By Elizabeth Amon, The Imprint, May 17, 2021
A federal law enacted 43 years ago designed to protect Native American families from separation is now under threat like no time in recent history.
Last month, the Indian Child Welfare Act, widely considered to be the “gold standard” of the field, was found to be constitutional by a federal appeals court. But the justices nevertheless chipped away at key provisions that make the law known as ICWA successful. The lengthy, complicated decision could well be reviewed by the Supreme Court, placing the indigenous communities of the United States at further risk.
To examine the law and its impact, The Imprint reviewedsummaries of40 cases handled last fall by a leading nonprofit law firm in Minnesota, where NativeAmerican children are removed from their parents at a rate unseen elsewhere in the country. The review revealed that thefederal law has a clear benefit for the children it is designed to protect — and without it, those rights would be greatly diminished.