The Native American Rights Fund is committed to the well-being of Native American children and their families.

A photo of a smiling girl and boy

To that end, we have created this website to help you find resources related to the welfare of our youngest tribal citizens. It includes information about the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and how to implement it correctly, federal and state laws and regulations, case updates and materials, and the latest news and resources related to the welfare of Native children and families.

We hope that you find these materials useful and we invite you to contact us at

Featured: Brackeen v. Haaland

Brackeen v. Haaland now at the U.S. Supreme Court

As the U.S. Supreme Court decides if it will review four lower court decisions related to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), an unprecedentedly large group of child welfare and tribal sovereignty protectors united in defense of ICWA. On Oct. 8, the Supreme Court received three amicus briefs urging the Court to protect ICWA, filed by:

  • 180 tribal nations
  • 35 Native organizations
  • 25 states and the District of Columbia
  • Casey Family Programs
  • 10 child welfare and adoption organizations

The amicus briefs provide vital context to two of the cases the Court may review: the petition from tribal intervenors and the petition from the U.S. federal government. Both petitions ask the Supreme Court to review the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Brackeen v. Haaland decision, a case challenging the constitutionality of ICWA.

The Tribal amicus brief focuses on the Indian child welfare crisis that led Congress to enact ICWA. The states’ brief describes how ICWA has become a critical tool for protecting Indian children and fostering state-tribal collaboration. The Casey Family Programs brief highlights how ICWA exemplifies child welfare best practices and leads to better outcomes for Indian children. By February 2022, the Supreme Court will decide whether to review the lower court’s ruling.

Brackeen v. Haaland: Fifth Circuit Decision

(April 6, 2021) – Today, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals published its en banc decision in Brackeen v. Haaland, a case challenging the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). While the Protect ICWA Campaign is pleased to see that the court recognized that ICWA generally is within Congress’s authority, we are deeply concerned that aspects of this opinion misunderstand the unique relationship between the United States and tribal nations.  The opinion is 325 pages long, and given its length and complexity, we are still analyzing the decision and will provide further information in the coming days. ICWA is in the best interest of Indian children and families, and we are firmly committed to protecting the law.

Read the full decision here:

To see how the Brackeen decision may affect your ongoing ICWA case, see the Brackeen v. Haaland Decision Tree (also at right).

Find full case documents on the Tribal Supreme Court Project website.

Read more about case on the NARF Brackeen v. Haaland web page.

An Introduction to the Indian Child Welfare Act

To learn more about the details of the law and how it is applied, check out NARF’s “A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act.”

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law enacted in 1978 protecting the well-being and best interests of Indian children and families by upholding family integrity and stability and keeping Indian children connected to their community and culture. It is widely recognized as following best practices and being the gold standard in in the field of child welfare.

ICWA also reaffirms the inherent rights of tribal nations to be involved in child welfare matters involving their citizens and advocate for the best interest of their tribal members. Because of its strong foundation, many states have enacted similar state legislation to protect Native American families in their community. Learn more about how we are defending the law that defends our children in our Summer/Fall 2019 issue of the NARF Legal Review.



Legis. History



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