The Supreme Court has preserved the system that gives preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings of Native children.
The Court Thursday upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The 1978 law was designed to keep some of the most vulnerable Native children in Native care. The court rejected a challenge from an evangelical family and three states. They argued that the system is based on race and is unconstitutional.
Congress passed the act in response to requests from tribal leaders to stop state governments from removing Native children from their families. Large numbers of Native American children were being sent to be raised by non-Natives.
Former U.S. Senator James Abourezk of South Dakota was the principal author and chief sponsor of ICWA. He passed away earlier this year.
In South Dakota, Lakota Law co-director and lead counsel Chase Iron Eyes calls it, “a monumental day for Indigenous and human rights.” He says the Supreme Court’s decision is a huge win not just for Native children, families and cultures, but also for tribal sovereignty. According to Iron Eyes, the impacts of the decision will be felt in a positive way for the next seven generations and beyond.
June 16, 2023