Opinion

Jacqueline Keeler: Saving Baby Veronica from being Indian





Jacqueline Keeler on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, an Indian Child Welfare Act case:
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court decided to “save Baby Veronica” by ruling the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) does not protect the parental rights of her Cherokee father, in the case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. I say “save” because that’s what the Capobianco family (the white family that attempted to adopt Veronica from her Hispanic birth mother) implored the public to support on their signs. They wanted us all to help them “Save Veronica.” And I, a Native American mother, looked at that sign with a picture of the beautiful, curly-haired, brown-skinned girl, and couldn’t help but ask the logical question: “Save her from what?”

In the Capobianco’s view, Veronica, 3, being allowed to stay with her biological father (who she has been living with since December 2011) was akin to her being kidnapped by Indian relatives, much like Audrey Hepburn’s adopted Kiowa girl in the original 1960 version of the movie, “The Unforgiven.” Although the title of that movie referred to a white family that had stolen an Indian child after slaughtering her family, I can’t help but feel that the role has now been reversed -- we, the Indians, are the Unforgiven, simply by virtue of being Indian.

It’s an idea – this “sinful” history of Indians -- that still holds sway, as evidenced in recent comments made by evangelical leader and 700 Club regular Cindy Jacobs. On her “God Knows” TV show she advised her viewers: "If you have in your bloodline… Native American blood… you might want to renounce that and repent for the generational iniquity.”

Get the Story:
Jacqueline Keeler: Indian Child Welfare Act: Supreme Court ‘Saved Baby Veronica’ -- But From What? (New America Media 6/27)

Supreme Court Decision:
Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (June 25, 2013)

Oral Argument Transcript:
Adoptive Couple v. Cherokee Nation (April 16, 2013)

South Carolina Supreme Court Decision:
Adoptive Couple v. Cherokee Nation (July 26, 2012)

Related Stories:
Editorial: Supreme Court got it right in Baby Veronica case (6/28)
Alex Pearl: Supreme Court sends message on Indian blood (6/27)
Turtle Talk: More thoughts on Supreme Court ICWA decision (6/27)
Native Sun News: Supreme Court goes against Indian father (6/27)
Kevin Abourezk: Nebraska reaction to decision in ICWA case (6/26)
Jennifer Gapetz: Baby Veronica is a Cherokee Nation citizen (6/26)
Lots of Links: Coverage of Indian Child Welfare Act decision (6/26)
Supreme Court rules against Cherokee father in ICWA dispute (6/25)
Cherokee Chief: Baby girl should remain with biological father (6/25)
NCAI remains hopeful after ruling in Supreme Court ICWA case (6/25)
Turtle Talk: Initial impressions of Supreme Court's ICWA ruling (6/25)
Opinion: We fought the Cherokee Nation to keep adopted child (6/25)