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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Top Stories of 2019: The Indian Child Welfare Act Under Fire


We’re counting down 10 of the biggest stories The Chronicle of Social Change published in 2019. Each day, we’ll connect readers with a few links to our coverage on a big story from this past year.

Forty-one years ago, Congress approved the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) after years of painstaking research and activism revealed that up to 30 percent of all Native American children had been removed from their parents by state and local governments, and were often placed into the homes of white families.
ICWA has been challenged in court numerous times, most recently in the 2018 case Brackeen v. Zinke, which called into question the law’s connection to sovereignty as opposed to race. This year saw a number of developments in the Brackeen case.

Lead Read

Sending Them Home looks at the only annual memorial event in the nation that honors Native children lost to boarding schools and foster care. The founder and lead organizer of the event, long-time activist Frank LaMere, passed away in June 2019.

Also Read

Federal Law Protecting Indian Children and Families Will Stand provides an overview of the Brackeen v. Zinke case with a focus on what happened this year.

Trump Administration Limits New Foster Care Data on LGBTQ, Education, and Native American Families examines the Trump administration’s efforts to cut down an Obama-era plan for 272 new data points on children and families to 183. Many of the rescinded points pertained specifically to the Indian Child Welfare Act.

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Why tribes do not recommend the DNA swab

Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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