Supreme Court Upholds Indian Child Welfare Law

1978 Law Helps Keep Native Children In Native Communities  U.S. Supreme Court upholds law regarding placement of foster and adopted Native c...

1978 Law Helps Keep Native Children In Native Communities 

U.S. Supreme Court upholds law regarding placement of foster and adopted Native children. (Photo, Wikipedia) 

 In 1978, a Congressional investigation discovered that in the prior three decades children who had been removed from their homes were being placed with non-Indian families. In some cases, these children grew up literally not even knowing they were Native American. 

Legislation known as the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, was put in place. It listed new guidelines. If a child had to be adopted out or put into foster care, the first preference for placing the child would be with the child's extended family. The second preference would be with members of the child's home tribe. If that wasn't possible, the child would be preferably placed in another tribe. 

The idea of the law was to protect Native culture, keep children in their home communities, and allay the overall erosion of cultural values that was already in place due to the practice of removing children from tribes and placing them in distant boarding schools throughout America. 

The 45-year-law was challenged by non-Native adoptive parents. It went all the way to the Supreme Court. This month, the court ruled  7-2 to uphold the law.

The Copper River Native Association, in the late '70s, was one of the first Native American social service organizations in Alaska to have an Indian Child Welfare Act program. 




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