Letters to the Editor
In Lloyd Omdahl’s article titled, “Indian Child Welfare Laws Should Be for Children,” (Op-Ed, July 1), Omdahl first argues that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) allows tribes to engage in “sacrificing children to protect the heritage of the tribes”. Secondly, Omdahl uses the example of the Spirit Lake reservation’s badly run foster care program to argue that the ICWA policy of trying to keep Native families and tribes together is damaging to children. However, the findings of the Indian Child Welfare Act Commission of 1973 show that on the contrary, separating the children from their extended families and tribe, like Omdahl advocates, is truly damaging to the children.
Omdahl falsely believes that ICWA affects the safety of Indian children. ICWA mandates that “active efforts” be taken to place Native children with their tribes or extended family. If no suitable family member or Native adoptive parent is found, then the child can be placed into state custody or adopted by a non-Native family. An abusive Native family does not take precedent over a safe non-Native family, ever. Spirit Lake’s abuses came from tribal corruption, not federal law. ICWA was passed because studies showed that Native children who have been removed from their ethnic and cultural heritage often suffer a host of psychological and identity issues, not counting the damage caused by the initial removal.
The abuses on Spirit Lake are certainly horrendous, but abuse is not unique to Native reservations. The recent trial of South Dakota foster parent Richard Mette for the rape and abuse of his Lakota foster girls, and the subsequent attempt by state to cover up the case, a chilling story. The abuses and corruption Omdahl cites are therefore not exclusive to Spirit Lake’s foster care.
In addition, Omdahl believes that Native children somehow serve as “cash cows” for their family and tribes. This is particularly ironic. If a Native grandmother or extended family member adopts a child, it is called “kinship care”, and the adoptive parent might qualify for a small amount of aid from programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. But if an unrelated, non-Native family off the reservation adopts the child, they stand to rake in thousands of dollars in state and federal adoptive family benefits, bonuses, and aid per year. Finally, Omdahl feels sympathy for the adoptive parents who lost their adopted children because the adoption would have violated ICWA. But Omdahl does not feel joy for the Native family and tribe who, against the odds of hundreds of years of genocide and oppression, managed to get their precious children back where they belong.
Tobias Rushing & Robert Moddelmog,
Rapid City, S.D.
Well, fellow county fair competitors, I learned something the last 2 years in the photography competition….
DON’T worry about the rules, they don’t.
The only one they worry about is what group your photos fall under.
They still get judged right along with the photos by those who ACTUALLY FOLLOWED THE RULES….