Posts By: Antoinette Robinson

‘With Every Story I Write, I Learn More About What It Takes to Be Me’

My introduction to Rise was through the writing workshop at the Child Welfare Organizing Project. When I started, I was writing just to write. Then I found that writing was a way to gain insight into my life.

I never knew that writing words on paper would open up so many old wounds.

The first thing I discovered was that I’d suppressed a lot of what happened in my life. I remembered things my mother … Read More

‘Let All That Is Indian Within You Die’ – Recognizing America’s brutal legacy with Native American families.

Judge William Thorne as told to Antoinette Robinson

Shortly after I started working as a tribal judge, one of my cases involved whether to remove children from their family. I didn’t know much about the child welfare system and I needed to do some research. But I also trusted that the child welfare system knew the answers. The more I researched, though, the more I learned that the system was broken.

Since the 1880s, the United States … Read More

The Courage to Tell Their Stories – In South Dakota, Native Americans organize for change.

In 2005, Native Americans in South Dakota reached out to human rights lawyers because more than 700 Native American children in South Dakota were taken from their families every year. Here, Chase Iron Eyes, South Dakota counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project, and Sara Nelson, its executive director, describe how people came together to bring about change:

Q: What led the Native American community to organize to reform child welfare?

Iron Eyes: … Read More

Coerced In Court – I wish I’d never let the court find me guilty of neglect.

Illustration by Erika Faye Burke


I was raised to have pride in who I am and stand up for what I believe. Standing up in court to admit that I neglected my children, I felt like everything I knew to be true and right was thrown out the window.

As the judge looked at me and said, “I strongly suggest you plead guilty,” I broke down and cried.

My lawyer put her head down and told … Read More

The Person Behind the Petition – Getting the court to see beyond stereotypes.

When parents go to court, they often feel that their voices are not heard. They’re afraid of the power that the court has over them. They have to put all their trust in their lawyer, a person they may be meeting for the first time. They feel stripped of their whole identity—other than the stigma that goes along with having a child welfare case and the stigma that comes with being poor, a minority, lacking … Read More

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