ICWA was passed in 1978 as a protection statute for Native children, their families, and their tribes. It followed a long and devastating history of cultural assimilation, mandatory boarding schools, and the forced removal of Native children from their homes. In fact, before ICWA, it was estimated that more than a quarter of Native children were taken from their families, 85% of whom were placed in non-Native homes. It’s difficult to overstate the impact that has on a child’s well-being. As chief of the Cherokee Nation, I’ve seen it firsthand, and I’ve had the opportunity to speak with child welfare and medical experts who agree: removing children from their families and separating them from their culture puts their health and safety on the line.