- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 28, 2005

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An American Indian woman who battled with the Meskwaki Tribal Council over plans to allow a white couple in Indiana to adopt her son has decided to keep the baby.

The tribe had taken custody of the child to guard his cultural heritage, a step protected by state and federal law. A tribal judge ultimately reversed the custody order and returned the infant to his mother.

“It’s been a couple of weeks since I started thinking through more and more about keeping him,” Kelly Buffalo said of her son, Braven. As she prepared to go before the tribal council last week, she said, “I decided there was no way I could send him away.”

Even though she changed her mind, Miss Buffalo said she still is frustrated by laws that allow tribal leaders to trump what a mother wants.

Miss Buffalo said a mother should have a right to choose, especially in a case like hers. It is unlikely her son will ever be formally enrolled in the tribe because his father is white. And under tribal tradition, women alone cannot enroll their children in the tribe, she said.

“I still think the law gives the tribal council too much power,” Miss Buffalo said.

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