Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) 1978

Wrapping Our Ways Around Them: Aboriginal Communities and the CFCSA Guidebook


This Guidebook is based on the belief that Aboriginal peoples need to know, and work with, the systems that impact children and families today such as the Child, Family and Community Service Act (CFCSA), Provincial Court (Child, Family and Community Service Act) Rules (Rules), Child, Family and Community Service Regulation (CFCSA Regulation), Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and delegated Aboriginal agencies.

Exercising exclusive jurisdiction over child welfare remains the goal for Aboriginal peoples: Restoring Aboriginal ways of doing things, especially in caring for children, is essential for the health and well-being of children and families. Successive generations of Aboriginal children continue to be taken into the child welfare system. Without intervention, experience has shown that the outcome for these children will be bleak and reverberate outward, influencing the future of entire families, communities and nations. This Guidebook suggests immediate steps that can be taken on the ground we are standing on–within the CFCSA and systems that impact Aboriginal children and families today–to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children while building toward a better future.

Resource Type

Walkem, Ardith. Wrapping Our Ways Around Them: Aboriginal Communities and the CFCSA Guidebook. ShchEma-mee.tkt Project. Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council. British Columbia, Canada. 2015. Guide. (, accessed May 29, 2015)

How does measuring poverty and welfare affect American Indian children?


For one group of children in particular, American Indians and Alaska Natives, exceedingly high poverty rates have had profound impacts on community wellbeing and long-term cohesiveness. Given the best available data, from the U.S. Census data, child poverty rates among American Indians and Alaska Natives have consistently exceeded 40% for almost the past 30 years.

Native Nations
Resource Type

Akee, Randall. How does measuring poverty and welfare affect American Indian children? The Brookings Institution. March 12, 2019.… 

Sarah Deer: The Muscogee (Creek) Nation's Approach to Citizenship

William Mitchell College of Law

Sarah Deer (Muscogee), Co-Director of the Indian Law Program at the William Mitchell College of Law, provides a brief overview of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation's unique approach to defining its citizenship criteria, which essentially creates two classes of citizens: those who run for elected office, and those who can't. 

This video resource is featured on the Indigenous Governance Database with the permission of the Bush Foundation.

Native Nations
Resource Type

Deer, Sarah. "The Muscogee (Creek) Nation's Approach to Citizenship." Tribal Citizenship Conference, Indian Law Program, William Mitchell College of Law, in conjunction with the Bush Foundation. St. Paul, Minnesota. November 13, 2013. Presentation.

"What I'd like to talk about just very briefly is...first of all, I'm a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and I the way I look, you can tell I'm a lineal descendent as opposed to having a high blood quantum. And I want to talk a little bit about that because one of the things I think -- especially in Oklahoma -- they kind of joke about us. I'm not Cherokee, but they joke about the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Cherokees, and one of the things I think that's really important for someone like me to acknowledge is that I have privilege because of the way I look. I can walk into a store and I'm not treated as an Indian because people don't see me as an Indian.

And when I was talking to one of my mentors, an elder who works to help me try to learn my language, she talked a little bit about that with me recently, about...when she grew up in rural Oklahoma in the 1950s, the level of painful racism in her memory is still very palpable, being treated as second class because of her skin color and because of her name and so today when she sees people who can pass, who don't acknowledge their privilege, who say, ‘I'm a tribal citizen, but I'm just the same as you,' when I didn't go through the experience of racism is painful. And I think we have to talk about that when we talk about lineal descendency because I get the privilege of passing. I get to tell people I'm Indian if I want to and if we don't acknowledge that painful history, I think we're going to continue to have a lot of controversy about what this means to potentially open up citizenship. So I wanted to say that at the outset.

And the other thing that I think is interesting is that I'm asked often what much Indian I am, my blood quantum. But the only people who tend to ask me that are non-Indian people. What Native people ask me is, ‘Who is your family?' So it's...the blood quantum itself is something that is of interest to people, but in my experience that's usually coming from outside the tribe.

Now, what I wanted to talk about was one particular facet of my own tribe's constitution when it comes to governance because we have two classes of citizens. One class is full citizens and the other class is citizens and I want to talk about the difference between the two in just a second. But typically, when we think about American citizenship, the American government really doesn't do much in terms of distinguishing between citizens. All citizens are treated the same. If you're naturalized, you have the same rights and privileges as people who were born here. The one exception that I think became I think a focal point of the election in 2008 was that the president must be a natural-born citizen and so to be the President of the United States you have to have been born here in the country.

So let me tell you about how this Muscogee constitution developed. We have a very complicated history as most tribes do. In Oklahoma in particular we governed...we had really no acknowledgement of our government between 1906 and 1977, 1978. We were still operating as a government, but the federal government didn't recognize us pursuant to the Curtis Act. So when we were able to fight and get recognized as having continuing governance throughout that time period, the federal court actually ordered a constitutional convention, which was interesting and sort of ironic that in terms of re-recognizing the tribal government, the federal judge says, ‘And we will tell you how to do this.' But we did end up ratifying and passing a new constitution in 1979, which governs us today, and citizenship in our nation is determined through lineal descent [from] the 1906 Dawes Roll.

One of the things that's interesting about that of course is that in 1906 during allotment, many traditional people refused the Dawes Roll. They refused to go and sign up for their allotment on principle because they never consented to breaking up the reservation and so you have a lot of traditional people in Oklahoma today who are not enrolled in any tribe because their ancestor stood their ground. So that's another interesting facet.

But what I want to talk about specifically is how the constitution distinguishes between full citizens and citizens, and this comes from Article 3, Section 4 of our constitution, and explains that full citizenship requires the one-quarter blood quantum and those folks are known as the 'full citizens.' And then all citizens who are less than a quarter blood shall be considered citizens and shall have all of the rights and entitlements as members of the Muskogee Creek Nation except the right to hold office. And I'm still doing some research to figure out exactly how this decision was made or what the dialogue in the community was, but to hold office under the constitution you have to have this quarter-blood requirement. So I can't run for office.

And so one of the things that happened is how do we interpret that language? So I just...I present this sort of as a cautionary tale as you're thinking about potentially designing language that would provide this kind of distinction, the kinds of ambiguities that can develop. So what does it mean to hold office? And this became the subject of a dispute in 1986 and the question of what is the right to hold office. So citizens of the nation elect a principal chief, a second chief and a tribal council. And justices and judges are appointed by the principal chief and confirmed by the council so they're not elected positions.

