Protests unable to stop child’s removal from family under Indian Child Welfare Act

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Santa Clarita, Calif. - A foster family in  Santa Clarita, California is heartbroken after the six-year-old girl they had been caring for was removed from their home on Monday.

Lexi Page has lived with the family for four years, but is now being sent to live with extended family in Utah under the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Clutched in the arms of her foster dad, Rusty Page, a dramatic scene unfolded outside their home as foster mom Summer and her children screamed in the background.

LA County department of children and family services agents, acting on a court order, removed Lexi from the only family she's known for the past four years.

"She's the happiest child you'll ever meet today," said Rusty. "Tomorrow... No. She won student of the month last month at school for how caring she is for people, and people don't return that favor to her."

The case involves a tribal custody battle that hinged on the Indian Child Welfare Act from the 1970s, aimed at protecting Native American children.

Lexi is 1.5 percent Choctaw, and has bounced in and out of foster homes since birth.

Even though her biological parents relinquished custody years ago, her extended family in Utah has been fighting for custody.

The Pages' attempts to adopt Lexi over the past several years have been unsuccessful.

"The county of LA always talks about how important it is to maintain consistency and permanence for children, and yet they violate that today. And it's gut-wrenching," said Rusty.

The pages tried to file a stay with the California Supreme Court, but not even prayers by hundreds of heartbroken community members who kept vigil could change Lexi's fate.

On Monday, the Choctaw Nation has issued the following statement about the child's case:

The Choctaw Nation desires the best for this Choctaw child. The tribe's values of faith, family and culture are what makes our tribal identity so important to us. Therefore we will continue to work to maintain these values and work toward the long-term best interest of this child.

The Page family issued a statement from their home after the little girl was taken away, which read in part:

Our family is so incredibly devastated. Our hearts are broken and we are trying to make sense of everything that has happened with our three other children who witnessed their sister Lexi forcefully ripped away from our family by strangers.


But nobody could possibly be more devastated than our 6-year-old daughter who found herself restrained in a car and driven away to go and live in a foreign place hundreds of miles from her family, friends, teachers, home and life.


Let me speak directly to the people who took our daughter and who have her now. Please search deep into your heart and soul and do what's best for Lexi. Do the right thing and bring Lexi back home. Do not keep her one more minute. Do not force her to spend one more night away from us and her siblings. Look her in the eyes and just ask her what she wants. She will tell you she wants to go home. I'm begging every American within the sound of my voice to help us bring Lexi back home.


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  • Timmy

    A seventh generation Native American would be 1.8% blood.

    To reach the 1.5% figure, this child would be at minimum an eighth generation Native American. Utilizing the long standing 20 year figure per generation, this child’s last full Native American blood relation was born approximately in the years 1850 to 1860.

    • Nicole Spence

      You don’t know that for sure. You are speculating. You can mind yourself. Native Americans stay on the reservation and have children that are Native Americans by Native Americans most of the time. So your theory is not foolproof

  • Janet Mulkey

    I have no respect for the judicial system when it comes to the welfare of children. Have lived through an event that I know was also devastating to a child. Ripped out of a daycare and foster parents accused of abuse. However, child welfare check in the daycare is first thing in morning, CPS not called until the afternoon. Suspicious, yes, but family wouldn’t fight it. Literally made me sick as he was so so attached to all of us and removed without even knowing which end was up. We were told that his poor little face was all bruised…not when we dropped him off it wasn’t. CPS came to house and was in the driveway screaming and yelling and removing his belongings but left his security blanket. Wished I would have been there to witness it as was neighbors and other relatives. Wrong in every being.

  • Nicole Spence

    And someone who has gone through a native American adoption I just wanted to say that the Native Americans did not hide that they want to to adopt our half brother and sister to Native Americans. We stood by the children and eventually we were able to adopt them. Our children benjermin and Michelle you’re very important to us. Love has no color. I deeply respect the Native Americans for wanting their children to be brought up in Native American homes. I respect the fact that they didn’t lie to us and that they told us that we may not be able to adopt the children because of our color. However I also feel that children need to be with their family and that does mean blood sometimes. It is a very difficult situation and I have to admit that when I read this story I just started to cry. We were the only ones that would adopt benjermin and Michelle that is why they adopted to us eventually. I am very thankful every single day for being given the opportunity to B the Godmother of benjermin and Michelle. I am even thankful to the Native Americans for allowing that to happen. My condolences to the family of the child.

  • Shawn Heydenburg

    Her biological parents could only have a max of 3.125% between both of them
    “The Choctaw Nation desires the best for this Choctaw child. The tribe’s values of faith, family and culture are what makes our tribal identity so important to us. Therefore we will continue to work to maintain these values and work toward the long-term best interest of this child.”
    The tribe’s values of family- They just took her from the only family she ever known
    The tribe’s values of faith- She has taken the faith of the Page family, most likely Christians, at the age of 6 introducing a new Deity into her life could question any further beliefs
    The tribe’s values of culture- If their tribal identity and culture is so important they need to teach her all parts of her heritage not just the Choctaw.
    If they can use Lexi is 1.5 percent Choctaw, than if she is part Irish can an Irish family member argue that she should be with them instead?
    Or can that only be used by Native Americans?
    Doesn’t that fall under some type of racial discrimination?
    I thought Native Americans were against racial discrimination?
    By the way I am more Native American than she is…

    • Toby

      Here is some serious knowledge for you, The fractional blood quantum system you and this article are refering to is a colonial tool used to eradicate natives once and for all. It’s a tool of genocide. White people are the only ones who would look at that fraction and beleive they have the right to decide another persons identity. There is so much more to being native than you could possibly ever understand, this child is now going to have the opportunity to learn her peoples identity and to develop her own as a native girl.

      • Nicole Spence

        Yes you are right and even though I have been hurt personally by this very same law and I am white who went through a Native American adoption and I was told that my children may never be able to be adopted by me and they were also put into foster care and were attempted to be adopted by a Native American couple even though I have been hurt by this loss the fact is that Native Americans have already lost everything and they don’t deserve to have white people or any other race questioning their motives of the upbringing of their own children if I had lost my children I would have been devastated but we need to respect their culture.

  • Allison Shaw

    This child should never have been placed with a non-Native foster family to begin with. Her parents’ tribe should have been notified the first time she was taken into protective custody – which is what is required by the Indian Child Welfare Reform Act – so that the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma could have placed her with her extended family from the get-go. Native peoples have distinct cultures and we have held onto those through centuries of genocide and forced assimilation policies – including the government taking our children from us at gun-point and putting them into government-funded, religiously-run boarding schools where they were verbally, emotionally, physically, and sexually abused and more than 25% of them died from the abuse. Nowadays, it’s Social Services taking our kids and putting them in foster care where they are again subjected to abuses as well as being “volunteered” for pharmaceutical research experiments… with the state and the foster parents being paid by the drug companies.
    Our kids belong with our people. Period.

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