From the late 1800s till the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, Native Americans fought the US government to raise their children within their ancestral cultures. The recent Supreme Court decision in Haaland v. Brackeen on June 15 upheld the right of Native American children to be adopted within their tribes.
By 1890, through bloody wars, massacres, and treaties intended to eradicate Native American culture, Native Americans had been pushed off their ancestral lands and onto US government-designated reservations. As part of the US government’s continuing annihilation campaign, from the late 1800s through the 1970s, the US government broke up Native American families by forcing children to Christianzing boarding schools and removing an estimated 20-25% of children from their homes families, placing them in European-American homes
After decades of activism by organizations such as Women of All Red Nations (WARN), in 1978 the US Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act, requiring states to seek adoptive placement of Native American children within the child’s tribe.
Despite the argument in Haaland v. Bracken that the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act discriminated against non-Native American adoptive parents, the ruling recognized that disrespecting the tribal tradition jeopardizes the rights and protections of the tribe and the child. Native Americans will continue to be able to raise children knowing their ancestral culture.
Coming from BC Voices in August: The historical overview video for Stand UP, Speak OUT: Reproductive Rights, which will review the American women’s long struggle for autonomy in choosing to bear or not bear children, and in raising the children we have in a safe and supportive community.