We have been following the Isaiah Rider case since last year when he was kidnapped from his mother, by Child Protective Services, after Lurie Childrens Hospital accused her of “Medical Child Abuse”. What followed after that has been a long and twisted road of stonewalling, roadblocks and what appears to be a betrayal by some in the Choctaw Nation, the Native American tribe to which both Isaiah and Michelle belong. The Choctaw who could have intervened and rescued Isaiah from a system where he had recently been sexually assaulted, instead sided with CPS and the state of Illinois and agreed to leave him in their custody.
It wasn’t until recently that we came across a potential conflict of interest that might explain why the Choctaw chose to side with CPS and Lurie Childrens Hospital. Here are 3 facts in this case as we understand them. You be the judge.
- Lurie Childrens Hospital made the decision that Michelle was “Medically Abusing” Isaiah. They are responsible for the DCFS involvement that resulted in the kidnapping of Isaiah and the ensuing events that have led to his present situation
- Chief Gary Batton is the 47th Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the third largest Indian tribe in the United States. Chief Batton assumed his current position with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma on April 28, 2014, upon the retirement of Chief Gregory E. Pyle. After being sworn into office, Chief Batton set a clear direction in his inaugural address indicating a specific vision for his administration. He is quoted as saying he works to “do what is best for Choctaws” (source)
- On Jan 13, 2015 there was a hearing where we were told that the Choctaw had the opportunity to testify on Isaiah’s behalf. Rather than intervene and have him placed within the jurisdiction of The Choctaw Nation or with a Choctaw family, which is the right given to Native American Tribes by the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, the Choctaw instead chose to leave it up to the presiding judge to “do the right thing”. Michelle Rider says she was told by the tribe that they based their decision on statements by Illinois officials and the adjudication ruling by the judge in December. Oddly enough, they did not speak to the one person you would think they should have – Isaiah Rider
We are left with the same question: Why did the Choctaw decide to leave a member of their tribe in the custody of CPS? Why did they take the side of CPS and Lurie Childrens Hospital? Why did they not take into consideration Isaiah’s claims of sexual assault and rape while in foster care?
We looked into Chief Batton’s background and discovered the following:
The Childrens Hospital Foundation, where he serves on the Board of Advocates, “is a proud affiliate of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.” (source)
When we did a search of the hospitals in the Childrens Miracle Network on their website, we found this connection:
So what have we learned?
- Chief Batton of The Choctaw Nation serves on the Board of Advocates of The Childrens Hospital Foundation
- The Childrens Hospital Foundation is a proud affiliate of The Childrens Miracle Network
- Lurie Childrens Hospital is a member of the Childrens Miracle Network
This connection between the tribe and the hospital raises some serious concerns:
Could the relationship between Chief Batton and Lurie Hospital create a conflict of interest that could have infuenced their decision?
Had the tribe intervened and taken custody of Isaiah, would that have negatively impacted the relationship between Chief Batton, The Choctaw Nation and Lurie Childrens Hospital?
As we review these relationships, we are left with more questions than answers.
Click here to listen to the interview with Larry Banegas who recently discussed the conflicts of interest in state child protective agencies that may be harming Native American children who should be protected under Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. It’s sad, but the lure of free money can corrupt almost anyone. Has that happened in this case?
Larry Banegas, is the President and founder of Kumeyaay.com. He served as a member of the Tribal Council for the Barona Band of the Kumeyaay. Larry is a graduate of Cal State Long Beach with BA in Speech and Communication. He also has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from San Diego State University. He was raised on the Barona reservation and teaches Kumeyaay culture and tradition to the community. He has taught California Indian history and traditional knowledge at D.Q. University at Sycuan and presently sits on the AIR Programs Board.