Supreme court case could overturn Native Families’ right to stay together
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Generations of Americans have seen various efforts to chip away at Native American Sovereignty, according to the Native American Rights Fund, and now, the US Supreme Court is considering overturning a controversial law -- in a move that some tribal leaders fear could further erode indigenous identity.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court hosted a handful of white foster parents among other plaintiffs who were asking the court to overturn the Indian Child Welfare Act, otherwise known as ICWA. The law originally passed in 1978 was created to prevent family separation in Native communities. But now plaintiffs in Haaland v. Brackeen are trying to change that with the Brackeen family claiming that ICWA violates their constitutional rights by discriminating against non-Native families. Some members of the indigenous community don’t believe that the “right” questions are being asked when considering the law’s impact.
”I know exactly what ICWA is and how supportive it is for families because I get to watch that court process every single day,” said ICWA guardian ad litem Rachel Evangelisto “I am genuinely concerned that a lot of these people are not asking the right question about the rights and wrongs of ICWA; they don’t know the practical implications of what it’s done for generations of indigenous children and tribal sovereignty as a whole.”
In their closing statement on Wednesday, the plaintiffs claimed that ICWA “at best was a set of stereotypes of what is best for a Native child based on their ancestry.”
However, Evangelisto believes that the law puts the well-being of Native children first and harbors no ill will towards other groups of people.
“That’s what the opponents of ICWA are trying to say is that it’s racially based and discriminatory, when in fact that is further from the truth ICWA is all-encompassing it does not matter what race you are,” said Evangelisto, “I firmly believe and will always say it is not racially biased. It is non-discriminatory at its heart, and it always will have the best interest of the child at the center of everything it does.”
According to The Atlantic, other implications could make this case tricky if ICWA is overturned. They write that other federal statutes could come into question as a result of this such as “land rights, water rights, health care, gaming, criminal and civil jurisdiction, and tribal self-governance.”
The Supreme Court’s decision in Haaland v. Brackeen is expected by June 30th, 2023.
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