The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act in a major victory for Native American tribal sovereignty. The 7-2 decision in Haaland v. Brackeen protects tribes’ ability to prioritize adoption of Native children to Native parents — a protection specifically designed to counter ethnic cleansing practices such as separating Native children from their families and communities sending them to boarding schools in an effort to snuff out Native culture and identity.
“While today’s victory is to be celebrated,” Judith LeBlanc, Board Chair of NDN Collective, said in a statement, “this will not be the last time a case against Tribal rights will be brought to the courts. Haaland V. Brackeen is part of a larger campaign to undermine Tribal sovereignty and gut the legal infrastructure that codifies Tribal sovereignty.”
The plaintiffs in the case, a white couple, were represented pro bono by the high-powered corporate law firm Gibson Dunn, which also represents numerous fossil fuel companies that stand to benefit from an erosion of tribal sovereignty protections. (Indian Country Today, Arizona Mirror, Arizona Republic, Minnesota Reformer, Native News Online, WBUR, AP, Washington Post $, The Guardian, CBS, MSNBC, New York Times $, NBC, HuffPost, NPR, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, The Guardian, SCOTUSblog, Amy Howe opinion analysis)