So in 1986, there was a district court case in our tribal court and the party who lost the case appealed to the Muscogee Supreme Court arguing that the judge, the district court judge in that case was not a quarter blood, he was an eighth and so the losing party challenged that decision saying that the judge was not qualified under the constitution because he was holding office with less than a quarter blood. And so what the tribal supreme court then had to do is to interpret what the constitution meant by hold office. And they ended up determining that the constitutional requirement for full citizens or quarter bloods applies only to elected officials. So in other words, the judge and the justices do not have to be full citizens under the constitution.

Now after that case, the Muscogee Tribal Council passed a law that required judges and justices to be full citizens. And this has never actually been litigated, although I suppose someone could challenge that as a question of whether or not the constitution saying hold office trumps the statute that says judges and justices are included in that. So we don't know for sure how the court would have ruled on that particular statute. But slowly, in recent years, I think what has happened is that the body of qualified judges and justices has somewhat shrunk in the sense that there's not a whole lot of quarter bloods practicing law in our tribal courts. And so how do you then find a judge or a justice who's qualified to sit on the court?

So in 2010, the tribal council passed new laws stating that the judges and justices must be full citizens unless there's a waiver passed by two-thirds of the council. And in 2012, they amended that again and now you must merely be a citizen of the tribe, which means there's no blood quantum requirement for the court, but still the quarter blood quantum requirement is for principal chief, second chief and council. So I can be a judge for my tribe, but I can't run for office is basically how that plays out for me; being not in Oklahoma, I suppose that I would not be in a position to run for office at any level.

So there's one other thing I wanted to say about that. Oh, so the other thing that may be important in thinking about this is that to be a district court judge or a trial court judge in our tribe you have to be an attorney. You have to have a JD, you have to have a license to practice law, and you have to have at least four years of experience practicing tribal law. For the justices of our Supreme Court, there is no requirement that you have a legal degree, you merely have to be appointed by the principal chief. And so we have elders on our tribal Supreme Court who are not attorneys and I think that's a really intriguing development where I see a mixture of attorneys and non-attorneys on the supreme courts of tribes where you can blend then traditional knowledge with sort of contemporary western legal traditions.

So I just wanted to give that as sort of a tale of being careful when you draft language, because I'm not sure that everybody agreed on what 'hold office' would have meant, but now it's pretty clear that judges and justices are exempt from the full citizenship requirement.

One other thing I just wanted to raise because we talk about the Veronica case and the Indian Child Welfare Act. One of the things that's interesting about ICWA is that it applies when a child is a member or eligible for membership. Can a tribal government distinguish between citizenship and membership? The reason I bring this up was partly based on a comment made this morning about the clumsiness of the English language and how the English language around the terms like 'citizenship' and 'members' is really incomplete or a mismatch for culture. But there is an English distinction between 'member' and 'citizen,' at least they're two different words, and so one of the questions that I would just pause at -- and I don't know that I have an answer to this is, could a tribal government distinguish between citizenship and membership specifically thinking about ICWA and expanding the body of children in which the tribe would have jurisdiction over? So that was just one piece that I wanted to leave you with and I think that's what I have to say. So thank you."

Bethany Berger: Citizenship: Culture, Language and Law

William Mitchell College of Law

University of Connecticut Law Professor Bethany Berger provides a brief history of the federal policies that have negatively impacted the ways that Native nations define and enforce their criteria for citizenship historically through to the present day. 

This video resource is featured on the Indigenous Governance Database with the permission of the Bush Foundation.

Native Nations
Resource Type

Berger, Bethany. "Citizenship: Culture, Language and Law." Tribal Citizenship Conference, Indian Law Program, William Mitchell College of Law, in conjunction with the Bush Foundation. St. Paul, Minnesota. November 13, 2013. Presentation.

Sarah Deer:

"Our first panel this morning is really designed to develop a foundation for the rest of the day: discuss culture, language and law as it relates to tribal citizenship; historical overview of the laws that have affected tribal citizenship; and what our culture and stories tell us about traditional concepts of citizenship. Our first speaker will be Professor Bethany Berger. All of our speaker bios, by the way, are in your materials, your program for today, so I'm not going to go through and read each line of everyone's bio, but I did want to say a few things about Professor Berger. She is a widely read scholar of property law and one of the leading federal Indian law scholars in the country.

She is a co-author and member of the editorial board of the Felix Cohen Handbook of Federal Indian Law, the foundational treatise in the field and co-author of one of the case books, American Indian Law: Cases and Commentary. After law school, Professor Berger went to the Navajo and Hopi nations to serve as the Director of the Native American Youth Law Project of DNA Peoples Legal Services and there she conducted litigation challenging discrimination against Indian children. At the University of Connecticut, she teaches American Indian law, property, tribal law, and conflicts of Laws. She has served as a judge for the Southwest Intertribal Court of Appeals and has been a visiting professor at Harvard and University of Michigan.

Our next speaker is Professor John Borrows, who is at the University of Minnesota Law School, a professor in the area of international law and human rights. He was appointed Professor and Law Foundation Chair of Aboriginal Justice in Governance at the University of Victoria in 2001. Prior to that, he taught at several other places including the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia-Vancouver. He received his Ph.D. in 1994, an LLM in 1991 and a JD in 1990. He has been honored with a Trudeau Fellowship for Research Achievements, Creativity and Social Commitment with an achievement award from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation for Outstanding Accomplishment in the fields of law and justice.

And finally, our panelist professor Stephen Cornell, who is a professor of Sociology in Public Administration and Policy at the University of Arizona, also Faculty Associate with the Native Nations Institute. He is the Director of the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, Professor of Sociology-Public Administration. Also Co-Director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, a program headquartered at the Kennedy School of Governance. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and taught at Harvard University for nine years before moving to California and then to Arizona. All of these speakers today have had a profound impact on my scholarship and I think have really done an incredible amount to try to articulate how federal Indian law has impacted the lives, the real lives of Native people today. So I'm very excited to introduce the panel. Please join me in welcoming them this morning."


Bethany Berger:

"So I want to say what a pleasure it is to be here and how sorry I am I can't stay for the rest of the day. You guys are doing really important and hard work here. And in my remarks, I'm going to focus on large overall trends mostly in federal Indian law, so it's not necessarily going to speak to your tribal choices, but some of the factors may be the same. And I also want to say what a pleasure it is to be on a panel with Professor Borrows and Professor Cornell, and Professor Cornell in particular helped shape the way I look at federal Indian policy history.

