The Montana Supreme Court noted in Skillen v. Skillen, No. 96-520, MT 43, (1998) that “after extensive hearings” Congress found the ICWA was necessary.
But what is meant by an “extensive” hearing? Most Americans would assume it means “far-reaching,” “thorough,” all-embracing,” and “evenhanded.”
However, the 1978 testimony was NOT fully representative of the people the Act affects.
- Were representatives of enrolled parents or non-enrolled parents invited to speak?
- Did anyone speak for non-enrolled parents?
- Were tribal members that enjoy living within the dominant American culture invited to say so?
- Were people that were happy with the non-tribal foster homes they were raised in represented?
- Were parents notified that tribal lawyers, adoption agencies, and politicians were discussing a law affecting their rights and the best interests of their children?
- If these people were not represented, was the 1978 testimony fully thorough?
In 1996, an aide to Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) stated that parents and caregivers weren’t invited to Senate ICWA Hearings because the Senators had already chosen who they want to hear, and they already had a full panel.
That panel consisted of tribal leaders, adoption agencies, social workers, and lawyers representing the tribal governments. There was no one there to speak for opposing families.
The aide, mentioning Rosy Parks and the number of people that participated in civil rights marches, went on to say that unless we could come up with a large number of people wanting ICWA changed, they had no interest in hearing what we had to say.
Our Rights Don’t Matter.
Please read our “Family Stories“ section to learn more.