Indian Child Welfare Act
by: Leah Kaylor, Theresa Schuetz and Luke Shevchik
Sophmore Alexxus Reynolds. Photo by: Theresa Schuetz
Students may be unaware of ICWA and its purpose, however, they may know about Native Americans in the mid-20th century being forced to assimilate into American life and its long-lasting devastation to Native American culture and tribes.
“It’s kind of sad I haven’t heard about it (ICWA) until you brought it to my attention,” sophomore Alaysia Tarpley said.
Although many don’t know about the Indian Child Welfare Act, it still holds significance in the Native American community. ICWA is an Act that has existed since the late ‘70s; it is used to protect Native American children from being removed from their tribes. The Act gives tribal governments exclusive jurisdiction over children who live on a reservation; it also prioritizes sending adoptee Native children to Native American families as a way to preserve culture.
Recent controversy has been raised stating the Act is unconstitutional and makes it harder for Native American children in foster care to be adopted.
“This Act is only looking out for the best interest and well-being of a minority group,” sophomore Alexxus Reynolds said. “Removing it would rid the child of their culture and roots.”
Many families, after fostering Native American children, attempt to adopt them, but are often times rejected or are told to prove they are good people. Many believe this process is too strict and greatly limits their ability to adopt children whom they have been fostering long-term.
The strict process of adopting Native American children raised arguments that were heard in the Supreme Court on November 9th, 2022. These arguments have the possibility of overturning ICWA and are currently being reviewed.
“I would find a more sustainable alternative to overturning the Act,” senior Evan Malie said.
One of the other main arguments against ICWA is that it goes against the 10th Amendment’s anti-commandeering Act. The anti-commandeering Act ceases federal control over states’ choices.
“I do not believe that this Act is unconstitutional because it is not giving anyone an unfair advantage,” Reynolds said.
The Supreme Court is said to reach a decision on whether to keep or overturn ICWA by June of this year, which has many outraged because of ICWA’s long-standing protection towards Native American children and culture.
“It’s such a sensitive topic that should have more attention brought to it, and I would learn more about it and talk to those offended to gather their perspectives,” Civics teacher Mr. Nicholas Diehl said.