So we talk about tribal citizen choices in historical perspective, mostly focusing on the federal trends, but I also want to say that tribes have always engaged in boundary drawing and those boundaries have always relied heavily on descent and clanship, but they've also always made room for incorporating people that weren't born with that descent and clan. So this is from a frieze in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. This is an image of Pocahontas supposedly saving Captain Smith. Whether it's apocryphal or not, one of the suggestions about it is that this was actually an adoption ritual, that in order for an outsider to be adopted into the Pamunkey they had to go through a kind of play-acted process of attempted threat and saving. And this kind of adoption has gone on throughout history.

The Navajo Nation, the Diné -- where I've worked -- have the [Mexican] clan from the Mexican people, the [Red House] clan from the Zuni people and many other clans that reflect people that were not born Diné. In the Great Lakes, intermarriage was often a tool of diplomacy. If you could marry somebody in, you could build a relationship with them that would have important political impacts.

And this process of boundary drawings continued after contact. Just the 1827 Cherokee Constitution -- something that the Cherokee Nation created in a spirit of defiance -- to some extent engaged in this boundary drawing and some of the interesting things you see in it is that they'd already changed some of their traditions saying that children of Cherokee men, because this is a matrilineal tribe, Cherokee men with non-Cherokee women could become Cherokee, but they're also making rules about those of negro and mulatto descent. And so these kind of decisions are shaped from the outside, from the inside in multiple levels.

So federal boundary drawing: federal government has always been interested in drawing boundaries about who is Indian, who is not, who is part of a tribe, who is not. From very first Congress, we passed the Trade and Intercourse acts providing that non-Indians could not be on Indian land, that there were certain punishments, providing jurisdictional rules. And one question is, does 'Indian' mean tribal citizen or not? And relatively early on in the case of U.S. v. Rogers in 1846, the courts essentially decided Indian means whatever the federal government wants it to mean, that a white man who had married a Cherokee woman becomes a citizen of the nation, had actually traveled on the Trail of Tears. He was not Indian for purposes of the federal law, because basically they didn't think Congress wanted that kind of tribal power to change jurisdictional definitions. So this is continually a problem that tribes face, that there is room for making tribal citizenship decisions, but that room can be clamped down on by the federal government.

Process of treaty making and putting people on reservations obviously involved lots of questions about who is a tribal member and who is not, because annuities became really significant once you were on a reservation, once you couldn't engage in the practices that had sustained your people on a greater piece of land. And in fact, annuities would be taken away if you didn't conform to the rules that the agent on the reservation imposed.

One interesting aspect from this area that involves the conference on the Dakota War that William Mitchell [College of Law] put on last year, the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux were deprived of all of their annuities and deposed from their reservation as a reaction to the Dakota War even though they had not been involved at all and there's an 1867 treaty saying, "˜Oops, you were the wrong group to deprive annuities from.'

Another thing that comes up in these annuity treaties is, and the benefits from treaties, what about people that are the products of intermarriage with people outside the tribe? And quite a lot of these tribes...these treaties around this time have either half-blood or mixed-blood scrip saying...some of them saying, "˜We want to provide for these people,' some of them not necessarily including that provision. And a problem we see in the...from a number of these treaties -- including significantly the 1854 treaty with the Lake Superior Chippewa, kind of an amalgamation of a whole bunch of Ojibwe peoples -- was that the federal government kind of thought anybody with a little Chippewa heritage might be eligible for a mixed-blood scrip and got people applying for their 80 acres by just finding somebody that they could convince was a little bit Chippewa to sign up. And you may be aware of all the scandals that arose from that. But these are just ways the federal government is drawing these boundaries that may not necessarily have to do with the way tribes are drawing boundaries and how it affects tribes going on.

Allotment -- huge impact on tribal citizenship choices. You know this both in treaties in the 1850s on, but particularly after the Dawes Act in 1887, federal government is dividing up reservations, providing allotments to members of the tribes and any land that wasn't allotted out was considered surplus and sold off. And so part of the process, the federal government is creating rolls. Who gets the allotment? And this is a big moment in which which individuals are just saying, "˜I'm a member of this tribe and getting it recorded.' Another big moment like that is when other tribes are applying for claims for the improper taking of their land and that's another moment we get these rolls. And it's important to see that these rolls are not really created for tribal purposes. They're created for intimately federal purposes as well, even though they're fundamental to a lot of tribal citizenship requirements today.

So what does this mean for tribes besides the creation of the rolls? Tribes are watching land and money go out to the people that are on these rolls and there's a concern. What if these individuals that are getting our allotted land are not really people we consider part of the tribe? So there's a pressure on tribe to start excluding some people and we see that throughout Indian Country.

Another key thing is that allotment by selling off surplus land to non-tribal members, so that's about two-thirds of the land goes out that way plus the land that was allotted, restrictions removed from it so that could be sold or taken for payment of debts or taxes, sometimes fraudulent. A lot of that money goes out to non-tribal citizens and about three-quarters of land on reservation goes to non-tribal citizens. And under federal law, very difficult to kick those people off. So if you think about the border disputes that the United States has about people coming in, Indian nations can't really enforce that border in that way in part because of allotment so that's changing some citizenship choices.

Another thing -- so this is a picture of a boarding school. Look at all those kids looking just not happy and you know why. But towards the end of the 19th century we get this massive increase in federal services and federal services, they cost money so the federal government is starting to say, "˜Hey, we want to limit the people that are eligible for those federal services,' and one of the laws that they passed to do that says, "˜If you're less than one-quarter blood and we think you're relatively civilized, you're not eligible for these services.' We don't have those specific laws in effect anymore, but we see a lot of their echoes in federal laws today trying to limit the people that can be eligible.

So throughout this process, tribes are having to make choices about who is in and who is out. The big moment when this is formalized in constitutions -- and when there is federal pressure, we really want to see these choices -- is in the Indian New Deal period in the 1930s, when the federal government is encouraging tribes to enact constitutions as part of the process of, to some extent, self-determination that the Indian New Deal represented, and saying, "˜We're going to insist and demand that the people that are included by your constitutions are those that you really want included, that have significant affiliations with your tribe, because this is who the federal money for your tribe is going to go to.' And so this research is from Kirsty Gover and most of it published in a great article from 2009 in the American Indian Law Review and this shows...this is 1936, this is 2003 and just shows how many constitutions, tribal constitutions are adopted during this period and I actually created this one -- she didn't include 1936 because it would just be off the chart -- and so like 30 constitutions are adopted in this period, a whole bunch more in the "˜40s. And then we see in the "˜60s, that's when this process of constitution adopting starts again, kind of goes up again and this is when we're kind of getting into the self-determination period. So this is somewhat more tribal choices to adopt the constitutions. They weren't forced on them before, but there was more federal pressure to do it.

