Fighting Tribal Corruption
Hello again, from Elizabeth Sharon Morris.
Raised in a middle-class, mid-west suburb, I met my husband, a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, in 1989.
During our marriage, we lived on two reservations, a Bible College campus, within a major metropolitan area, and in two small towns.
I have been the birth mother to five, adoptive mother to one, custodial mother to three, and stepmother to an additional four members of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.
I have also earned a B.A. in Christian Ministries, a Diploma of Bible and Missions and am a Registered Nurse.
After a life changing experience with Jesus Christ, and in an effort to turn our lives around, my husband moved our family away from the inner city Indian community to live in rural Montana.
Having been raised on the reservation in the 1950’s and speaking Ojibwe as his first language until he started kindergarten, my husband knew first hand the troubles on the reservations.
Alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual abuse, violence, and suicide were epidemic.
As Roland drew closer to Christ, he became convinced that these problems are the result of or at least augmented by current government policies.
Unearned money and free supplies do not help families. Continued indefinitely and paraded around as what is owed for past atrocities, these entitlements devastate men.
While tribal leaders and others might argue this and throw around well-worn rhetoric and blame, the fact of the matter is that 75% of tribal members have moved away from the reservations.
Many have moved on to build independent lives or in some cases to protect their children from the alcoholism, drug abuse and violence within Indian Country.
We were some of those people who moved away for those reasons.
Roland also made a decision to no longer accept government funds for his family. Instead, he opened an Upholstery business, bought goats and chickens, and taught our children about chores, personal accountability and the reality of Jesus Christ.
Through his conviction that liberal policies hurt families, he became a Republican candidate for a seat in the Montana House of Representatives in 1996, testified against tribal jurisdiction at a hearing for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in 1998 and likewise for the Minnesota Attorney General in 2000.
We’ve both also testified before numerous State committees.
In addition to helping him and occasionally writing for the Native American Press and various newsletters, I helped him raise our five children and four of his grandchildren who were placed with us under the Indian Child Welfare Act. (ICWA)
While he had turned his back on traditional religion, he continued to keep his culture in his heart and taught the children about wild ricing, hunting, and fishing, as well as a little history and language.
Our political activism has not always been well received. We have been opposed by many in tribal leadership as well as some other entities.
In January 2000, the Montana Human Rights Network published a report on what they called “the Anti-Indian movement”, discussing us on 8 of their 45 pages and referring to my husband as an “Anti-Indian Native American.”
Despite the opposition he received, Roland continued to say the things he believed true. Keeping in mind the love he had for his family and his respect for elders, he always tried to speak these truths with grace.
Twenty-five years after we first met, Roland passed away from Cancer.
In the months before he died, we established the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare (CAICW).
His requested final task, against the advice of his doctor, was to go to Washington DC and tell Congressmen one more time how wrong federal Indian policy was, how liberal policies kept families dependent and unhealthy, and in particular how bad the ICWA was for children.
He passed away three weeks after he returned home.
His requested final resting place was back on his reservation, on the land his grandfather had donated to the Episcopal Church, where his mother, father, and other family members lay.
I wrote the book “Dying in Indian Country.” It is his story.
Our family hopes that by telling the true story of our extended family and the reservation system over the last thirty years, we can explain why liberal policies are destroying people more than they are helping them.
We need to stand together across this country to combat the many things our country is currently facing.
What is happening on the reservations is contrary to the concept of free enterprise and personal accountability.
The question to be explored and answered is, “Why does our federal government continue to pretend current federal Indian policy is good for anyone?”
It is time to quit pretending and start truthfully caring about people – caring enough to stop the sham and actually help people get away from failed liberal policies.
It is time to encourage families to be independent and goal oriented.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/WriteElizabethM/