WASHINGTON, D.C. ―
U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.), vice
chairman and chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs,
respectively, along with U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and U.S.
Representatives Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.), led 46
members of Congress Tuesday in introducing a bipartisan resolution
commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Indian Child Welfare Act
(ICWA), and recognizing its importance to promoting the stability and
security of Tribal communities and families.
sets best-practice standards for child welfare and adoption proceedings
involving children who are members of a federally-recognized Tribe or
are eligible for membership in a federally-recognized Tribe.
was designed to respond to the disproportionately high number of Native
children who were unnecessarily removed from their families. When the
law was first enacted in 1978, one-third of all Native children in the
U.S. were placed in foster care or adoptive homes by child welfare
systems unfamiliar with tribal child rearing practices, resulting in
generations of displaced Native children. Over four decades, the law has
become the “gold standard” for child welfare policy and keeping Native
children connected to their communities and cultures.
American children, like all children, thrive when they are able to grow
up with the support of their families, communities, and cultures,”
Udall said. “Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978 to
ensure that best practices in child custody for Native communities are
in place, keeping families togetherand kids healthy and safe. Now, on
the 40th anniversary of its passage, I’m proud to have worked with my
colleagues in the House and Senate to mark the important impact that
this law has had on generations of Native kids.”
Indian Child Welfare Act is an important piece of legislation that
respects the principles of government to government relationships with
Tribes and Tribal sovereignty,” Hoeven said.
Indian Child Welfare Act or ICWA is landmark legislation enacted four
decades ago to end the abusive practice of ‘adopting out’ Native
children in need of aid,” Murkowski said. “Its premise is that Native
children who grow up with a connection to their heritage and culture
become strong adults and parents. The State of Alaska and Alaska’s 229
tribes have partnered to ensure that this important legislation fulfills
its promise to our Native children. It is important that we celebrate
this partnership during this 40th anniversary year for ICWA is as vital
today as it was on the day it was enacted by Congress.”
years ago, when the Indian Child Welfare Act became law, Congress
declared national policy for Tribal children,” Bass said. “Through the
Indian Child Welfare Act, Congress recognizes tribes’ sovereign
authority to make decisions about children who are tribal members.
Eighteen national child welfare and child advocacy organizations —
including the Child Welfare League of American, the National Association
of Social Workers, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children
— are united in their view that the Indian Child Welfare Act is the
gold standard for child welfare policies and practices that should be
afforded to all children. This bipartisan resolution affirms the
principles embodied in the Indian Child Welfare Act, including the
importance of protecting the best interests of American Indian and
Alaska Native children, promoting the stability and security of Indian
Tribes and families, and respecting tribal sovereignty. Congress should
the heart of the Indian Child Welfare Act is the recognition that
Tribal heritage is a profoundly special and valuable heritage to know
and pass on,” Cole said. “Forty years since this monumental legislation
was enacted, we affirm our obligation to serve the best interests of
Native children and ensure that their Tribal heritage is not lost.”
addition to Udall, Hoeven, Murkowski, Bass, and Cole, the Senate
resolution is sponsored by Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Heidi
Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Angus King (I-Maine), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.),
Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar
(D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie
Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tim
Kaine (D-Va.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.),
Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Jon Tester
(D-Mont.), and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) while the House resolution is
sponsored by Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Ruben Gallego
(D-Ariz.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Raúl M.
Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Judy Chu
(D-Calif.), Don Young (R-Alaska), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Pramila Jayapal
(D-Wash.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.),
Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Norma Torres (D-Calif.), Tom Marino (R-Pa.),
Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Alcee
Hastings (D-Fla.), Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), and Tom
The full text of the resolution can be found HERE.
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