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Pine Point man wants children returned, launches hunger strike

Doug Clark is a man determined not to lose his 9-year-old daughter and 3-year-old grandchild.

Without resources or much in the way of hope, the 50-year-old started a fast Saturday to draw attention to his plight.

Clark feels he has been treated unjustly, his family members removed through an incident that was not of his own doing.

Monday, he was facing eviction and homelessness as well.

According to Clark, who has been living in the "new projects," northwest of Pine Point, Tuesday, April 1, he kept his 9-year-old home from school because she had a fever. He got a ride to the convenience store to get groceries but walked back home.

He had left the younger children home with two older daughters. One left to go for a ride and by the time Clark arrived home, police had arrived and arrested the older one on a warrant.

The young children were removed and Clark doesn't know where they are.

He appeared in Tribal Court Friday without legal representation because Anishinabe Legal Services told him they were not taking any more cases.

Clark believes removing the children was an over reaction to the situation and because the tribal child welfare worker "was trying to prove a point," she had the eviction notice filed.

It is a Catch 22 situation for Clark. The notice from the White Earth Tribal Housing Authority, dated April 3, states a reason for his eviction is he has no children in the home. "Eviction makes it almost impossible to get my kids back," he said.

"They had their minds made up before I got there," he said.

Clark already is familiar with loss. His wife died in a pedestrian-car accident nearly three years ago. He has not had a drink since, he said.

His 10-month-old granddaughter died in a tragic accident as she was trying to climb up onto a recliner.

Last fall, his home on the east side of Pine Point burned. The home in the "new projects" was another daughter's. He's been living there since August, caring for the children.

According to Clark, as a result of last week's incident, his mother's foster care license was revoked because she let children in her care come to his home.

He said he's been told the children are together. He doesn't necessarily believe that's true but he hopes it is.

It is clear he misses them. Tears well up as he talks about reading to them at night. "They're really attached to me," he said. "The older one has lost her mom and niece and now she's afraid of losing me, too."

"My mind's made up," Clark said. "I will fast until my children are returned to the Pine Point area where I can see them every day."

He also believes the child welfare worker should be investigated. "Indian Child Welfare is supposed to unite families," he said.

The White Earth Child/Family Protection Code states one purpose is "to preserve unity of the family, preferably by separating the child from his or her parents only when necessary."

Another stated purpose is "to secure the rights of and ensure fairness to the children, parents, guardians ... who come before the children's court" under the code's provisions.

Although Clark believed there could be a possibility he could appeal the situation, Tuesday he learned he could not.

Clark, who is now staying with his sister, has gone without food for three days.

Healthy people can go much longer, but not Clark. He is diabetic. He said he flushed his medications and Monday afternoon his blood sugar was at 23 milligrams. (Normal glucose levels fall between 70 and 150 mg.)

"My doctor told me that I would get weak and shaky and start not talking right," he said. "I have all those symptoms already."