Abortion, Adoption, and Abduction
With the Supreme Court poised to eradicate reproductive freedom, and ICWA on the docket, will America’s indigenous parents be incubators for wealthy white adoptions?
Readers have rightly directed outrage at the leaked Supreme Court opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, that would eradicate reproductive rights in the United States. An aspect I find interesting, and haven’t heard remarked on very much, comes from a few footnotes in which Alito cites the role of adoption, and how that relates to another case the Supreme Court accepted in February, but has not yet heard.
Brackeen vs Haaland is a case out of the Fifth Circuit that challenges the Constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). ICWA, which was passed into law in 1978, is a federal law that says (I’m paraphrasing) that when an indigenous American child is placed for adoption, members of that child’s tribe get “first dibs” before anyone outside the tribe may adopt them.
Taken at face value, many Americans bristle at a federal law that appears to discriminate based on race, and that is the argument made by the Petitioners in this case. It helps to get a bit of context:
From the first arrival of Europeans in North America, indigenous people were treated as less-than-human, or as enemies, and met with aggression by white colonizers. Their treatment by the United States government was genocide, plain and simple, though those in power studiously avoid that word.
Removing children from the tribe was always central to “Indian Removal.” Starting in the 17th century, children were forcibly taken from their families and tribes and brought to American Indian Boarding Schools, where they were intentionally kept from learning anything of their heritage or culture, taught to speak only English, converted to Christianity, and essentially brainwashed to act “white.”
Richard Henry Pratt, who founded the infamous Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, summarized the strategy simply: “Kill the Indian, save the man.”