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Indian Child Welfare Act 1978 Training. Native American Statistics – USA 4.1 million people reported as American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) 2000 US. Census 1.4 million children under the age of 18 562 Federally Recognized Tribes

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Native American Statistics – USA
  • 4.1 million people reported as American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) 2000 US. Census
  • 1.4 million children under the age of 18
  • 562 Federally Recognized Tribes
  • Native American children are placed in out-of-home care at a rate that is 3.6 times higher than the general population
native american statistics 2000 census
Native American Statistics – (2000 Census)
  • Georgia - 16,410
  • Ohio - 18,585
  • Oklahoma - 248,037
  • New Mexico - 164,883
  • Pennsylvania - 12,360
  • South Carolina - 10,201
  • Texas - 78,633
  • Virginia - 16,320
key laws affecting indian tribes
Key Laws Affecting Indian Tribes
  • 1819 Civilization Fund Act
  • 1830 Removal Act
  • 1887 Dawes Allotment Act
  • 1924 Indian Citizenship Act
  • 1934 Indian Reorganization Act
  • 1953 Public Law 280 (limits of state jurisdiction)
  • 1975 Indian Self-Determination Act
  • 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act
federal policies of the 1800s
Federal Policies of the 1800s

American history and federal policy

have impacted Indian tribes since first


civilization fund act 1819
Civilization Fund Act-1819

The act intended to “civilize” and “Christianize” Indians through federal and private means.

removal act 1830
Removal Act, 1830

Enacted to move Indians away from traditional homelands to “Indian Territory” west of the Mississippi

indian boarding schools 1860s present
Indian Boarding Schools1860s – Present

Native children were removed from home

and sent to military style boarding schools

dawes allotment act 1887
Dawes Allotment Act, 1887

Indian land divided up in effort to turn Indians

into nuclear families and farmers

indian citizenship act 1924
Indian Citizenship Act, 1924

American Indians granted United States Citizenship.

And while all Native Americans were now citizens, not all states were prepared to allow them to vote. Western states, in particular, engaged in all sorts of legal scams to deny Indians the ballot. It was not until almost the middle of the 20th century that the last three states, Maine, Arizona and New Mexico, finally granted the right to vote to Indians in their states.

In 1953, Congress perceived inadequate law enforcement in Indian country and enacted Public Law 83-280 ("P.L. 280") to address the problem.
public law 83 280 1953
Public Law 83-280, 1953
  • Public Law 280 is a federal statute enacted by Congress in 1953. It enabled states to assume criminal, as well as civil, jurisdiction in matters involving Indians as litigants on reservation land.Previous to the enactment of Public Law 280, these matters were dealt with in either tribal and/or federal court.Essentially, Public Law 280 was an attempt by the federal government to reduce its role in Indian affairs.
public law 280 cont
Public Law 280, cont.

Without tribal agreement, six states which were obligated to assume jurisdiction from the outset of the law: Alaska, California, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, and Wisconsin. States that have assumed at least some jurisdiction since the enactment of Public Law 280 include: Nevada, South Dakota, Washington, Florida, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Arizona, Iowa, and Utah. After 1968, tribal agreement was required before state assumption of jurisdiction.

federal policies 1950 60s
Federal Policies, 1950-60s

Federal and private agency policies and practices impact Native American children and families--

  • Indian Adoption Project (Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Child Welfare League of America)-1958
  • “Relocation Program” - 1950s
  • 1960s: tribes began questioning placement rate of their children into non-Indian homes
empowerment in the 1970s
Empowerment in the 1970s

1970s: Association on American Indian Affairs, New York, conducted surveys to find out extent of Indian child welfare issues. Studies found 25-35% of all Indian children had been removed from families and placed in non-Indian care

