Skip to content What's at stake with the Indian Child Welfare Act

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The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is weighing the future of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), leaving the fate of Native American children — and their legal cases of abuse, neglect and adoption — hanging in the balance.

“We are confident the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will again confirm the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act,” John Echohawk, Executive Director of the Native American Rights Fund, said in a release.

The act gave tribal governments exclusive jurisdiction over children living on reservations as well as some jurisdiction over Native American children in foster care outside of reservations.

The tragic result is that Native children are deprived of loving families committed to their well-being.

However, Judge James L. Dennis said in 2019’s opinion that the act goes beyond just race to define Native American children.

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