Prior to 1978 the majority of Native American Indian families were torn apart by federal, state, city, and other regulatory agencies. The reasons for the removal of children from Indian families was based on suspected neglect and possible abuse in some cases, but for the most part the removals were due to the incorrect understanding of Native American Indian culture, practices, and values.

In 1978, the Bureau of Indian Affairs aided Congress in the creation of the Indian Child Welfare Act which was designed to bring the tribal authorities into cases of child protection, adoption, guardianship, termination of parental rights, runaway matters, or voluntary placement of Indian children into other homes. In passing the act, Congress was attempting to re-establish Native American culture and family structure.

The act provided rights to the tribes to be present in court proceedings both in a legal capacity and as a tribal witness. Further provisions required that in child placements the child must be placed with extended family, under tribal custody, or with other Indian families rather than non-Indian foster or adoptive care. The law was also written to extend to non-reservation Indians, and allowed for families to effect the return of their children in several cases.

The law still applies today giving Indian culture the advantage in cases of children's rights hopefully allowing the Indian culture as it remains, to thrive many centuries into the future.

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