Letters to the Editor: June 23, 2023

Victory for tribes

Congratulations to Native Americans are in order.

SCOTUS recently heard a case involving a non-native Texas couple who challenged the law because they wanted to adopt a native child. On June 15, the court upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act, denying the adoption and reaffirming the importance of making every effort to place native children in native homes.

A Native American child falls under ICWA if enrolled or eligible to be enrolled in a federally recognized U.S. tribe.

Locally, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde has been federally recognized since 1983, when a dissolution imposed in 1954 was reversed. And Oregon is among states recognizing the act governing Native American adoptions.

When a native child is taken from a home because of a threat to personal safety and welfare, every effort is made to eventually return that child to the home. Failing that, the child may be placed with a first-degree native relative.

The next choice is a native home within the same tribe. If that doesn’t work out either, the final native option is placement with a family from another tribe.

Historically, about one-third of native children were taken from reservations in an attempt to mainstream them. Many of them were forcibly removed from their native homes.

In 1954, the federal government dissolved many tribes around the country and presented members $50 and a bus or train ticket to anywhere they wished to go. In the process, it seized their lands.

Often, tribes that eventually won legal restoration, decades later, failed to get all of their land back. But they got the chance to preserve their cultural heritage from the federal government’s failed social integration project failed.

This is a huge win for Native Americans. Congratulations to our neighbors, the Grand Ronde Confederated Tribes!

Sheila Hunter