Deborah Maddox, acting Director of the BIA Office of Tribal Services in 1993, said, “the intent of Congress in passing the Indian Child Welfare Act was to protect Indian children from removal from their tribes and to assure that tribes are given the opportunity to raise Indian children in a manner which reflects the unique values of Indian culture.”
According to West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), “…intended to limit the … removing (of) Native American children from their tribe and family and placing them in a non-Indian family or institution. The act seeks to achieve these goals through…placing children…in a…home that reflects the unique values of Indian culture.”
(ICWA) “seeks to protect the rights of the Indian child as an Indian and the rights of the Indian Community and Tribe in retaining its children in its society.” – House Report on the Indian Child Welfare Act.
But most enrollable children are of mixed heritage. What about the rights of the child of Indian heritage as a Latino, Black, or Italian? And what gives the Tribe the right to claim children who are predominately of another heritage?
Advocates of ICWA point to the devastation suffered by children of tribal heritage when, years ago, they were forcefully removed from the homes they loved and forced to stay at boarding schools. The trauma those children and families expereinced was, indeed, devastating.
However, today, some tribal leaders have been doing the exact same thing when they have removed children from the homes and environments they love, forcing them to live with people they barely know in Indian Country.
There is no inborn difference between persons of tribal heritage and other persons. Any emotionally healthy child, no matter their heritage, will be devastated when they are taken from their familiar homes and forced to live with strangers.
Even children of 100% tribal heritage will be devasted if taken from the only home they know and love, even if it is non-tribal, and placed into a reservation home they know nothing about.
The Full Text of the INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT OF 1978 (ICWA):
THE ICWA LAW: PUBLIC LAW 95-608, 25 USC Chapter 21