Corvallis Social Justice: Protecting ICWA, Urgent Support Needed for Unhoused Neighbors, WGSS Research on Coast Salish Two-Spirit Identities, Gender Expansive Support Groups

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a federal law enacted in 1978 to protect Indigenous children from being subject to forced removal from their families, Tribes, and cultures, is set to be overturned by the majority conservative U.S. Supreme Court. Known as the Brackeen v. Haaland case, if ICWA is deemed unconstitutional, it could have devastating consequences for Native children, families, and Tribes, including the broader undermining of Native sovereignty and self-governance. 

The Lakota People’s Law Project describes ICWA as “the federal law that prioritizes Native care for Native children, which is critical to maintaining cultural connections, family ties, and kinship practices that have been intact for thousands of years. ICWA, signed into law in 1978, was conceived as a means of slowing the genocidal policies enacted by the United States and Canada, which included the forced placement of Indigenous children in Indian boarding schools for more than a century. These schools were cruel institutions designed to enact genocide by separating the children from their cultural identities and severing ties with their families and communities… ICWA was ultimately passed to protect Native children and keep them with their kin.”   

Lara Jacobs, a Mvskoke (Creek) and Choctaw Ph.D. student in Recreation Ecology and Chair of the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Club at OSU, spoke about the significance of ICWA in a Corvallis Advocate CitySpeak, “Beyond Indigenous Land Acknowledgments for Corvallis”, livestreamed in July.  

“What it does is it protects Indigenous children from being removed from their households into non-Indigenous households, where they would be assimilated and they wouldn’t be able to practice their cultures, their languages and things like that,” she said. “There’s a very long history of removing Indigenous peoples from Indigenous families in this country… and SCOTUS [will] most likely be unraveling it so that Indigenous children and families and cultures and all of our nations will [be at risk of separation].”  

“ICWA is one safeguard we have to keep our kids in our communities, immersed in our traditions,” wrote Jacobs in a Tweet. “The SCOTUS case perpetuates colonial harms and lays infrastructure to the continued dispossessions of Indigenous bodies, identities, cultures, languages, etc.”  

In an op-ed published by Oregon Capital Chronicle on Indigenous Peoples Day, Trish Jordan (Muscogee Creek), executive director of the Portland-based Red Lodge Transition Services, wrote, “If ICWA is overturned by the Supreme Court, the outcome would be a travesty for Native children, their families and tribal communities here and everywhere. With Native peoples comprising just 3.1% of our state’s population today, I am worried that this will result in the further erasure of Indigenous people and our cultures. Our children are more precious than gold or jewels, and we must protect them at all costs! We cannot allow the legacy of forced assimilation and removal to repeat itself.”  

Jordan also noted the fossil fuel interests of the law firms and lawyers involved in trying to dismantle ICWA. The plaintiffs are being represented by Gibson Dunn, a corporate law firm which has represented Amazon, Walmart, Chevron, Shell, Energy Transfer and Enbridge – the oil company responsible for the Dakota Access and Line 3 pipelines, the latter of which was opposed locally by several Corvallis environmental activists who stood in solidarity with the Indigenous-led Stop Line 3 movement.   

“For those who wish to truly honor [Indigenous Peoples Day] and support Indigenous communities and their children,” wrote Jordan, “I ask that you make an effort to further educate yourself on this issue and help Native communities here and everywhere by doing all you can to save our children and to protect tribal sovereignty.”    

If you’d like to take a minute to help, text ‘Sign PCCPGW’ to 50409 and sign the Lakota Law Project’s petition to protect Native children and sovereignty.   

Support Urgently Needed for Unhoused Community Members: Snow, excessive rainfall, and freezing temperatures over the weekend led to flooded tents, hypothermic conditions, and other issues faced by unhoused folks in the city. While it was snowing, Stop the Sweeps Corvallis, a mutual aid network of community members committed to providing care, support, and advocacy for their unhoused neighbors, spent the day distributing resources to help folks stay warm and protected from the elements. These included 50 pairs of gloves, 10 sleeping bags, 15 tarps, a handful of sleeping pads, two tents, along with three refilled gallons of propane.   