And so what kind of citizenship requirements do we see in these? And it's from the very early period almost 90 percent have parental enrollment requirements. More than 50 percent have residence requirements, that your...either parents have to be residing on the reservation or you have to, or your parents have to be members, you have to be residing on the reservation. Somewhat under 50 percent have Indian or tribal blood requirements and very few have lineal descent requirements. And what this shows is that a number of tribes over this period that require parental enrollment, that goes way down. Residence, that goes way, way down and the Indian or tribal blood requirements and the lineal descent requirements go up. And something this chart doesn't show is that the...what kind of descent is required is shifting from being somewhat more just Indian blood to being tribal blood. This is blood of the nation. And this... so this period, this is what tribes are doing on their own. They're not getting a form constitution or set of membership requirements from the federal government so what is creating this process?

So let's think about what happened after the 1930s. One thing, we get World War II and Native people serve in significant numbers and even more significant numbers -- they go off the reservation to work in the defense industry. And so that's bringing Native people off the reservations. Another factor, relocation, 1950s, federal government is saying, "˜Hey, just leave the reservations; by the way, we don't want reservations anymore, we don't want to pay for people on the reservations. Come to the cities.' And we see that very much in the cities here. We see that in Denver, we see that in Los Angeles, across the country, and so that's also dispersing the population off the reservation.

Something else: Indian gaming. And so this is the poster from the NIGA conference that just happened, this beautiful Sandia Resort and Casino, which creates wealth and questions about how it's going to be distributed, some similar questions to those we saw with allotment.

Other factors: so something important in this area and also in the Northwest, treaty fishing disputes in which tribes are given the power to regulate fishing within their treaty-protected areas. And there's a question, who gets that power to fish, to be considered a member of the tribe and to fish under the treaty? And the tribes are deciding that. So if they limit who can be a member of the tribe, then there can be their relatives that can't participate in that treaty fishing or hunting.

Another factor, these federal laws that create distinctions between tribal power over Indians and non-Indians, members and non-members. So we know '78, Supreme Court says tribes have no criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians. Does this apply...deny them criminal jurisdiction over non-member Indians? The Supreme Court originally said 'no' in 1990, Congress immediately turned around and said yes, but still there's some constitutional questions about that. More important, limits on civil jurisdiction over non-members, and it's not fully resolved, but I think the pretty good argument that tribal jurisdiction is very significantly limited over non-member Indians as well as non-Indians. So somebody is not a member, you may not have jurisdiction over them.

Another factor: Indian Child Welfare Act. Now there's something else in 1978 and Sarah [Deer] talked about the importance of having custody over your children. If somebody is not either a member or the child of the member eligible to be a member, they can' can't exercise that jurisdiction under the Indian Child Welfare Act. So that's something pushing towards a broader definition of who is in and who is out. Huge factor that may push in different ways, publish challenges to the idea of Indianness. If somebody who doesn't anything looks at you and says, "˜Do you look Indian to me or not?' what is the impact of that and we just saw that in a really painful way in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl in which this man...this child Veronica was taken away from her father, Dusten Brown, because they found that they were not entitled to the protections of the Indian Child Welfare Act under this particular set of circumstances were quite complicated under this statute. And I think it's probably a stupid reading of a statute, but the thing that really tried to...that really influenced the court was this idea that she wasn't Indian enough, that they said, "˜This case is about a little girl who's classified as an Indian because she is 1.2 percent, 3/256th Cherokee.' That's not why she was classified as an Indian. She was classified as an Indian because Cherokee Nation says, "˜Anybody that's a descendent of historical members of our tribe, she is eligible for enrollment in the Cherokee Nation.' That meant that he was...he actually was enrolled in the Cherokee Nation, she was eligible for enrollment.' In fact, the determination of blood quantum has to do with those historical federal rolls, it was probably totally inaccurate, but there's that kind of factor of defining what does it mean? Are the people you define to be a tribe... what are outsiders going to say? And so this all creates these kind of push and pull factors that affect these really hard questions that you guys are dealing with today.

So this is just a picture of violence that occurred as part of the political dispute that arose from the disenrollments of members of the Chukchansi Tribe in California where not only has it really, really messed up their government, they've also disenrolled one of the last Native speakers as a result of this determination of blood lines and stuff. So tremendous impacts of this stuff for your governments, for your people, for your children. So this is again hard work that you're doing and thank you for doing it."

Honoring Nations: Julia "Bunny" Jaakola: Turning Sovereignty into a Practical Reality: The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development

Julia "Bunny" Jaakola shares how the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa turned sovereignty into a practical reality through leadership, community engagement, and collaboration with outside entities.

Resource Type

Jaakola, Julia "Bunny." "Turning Sovereignty into a Practical Reality: The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Sante Fe, New Mexico. February 7, 2002. Presentation.

Andrew Lee:

"The first person I would like to introduce -- comes from the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa -- is Bunny Jaakola. If you don't know, the Fond du Lac Band has won a number of awards, both in 1999 and in 2000, in 1999 for their off-reservation Indian foster care program that Bunny is involved with, and also in 2000 for their pharmacy online billing initiative. I don't know whether you're going to be discussing both in particular, but she certainly has a great deal of knowledge about 'How to Turn Sovereignty into a Practical Reality.' Welcome, Bunny."

Julia "Bunny" Jaakola:

"Thank you very much. It's a real privilege to be here. I thought that I was going to come and see some mild, nice weather coming from Minnesota, because we have a shortage of snow there. We're not having normal winter weather at all. But it's real nice being here in the sun. I'm Bunny Jaakola. I'm from the Fond du Lac Band of Minnesota Chippewa in northern Minnesota, and I work as the coordinator of social services for the tribe. I've been there almost 15 years now. I've been in the tribe a lot longer than that.

Fond du Lac has an enrollment of about 3,500 people and has grown to be the largest employer within the county of about 30,000 people. We have two casinos, one of which is in downtown Duluth. This came about as a partnership between the Band and the city council and continues to be a profitable endeavor.

Our chairman, Robert Peacock, sends his regards and regrets that he couldn't be here. I can also tell you that the chairman is very proud of the accomplishments of the staff at Fond du Lac. It's through his leadership and the support of other council members that we have been able to do what we do. A good idea for growth and development receives the attention necessary to proceed. The leaders recognized the merits of community input to determine needs, and that allows the workers to turn those needs into goals. These goals eventually become the actual steps in the overall development of services for our Indian people. Trust in the people who are hired to carry out such plans has been the impetus that retains long-term employees and nurtures the commitment to continue such projects.

