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Today, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Brackeen v Berhardt.

If you care about...

the wellbeing of Native children
Native American rights in any capacity
the future existence of tribes

you need to follow this case!! Here's why:
When ICWA, the Indian Child Welfare Act, was created 1/3 of all Native children had been adopted out of their tribe & were raised by White families. ICWA says when a Native child is up for adoption family members, tribal members or Native homes are prioritized for placement
Even with ICWA in place Native kids are disproportionately separated from their families, tribes and culture. Today, over half of US states are out of compliance.
In South Dakota, Native Americans are less than 15 percent of the state’s population, but Native kids represent 50 percent of all children in foster care, with almost 90 percent of them being raised in non-Native homes.
In Minnesota, Natives Americans are only 1.4 percent of the population, but Native kids represent 23.9 percent of the kids in the state foster care system.

Without ICWA in place, these alarming numbers would be even HIGHER.
But the threat to Native children and families is just the tip of the iceberg.

What is at stake in the future existence of tribes.

And no, I'm not being overdramatic.
Remember that Texas judge who ruled the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional last fall in a decision that was based more on conservative activism that legal precedent? Well, a month before same judge did the exact same thing to ICWA, but no one paid attention.
Judge O'Conner ruled ICWA is unconstitutional bc it treats Native American children different based on race and therefor violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. His decision was appealed and is now in front of the 5th Circuit, one step below the Supreme Court.
Native Americans are not a race, we are a political group. Our rights are based on our citizenship in sovereign Native Nations and those Nation's government to government relationship to the U.S. of A. created & affirmed by the over 300 treaties the US has signed with us.
Just like I have certain rights as a citizen of the United States or Oklahoma, I have certain rights because I am a citizen of Cherokee Nation.

And no, its not "special treatment". In affirming our rights the United States government is merely fulfilling its treaty obligations.
If a higher court affirms ICWA is unconstitutional bc Native Americans are a race not a political group, all of Federal NDN law could fall.

Putting tribal land into trust: over
Indian Health Services: gone
Tribal self governance: unconstitutional

Its an existential threat.
Which brings us back to why ICWA is under fire in the 1st place. The deep pockets who fund this EXTREMELY expensive litigation (this is one of dozens of cases) don't care about Indian children.

The Goldwater Institute, the Koch Brothers, the Mercer family care about $$$!
Guess where 20% of all oil and gas reserves in the US, 50% of all uranium reserves, and 30% of all coal west of the Mississippi are?


Right now, none of those resources can be extracted without the tribe's consent.
But... if the framework of federal Indian law was thrown out by the Supreme Court, all that land would be open for business.

Thats the end game. To terminate tribes. Be done with treaty obligations. Get the land. ICWA is simply a playing field where they think they can win.
SO... we really need allies to PAY ATTENTION!

Follow this case. If you live in TX, LA or IN tell your AG to stop attacking ICWA. Call out racist media coverage like the recent @TheAtlantic article. Share & amplify Native voices on the issue.
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