In the mid-1970s, a congressional investigation revealed that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families and placing them in non-Native foster or adoptive homes or residential institutions, never to see their families or communities again. In many cases, state officials removed children because they were unable or unwilling to understand tribal cultures and societies. The removals and placements devastated the children, their families, and their tribes. Broken families, loss of culture, and forced assimilation led to identity problems, incarceration, addictions, and suicide.
Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to end these destructive practices. ICWA ensures that tribes have notice and an opportunity to act before a state tries to remove children from their home and place. It also provides preferred placements for Native children in need of a safe and loving home—recognizing the immense harm done by removing children not only from their families but from their cultures.
Although a handful of jurisdictions have remained resistant to its provisions and goals, ICWA has been largely successful in increasing tribal participation in children’s cases and ensuring the rights of Indian children are protected. In particular, the last decade has seen many states passing their own ICWAs, and tribal nations are more actively asserting their rights in ICWA proceedings. Continuing this trend, the Bureau of Indian Affairs recently published updated Guidelines for ICWA to clarify what the law requires and ensure that every state provides Native children with all the protections required by ICWA. In February 2015, the BIA announced it intended to take these reforms even further by proposing, for the first time, binding federal regulations governing ICWA’s implementation. This success, however, is now being challenged by prominent, well-financed opponents who actively and aggressively seek to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children and have ICWA itself declared unconstitutional.
These lawsuits represent the greatest threat to ICWA yet. Not since its enactment has ICWA come under such a direct, coordinated attack by those committed to ending the protections, it guarantees every Native child. These attacks against ICWA will not go unanswered. As a United States citizen living on stolen land, I will not stand for this! As my local representative, hear our cries for native people and aid us!
▶ First sent on July 13, 2022 by Sierra · 437 signers in
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