Our leaders have acknowledged and continue to promote the value of working closely with the county and state neighbors to address some very hard issues, while not giving up our sovereignty. Collaboration is the key for Fond du Lac and the Minnesota conservation departments to establish hunting and fishing practices that are fair to everyone and yet retain the tribal rights of Indian people. The Fond du Lac education division strives to work closely with the public school systems and yet develop an American Indian educational system that will retain cultural values, traditions, and provide a better understanding for children of our very valuable history. Fond du Lac is also successfully carving out a tribal law enforcement program that will be able to work in conjunction with county, city, and state police. Efforts are currently at work to develop community response programs to provide options for the county court judges that will give a first or early Indian offender an opportunity for rehabilitation rather than jail time. The tentative plan requires no additional staff, nor additional funding.

More specifically to the human service division, a partnership was formed in 1994 with St. Louis County to provide Families First services to the Indian people who reside in Duluth -- and Duluth is about 25 miles away from our reservation. We have a contract with Arrowhead Juvenile Center since 1998 to provide an Indian employee to work with the Indian youth who are incarcerated there, trying to reduce the recidivism rate of the kids who are incarcerated. We have a contract with Carlton County that has been renewed each year since 1996 to maintain an on-reservation foster care program. We are just completing three years of contracts with the Duluth Family Collaborative to employee two social workers who provide wrap-around services to the Duluth Indian families.

The support I receive from Fond du Lac leadership has made it possible for me to actively participate in seven long years of the development, negotiation, and finally, the eventual signing of a tribal-state child welfare agreement with the State of Minnesota. The signing of this agreement has finally begun to change the ways counties are handling Indian child welfare cases in the state. The agreement provides four major opportunities for a better working relationship between the state and the 11 tribes in the state. They are, number one, ICWA training for all new child protection workers in the state. Two, it opens the door for additional contracts with the tribes, with counties, with the state. Three, it provides additional legislative input for tribal child welfare. Four, it instituted an eight-member ICWA compliance review team to monitor ICWA cases throughout the state.

One of the successful projects specific to Fond du Lac is the Fond du Lac Licensing and Placement Agency, which earned an Honoring Nations award in 1999. The success for the foster care program is that we were able to resolve both the jurisdictional questions and increase the number of Indian families interested in providing substitute care for those Indian children when necessary. It's a plain fact that Indian people work better with Indian providers. Because the jurisdiction laws of the state prohibit tribes from licensing off the reservation, we found a way to extend the sovereignty with full cooperation from the state. A corporation was formed and consists of Indian employees and other interested Indian people, including one tribal council member. A contract was developed and signed between this corporation and the reservation business committee. All personnel and accounting services are provided for the corporation by the tribe through this contract. In essence, you would call the corporation a step organization of the Fond du Lac Band. This program is also unusual because the corporation is licensed by the State of Minnesota. You can see how the program is actually an extension of sovereignty outside reservation boundaries. Through this contract, Fond du Lac employees have been able to impact the placements of Indian children in foster care all over northern Minnesota and further empower our existing structure.

Prior to the establishment of this arrangement, counties had few and some had no Indian foster homes. Counties had great difficulty recruiting Indian people for a variety of reasons, historical mistrust being the most obvious. This could be used as a convenient reason for not placing Indian children with Indian families as the Indian Child Welfare Act requires. It was also a lucrative income for existing foster parents, given the number of children that were being removed in the past. Since our start-up about 10 years ago, we have placed nearly 500 children in these Indian homes and provided about $3.5 million to Indian foster care providers. The future is bright for Fond du Lac's social services with our current ability to be reimbursed for the targeted case management that we've been doing since 1980, actually. Through successful negotiation by individuals committed to Indian people and a positive partnership with state employees, the road has been paved for tribes in Minnesota to finance their own social service departments in this manner. This is something that's just getting started, being reimbursed for target case management.

The award that was given to Fond du Lac in the year 2000 was the Pharmacy Online Billing Initiative. I don't know that much about the computer world but I will try to be brief to give a better description of what that project was. The resource patient management system, or the RPMS, is the existing Indian Health Service tool for the collection of data for all tribal accounts. This system has no capacity for billing. In time of rising costs and third-party payers, Fond du Lac recognized the need to change the system. The people at the human services department, or division, applied for and [were] awarded an IHS tribal management grant to attack just this problem. With the grant, Fond du Lac was able to purchase a computerized system for billing and record-keeping. A vendor was found for the development of the software that was actually implemented. Within a year we had an online pharmacy billing system that was compatible with the Indian Health Service and served the financial needs of Fond du Lac very well. The reality is that very soon after a check was received for $625,000 dollars that represented allowable billing for pharmaceuticals at Fond du Lac. This is a successful project that can be and is being replicated by other tribes. Some of the more tangible benefits that come from that particular project is an expanded pharmacy program, an optometry clinic for the Indian people in our area, a summer day camp for at least 120 kids all summer from early June until the end of August.

A few of the words I used to describe Fond du Lac are the following: We have people who have a vision; it's radar. They have that radar out there and they listen for ideas and they push to get them into place. Collaboration, negotiation and the nurturing of relationships, respect and trust, acknowledgement of existing limitations; knowing what we're not going to give away, knowing what the other party is not going to give away and working from there. Investment in membership equals long-term, committed workers. Building and nurturing a rapport with key people not only locally, but statewide and nationally. Development of resources for funding in partnerships, engaging participants in the actual planning, and thinking outside the box."

Gerald Clarke, Jr.: What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office

Native Nations Institute

Cahuilla Band of Indians Council Member Gerald Clarke, Jr. shares his thoughts about what he wished he knew before taking office as an elected leader of his nation.

Native Nations
Resource Type

Clarke, Jr., Gerald. "What I Wish I Knew Before I Took Office." Emerging Leaders seminar. Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, University of Arizona. Tucson, Arizona. March 20, 2012. Presentation.

"Thank you very much. I just want to start by saying I'm really honored to be here amongst you. At various times you're asked to speak at various events or what have you and this one to me really matters. So I am very honored to be here and to speak with you. How many of you heard your community in the previous presentation? Raise your hand. Yeah, me too. Me too. My tribe went through what's called the GANN [Governance Analysis for Native Nations] with the [Native Nations] Institute back in April and the whole time they're going through this standard approach I'm shaking my head. Sometimes I'm laughing, sometimes I'm crying. But that's us. Right? So one of the things I would stress is you're not alone. There's a lot of us that are in a similar situation.

