The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) has been a federal law for more than four decades to keep Native children up for adoption in households with similar cultural backgrounds. But the measure is now facing what could be its strongest threat in the Supreme Court. Tribal leaders and advocates say if the nation’s highest court takes up the case Brackeen v. Haaland this term, the decision could unravel not only the ICWA but a wide range of laws affecting Native Americans across the nation.
“This truly at its core is not a case about kids or child welfare at all,” says Kimberly Cluff, Legal Director of the California Tribal Families Coalition. “This is an attack on what it means to be a sovereign nation, to be a tribe and to self govern.”