Monique Vondall-Rieke: Conservative group's faulty ICWA report

Monique Vondall-Rieke. Photo from NDSU

Monique Vondall-Rieke, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, dispels claims made about the Indian Child Welfare Act as part of a conservative-funded Equal Protection for Indian Children campaign:
The announcement of A.D., et al. v. Washburn by the conservative group known as the Goldwater Institute comes with a bitter deja vu of “haven’t we heard this before?” I’ve got a few things that I can say are wrong with the pleadings filed by Goldwater on behalf of minor American Indian children, “next friend,” and potential adoptive parents. Mostly, however, I’ve got even more to say on the one-sided EPIC report they have produced to coincide with their summation that ICWA should be declared unconstitutional.

First of all, the report does its purpose for Goldwater regardless of the medical and psychological research that exists and documents the loss of cultural identity and historical trauma that American Indian children have been victims of for centuries. The report also fails to point any blame at even the beginnings of Indian to federal government (i.e. “founding fathers”) relationships and what they are based upon. The truth of the harms of the Doctrine of Discovery is avoided again and the convoluted desire to have an American Indian child at the center of arguments of white conservatives is the Hail Mary of what Justice Scalia coined as “jiggery-pokery” in the recent SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage. (Not that I would support his use of the term or dissenting opinion, of course.) It just doesn’t surprise me that the Goldwater Institute has invested time and money into a campaign to smear a federal law that undoes what historical trauma to American Indians has done for centuries in one fell swoop of a few isolated wins against ICWA.

The report begins with unmistakably sad stories of failures within American Indian communities across America where ICWA, they allege, did not protect the child. What Goldwater Institute fails to do, however, is focus on why some children are not connected to their tribal affiliation more than when they reach an ICWA stage. What they fail to point out is the overwhelming questions like: what were the incidences that led to those people being isolated from their cultural communities? The answer in most cases is because, somewhere in their lineage, someone was removed from their cultural communities and placed either in a non-Indian home, or in a boarding school. Both situations are damaging for a number of historically traumatic reasons told in stories over and over by our ancestors.

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Monique Vondall-Rieke on the Indian Child Welfare Act (Turtle Talk 7/11)

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