Findings created and expressed national tribal concern, then action and advocacy

In 1978 Congress passed Indian Child Welfare Act

In April 1994, President Bill Clinton reinforced the longstanding federal policy supporting self-determination for Indian Nations and directed federal agencies to deal with Indian Nations on a government-to-government basis when tribal governmental or treaty rights are at issue. Each President since Lyndon Johnson has formally recognized the sovereign status of Indian Nations.
The five main principles of President Clinton’s policy required agencies to:
  • (a) Operate within a government-to-government relationship with tribes
  • (b) Consult, to the greatest extent practicable, with tribes prior to taking actions that affect tribes
(c) Assess the impact of all federal plans, projects, programs, and activities on tribal trust resources, and assure those tribes’ rights and concerns are considered during the development of plans, projects, programs and activities

(d) Take appropriate steps to remove procedural impediments to working directly and effectively with tribes on activities affecting the property or rights of tribes

(e) Work cooperatively with other agencies to accomplish the goals of this memorandum

Tribes also have exclusive jurisdiction over such proceedings when they involve an Indian child who is a ward of the tribal court, regardless of where the child resides. Custody proceedings covered by the act include foster care placement, the termination of parental rights, and pre-adoptive and adoptive placement.
The federal government also has key responsibilities to tribes. The federal trust responsibility, one of the most important doctrines in federal Indian law, is the federal government’s obligation to protect tribal self governance, lands, assets, resources, and treaty rights and to carry out the directions of federal statutes and court cases. The federal relationship with tribal governments also limits the role of state governments on tribal lands.
The historic oppression of Native Peoples has resulted in an notable mistrust of state and federal governmental agencies.
indian child welfare act 1978
Indian Child Welfare Act -1978

The stated purpose of ICWA is “to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families.”

The act seeks to protect Indian children, tribes and culture by limiting state’s powers and by encouraging respect for tribal authority regarding the placement of Indian youth.

The Indian Child Welfare Act played an important role in tribal empowerment in child welfare

Congressional Declaration of the ICWA of 1978

“The Congress hereby declares that it is the policy of this Nation to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children from their families and the placement of such children in foster or adoptive homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture, and by providing for assistance to Indian tribes in the operation of child and family service programs.”

For complete ICWA click onto:

The Indian Child Welfare Act has provided the impetus to improve tribal-state relationships and develop better understandings of cultural differences.
Placement of Indian Children

Adoption Placements

Adoptive placement of Indian children with preference to:

  • Member of the child’s extended family,
  • Other members of the Indian child’s tribe,
  • Other Indian families.
Foster care or Pre-adoptive Placements

Foster care or pre-adoptive placements; criteria; preferences (placed in least restrictive setting which meets his/her special needs, placed within reasonable proximity to his or her home)

  • Member of the child’s extended family;
  • A foster home licensed, approved or specified by the Indian child’s tribe;
  • An Indian foster home licensed or approved by an authorized non-Indian licensing authority; or,
  • An institution for children approved by an Indian tribe or operated by an Indian organization which has a program suitable to meet the Indian child’s needs
  • Other members of the Indian child’s tribe,
  • Other Indian families.
child welfare statistics
Child Welfare Statistics
  • 35% of all American Indian children live in poverty; 10% of white children live in poverty.
  • Indian children are victims of maltreatment at the same rate as other children, but maltreatment is substantiated twice as often as white children.
  • Indian children experience placement three (3) times as often as white children. (CWLA 2003)
  • In some states, Indian children represent 35-60% of the children in out-of-home placements.
the best interests of indian children are served by
The Best Interests of Indian Children are Served by:

Creating State/Tribal Partnerships:

Government to government communication

Ensuring a seat at the policy table

Consulting tribes at all levels

Developing culturally competent systems of care:




Adhering to the Indian Child Welfare Act:

In the courts


In direct service practice

benefits of collaborating with tribes
Benefits of Collaborating With Tribes

Clarifies the roles and responsibilities for the

Provision of care to tribal children to better

serve Native American children and families

Provides opportunities to improve outcomes for

Native American children served by the child

welfare agency

Enhances mutual understanding of the role of

governmental agencies in formulating or

Implementing policies that have tribal

implications Statewide Assessment

Please print off Indian Child Welfare Act Hand Out and ICWA Staff training report form found on the portal, read and complete training report form and submit to your supervisor.