Just a little bit about me is I was a college professor for about ten years. I left reservation, went to college. I come from a long line of alcoholics and it was very hard for both my sister and I to stay home and to be around that and so we left and went off to college and then we got teaching jobs, both of us, at different colleges. Again, we worked; I was in Oklahoma for about ten years. And we kept our ties back to the reservation, we came home every summer, but it was just really painful for us to live there full-time and that's why we didn't. My dad was an only son and so he ran the family's ranch and when he passed away in 2003 I quit my job and moved home [because] it was always just understood that as the only son that's what I was going to do. And so that's what brought me back to the reservation back in 2003.

And so I'm going to be painfully honest with you this morning. I think there's power in truth, in being honest about the current situation. And so you can, once we get the questions, feel free to ask me just about anything. Okay, so a little bit about my tribe. In the introduction, it was near Palm Springs. It is not Palm Springs. It's 40 miles southeast up in the mountains, even farther economically. Our reservation was set up in 1875 as an agricultural reservation. The Cahuilla people, there's a variety of Cahuilla bands. We're some of the first cowboys in California. As the Spaniards settled, did the missions, they needed someone to work the livestock and that's what we've kind of done for the last couple hundred years. We have approximately 240 adult members and we have monthly general membership meetings of which between 30 and 40 people show up. That's where most of the decisions get made. We are not traditionally democratic. And that was one of the things, when I experienced this session back in April, was does your governing system match your culture? And we were not traditionally democratic. We had an inherent line of leaders called 'the net,' and that actually wouldn't have been my lineage, but what they said went. I'm very culturally involved and I like reading the old records and talking to people. One of the things that I've found that was very striking is that when the net said something, you just did it, you didn't question it or anything like that. Today, if tribal council says something, you get laughter. There's not nearly that respect that there was back in the day and so it makes me wonder. Sonny and I just met this morning, we were talking about how in America we stress that this democratically elected governing system is the system and we criticize all nations in the world who are not democratic, but I can't help but wonder if that system really fits my tribe or not. We may be looking for something different in the future.

So back in the 1910s, actually, what happened was my great grandpa Pio [Lubo] and five other men were involved with the murder of the superintendent of the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] on our reservation and they were all sent to prison. The real issue was the BIA not wanting to recognize the net and wanting to recognize their own person. And it ended up in this murder of the superintendent. They sent these men to prison and really kind of broke the chain really well that way. My great grandpa Pio actually died in prison; he never got to come back. But after that event, they imposed this Roberts Rules of Orders and this IRA [Indian Reorganization Act] kind of system. So we have five tribal council members that are elected -- chairman, vice chairman, secretary and two at-large members. These are non-paid positions. So each one of us has a job where we pay our bills and support our families, which is another hurdle I think that we struggle with. I think sometimes people think being on tribal council 20-30 years ago is the same as it is today, and there's just so much going on. I feel like I'm that guy --remember on the old like Johnny Carson [show] or whatever, spinning the plates and then you have to run back and keep them going? That's how I feel most of the time.

We have no constitution. We are a customs and traditions tribe, and that is something that is being looked at. It seems to me that we have a membership who likes to call on their customs and traditions when it's convenientand not necessarily consistently, and that has been a problem. All major decisions are made in these general membership meetings. The tribal council presents the issue, the grant opportunity, the resolution -- what have you -- and it's the membership who vote on approving that or not. Again, I said, 30 to 40 members actually show up to these meetings. So it's actually a small portion of the total voting membership who make these decisions. And I often talk about a silent majority. Our tribe I think has a silent majority who -- and this is part of the brain drain that was spoken of earlier -- we have a number of educated people within our tribe who, starting like in the 70s and the 80s, they went, got educated, they came back, they did kind of what I'm doing, got fed up and now they're off doing their own things with law firms or what have you. And so there's a silent majority who doesn't come to the meetings who has certain ideas, but it's this core 30 or 40 people who really end up making a lot of the decisions.

We could spend all day on this: ‘What I wish I knew before I became a tribal leader.' Accounting: it's important to rely on -- and I made this presentation specifically for the emerging tribal leaders -- you have to rely on your experts, your professionals trained in your field. We have a CFO [chief financial officer] and they are in charge of doing...bring an outside audit firm come in annually. They're in charge of overseeing the monthly financials. I wish I knew more about accounting, because just because they say something doesn't mean it's true. And when I got in office I found out that we were like four years behind on our annual audits and this is something that wasn't really relayed. They were saying, ‘Oh, yeah, it's going, it's in the works,' and just kind of pacified the membership, but it wasn't happening. So I wish I knew more about accounting.

Law. Tribal law. What a mess, huh? Nothing is black and white; everything is gray. It will be applied in some cases where it's convenient. And I'm not talking tribally; I'm talking the state or the feds even. And then if it's going to get kind of messy for them, they don't want to deal with it, they don't have the resources, they just don't apply it. There's no consistency at all.

Public safety. One of the things my sister and I -- whose also on council -- we tried to bring in our own tribal police and tried to get some grants to get that going, because I'm a firm believer that stability, safety, those things are core things that need to be done. In a way it's economic development, too. Who wants to come and invest in your tribe if there's no stability, if there's no safety?

ICWA [Indian Child Welfare Act]. I heard an ICWA person earlier, I forget who it was. Okay, over here. Wow! ICWA is kind of its own entity. My sister, in addition to be on council, she's our domestic violence advocate for a consortium of four tribes in our area. And when we first got in that, my belief -- okay, so you have a husband and spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend, they're beating each other up. We'll split them up, that sounds good to me. There's kids in every one of these cases, just about. What do you do with the kids? And so this ICWA thing is very, is going to be, for those of you who are just now getting on council, this is going to be something you're going to have to deal with. Hopefully some of you have your own social services programs. We don't. So the tribe really has to educate itself. We have a five-council team, so my sister has kind of picked up that ball and said, ‘Okay, I'm going to do what I can to study up and learn all about ICWA.' [Audience question] Indian Child Welfare Act, it has to do with custody, traditional tribal adoptions, all these kinds of things. It's very complicated. And the other thing -- and some of you in this room know this -- you're going to spend a lot of time educating other people about these things. The county, the state social workers, half of them don't even know what ICWA is either, and so you having to educate them.

