‘If you take our children, you take our identity’
Approximately 60 stood in line waiting to sit inside the court to witness the oral arguments. Many sat between the Capitol and court listening to three hours of oral arguments on their headphones, and others listened to the line of speakers and songs all morning and into midday.
Haaland v. Brackeen challenges the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law that has been referred to as the “gold standard” for child welfare by many child welfare organizations. It was enacted in 1978 to “halt the unnecessary forced removal of Native kids from their families,” said Sarah Kastelic, an enrolled citizen of the Native Village of Ouzinkie and executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association.
“So in our organization, one of the things that we talk about is the recipe for colonization,” Kastelic said. This recipe is “consistently followed by colonizers to colonize Indigenous people.”
She said there are five ingredients:
- “Take the land;”
- “Control the natural resources, especially the water;”
- “Usurp, replace Indigenous governance to delegitimize Indigenous thought;”
- “Undermine Native worldview, values, traditions, beliefs;” and
And number five, “the most important ingredient,” she says, is to “sever Native children from their sense of identity, from their culture, from their sense of belonging, from that sense of connectedness to something.”
This would meet the United Nations definition of genocide.
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NATIVE AMERICA CALLING:
The fate of ICWA
Each side presented their oral arguments Wednesday to the U.S. Supreme Court for the most serious challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act in recent memory. The decision in Haaland v. Brackeen will be a major force in the future of ICWA and the scope of tribal sovereignty. Today on Native America Calling, Shawn Spruce analyzes the legal debate from a Native perspective with Matthew Fletcher (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians), law professor at the University of Michigan Law School and author of the Turtle Talk blog; independent journalist Suzette Brewer (citizen of the Cherokee Nation); and Dr. Sarah Kastelic (Alutiiq), director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association.
( Full Brackeen Indian Child Welfare Act oral argumentsIndigenous Wire)
Oral arguments in Haaland v. Brackeen, a U.S. Supreme Court case that will decide whether the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 is constitutional and/or will be altered in any way, were heard yesterday. Books will likely be written about this law and the case — and their impact on tribal sovereignty — and we’ll be featuring much more about the issues at stake in days to come.
Of note: Not a single lawyer arguing the case in court yesterday were Indigenous, although Natives with Jenner & Block and the Native American Rights Fund did help prep for the case. A Native has never served on the U.S. Supreme Court, and the high court usually decides several cases each term that impact tribes and Indigenous citizens.