The abuse of children of any kind is unacceptable, regardless of one’s culture. When looking at the Native American culture, the indigenous people of this land we have come to call America, there has been a debate spanning decades in terms of what should be done to keep an abused child who has to be taken away from the birth parents, within their own culture (the Native American culture). In 1978, the United States Congress and the President of the United States at the time, Jimmy Carter, enacted a law known as the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in attempts to avoid the separation of Native children from their family, let alone, their own culture (Fletcher, 2009). How exactly does the Indian Child Welfare Act, ICWA, keep Native children taken away from their birth parents within either their family or the Native culture itself?
When considering the Indian Child Welfare Act, a social worker, or other official can ultimately terminate parental rights. To do this, they must make their argument for termination by presenting a burden of proof. The Indian Child Welfare Act states that children cannot simply be removed because someone else is able to raise the child or because the parents have been deemed “unfit to parent.” Rather, evidence must be provided that the child is put in a dangerous situation if they remain in the home given the present issues being investigated by said officials. According to the Department of Health and Human Services Screening and Assessment for Family Engagement, Retention, and Recovery, if a social worker or the agency in charge of the investigation wants to terminate parental rights, there are two ways of doing so: clear and convincing, or proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Through clear and convincing, the plaintiff(s) must provide a strong argument that supports and persuades their reasoning for placement in foster care in comparison to the arguments from the defendants as to why placement is not necessary. With making a case via beyond a reasonable doubt, the plaintiff(s) must now have such a strong argument and strong enough evidence to support their argument for placement in foster care that there is no room for a judge to doubt the need for the child’s removal from the home and placement into foster care. Regardless, if the court finds the child is not in a dangerous situation if he/she remains in the home, the Indian Child Welfare Act requires the court to deny parental termination of rights (Young, Nakashian, Yeh, &Amatetti, 2006). With all of this said, what exactly does the situation look like on the reservations in terms of child welfare as a whole?
According to the National Indian Child Welfare Association (n.d.), there are currently 5.2 million American Indian and Alaska Natives that live within the United States-- this making up around 1.7 percent of the United States total population. The NICWA further states that some of the following problems are present among American Indian children and...