Six-year old Lexi was placed with a white family when she was 17 months old. This week, she was taken away by country workers because the parents are white and Lexi is 1.5% Choctaw.
Under the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, tribal leaders have an unlimited right to take children with Indian blood from white foster homes. They have jurisdiction over non-reservation children as well as those on the reservation. She was taken to a family in Utah who are related only by marriage but the tribal leaders decided this is where they wanted her placed.
The foster parents Rusty and Summer Page plan to continue fighting.
Her foster parents and siblings are seen below. The foster father carried her out to the country workers.
‘How is it that a screaming child, saying “I want to stay, I’m scared,” how is in her best interest to pull her from the girl she was before that doorbell rang?’ Rusty Page told KNX-AM radio.
The Pages had fought efforts under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act to place Lexi with relatives of her father, who is a Native American. The Pages argued that Lexi had lived with them since the age of 2 and knew no other life.
His wife, Summer Page, screamed “Lexi, I love you!” and a crowd of friends and neighbors cried, prayed or sang hymns.
“Daddy don’t let them take me away”, Lexi cried as she was placed in the car.
“Due to the ‘Indian Child Welfare Act”, Lexi is supposed to only live with other Native American families. Summer and Rusty, from Santa Claritra, California, have been fighting for two years to adopt the child.
The Choctaw Tribe has decided to place Lexi with a person in Utah who is not Native American and does not live on a reservation
Her biological father, who is part Native American, had an extensive criminal history, according to court records cited by the Los Angeles Daily News.
She is being placed with non-Native-Americans who are related to her criminal father by marriage.
The tribal leaders said the family chose to drag out the fight and one day she will resent having been separated from her heritage by the Pages – 1.5% Choctaw is a heritage that she needs to be tied to?
Lexi’s uncle Graham Kelly breaks down as she’s taken away.
Rusty choked back tears as he pleaded with Child Welfare Service not to break up his family early Monday. “As a matter of simple human decency, we implore the county not to prematurely take Lexi from her home,” Rusty said between sobs as he read from a statement.
CWA gives tribal governments a strong voice concerning child custody proceedings that involve Indian children, by allocating tribes exclusive jurisdiction over the case when a child is a ward of the tribe.
The tribe also has jurisdiction over non-reservation Native Americans’ foster care placement proceedings
It was enacted in 1978 because of the high removal rate of Indian children from their traditional homes and essentially from Indian culture as a whole.
Before enactment, as many as 25 to 35 percent of all Indian children were being removed from their Indian homes and placed in non-Indian homes, with presumably the absence of Indian culture.
The tribe and parents or Indian custodian of the Indian child have an unqualified right to intervene in a case involving foster care placement or the termination of parental rights .
Source: Cornell University Law School