Now, let’s get serious about enforcement
The United Nations defines genocide as “a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part.” In the decades, indeed in the centuries before passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act, U.S. “child welfare” policy toward Native Americans fit that definition.
It’s not as if anyone tried to hide it. From the superintendent of a notorious 19th Century “boarding school” – more like a prison – who said the purpose was to “kill the Indian in him and save the man” to the Child Welfare League of America’s Indian Adoption Project which had as its explicit aim “to stimulate adoption of American Indian children by Caucasian families on a nationwide basis,” they said the quiet part out loud. (CWLA’s subsequent apology rings hollow, since they continue to support racist laws like the Adoption and Safe Families Act and the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.)
ICWA is often described as the “gold standard” for “child welfare” law and policy. As such its biggest flaw is not in the law itself but the failure to enforce it – indeed, ProPublica reminded us of that failure in a story published just today (June 15).. The story focuses on the atrocious record of South Dakota, the same state exposed by NPR more than a decade ago.
Other nations are