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Adoption case could impact tribal sovereignty

The Supreme Court heard a case regarding adoption that could impact someone’s tribal sovereignty.

The case is about an Native adoptee who was adopted by a non-Native family. People believe this case could impact the legal status of tribal sovereignty, according to WENY News.

Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act which responded to Native children who were being separated from their families unnecessarily. Many of these children were placed in boarding schools or with non-Native families.


This case is different. What’s happening now is a four-year-old child, known as “YRJ”, is of Native ancestry. The family, the Brackeen family, are non-Native and trying to adopt her. They’re fighting with the Navajo Nation to be able to do that.

Lawyers for the Brackeen’s argue that the law passed by congress is discriminating against Native children and non-Native families wanted to adopt them. They say it’s unconstitutional because it focuses on race for where to place children.

The lawyers for the tribes say that tribes are political entities, not a race.


Protesters in favor of ICWA worry that the law may harm more Native children in foster care.

Sarah Kastelicf, the Executive Director of National Indian Child Welfare Association, says this will damage 200 years of legal precedent.

“It’s a direct attack on tribal sovereignty,” Kastelicf said.

The ruling should be released by summer of 2023.

Categories: New York StateNews

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