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What Legislators Need to Know About Haaland v. Brackeen

On Friday, June 15, 2023, the Supreme Court ruled in Haaland v. Brackeen that the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, is still constitutional. Congress passed ICWA in 1978 to address centuries of U.S. government removal of Native children from their families. The law ensures that tribes have sovereignty over their children and that Native children who are up for adoption are placed with Native families. To explain this momentous victory for Native sovereignty, we’re pleased to share some reflections from feminist legal expert Sarah Deer.

Professor Deer is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma and a University Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas. Professor Deer co-authored an amicus brief in support of the defendants in Haaland v. Brackeen on behalf of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Stephanie Benally, Sandy White Hawk, and eighty-eight victim advocacy, legal services, religious, and children’s rights organizations. She also co-authored an analysis of editorial coverage of ICWA since the law’s inception, “Editorializing ICWA: 40 Years of Colonial Commentary” in The Indigenous Peoples’ Journal of Law, Culture, and Resistance. Additional information about ICWA can be found at the National Indian Child Welfare Association’s website.