CNN's Campbell Brown calls ICWA 'a ridiculous law"


Campbell BrownCNN’s Campbell Brown, commentator for the program "No Bias, No Bull", angered many in Indian Country when on Dec. 16 she commented on an doption case in Utah that involvd a Native boy. She said the adoptive parents "lost their son because the birth mother is part Native merican," noting that the boy’s mother is a Leech Lake Band Ojibwe member. She said that the tribe had gone to court and ended up winning he right to take custody of the child.

Brown said, "A federal law called the Indian Child Welfare Act gives he tribe a legitimate claim." Brown added that the 1978 law was designed to keep Native American children with Native American amilies, and then said, "To me, that is a ridiculous law." rown said that ICWA "failed" the  six-month-old baby boy because he as returned to the Leech Lake Band and placed into foster care while he tribe decides on a permanent placement.

After raising questions about the blood quantum of both the birth other and son, Brown said she was outraged that the boy wouldn’t be oing back to his birth mother. "He is expected to go into foster are, perhaps with other siblings already in foster care. … because he birth mother has been declared unfit," Brown said. brown ended by saying, "If there is concern in the Native American ommunity that children are being lost to the tribe through adoption because of unfit parents, then focus on strengthening your families so that your children won’t be parentless."

Angry responses from Indian Country came quickly. The National Indian

Child Welfare Association, one of the first Native groups to speak out

gainst Brown’s comments, called it media bias against Native Americans.

The organization’s official statement denounced CNN for its deeply

flawed, "ill-informed," and "deeply offensive  rhetoric." We denounce

these ignorant and exploitive comments as the lowest point of

journalistic endeavor," the statement said. "The true facts of this

case speak volumes, beyond the frenzied attacks of irresponsible media


The National Congress of American Indians and the Native American

ournalists Association also slammed Brown for calling the Indian hild

Welfare Act a "ridiculous" law. The organizations called Brown’s

omments "ignorant," "inaccurate," and "negative." rown defended herself

in an e-mail to Indian Country Today, writing, There is no bias here

against Native Americans. This is about a pecific incident, a specific

law and how it is being applied in this ase. I am certainly happy to

review anything that demonstrates to me hat this family was treated

fairly, and how this little boy could ossibly be better off in foster


Letter from Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in response to Brown

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe (LLBO) thanks the Larsons for taking

ood care of one of our newest tribal members, Destino (Talon). ontrary

to reports in the news, the baby known as Talon in Utah was ever

adopted by the Larsons.  In fact, the adoption proceedings were ot

initiated in Utah until a month after the LLBO Tribal Court issued n

order for pick-up and return of the baby to Minnesota under the

urisdiction and custody of the Tribal Court.

It is unfortunate that Heart and Soul Adoptions failed to follow-up

on he "red flag" responses the birth mother gave on their Intake

uestionnaire. Heart and Soul knew a pick-up order had been issued by he

Tribal Court within two (2) weeks after the baby was born. Instead f

complying with the court order, Heart and Soul and the Larsons nitiated

a "flawed" adoption process in Utah courts. nder Utah law, when the

birth parents are  arried, both parents must ive consent to the

adoption. In this case the married father never ave his consent.  It is

regrettable that adoption agencies are able o prey on pregnant mothers

in poverty. Worse yet is giving false opes to their paying clients, who

they present with a baby, who is actually someone else’s child.

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) protects tribes, tribal members

nd their children and our collective Anishinabe culture. The Band did

espectfully intervene in the Larson’s Utah adoption proceedings. That

udge carefully reviewed the facts and evidence, as well as federal aw

trumping state law, and followed the law. eart and Soul should have

returned the child in June to avoid this nnecessarily long duration and

consequential  attachment by the arsons. ICWA, Indians and Indian

tribes are not the problem here. The eech Lake Band of Ojibwe hopes the

Press media and Utah’s agency icensing adoption agencies will

critically examine Heart  and Soul quickly. The Band hopes that the

Larsons will be provided a child that hey may legally adopt and keep.

eech Lake Band of Ojibwe