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Letter: Listen to everyone, not just tribal government, President Obama

Concerning the upcoming event featuring President Barack Obama and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp at the Standing Rock Reservation on Friday:

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North Dakotans are a gracious and forgiving people and will politely welcome the president to our wonderful state.

However, before he gives his speech concerning the wonderful “Nation to Nation” relationship he has with tribal leaders and announces what further moneys and authorities he will bestow upon them, he needs to learn facts from those whom his edicts directly affect.

One: According to the last two U.S. censuses, 75 percent of tribal members DO NOT live in Indian Country — and many have deliberately taken their children and left in order to protect their families from the rampant crime and corruption.

Two: The abuses at Spirit Lake here in North Dakota are well known, but it is also known that Spirit Lake is just a microcosm of what’s happening on reservations across the country.

Three: These abuses are rampant on many reservations because the U.S. government has set up a system that allows extensive abuse to occur unchecked and without repercussion.

Four: Many, many times more children leave the reservation system in the company of their parents — who have in mass exited — than do children who have been taken into foster care or found a home in adoption. But tribal leaders can’t admit parents are consciously taking their kids out of Indian Country in attempt to get them away from the reservation system and corrupt leaders. It makes a better sound bite to blame it on evil social services.

President Obama, please listen to those who do not have a vested financial interest in increasing tribal government power, and learn about the physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of tribal members by other tribal members and even many tribal leaders.

STOP supporting corrupt tribal leaders and corrupt systems and pretending all is OK in Indian Country.

Every time power to tribal leaders is increased, tribal members — U.S. citizens — are robbed of civil freedoms under the constitution of the United States.

More power given to tribal leaders means less freedom, safety and constitutional rights for tribal members.

Elizabeth Morris Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare chairwoman, Hillsboro