ICWA’s Irony

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA or the Act) is a federal statute that protects Indian children by keeping them connected to their families and culture. The Act’s provisions include support for family reunification, kinship care preferences, cultural competency considerations and community involvement. These provisions parallel national child welfare policies. Nevertheless, the Act is relentlessly attacked as a law that singles out Indian children for unique and harmful treatment. This is untrue but, ironically, it will be true if challenges to the ICWA are successful. To prevent this from occurring, the defense of the Act needs to change. For too long, this defense has focused on justifying the Act’s alleged different treatment of Indian children. Now, it is time to refute this charge and demonstrate this difference is illusory.

Read the full law review article in the American Indian Law Review.