Part 2: Modern day genocide, they are doing this all over again to us.
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was passed in 1978 because Indigenous children and youth were being removed from their homes at far higher rates than other children and youth. Research from the late 1960s showed that between 25 and 35 percent of Indigenous children and youth had been removed from their homes—85 percent of these children were placed with non-relatives, often outside of their communities.
The American Indian Religious Freedom Act was also passed in 1978, but it wasn’t until 1990 that the Native American Languages Act was passed, allowing our children to learn their native languages in their schools.
The upcoming Supreme Court case challenging ICWA’s constitutionality has struck a chord deep in our hearts. About how important it is to raise all Indigenous children to know their heritage and practice their traditions. Past generations feared practicing their ways and so much of our history died when they did.
Here’s Clarissa’s story. Check out part one of this blog to read Mirah’s story.
I stepped away from my heritage and practices because I lost my son. Me being Crow, my tribe has us mourn for a year in not being able to be seen or involved in our practices. For example, I would not be able to participate in dancing at our powwows or participate in the sundance or sweats. But I stayed away longer than a year, losing myself living in the city…. My younger children didn’t even know they were Native Americans. That broke my heart so I began to teach them our history, how to smudge, how to handle sage and sweet grass. I started taking them to powwows. They want to start dancing again so we’re going to make their outfits together. I also had my older girls attend school on the reservation they are enrolled in so they will be taught their Tribe’s language with their school teaching them their culture and traditional ways. From early head start to college the Tribe requires their students to know their language.
There are different races and multiple Tribes within each family. And we are all under attack.
Diluting ICWA’s protection for our nations and our children risks repeating the cultural genocide our people have historically experienced.
-Clarissa and Mirah, I Am Why consultants