How Being Separated From My Family and Tribe Affected Me

Today the Supreme Court will hear Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a case about a South Carolina Indian girl who the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the child must be returned to her Indian father. The child's mother ignored the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978, a federal law designed to protect Indian families from "abusive child welfare practices that resulted in the separation of large numbers of Indian children from their families and tribes through adoption or foster case placement" and, as a result, both the tribe and the father were denied their rights under ICWA.

As the Supreme Court hears this case, the coverage has been largely one-sided. I thought it was important for people to hear my story, and how being separated from my family and tribe has affected me.

My name is Jacqueline Davis. I am one of six siblings affected by a decision made by the state of South Carolina. I am a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota and my grandfather is Chief Dave Bald Eagle. My father, who is African-American, met my mom and married her while he was stationed in the Air Force. They eventually moved off the reservation to South Carolina. Their lives changed one day when my mother applied for WIC and the nurse realized that she spanked her children as a form of discipline. Their children were taken and placed in foster care. We were split in pairs. The charges were piled on, and our parents lost custody. The Bald Eagle family offered to take us on the reservation and for reasons I still don't know they were told our case had nothing to do with ICWA. I can remember my parents coming to visit us for years.

My mother would show us beadwork, and bring us hairpieces and other handmade gifts from our reservation. She would tell us what each color meant in the beadwork she had made. Then we would go back to our foster home, where we were being abused emotionally and physically. I was a teen when DSS cut off visitation. I can remember trying to make myself look more "black" because I felt like it something wrong with being Native American. I would cut my hair, put product in it to make it look coarse and threw away my hairpieces. I would just try anything to make myself fit because as I child I didn't understand what was so wrong with me. Our family was completely torn apart because no one would swallow their pride and admit they had made a mistake. As adults, the six of us have a void in our lives that no one can go back and fill. We have reconnected with each since 1999 and we still do not have answers as to why this happened to our family.

We are still grasping everything we can learn about our Sioux culture by beginning to take yearly trips to South Dakota. Our grandpa, Chief Bald Eagle, is 93 years old. We are to finally go back this year to complete our naming ceremonies which were never completed as children. My grandfather gave me the Lakota name Ho Waste Win which means "good voice woman." By finally reconnecting with my Native family, I can say my life has turned around for the better. These days we take pride in who we are and continue to learn our native traditions, cultures, and beliefs. I used to be very introverted and even a little antisocial but now I feel like I have reason to speak, fight, and help others that may need to be spoken for. One day I hope to get some form of justice for my parents, even if it is as little as a public apology. I will continue to speak of our story because our testimony may help the next social worker, lawyer, or judge to just simply do the right thing.

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'Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota is an unincorporated Tribe of Indians having accepted the provisions of Act of June 18, 1934 (48 Stat. 984)'

and your dad is African American........ Totally lost me right there. Since when is a african american a INDIAN or to be policically correct.... 'Native American' ?? And IF your mother was native american and your father was african american, how did you father become chief of the souix tribe of native americans?

I understand your hardship regardless of race, but seriously, do you really think your 'I was taken away from family as a kid' issue is worth of the supreme court? I'm pretty sure they have ALOT more important things to do... like, I dunno... put murderers and drug lords behind bars... protect your freedom.. things of that nature. There are others of us that have gone through extreem hardships, get over it. What do you expect to get out of this? Let me guess... money ?


To Anonymous 1. The Grandfather is The Chief. You asked if the I WAS TAKEN AWAY FROM MY FAMILY issue is worthy of the Supreme Court. Then you answered your question when you said...I'm pretty sure they have...things to do like...protecting your freedom.. things of that nature. Then you attacked victim again. Then you asked..."What do you expect to get out of this? Let me Anonymous 1 you guessed wrong the correct answer is...Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness!


Wow Anonymous. Ignorance is bliss in your neighborhood.


Wow Anonymous! Ignorance is bliss in your neighborhood.


first all get your facts straight,mother is FULL BLOOD,father african american,GRANDFATHER Is CHIEF....of course the dad cannot be chief! if you read the article carefully you would know the facts. obviously the supreme courts thought it was important enough to cover so if you have a problem with the supreme court man up an take it up with them not on a woman who is wanting to be heard and help other families out. The supreme courts also deal with other issues besides murderers and drug lords,hello?!! pple take healing anyway they want,none of your business to critisize how we heal...also an apology was said NOTHING about money,hell go bother soomeone else with your ignorance,take your negativity to where its wanted bc it sure as hell isnt wanted proud of my sister for speking out!!!


Take time to actually read the article if your going to comment. "I will continue to speak of our story because our testimony may help the next social worker, lawyer, or judge to just simply do the right thing."


I'm glad that these issues are now being heard. They have gone on for decades within native communities unnoticed. It's unfortunate that there are people out there that don't understand. Keep telling your story cause you will have the support of your native sisters and brothers.

New Poster

To the first Anonymous, who condescendingly corrects Jacqueline Davis use of the term "American Indian."

I am not American Indian, but I have many American Indian friends from different tribes: Apache, Micmac, Wampanoag. From them, I learned that American Indians *do not* want to be referred to by the politically correct white man's term "Native American." On occasion, American Indians run into people of European ancestry calling themselves "Native American" to misrepresent their heritage, because they smugly define "native" as "born in the USA."

Even though "American Indian" is also a white man's term, American Indians I have spoken to prefer it to the politically correct "Native American." It is clear what American Indian means, and it can not be misappropriated by unscrupulous whites.

My Apache friend prefers Indigenous People, or First People.

Not only do you miss the point of Ms. Davis article and belittle her experiences, you continue to show your ignorance by correcting her terminology concerning her own people.


i am a member of the cherokee nation i live in arkansas and my daughter was taken by cfs here. i am disabled and have lupus which causes problems. i am on disablity and i am poor so they gave me a state lawyer well they changed my lawyer 3 times. the thing is though they took my kids from me because i had a warrant for my arrest. i wrote hot checks and had some traffic tickets i cant afford to pay the fine so i keep going to jail and they charged me with a felony for the hot checks. well my parents live 37 miles from and they never contacted my family to come get my daughter. they teminated my rights and now i need help it get worse. but if anyone reads this please i am filing appeal and icwa never applied to my case because she wasnt registered as a member of the cherokee nation. please help she is full blooded and i never hurt her she wasnt hungry please i am not a drug addict i am mom how made a wrong choice but i had no help


Let me get this straight. It's a crime when native Americans (even those who are only partly native American) are taken from their tribe. But when a white person is taken from his tribe, it's called "diversity" and it's considered a good thing.

Also, had your mother cared about her heritage, she would have found a native man to marry. I say the same about Jews who marry non-Jews. Intermarriage (bedroom genocide) is the worst thing you can do to your people if your people is numerically challenged. Not that it's your fault; you're caught in the middle.

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