Law | Opinion

Bill John Baker: The Indian Child Welfare Act remains under attack

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. Photo from Anadisgoi

Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker stands up for the Indian Child Welfare Act as the landmark law faces challenges in the courts:
Thirty-seven years ago, the federal government passed a law to keep Indian children safe. Today that promise, embodied in the Indian Child Welfare Act, is under assault.

America’s multibillion-dollar adoption industry and its allies seek to undermine ICWA’s enforcement by filing lawsuits they hope to take to the Supreme Court. If successful, the lawsuits would deny tribes of their right -- and their duty -- to look after the welfare of their children.

As Indian people, we’ve always known that it’s in our children’s best interests to stay in their families’ homes and to remain connected to their tribes. In 1978, Congress recognized this fact and passed ICWA, which aims to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families.”

Congress passed ICWA because such protections were desperately needed. In the 1970s, state officials would frequently tear Indian children from their homes for reasons of cultural chauvinism and ignorance. Then, children were served up to America’s adoption industry. ICWA hoped to stop this cultural genocide by creating a legal presumption that Indian children belong in their own homes or with other family or tribal members.

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Bill John Baker: It takes a tribe (The Grand Rapids Herald-Review 1/6)

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