Many of these resources come from community members’ own pockets, but with camp sweeps happening today along the railroad property running through Pioneer Park, they are at risk of getting thrown away, perpetuating harmful cycles of dispossession and continual loss of resources needed for survival.  

On the Corvallis Reddit, an anonymous user wrote, “While many of us are enjoying the beautiful snow and hot cocoas there are others who are facing the unimaginable. Stop The Sweeps was one of the only groups providing boots on the ground help to our houseless neighbors in the city. Flooded tents, hypothermic conditions, and lack of heating sources are infrastructural issues that need our immediate attention. GOING FORWARD [sic], showing support to efforts like this consistently when times are tough can create a reliable mutual aid network for everyone.”  

Material donations of blankets, tarps, propane tanks, gloves, hand warmers, rain/snow coats, portable heaters, umbrellas, scarves, thick socks, rain boots, batteries, flashlights, and more can be made to the Corvallis Really Really Free Market (RRFM) for distribution among unhoused community members. Send a direct message (DM) to their Instagram to coordinate donation times/dropoff and learn more ways to help. You can also donate financially to the Stop the Sweeps Venmo – @StopTheSweepsCV – to help organizers purchase more resources.   

Stop the Sweeps will continue supporting unhoused folks being displaced by camp sweeps, in addition to providing weekly meals at Pioneer Park.  

“We keep us safe. We keep us warm,” they wrote in a Tweet.  

Research Presentation on Coast Salish Two-Spirit Identities: Kyles Jacobs Gemmell, a Ph.D. candidate in OSU’s Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program with a concentration in Indigenous Queer and Two-Spirit Studies, will be giving their virtual research presentation, “haʔɫ kʷ(i) adsəslabcebut/Watch Over Yourself Well: (Re)writing Two-Spirit Coast Salish Bodies through Canoe-Based Practices”, tomorrow at noon. It is part of the WGSS 611 Colloquium course, in which OSU faculty, grad students, and faculty members from other institutions provide presentations of feminist research.  

“Gemmell centers Coast Salish canoe-based practices as a means of understanding Coast Salish Two-Spirit critiques and identities,” reads the description. “Their research centers canoe rules that community members are to abide by as a means of developing a culturally relevant methodological approach to research. Grounding their research in the foundation of the canoe and the canoe family, Gemmell engages community, personal experience, and archival research as a means to move towards healing from gendered and racialized colonial violence.”  

Pre-registration for the talk, which will be held over Zoom, is required; you can register here.  

Support Groups, Social Events for Trans and Gender Expansive Community Members: The OSU Pride Center, temporarily located in Room 112 of the Student Experience Center (SEC), is hosting two social circles this week: one for trans women and trans feminine folks, and one for trans men and trans masculine folks. The former will take place tomorrow from 2 – 4 p.m., and the latter will take place on Thursday, Nov. 10, from 4 – 6 p.m. Both socials will have games, snacks, and the opportunity to connect with other transfemmes and transmascs in the OSU and Corvallis communities.   

This Saturday, the Mid-Willamette Trans Support Network, an organization founded by and for gender diverse people to support, empower, amplify, and provide resources to help meet the needs and security of trans, nonbinary, intersex, and gender-noncomforming community members in the region, will be hosting their virtual gender expansive support group at noon.   

Held over Zoom, the support group is an invitation for trans, intersex, nonbinary, gender diverse, gender-nonconforming, and other non-cisgender folks to gather in a safe space to support each other, check in about what’s going on in each other’s lives, and share experiences related to gender. For Zoom link and password information, you can send an email to  

The network is always looking for more volunteers to help with continuing to support the gender diverse community at large; folks who are interested can learn more and fill out a volunteer application here.  

By Emilie Ratcliff 

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