Protect Our Indian Children
From a very young age, Indigenous peoples are taught that family is sacred – your siblings and cousins are your first best friends. Your aunties and uncles are your mentors. Your grandparents are your nurturers, teachers, and cultural advisors, and your parents are your guardians and protectors.
Family is everything and you are everything to your family – the love, the hope, the heartache, the happiness, and the future. Who you are is molded by those crucial relationships and your purpose and identity is nourished by the love and support of your family.
The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 recognizes the important role family plays in the health and well-being of Native children, and it was created at a time in the country when the sacredness of family was being threatened.
Responding to a crisis
The National Indian Child Welfare Association reports that, in the 1970s, 25% to 35% of all Native children were being removed from their Native families, and 85% of these children were placed outside of their families and communities—even when fit and willing relatives were available. There was a total disregard for Indigenous families, as Native children were taken from their homes and deracinated from their communities at very alarming rates.
Parents were scared to take their children to their doctors and dentists at the risk of child welfare being called. Social workers would come to the houses of Indian families and take children without any prompting. Not only did agencies remove Indian children from their homes, they also put them in non-Native households and communities, where they lost their identity and sense of place. They were stripped of everything they knew and who they were. The government, in another attempt to “save the Indian, kill the man,” did everything it could to change Indians into white men, creating another world for tribal peoples that would not accept them, and instead try to rescue them.
The Indian Child Welfare Act established a federal policy to respond to this crisis and stop the stealing of Native children, but now this legislation is at risk of being overturned.
Same war, different battle
For over 500 years colonizers have waged war on the Indigenous peoples of the United States. Over these centuries, we have fought for our land, we have fought to survive. We have fought for our families, for water, and for the buffalo. We have even fought alongside of the men who sought to kill us. All these fights were to ensure that our children and their children, and so on, would have a future in this world. Once again, we are fighting those who are trying to take the future away from us.
The people behind the case to repeal ICWA have an alternative agenda. They want to see that tribes no longer have a stake. They want our resources, they want our livelihoods. Most importantly, they don’t want us to exist, and they will start the fight under the guise of our children and the misunderstanding of policy that is meant to protect Indian children. The repeal of ICWA means the future and safety of our children is in question, along with our sovereignty as a whole.
“If you live in a place where you’re not always having your identity called into questions, you don’t need to worry about wondering who you are. You can simply be yourself.” – Vine Deloria
Please join us in protecting ICWA
As an Indigenous-led organization, First Nations is guided by family values, and we understand the importance of family and community. Our programs uphold our belief that Native youth represent the future of Native communities, and that their health and well-being determine the future health and well-being of a community overall. We work to strengthen Native communities and economies, empower Native families, and nurture Native youth.
And, we stand behind the many Native nonprofits, states, tribes, Congress people, and agencies supporting the effort to ensure ICWA is not overturned. It is crucial for our people and tribal sovereignty as we know it that ICWA stays intact.
We hope you will stand with First Nations and the tribal nations of this country to protect our children and communities. Here is what you need to know.
First Nations Development Officer