Indian Self-Determination and Self-Governance Era 1968-present


Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

Young member of the Oneida Nation. Image: Ernest Mettendorf
Young member of the Oneida Nation. Image: Ernest Mettendorf

Congress passes the ICWA to protect tribes and children due to the high rate of Native children being removed from their families and communities and placed into non-Native homes. Transracial adoptions also lead to poor long-term mental health and loss of identity and threaten tribal survival. In many cases, children were being removed from families living on reservations, where state governments did not have legal jurisdiction, and parents and children were being denied due process by state agencies or courts, leading Congress to determine that states failed to recognize tribal culture and tribal standards and to respect tribal sovereignty. Through ICWA, Congress sets procedural and substantive provisions to eliminate Indian child removal due to cultural biases, to ensure that children are placed in foster and adoptive American Indian homes, and to promote use of tribal vs. state courts to adjudicate child custody proceedings (Jones, Tilden, & Gaines-Stoner, 2008).

Settler Colonial Policy