Friday, October 10, 2008


How much do you know about the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)? It was an act passed in 1978 to control the child welfare cases of Native American children. It gives tribal governments jurisdiction over states when the child in question is living on a reservation. For children not living on a reservation, the tribal government has equal power to the state and can request that the case be transfered from the state court to the tribal court.

If parental rights are to be terminated, there is a heirarcy for where the child should be placed. First, extended family, then other members of the tribe, then other Native Americans who are not memebers of the tribe and lastly non-Native Americans. The purpose of this is to preserve the child's culture as much as possible.

For more details please see A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act from the Native American Rights Fund.

1 comment:

Lisa - Mother of Nine said...

Indian Child Welfare Act classes need to discuss the full ramifications of ICWA, not just the perspective of the tribal government. What has to be remembered is that when we allow tribal governments to determine their own membership criteria, we are treading on the individual rights of citizens all over the country. One father in Texas writes that he has spent tens of thousands of dollars fighting the tribe for custody of a little boy that is less than 2% tribal heritage. I have received letters from non-tribal parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles from all over the country. One grandfather signed his name "former grandfather of..." Their family, having exhausted all financial resources, has given up hope.

Yes, it can be that bad. And it is these people that need attorney's willing to face the wrath of the tribal governments and stand up for children and families.

Why are children of heritage considered unworthy of the same protection afforded children of other heritages?