On November 9, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments of Haaland v. Brackeen, the case concerning the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). ICWA has been labeled the “gold standard” in child welfare policy by numerous national child advocacy organizations. However, it is still largely unknown or misunderstood by average Americans.
ICWA is not based on race, but rather upon the citizenship of the children involved in federally recognized tribes. This law protects Indian children and their families from biased child welfare practices and a history of forced removal and assimilation of Indigenous children by the U.S. government and church-led institutions. ICWA advocates for the best interest of Indian children by promoting placement within their family or tribal community. This ability for children to remain among their own people and connected to their culture is a proven protective factor that lessens the trauma of removal.
The Supreme Court’s decision will ultimately determine whether the 44-year-old law that ensures Native children have the legal right to remain connected to their familial network, culture, and community will remain intact. The Court’s determination could also lead to further cases being heard that would chip away at the sovereignty of Native nations and their right to govern and protect their own citizens. The stakes couldn’t be any higher, especially for future generations of Indigenous children.
Here are three things you can do to help raise awareness and support the Indian Child Welfare Act through the American Indian College Fund’s friends at the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA):
- Sign the Petition. Join 16,000+ others in pledging support for ICWA.
- Share a @ProtectICWA post. ICWA is still unknown or misunderstood by so many. Share a message from the Protect ICWA Campaign on your social media. You can find NICWA on Instagram and Twitter.
- Save the date: Wednesday, November 9. Join the NICWA in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, November 9, 2022, for an in-person event during the Supreme Court oral arguments. Families, leaders, singers, dancers, traditional practitioners, elders, knowledge keepers, youth, and allies are invited to join NICWA to respectfully demonstrate support for ICWA on this important day. Please register for this on Eventbrite. NICWA will share more information regarding time, place, and activities with registered attendees.
For 40 years, NICWA has supported tribes in developing tribal child welfare programs, training tribal and state workers, and helping states and tribes strengthen the implementation of ICWA.
Share your support of ICWA today and stand with them, the American Indian College Fund, Indian Country, and Native children on this vital issue. You can learn more about ICWA by reading their handy guide which sets the record straight.