Byron Dorgan: Indian parents put first priority on their children

Indian children in South Dakota. Photo from Lakota People's Law Project

Retired Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the founder of the Center for Native American Youth, defends the Indian Child Welfare Act from an attack by conservative forces:
George F. Will’s Sept. 3 op-ed column on the Indian Child Welfare Act, “Kids pay the price for tribes,” highlighted our country’s long, shameful history of mistreatment of the First Americans.

Nothing in the act says that children in dangerous homes must stay. The “best interest of the child” standard is applied in all cases under the act. To insinuate that a tribal government isn’t concerned about the best interest of native children is insulting.

The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed to help keep native children safe and connected to their tribal nations. Before the act passed in 1978, generations of babies were forcibly removed from native families and communities. It was racism, paternalism and colonialism at their core.

Mr. Will cherry-picked tragic cases that, sadly, aren’t unique to tribes. So many U.S. children have died in foster care or after being returned to their families that a federal commission was created in 2013 to investigate child abuse and neglect fatalities in the child welfare system. Native children aren’t overrepresented in these deaths.

Get the Story:
Byron Dorgan: Improving treatment of Native American children (The Washington Post 9/7)

Another Opinion:
Joaquin Gallegos: Tribes are essential to the well-being of Native American children (The Washington Post 9/4)

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