Indian groups respond to CNN’s Campbell Brown
The anchor explained that the adoptive parents “lost their son because the birth mother is part Native American,” noting that the boy’s mother is a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. She said that the tribe had gone to court and ended up winning the right to take custody of the child.
“A federal law called the Indian Child Welfare Act gives the tribe a legitimate claim,” Brown said, adding that the 1978 law was designed to keep Native American children with Native American families.
Lastly, Brown offered the following prescriptive: “If there is concern in the Native American community that children are being lost to the tribe through adoption because of unfit parents, then focus on strengthening your families so that your children won’t be parentless.”
And that was it. Until the next morning, that is, when several bloggers started posting about how a CNN anchor had disparaged ICWA and had seemed to make the presumption that Native families are inherently weak. And then the e-mails started buzzing, the phones started ringing, and calls for action were uttered.
The National Indian Child Welfare Association was one of the first Native groups to speak out on the matter, specifically framing Brown’s words as an egregious instance of media bias against Native Americans. The organization’s official statement denounced CNN for its “deeply flawed, “ill-informed,” and “deeply offensive rhetoric.”
“We denounce these ignorant and exploitive comments as the lowest point of journalistic endeavor,” the statement went on. “The true facts of this case speak volumes, beyond the frenzied attacks of irresponsible media spokespeople.”