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Friday, April 5, 2019

Mountain West Tribes And States Join #ICWA lawsuit

Apr 4, 2019
So far, 325 tribes and states, including Montana, Idaho, Utah and Colorado, have joined forces to preserve a law that gives Native families preference in adoption of Native children.
Texas, Indiana and Louisiana argue the Indian Child Welfare Act creates a special and unequal status for Native children that's unconstitutional. A Texas judge sided with them last December, but a federal appeals court is keeping the law in place while it considers.
Eastern Shoshone councilman Leslie Shakespeare from the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming said, before the 1978 law was adopted, there was a long history of removing Native children from the reservation. Even after the boarding school era, there was the Indian Adoption Project of the 1950's and 60's.
"It was actually a term, Indian extraction, where they took Indian children," said Shakespeare. "They adopted them primarily to non-Indian families in order to reduce reservation populations and to reduce spending time at boarding schools."
Back then, almost a third of all Native children were removed from tribal communities through boarding schools and adoption.
"I think that is the very heart of the Indian Child Welfare Act is children losing their identity and then further, because they're our next generation, the tribe losing our identity through that process."
Shakespeare said almost 40 percent of his tribe lives somewhere other than the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming and half of those members are children. He said if they came up for adoption, it's critical to the survival of the tribe they maintain their identity as Shoshones.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

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where were you adopted?

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