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Timeline / Renewing Native Ways / 1978: Congress passes the Indian Child Welfare Act

1978: Congress passes the Indian Child Welfare Act

The Indian Child Welfare Act seeks to keep American Indian children in American Indian families. An alarmingly high percentage of Indian families in comparison to the general population have been broken up by the removal of their children by non-tribal public and private agencies. Many have been placed in non-Indian foster and adoptive homes and institutions. The law seeks to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families,” states the National Indian Child Welfare Association.

“A 1976 study by the Association on American Indian Affairs found that 25 to 35% of all Indian children were being placed in out-of-home care. Eighty-five percent of those children were being placed in non-Indian homes or institutions.”—Steven Unger, ed., The Destruction of American Indian Families, 1977

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