I'm a rancher and I recently got involved with the National Conservation Resource Service about trying to get some grants for range improvements and things like that. And so I met with their tribal liaison and apparently I guess his credentials were he watched Dances With Wolves once or something, I don't know. He had no clue about tribes at all. He's the tribal liaison, so here I am teaching the tribal liaison. I went through a two-year process of trying to get my ranch registered and in the end he said, ‘Okay, all we've got to do is get a copy of your deed and we'll send it in.' And I'm like, ‘Wait a minute.' I said, ‘We don't have deeds. We're assigned on the reservation, not even allotments, assignments.' And he didn't even know anything about that, what to do. So that caused me another two years of going through all these systems, going to national conventions, and meeting with the USDA. And so a lot of time is spent educating other people.

IGRA [Indian Gaming Regulatory Act], gaming is big. I'm not a fan of gaming at all and so I allow another member of our tribal council to be more up on those things. But it's good to know. It's good to know your rights if you are thinking about gaming or getting into gaming.

Environmental protection. The important things to know... these are the things that I just brainstormed all the things that I deal with.

Taxation. Recently the Board of Equalization in California notified our tribe and asked us to give them a list of all the businesses on the rez so they could tax them. Pretty alarming when you think about sovereignty and such. And so we didn't participate. But it's good to know what your rights are in tax law.

Budgeting, making budgets. It's a constant thing that you have to deal with. Emergency management is something that is becoming more and hear it more and more within tribal governments. Working with FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Administration] is a complete headache as well. You see on the news, oh, they're helping this community and that community and it's not nearly as streamlined as they try to make it. It's not nearly as, really as helpful. They're coming from a national office, coming to your community trying to tell you what your community needs or what have you and it doesn't work.

State legislature and federal legislature. I'd never been to the state capitol until I got on tribal council; we've gone and met with representatives, been to Washington D.C. as well. I will say that one of the battles we have within our tribe is that some people want to get all tied up in the little local family disputes that are happening on the reservation and don't really understand you've got to go to your state legislature if you want to promote certain laws or you want to get certain help getting certain projects accomplished. You've got to've got to get to know these people. In California, we have term limits which means every two years we get to re-educate all the new people and so that again is another...I remember, ‘Get these career politicians out of there.' At the time I was like, ‘Okay, that sounds okay.' But now that I'm in politics myself, I see it's just a constant having to go back and teach them about sovereignty, about taxation issues, about gaming issues or what have you.

When I first got on council or before I got on council, I just saw, I would sit in these general membership meetings and I was like, 'Man, is anybody doing anything?' It just didn't seem like anybody was really doing anything. Once I got in office, I realized everybody's trying to do everything, and we've lost a lot of good personnel in our accounting department, tribal administrator, because you've got too many people trying to tell the employees what to do and it's really been a nightmare. And as far as a tribal leader goes, I think you have to have strength to say, ‘No, I'm not going to get involved with that. That's not my duty.' Recently, in the past year, we developed an economic development corporation, an LLC [limited liability corporation], and they elected a board of tribal members. And they're the ones that are involved with overseeing the management of the tribal business enterprises. So this is new just within the last year, and I can tell you that we have tribal council members who don't like it and who are constantly wanting to interfere with those enterprises. We do have a small gaming facility and the tribe has benefited almost nothing from that gaming facility, because when that passed and gaming came into California, a lot of unscrupulous backers swooped into Indian Country and a lot of tribes were taken advantage of and I feel like our tribe was one of those. And so this gaming facility is still open. I'm surprised with the downturn it's even still open because we are in a very rural area. It stands on this hill right where everybody can see it. It's almost a beacon of our failure. And Steve talked about [it], it's bad enough when outside people think you're incompetent, but it's when your own people think you're incompetent that it's really sad. We hope to turn that around.

And part of, I think, the turnaround is to get away from micromanagement. Let the businesses run themselves, allow your professionals to do their job. We had a tribal member who was doing a mulching project and there was some trash mixed in with the mulch and so tribal members were concerned, and they should be. We have an environmental program. We have our director who's a highly educated and trained professional. He went over there, he did a site visit, he did tests, he sent off samples for testing and he brought it back and he said that it was even cleaner than what they were claiming to begin with. The membership didn't like that answer so they...and it's like, if you have professionals, let them do their job and trust that they're doing their job. This micromanagement, it becomes very politicized. And Steve was talking about that earlier where, ‘Let's get rid of this person and let's get one of my cousins in there,' what have you. It takes strength as a tribal leader to tell your cousin, ‘No, you're not qualified. Maybe go to school and then we'll put you in there.'

It's not just a job, it's an adventure. Before I took office, I knew I'd have to go to meetings and I do think I've put on the 20 pounds, the tribal council 20 pounds, [because] I'm sitting all day in these meetings. But what I didn't know is I would be woke up at three in the morning with a car flipped over in the middle of the road or a domestic violence incident or a shooting or what have you. You can be a council member, but I think there's a difference between a council member and a tribal leader and it's all encompassing. You have to walk the walk to try to get these things done. But it's a lot more than simply going to these meetings.

Self-determination. I just put it down exactly how I believe. I should say my dad was full blood and my mom was a redhead from Texas and their marriage lasted about three years -- long enough for me and my sister -- but everything that could go wrong, miscommunication culturally or whatever. And my mom would say, ‘Those Indians,' which is a bad way to start. ‘They have all this land and they're just letting it lay and doing nothing with it.' I don't think she ever understood it's kind of nice that way, too. But one of the things...I heard all of that -- that we were lazy, that we never did anything for ourselves, we're waiting for the handout. But I've read Cahuilla people are very self-determined people or at least we used to be and when the reservation was formed, the only thing that the Cahuilla people wanted from the federal government was a paper defining the four corners of the reservation. We didn't want free housing, we didn't want any of that stuff. And my dad was the chairman in 1970 and he was trying to bring these free houses in through HUD [Department of Housing and Urban Development], or whatever program it was back then, and it got voted down. And his mom -- my grandma -- voted against it. And he was all mad [because] he was trying to help his people. But I don't think, I think the older people understood that you help yourself. And that's been a really tough struggle for me, is when is it helping your people and when is it enabling your people? That's a very hard thing to deal with. And so I heard that a lot, that we wouldn't do things for ourselves. Now that I'm in there and I'm trying to get some things going, the BIA, other federal agencies, the state, they don't want you to do any of this stuff for yourself, they really don't. This is my perspective.

