It is October 10, 2013. I just listened to Dusten Brown’s press conference. Listening to his voice reminded me of the accounts I heard from elders in tribal communities I have traveled to. Dusten with his grief stricken heart has let his baby go for her sake, not for his own.
The recent cases of Baby Veronica and Baby Desaray make me fear for young adoptive children, especially those of color. The similarities of these two cases, including the same adoption agency attorney in both, demand a closer look into these children’s civil rights.
The old Native American walks slowly but he walks for at least two hours every day. If you ask the old man his name, he will look at you with his dark brown eyes. He will smile. And he will tell you it is Marlon. The Spirits know him by a different name.
The voice on the other end had an ominous sense of urgency. He opened with, “We're running. I can't take this shit anymore.” As per our last conversation I knew that he was talking about running for council, but “this shit” could mean any number of things these days.
Click here to read part 1 by Dina Gilio-Whitaker.
A note from Ray Cook, ICTMN Opinions Editor: The political and legal ramifications of the Baby Veronica case have, in broad strokes, done two things.
I mean you no harm. If I meant you harm, I would start by using your name. Every literate Cherokee knows your name. At the time before the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee Nation had a higher literacy rate than the white settlers and gold seekers who coveted the Cherokee homelands.
As I’ve watched the custody dispute unfold over the nearly four-year-old Cherokee girl known as Baby Veronica, I’ve felt as if this little girl was me. Just like Veronica, I was a baby taken from my Native American biological dad without him knowing and placed in an adoption.
I know this is sorta late—two weeks, to be exact—and that pop culture topics du jour tend to last only a few days. Modern day pop culture existential question: If someone gets killed on Twitter and it’s no longer trending, did it really happen?
I don’t know; that’s above my pay grade.
Cases involving child custody are always middle class morality plays.
In the Baby Veronica case, Associate Supreme Court Justice Thomas writes that the Indian Child Welfare Act is unconstitutional because it is not “commerce” in the sense of “trade.” Domestic relations, he says, are left to the states.
We are living in an era where there aren't enough Supreme Court Justices who think like Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia, a true constructionist, believes wholly in the U.S. Constitution and never decides to add to or take away from it.
I often write with respect of persons who have done much with their time, referring to them as “elders.” Some people deserve that respect, but others are just old. Out of luck or because they took no risks, they are still sucking air.
The visions of my father, Isaac Curley Sr., come and go with each passing month and season. My father was born on March 25, 1922 and raised on the Navajo reservation. His home was a hogan, the family subsisted upon livestock, no modern conveniences and news was gathered only by word of mouth.