “just give it up for adoption." This leads to Native children disproportionately being “adopted” by predominantly white families, disconnecting them from their traditions, teachings, and lands. Large amounts of money make this process happen, and in turn, the government continues with its goal to “kill the Indian, save the man” through threatening the safeguards the ICWA has enabled throughout the years. Safeguards that lawyers still circumvent.
Brief History on ICWA
The Indian Child Welfare Act was enacted in 1978 in response to the large number of Native children being separated from their parents, extended families, and communities at the hands of state child welfare and private adoption agencies. An ongoing legacy from when Native children were abducted by the church and government and placed into boarding schools. The ICWA sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings involving an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe.
Essentially, the purpose of ICWA is to keep Native children within their families or tribal settings, recognizing not only the importance of keeping Native children in the safest homes, but also highlighting that what is best for a Native child is to remain with a family that will maintain and enhance those ancestral ties. In various Native communities across the world, we know that connection to the land is connection to ourselves and one another, so disconnection from the land is disconnection from ourselves and one another.
To the white man and colonial society, a Native child has historically been treated as a thing--a pet or plant that can be taken, bought, uprooted, and placed into a new home where it will be trained to work or adapt to society’s norms. Historically, Native children were kidnapped and placed into boarding schools for the purpose of “Kill the Indian, save the man." Currently, the goal remains the same while the tactics have changed. ICWA created safeguards, but it also has its limitations. It is highly ignored by lawyers already, creating alternative routes of law to allow mostly white parents to “adopt” Native children.
We Esto’k Gna, like our relatives from other nations, have been deeply impacted by the kidnapping of our children in the “name of progress”. We stand with our relatives and demand that the ICWA be upheld and further that the government respect Tribal governance overall. The ICWA is a part of their machine. In it, they tell us the criteria for being an “Indian child” and how, when, and in what manner family and Tribes can get involved. We are Esto’k Gna, we are people of the land, we do not need the US or any other government dividing us up through blood quantum mentatilities, kidnapping our children, killing our women, taking our men, and desecrating our siblings who are Two Spirit, QTLBGI+. Overturning the ICWA is about land management. With the kidnapping of Native children through the adoption process, it disconnects them from their lands, from their families, from their traditions, from their creation. It is a current iteration of “Kill the Indian, save the man.” The "man" to be saved is a person that will live in their society, and think like them. With the severed connection to the land, that means less Native people to populate the tribe, to maintain their Lifeways, and to protect and defend the land from “development” such as pipelines, mines, and other “critical infrastructure” that is destructive to the land, waters, people.
This attack against ICWA is reflective of their thirst for land grab and energy consumption, which can further be seen through the over 28 laws waived in Somi S’ek (so-called texas) in the Valley in order to build their border wall. They waive their own laws in order to create areas known as “no mans’ land” where US Border Patrol and Homeland Security have ultimate jurisdiction. Included in the laws being waived are the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Like ICWA, NAGPRA and AIRFA are meant to protect Native peoples and our traditional items, histories, Lifeways, land, water, and more, but because the US government wrote it, they can sidestep it at will with their word play and the power they have taken. There are many more of us “Indians” than they’ll ever recognize, due to kidnapping, boarding schools, adoption agencies, and the hoops people have to jump through in order to prove who we are, but we know. And they are scared. Which is why they are trying to overturn ICWA. Which is why we can’t let it happen. We must protect the few safeguards we have and we must demand for more. For our children, for ourselves, for the land, for the water, for the air, for the fires.
Sign this petition in support of ICWA and stay tuned for further updates.
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