Learn How the Supreme Court Review of ICWA Threatens Native American Children and Tribes

The United States Supreme Court is soon to release a decision regarding the Haaland v. Brackeen case, which questions whether the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is racist and constitutional. The Court heard arguments on the case in November 2022; the ruling is expected this summer.

Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) on November 8, 1978, in response to a crisis impacting American Indian and Alaska Native children, families and tribes. High numbers of Native children were being separated from their families, extended families and tribal communities by state child welfare and private adoption agencies alike.

In establishing ICWA, the intent of Congress was to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families” (25 U.S.C. § 1902). In fact, ICWA sets forth specific federal requirements to address system-level abuses targeting Native children, as well as their unique political status and cultural considerations. for state child custody proceedings involving Indian children.

ICWA draws on the relationship established by the U.S. federal government through more than 500 treaties with tribes. These treaties are based on the exchange of lands for U.S. protection of Indian autonomy and rights – a political relationship that has existed since this country was in its infancy.

Unfortunately, those supporting the ICWA case would have you believe ICWA is premised on race. If overturned, the reversal of ICWA would undermine hundreds of years of tribal sovereignty and diminish the United States’ trust responsibility to Native communities.

To learn about the impact a reversal of ICWA would have and be an advocate for Native children, download the ICWA Fact Sheet. Questions discussed include:

  • When and why was ICWA passed?
  • How has ICWA impacted Native children and tribes?
  • How do courts enforce ICWA regulations?
  • How would a reversal of ICWA impact tribal sovereignty and why?
  • What else might a reversal of ICWA impact?
  • Why is ICWA such an untold story?
  • How can a concerned citizen make a difference today?

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