Historic Case for Tribal Rights at the Supreme Court
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) – a law that aims to protect Native children from forced removal from their families, tribes, and culture – is currently under attack and at risk of being struck down by the Supreme Court in Brackeen v. Haaland.
This case is one of the largest threats to Native children, families, and tribes before the Supreme Court in our lifetimes – and that's why today the ACLU and a 12-strong collective of our affiliates from across the country have filed an amicus brief today urging SCOTUS to uphold ICWA.
The Justices will hear oral arguments in this case in November, and tribal nations will be leading the fight to uphold the constitutionality of ICWA at that time.
Until then, we encourage you to do all you can to get informed about this monumental case and the fight for Indigenous rights. You can begin by digging into our latest piece today – which gives you a rundown both on the details of Brackeen v. Haaland, and the heinous history of forced separation and assimilation of Native children in this country that surrounds it.
Since European settlers arrived on the shores of what is now known as the United States, federal and state governments – intent on seizing Native lands – have sought to undermine and threaten the existence of tribes by severing Native children from their families, tribes, and culture.
Up until Congress passed ICWA in 1978, public and private agencies were removing 25-35% of Native American/Alaska Native children from their homes. And 85% of those children were placed in non-Native households, where Native children had little access to their culture, language, or tradition.
If SCOTUS rules against this essential law, it could put a centuries-long legal precedent upholding tribal sovereignty – including tribes' right and ability to preserve their unique cultural identities, raise their own children, and govern themselves – in jeopardy.
That's why we all must pay serious attention to this case and make sure the Court knows we, the people, are in support of ICWA. So please dive into this case today and be ready for more on our nationwide fight for Indigenous rights and all civil liberties up ahead.
Thank you for staying informed,
Theodora Simon (Navajo)
Pronouns: She, her, hers
Indigenous Justice Advocate, ACLU of NorCal
P.S. Brackeen v. Haaland could have devastating consequences for Native children and families. That's why the ACLU and its affiliates are so united in the work to file today: Along with the ACLU – the ACLU of NorCal, Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Washington – are all a part of this amicus brief.