Collette Big Spring
Giving the Gift Back
I believe we all are put here on earth to learn or to teach and our children are one of our best teachers about life. The children hold our future, the next generation holds our cure for cancer, allizermers, will be our warriors, attorneys that will protect our native rights and so much more that most of us can not imagine. It is within the next generation that holds so much importance for our tribal world.
As native people we hold an important position to help maintain this lands true living history and future, our customs, dances, drums, crafts, stories and our way of life. By passing this down we insure that We will not just be seen in museums or books for our future. We are this lands true living history, our children hold our future.
Our Native children today have a law that helps protect them today, Indian Child Welfare Act ICWA is a federal law that helps protect and keep NDN children with their families or tribe. This law was passed in 1978 because of the alarmingly number of cases of our NDN children being removed from their homes by state and private agencies. The damage that was being done to our children not raised with their culture was devastating and the loss of tribal members was effecting tribes at alarming rates.
Congress could no longer ignore the damage. ICWA ” PROTECT THE BEST INTEREST OF INDIAN CHILDREN AND TO PROMOTE THE STABILITY AND SECURITY OF INDIAN TRIBES AND FAMILIES “. ICWA sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings involving our NDN children who is a member of a federally recognized tribe. Today we as NDN people are blessed to have ICWA put into place for not only our children but for us and our way of life to carry on this lands true living future and to remember and honor our past grandparents.
I am a proud member of the Blackfeet tribe and now living in Missouri. As a newborn in 1963 before ICWA was put into place. I was one of the children that was adopted out of the NDN ways, away from our people, and way of life. The damage of abuse, not belonging, and being raised without the NDN life had devastating effects on my life; not belonging to one world or the other as a young adult. We all have an longing and need to belong.
Today, I’m proud not only to be a strong NDN woman but a bridge between two worlds. My calling in life has been a mother to many children. I can not change my past; decisions were made for me as a child. Today I’m a native foster parent and I’ve been blessed with three biological children and adopted three from other tribes. I teach my children what was not taught to me, customs, traditions and a way of life as an NDN family.
I’ve fostered over 40 children of all races but it is the NDN children and families that is so dear to my heart.
We as NDN people desperately need more tribal foster homes to help teach and learn from our children. I’ve known my time was limited as a adoptive home. People tell me, that I can’t save and protect every NDN child. I tell them no and maybe not but I can try.
We are put here to learn or to teach, don’t ever assume that in the difficult times you are learning because in a Child’s eyes you may be teaching.