Naomi’s Rain

A group of roughly 100 people gathered at the Oklahoma state capitol  Wednesday to pay tribute to and demand justice for Naomi Whitecrow, a 2  year old Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal member killed in 2009 while in the care of a foster family.  The foster mother, Amy Holder, of Edmond, Oklahoma was found guilty in October of child abuse and after about 10 hours of deliberation the jury recommended a $5,000 fine but no jail time.   After word of the jury’s recommendation was released, outrage sparked  throughout the Indian community as family members,  friends, and total strangers struggled to understand how the brutal murder of a  child could result in a mere fine.

Formal sentencing was set for November 7th in Guthrie, Oklahoma and  many participants vowed to be present there as well to show support for  Naomi.  The event coordinator, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Tribune editor Rosemary Stephens, opened the event by introducing Cheyenne and  Arapaho Governor Janice Prairie Chief Boswell who welcomed the participants and encourage continued awareness of Naomi’s case and the need for stricter laws regarding child abuse.

The Campaign Justice for Naomi rally brought about supporters  protesting for more consistent and harsher penalties for those found  guilty in the death of a child in foster care.  Debby Whitecrow, Naomi’s aunt, told supporters and media members the family wanted Holder held accountable and felt the punishment in no way fit the crime.  “We want  justice that is what we are looking for in all of this. We are  here to remember her life and the life she is no longer going to be able  to live with us.”

Glenda Deer, a Kickapoo tribal member from Shawnee, Oklahoma and  outspoken supporter of the event, wrote the following on the Facebook event  page she created make the public aware of the sentencing date, “$5,000  for killing a Indian child in 2011?!… Our Indian kids are  priceless….there is NO amount of $ that can be set on ANY child…I  SAY PACK THE COURTROOM NOVEMBER (7th)…!!! LET GUTHERIE FEEL THE  PRESENCE OF INDIAN PEOPLE! There is no JUSTICE for indian people…it  really is “JUST US”

After reviewing the medical examiner’s report and photographs,  forensic pathologist Dr. Dean A. Hawley (Indiana University School of  Medicine) determined that Naomi had died as a result of blunt force  trauma to the head, abdomen, and extremities.

The arrest warrant, signed by District Attorney Vincent Antonioli  reads, “Child  abuse –  a felony, on or between the 12th day of September, 2008  through the 20th day of January, 2009, by maliciously failing to provide minimum, proper, and medical attention to N.W., age 2, while she was in the care and custody of the defendant as a foster child, and performed  unnecessary physical procedures on the aforementioned N.W., causing the  following physical injuries from the resulting blunt force trauma, to  wit:  pancreatic hemorrhage; fat necrosis; multiple contusions and  abrasion of her face and scalp; fresh left occipital subarachnod  hemorrhage;  left occipital and parietal cerebral cortical contusions;  contusions to the back, back of the head, front and back of legs, and  buttocks.

This crime is punishable by for imprisonment for up to life  and/or 1 year in the Logan County Jail and a fine of between $500.00 and $5000.00, or both.

Yolanda Bluehorse, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, spoke openly  and emotionally at yesterday’s rally, recalling her own daughter’s murder at the hands of a trusted caregiver. Bluehorse was there to  support the family and remember Naomi.  “I’m here to support the family.  I’m here for the little girl, for Naomi Whitecrow.” After fighting the  state of Texas to bring her own daughter’s killer to justice, Bluehorse  was visibly upset at the jury’s recommendation for the $5,000.00 fine.   “A monetary amount. Really? Does that mean anyone found guilty just pays a fine? Are we putting a price on child abuse?”

As the clouds grew dark and the wind grew cold, the crowd remained  steadfast as several tribal members and activists stood and spoke of the  need for justice and changes in current laws.  Supporters from many  different ethnic backgrounds held signs adorned with Naomi’s photo, with  phrases such as, “Justice For Naomi,” “Is This Going to Happen Again,” and “Please Give Me a Voice.”  Rally-goers were given pins with Naomi’s  photo that read, “Justice For Naomi” and a white ribbon, to reflect and  remind everyone of the innocence of our children.

The loss of that innocence was still apparent as Naomi’s mother, Kala  Whitecrow, stood to thank supporters for attending but could only say a  few words before she began to weep.  “I’m sorry,  I’m just too  emotional, I can’t do this.”  Audible sobs were heard from the crowd as Whitecrow nearly collapsed into the arms of her mother, sister, and  Rosemary Stephens.

As the women stepped away from the podium and the final prayer was  about to be offered, a light gentle rain began to fall.  Ben Carnes, a  Choctaw tribal member who had spoken earlier in the event, quietly  requested to address the crowd again.  With the raindrops apparent on  his face, Carnes spoke to Naomi’s mother.  “I’m a member of the Choctaw Nation and they say Amy Holder is Choctaw.  From my nation to yours, I  apologize for what she done.”  He lifted a hand to the sky.  “In our  tradition, a soft gentle rain is a feminine rain.  You can be sure  little Naomi is up there right now watching us and smiling.”  He bowed  his head and paused for a moment, then lifted his eyes to the clouds.   “It’s a feminine rain but it’s also a healing rain if we let it be.”

As the event ended, those who were there to pay tribute to and demand  justice for a little girl many had never met,  stood in silence as the soft gentle rain not only touched their face, hair, and jackets, but  their very souls.

A soft, gentle, feminine rain.  A healing rain.  Naomi’s rain.

Read the arrest warrant here (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader):   http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/griffin/NEWS9/PDF/1001/amyholder.PDF

Edmond Woman Convicted of Child Abuse in Death of Foster Child KOTV News 6 Oklahoma City:   http://www.newson6.com/story/15608546/edmond-woman-convicted-of-child-abuse-in-death-of-foster-child

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Tribune:   http://www.c-a-tribes.org/Websites/michaelwood/images/Newspapers/NewsPaper%202011/Oct.%2015,%202011.pdf

Glenda Deer’s event page for the sentencing:  https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=123236737781181

This article was first published on CNN iReport by Raz’n Cain entitled Naomi’s Rain.  Copyright 2011.  All rights reserved.

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~ by RaznCain on November 6, 2011.

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