Indian Child Welfare Act
Having endured the boarding school years, where children were taken far from their families and placed in schools designed to strip them of their culture, the continuation of Native child adoption by non-Indian families proved one of the direst issues facing tribal communities by the 1970’s. For generations, Indian families lost their children to federal agents, who, at their discretion, determined Indian families to be too “incompetent” to properly raise their children. This trend persisted well into the 1950’s and 60’s, with agencies decidedly against Indian children growing up within in their communities. By 1969, the rate of Indian child separation had increased significantly. The problem grew so severe that independent surveys were taken to determine the full extent of the Indian child adoption problem.
Within five years of these surveys, the Senate held a hearing on the state of Indian child welfare in 1974 where testimonies asserted that between 25 and 35 percent of all Indian children had been separated, and that 85 percent of them were rehoused with non-Indian families. By 1977, the Senate Select Subcommittee on Indian Affairs pushed for legislation to address the issue resulting in the passage of the Child Indian Welfare Act on November 8th, 1978. The act requires tribes be notified if an enrolled child is taken from their parents. Tribes then try to rehouse children with their relatives within their community to make sure a stable connection between family and community is maintained. Today, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Indian Child Welfare Department assists CPN children throughout the United States with help from local agencies and tribal law enforcement, ensuring the next generation of Citizen Potawatomi children can remain connected to their people.
Book & Articles:
- Prucha, Francis Paul. The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians. University of Nebraska Press, 1995.
- “Truth The Only Option In Indian Child Welfare Mission For Janet Draper.” Hownikan . November 1, 2018. https://www.potawatomi.org/blog/2018/11/01/truth-the-only-option-in-indian-child-welfare-mission-for-janet-draper/.
- “FireLodge Children & Family Services.” Potawatomi.org, April 30, 2021. https://www.potawatomi.org/blog/service/firelodge/.