Rocha Beardall, T., & Edwards, F. (2021). Abolition, settler colonialism, and the persistent threat of Indian child welfare. Columbia Journal of Race and Law, 11(3), 533–574.
Family separation is a defining feature of the U.S. government’s policy to forcibly assimilate and dismantle American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) tribal nations. The historical record catalogues the violence of this separation in several ways, including the mass displacement of Native children into boarding schools throughout the 19th century and the widespread adoption of Native children into non-Native homes in the 20th century. This legacy eventually prompted the passage of landmark legislation known as the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA). ICWA introduced federal protections against the unnecessary removal of Native children and affirmed the role of the tribe as an important partner in child welfare proceedings. To what extent has the federal government honored the commitments of ICWA and reversed the trajectory of Native family separation since 1978? What can be done to reduce the threat of the current child welfare system on the well-being of Native families?