§ 1901. Congressional findings
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--
- that clause 3, section 8, article I of the United States Constitution provides that ``The Congress shall have Power * * * To regulate Commerce * * * with Indian tribes1 and, through this and other constitutional authority, Congress has plenary power over Indian affairs;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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
- 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. (Pub. L. 95-608, § 2, Nov. 8, 1978, 92 Stat. 3069.) Short Title Section 1 of Pub. L. 95-608 provided: ``That this Act [enacting this chapter] may be cited as the `Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978'.''
Come Sunday, Heather and Clint Larson will drive to the South Jordan police station and hand over the baby they've raised for six months to a tribal representative, and they worry they'll never see him again.
Not a lot is certain in little Talon's life, except for the fact he is loved. Heather and Clint adopted him through a local agency. His birth mother is from Minnesota, a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Tribe, and a drug addict, according to the Larsons.
"I felt: ‘This is my boy.' And we were ready to take care of him," Clint told us.
Heather said, "The birth mom told us time and again that God put him in her stomach for us."
The mother relinquished custody of Talon 24 hours after his birth, but later changed her mind. A lengthy court battle ensued, and the Leech Lake Band Of Ojibwe became involved.
This week, a district judge ruled in favor of the tribe, citing the Indian Child Welfare Act which works to preserve Native American tribes. "The judge's ruling stated he is an Indian child," Heather said.
The legal director for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe says the adoption was flawed from the beginning. Among other things, the adoption agency never got the consent of the father. He says they planned to keep the baby on the reservation all along.
"The mom was having some troubles here in Minnesota, and we already had a case that had been going previously, and we were waiting for the mom to give birth to this child so we could actually actually start a 72-hour hold," tribal attorney Frank Bebeau said.
So on Sunday night, Heather and Clint will hand over Talon. He'll likely go into tribal foster care with two blood siblings. A court has found his birth mother unfit for now.
"He's our son. No matter what happens on Sunday, he will always be our son," Heather said.
The lawyer says he feels for the Larsons, but that legally the reservation is where Talon belongs.
We spoke to the adoption agency tonight, and officials there say they did everything 100 percent by the book. Meanhwile, friends and family of the Larsons plan to rally outside the police station Sunday to show their support."
There is a reason why these laws are in place. They are to protect the Native American history of this country. They are to protect the tribes of our country. We are not entitled to these tribal children. The court decided on the right side of justice on this issue.
This is the reason why the court did right in this situation:"Where any parent or Indian custodian voluntarily consents to a foster care placement or to termination of parental rights, such consent shall not be valid unless executed in writing and recorded before a judge of a court of competent jurisdiction and accompanied by the presiding judge's certificate that the terms and consequences of the consent were fully explained in detail and were fully understood by the parent or Indian custodian. The court shall also certify that either the parent or Indian custodian fully understood the explanation in English or that it was interpreted into a language that the parent or Indian custodian understood. Any consent given prior to, or within ten days after, birth of the Indian child shall not be valid."