Supreme Court Upholds the Indian Child Welfare Act

On Thursday, June 15, 2023, the Supreme Court upheld  the Indian Child Welfare Act, which prohibits the placement or adoption of Indigenous children in non-Indigenous homes, without the approval of the child’s tribal nation.  In 1978, the FCNL was a strong and active supporter of this legislation, which was designed to stem the practice of removing children from homes that state social workers decided were unsuitable for children. The separation of children, not only from their homes but from other Indigenous relatives, has been traumatic for the children and devastating for tribes that continued to lose their children to assimilation, even after the boarding schools were closed in the mid-1960s. 

The real issue in the case was tribal sovereignty.  The court affirmed that the federal government has the legal right under the constitution to negotiate with and legislate about the relationship between tribal nations and the federal government.  The case has important implications in other matters including land use, waterways, outside access to mineral and other resources, etc.   Here is a background article from ICT (formerly known as “Indian Country Today,” with celebrations and more facts.

And More Good News from the Senate

In early June, the U.S. Senate “Indian Affairs Committee” unanimously approved the Truth and Healing Commission legislation,  S. 1723, re-introduced this year by Senator Elizabeth Warren. Read more here about the bill and the support of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.  The bill still needs to jump over several hurdles in Senate and the House, but could pass this year.

If passed, the legislation would direct the creation of a commission, appointed by the president, that would make recommendations “on actions that the Federal Government can take to adequately hold itself accountable for, and redress and heal, the historical and intergenerational trauma inflicted by the Indian Boarding School Policies,” the bill says. Recommendations are likely to include: protecting unmarked graves, supporting repatriation, and stopping modern-day Indian child removal policies.

Baltimore Yearly Meeting’s Recent History

Patricia R. Powers has now published Respect & Justice for Indigenous Peoples: A Quaker Advocacy Group’s Experience Recounted (1940 to present). The book is available only on line, in order to facilitate reference to the many sources and resources listed in the text.

Baltimore Yearly Meeting formed a Committee geared to Indigenous concerns in 1795, only a few years after European settlers established a nation that became the United States on this continent. Particulars of the activities of volunteers who served on that Committee after 1940 are recorded here for posterity. A companion volume, As They Were Led: Quakerly Steps and Missteps Toward Native Justice – 1795 – 1940, was published last year in paperback, and is available from Quaker Heron Press, Quaker Books (FGC), Pendle Hill, other independent booksellers, and Amazon. Read more here.

For more stories, please visit News Archives or Boarding School News on this site.


Support for ICT – Indigenous Journalism

An excellent source of news on many topics, ICT (formerly known as Indian County Today) is a non-profit public media organization that shares its information and materials freely. It relies on donations from members, donors, foundations and supporters. The next time you click on a link to to an Indian Country Today article, please consider a donation.