Members of the Cherokee Nation who met recently in Colorado were urged to pray for Baby Veronica, a 3-year-old of Cherokee descent, while a legal team studies ways to make certain she has a childhood in her tribal family and community.
“The Cherokee Nation is still fighting for Baby Veronica even though the Supreme Court of the United States said it wasn’t an ICWA [Indian Child Welfare Act] case,” Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker told those who attended a regional tribal meeting in Denver July 20.
He declined to talk specifics about legal strategy, but said he was optimistic about the outcome.
At the same time, he urged attendees to keep the child on their prayer lists and asked that, “this Cherokee boy (Dusten Brown, her father) will be able to raise his baby girl.”
The South Carolina Supreme Court opened the way for the child’s controversial return to prospective non-Native adoptive parents Matt and Melanie Capobianco after the nation’s high court ruled ICWA didn’t apply to two provisions relating to Native non-custodial parents.
But Baker said there was “deception” from the case’s beginning, in connection with the recording of a misspelling of the father’s name and other incorrect information provided to the Cherokee Nation records.
The father only learned of the proposed adoption three days before his deployment to Iraq and he “immediately started trying to get his baby girl,” he added.
Baker brought ICWA issues home to a large audience at Denver Indian Center, most of whom were among the 3,545 Cherokee Nation citizens living in Colorado.
Cherokee children in Colorado need temporary or permanent homes, but “We don’t have [Cherokee] foster or adoptive homes in Colorado,” Baker said, urging attendees to think about that need.
Sovereignty was an issue raised not only in connection with the adoption case but also concerning new tribal photo IDs that are part of the Cherokees’ 320,000-member-strong “inherent right to exercise our sovereignty.”
Baker and other Cherokee Nation officials met members of the Colorado Cherokee Circle and other current and prospective Cherokee citizens and he said the new IDs are “proof positive that our ID stacks right up there with any state ID, with any federal ID.”
“I’ve presented my photo tribal citizenship card at several major airports and even to the U.S. Secret Service, and experienced no problems whatsoever,” he said of the upgraded citizenship “blue cards” which bear a Cherokee Nation hologram seal for validation.
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