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Dr. Phil's Horror Show

A column by Donna Loring about Baby Veronica and the Dr. Phil Show.

Dr. Phil aired a horror show on October 17 featuring couples who had adopted Indian children or who were in the process of doing so. The show zeroed in on the Indian Child Welfare Act and blamed it for interfering with their adoptions and costing them custody of the Indian child they had adopted or were in the process of adopting. One couple they showed was in hiding with the Indian child they had taken. They hired security, like the tribe was the monster! Did you watch that show? I am sad and dismayed to say that I watched it, yes the whole show! It was a one sided narrowly focused show. It was the scariest thing I have ever watched unfold. It was about Native children being taken. On the show they justified the taking and even featured two Native brothers who had been taken and totally immersed in the non-native culture. They had no idea of their tribal values or history. It was a show filled with total ignorance of our genocide and one that perpetuates genocide by promoting the continued taking of our children. Without our children we disappear as a culture and a people. It presented the white cultures view only and it was some very dangerous perspectives to be feeding a national audience. Oops, did I say white culture? Yes I did, and there is one, believe it or not, and it does not have the survival of Indian people or Indian governments in mind. It never has. The historical taking of our children by those who wanted to “Kill the Indian and safe the man” tells the story of our cultural genocide in this country. This was accomplished in the form of Indian residential schools. It now is in the form of the adoption, foster care and Welfare systems. If Dr. Phil or any of his production staff had taken the time to educate themselves on the history and background of this federal law they would have learned why it was necessary. I watched in shock at the ignorance of Dr. Phil, the non-Native guests and the non-Native audience! The Native experts that were on his show were totally ignored or talked over and the audience made their feelings known which caused a chilling effect on these two Native advocates. A dangerous precedence was set that will perpetuate the genocide of Native families, Native communities and Native traditions and culture. It was like a feeding frenzy on Native children! “What?” You say. “Genocide really? Is it that serious?” I know what you are thinking, “You’re going over board here.

Exaggerating and getting all worked up over a simple issue of fairness to Native children and why aren’t we using the same rules and regulations for all children not just Native children? Why are Native kids so different and why should we treat them special with a federal law that applies only to them? And further more the tribes’ should be grateful that good people want to adopt their children and take good care of them. These kids are much better off with parents who can afford to take care of them. The tribes should just quit fighting and become one with the majority culture. It would make things easier for everyone!” (The genocide would then be accomplished.) This is the type of National media show that starts people talking and calling their congressman. It gives congress more ammunition to create bills that work to destroy us. I was shocked that even the African American woman who should have taken time to educate herself on this issue was totally ignorant. So in order to refresh or to educate those who do not know about the Indian Child Welfare Act I quote it here in part; 25 USCA Sec. 1901-1902 states: “Recognizing the special relationship between the United States and the Indian tribes and their members and the Federal responsibility to Indian people, the Congress finds –(2)…. that Congress, through statutes, treaties, and the general course of dealing with Indian tribes, has assumed The responsibility for the protection and preservation of Indian tribes and their resources; (3) that there is no resource that is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children and that the United States has a direct interest, as trustee, in protecting Indian children who are members of or are eligible for membership in an Indian tribe; (4) that an alarmingly high percentage of Indian families are broken up by the removal, often unwarranted, of their children from them by nontribal public and private agencies and that an alarmingly high percentage of such children are placed in non-Indian foster and adoptive homes and institutions; And (5) that the States, exercising their recognized jurisdiction over Indian child custody proceedings through administrative and judicial bodies, have often failed to recognize the essential tribal relations of Indian people and the cultural and social standards prevailing in Indian communities and families.§ 1902. Congressional declaration of policy; The Congress hereby declares that it is the policy of this Nation to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children from their families and the placement of such children in foster or adoptive homes, which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture, and by providing for assistance to Indian tribes in the operation of child and family service programs. I am not saying that the tribes should never adopt a child out to non-members. I am saying that the tribes by federal law have to be included in the decision, it is a matter of survival for the tribes, their culture, their traditions and their race and the United States Government has a fiduciary responsibility to protect the greatest resources of these Tribal Nations, their children. Donna Loring is a former representative for the Penobscot Indian Nation to the Maine legislature. She served in Vietnam from 1967 through the Tet Offensive in 1968. She is a teacher and writer. Her book, In the Shadow of the Eagle: A Tribal Representative in Maine, was published in 2008.