My sister and I wanted to have our own tribal law enforcement and we have got nothing but criticism and friction from our county sheriff who has that coverage area. A tribal member, who is actually a cousin of mine, pulled a gun on me and my uncle in front of my house and I was able to diffuse the situation but my wife called the sheriff. Anyway, I went to bed by the time a thousand lights pull up, and I had to get up and he said, ‘Okay, we had a call about a gun.' I was just like, really? I could have been out there dead. We don't get service. We wanted to serve ourselves. And think, with the state budget crises throughout the nation, the more the tribes do for themselves the less the state, the less the federal government has to do. But they don't want it. It's easier to keep the status quo. I'm also in the process of starting our own fire department and again through Cal Fire, again in California, nothing but hurdles thrown at me to start this up because if we start answering our own fire calls on our reservation then Cal Fire can't answer them. So their call volume goes down, guess what, they get less money from the state for that station. So I go to these meetings and they're talking about reimbursements and budgets and things and I'm like what about health and safety? So keep that in mind that just because you want to do it doesn't necessarily mean that other people want you to do it.

It really has...I don't want to present myself as I have all the answers. Really, it's been a struggle and the age thing I think is also...I see some younger people in here. It's strange -- I just turned 45 years old and it's strange to call myself a tribal leader. I was always raised to respect the people older than me, the elders, and it even is spelled out in our creation beliefs. But at the same time, and this is part of that truth element, I've seen some older people who are making decisions not based on the benefit of the tribe or the whole, the community. And I'm ashamed to say that and I feel guilty for saying that -- again for how I was raised -- but I see that and I want to put that out there because it's a conflict for me in these meetings to have to go against people that are older than me. But it's something that as a tribal leader you have to deal with. Again, my dad passed away, he was my go-to guy and then another elder who was my go-to person passed away a couple years ago. So right now I'm kind of looking for that guidance a little bit. And if it's not there, you've just got to go with your gut instinct of what you feel is right I think.

Another issue is tribal time is not the same as state legislative time; it's not the same as county budget time. Our creation story tells us about the creation and nothing happens overnight, everything takes time. And when I got on council, ‘Ah, I'm gung ho, I want to get this done and get that done.' And now I see I've got to slow down and really think about things and plan and try to do what I can while I'm in there. And what I found, another thing I found is it's all about, what is it about? It's all about communication. I've sat in general membership meetings where there's like two factions fighting, but it's obvious that they both agree, they're both on the same page. Yeah, okay. But neither side kind of understands that they're both agreeing and I'm just like, wow, this is... Communication. What a rare skill, to really be able to get your point across and to have other people understand. Our meetings are horribly long and a lot of it is just lack of communication. I think it could be cut in half if it was a little more efficient and people had that ability. And it's tough; it's definitely an art. Keep it simple. Keep it concise. That sounds funny, to rehearse, but I rehearse a lot before I go into my meetings so I can present it in a way that's understandable. Because you're in the mix, you're the expert in that issue because you're the one fighting with the county or working with the BIA or whatever. And then these people come in once a month so you've got to be able to relay that.

So there's that tribal time, you've got to have patience even if you don't get something accomplished. And like the police [force] that my sister and I were trying to do, it was voted down I think [because] some people thought we were trying to be Big Brother or something as opposed to just public safety. But maybe you introduce the idea first. Maybe it gets shot down. Maybe next year, okay, let's relook at that or what have you. And if you can kind of get the current going maybe eventually it'll happen.

This was some advice that was given to me back when I was teaching in Oklahoma from a man who I respect a lot. ‘Do not expect the same of others that you would expect of yourself.' I'm not a very good delegator because I don't trust anybody to do as good of a job as I could do. But what ends up happening is I get overwhelmed and overloaded and then it doesn't get done very well or at the last minute. So trust the people around you. If you expect the same out of them as you expect out of yourself, you're going to be disappointed for the rest of your life I think. So you've just got to check your expectations a little bit, do your best, absolutely but don't expect that out of others. I think that's all I've got. I appreciate the time and I guess we'll have questions later, so I'll be happy to answer anything."

Two More South Dakota Lakota Tribes Advance Toward Their Own Foster Care Systems, Intending to Replace the State DSS System


The Lakota people have taken another positive step toward preserving their cultural sovereignty and solving the persistent foster care crisis in the state as two more tribes have joined the movement to apply for available federal funding to plan their own tribal-run foster care system...

The Lower Brule and Flandreau Sioux Tribes became the two latest tribal governments to complete their Title IV-E Federal Planning Grant Applications to fund the planning of their own foster care programs. The two tribes, joining a coalition of South Dakota tribes attempting to wrest control from scandal-wracked South Dakota, brings the total number of tribes to seven, with another tribe, Rosebud, already having received their planning grant...

Resource Type

Native News Online Staff. "Two More South Dakota Lakota Tribes Advance Toward Their Own Foster Care Systems, Intending to Replace the State DSS System." Native News Online. August 22, 2014. (, accessed August 22, 2014)

Tribe looking to increase enrollment


Under the direction of the appointed members of the Tribal Enrollment Committee – Peridot District Representatives Lula T. Dillon and Aurelia Rogers, Gilson Wash District Representatives Geraldine Kitcheyan and Henrietta Henry, Seven Mile Wash District Representatives Marthalene Polk and Lois R. Sprengler, and Bylas District Representative Elliot Talgo Sr., along with the San Carlos Apache Tribal Council, the San Carlos Apache tribal government is looking to increase its present enrollment of 15,393 tribal members.

“We wanted to work on increasing our tribal enrollment numbers because we found out that some children are not enrolled, especially at the beginning of the school year,” said Richard Hoffman, director of the Tribal Enrollment Department...

Native Nations
Resource Type

Rambler, Sandra. "Tribe looking to increase enrollment." Eastern Arizona Courier. August 14, 2014. Article. (, accessed August 14, 2014)

Bringing Our Children Home: An Introduction to the Indian Child Welfare Act

Mad Genius, Inc.

This six-minute trailer introduces viewers to a documentary film (currently in development) that examines the impact of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The documentary is the product of an ongoing collaboration between the Mississippi Courts, Child Welfare Agency, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and various National Resource Centers which specifically focus their expertise on educating non-tribal entities on the Indian Child Welfare Act and other issues related to Native American values. The trailer was developed by the Mississippi Administrative Office of Courts/Court Improvement Program in consultation with the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues and the National Resource Center for Tribes as an ICWA educational resource for judges, courts, child welfare, and judicial educators. The full-length documentary will be available in late 2013. 


Mad Genius, Inc. "Bringing Our Children Home: An Introduction to the Indian Child Welfare Act." Developed by the Mississippi Administrative Office of Courts/Court Improvement Program in consultation with the National Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues and the National Resource Center for Tribes. Ridgeland, Mississippi. 2013. Film. (, accessed March 25, 3013)