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Oklahoma Tribal leaders react to Supreme Court's 'Indian Child Welfare Act' decision

Supreme Court Native Child Welfare
Posted at 11:42 AM, Jun 15, 2023

TULSA, Okla. — The United States Supreme Court ruled Thursday to uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) — which protects Native children from being removed from tribal communities for adoption or fostering.

“This is a wonderful day and it was the right decision,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chuck Hoskin, Junior. 
Hoskin explained to 2News why the 1978 decision is still important today. 

“It is still pertinent if we all agree on this idea tribes are sovereign nations,” said Hoskin. “Sovereign nations have an interest in the health and well-being of children, which is the most precious resource of any nation.” 

He adds that opponents who call the law racial discrimination would have to agree that that would mean to agree to overturning more than a century of legal principles. 

“We are citizens of a nation that was here before the United States, before anyone heard of the state of Oklahoma. We were here first [and] that still means something,” he said. 

Hoskin says there is not a concern there won’t be enough Native American families to take in a foster child. He says that is a misconception because ICWA doesn’t dictate a decision; a judge does. ICWA guarantees the tribes are involved in the process and all necessary measures are taken to keep Native American children with Native American families.

Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton says the ICWA rights extreme historical injustices against indigenous kids and their families.

"Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to right the extreme historical injustices committed against Native children and their families. The law remains a critical part of protecting Native American heritage and tribal sovereignty,” Batton said. “We are glad to see the Supreme Court recognized the important benefits of ICWA and allowed the law to stand.”

"The Choctaw Nation will continue to support children and families through its foster care system, Indian Child Welfare team, tribal attorneys and over 100 tribal services," he said.

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