Parenting disputes should be settled in a manner to help the children

A recent news story in the daily paper (print) stated that the Osage Nation Tribe had won a round in their charges against the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) regarding the invasion of their tribal allotment lands, now labeled Osage County, by wind-energy operators. Of course, the space limitations on this writer would not allow a complete explanation of the situation (even if said writer had taken the time and effort to research all aspects).

If my understanding of the situation is correct, the tribe was allocated the land by the officials then in charge in Washington, back in the first half of the nineteenth century, or early 1800s. When the land ownership was dispersed to tribal members, the tribe withheld the minerals. Tribal Nation Government officials have been, with reason it would appear, objecting to the construction of the windmill generating towers requiring excavation for the foundations with the result that minerals, in the form of rock, were removed without compensation for the mining.

At this point, it should be remembered that the discovery of oil in The Osage Nation resulted in the creation of a number of multi-millionaires among those on the tribal rolls. So far, my sympathies lie with the Osage as they have been mistreated, but have come out well. Unfortunately, far too many of those members were unable to handle their newfound prosperity and fell into wastefulness and excesses, including abuse of alcohol. Much of that can be blamed on the corruption and/or ineptitude of the elected and hired officials of the time, a situation that has not, it appears, been corrected even today.

However, it appears that today the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction as has been shown in recent years where the BIA has imposed regulations deemed favorable to the tribes to the detriment of individuals, particularly children who are taken from biological parents (for cause) and placed with foster parents. They then attach with them and later tribal government personnel object to the adoption, or even continuing foster care, of the children. This under the excuse that the children are not receiving exposure and education into the historical ways of the tribe. Wayward judges seem to have their minds swayed or are fearful of criticism, by those like the ACLU, and render very questionable decisions which then serve to have a most detrimental effect on the children, both emotional and physical.

It appears that those actions to gain control of the children are, in many cases, based solely on the desire to obtain federal funding and the children receive little or no benefit from them. There have been several such instances in recent years that have received national coverage. In one such case, decided here in Oklahoma, the poor child was subjected to months of emotional upset by being forcibly removed from the foster parents, to whom she had attached, and placed with strangers. At that time, my feelings were sympathetic to the family of the child and foster parents who were seeking to adopt her permanently and give her their name.

More recently such a situation as this has become much more personal. My granddaughter in Colorado has been foster parenting for over three years to two part-Indian children, brother and sister, who were taken from their biological mother (for cause) in Pueblo County. Having different biological fathers their tribal connections are not the same and are very remote as at least one of the parents is in prison. For at least two years she has been attempting, with support of the county, to adopt them so that their last names will be the same as hers, to make things easier in school and elsewhere. She even is forced to receive court permission to bring them to Oklahoma to see grandpa, to whom they have become strongly attached. The last time they visited, we took them to Cherokee Village to see that tribal history which they loved.

They are closely attached to each other, but a very small tribe in Washington State has mounted a legal objection, which if successful would mean the girl would have no tribal benefits, the two would be separated and probably not be in as comfortable surroundings.

My granddaughter has had no support from her own congressman there in Jefferson County and has encountered substantial personal expense in pursuing the case. It seems to me that there needs to be some compassion and common sense in these cases for the children.