In adopting the Indian Child Welfare Act, Congress exercised that lawful authority to secure the right of Indian parents to raise their families as they please; the right of Indian children to grow in their culture; and the right of Indian communities to resist fading into the twilight of history.
— Justice Neil Gorsuch concurring in Haaland v. Brackeen
On June 15, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision in Haaland v. Brackeen and, in a 7–2 opinion, affirmed the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The opinion was seen as a victory in Indian Country—a victory for Tribal sovereignty, Native children and families, and the future of tribes and Native people in the United States.
ICWA was initially enacted in 1978 in response to the alarmingly high number of Native children being removed from their homes by both public and private agencies. At the time, research revealed that 25–35 percent of all Native children were being removed from their homes, and, of these, 85 percent were placed outside their families and communities, even in scenarios where fit and willing relatives were available. Congress reacted to this data by passing this legislation with the intent to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families” (25 U.S.C. § 1902).