Indian Child Welfare Act

Indian Child Welfare Act

Indian Child Welfare Act

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The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) ((), codified at .) is a Federal law that governs jurisdiction over the removal of Native American (Indian) children from their families.

Overview of ICWA


ICWA gives tribal governments a strong voice concerning child custody proceedings which involve Indian children, by allocating tribes exclusive jurisdiction over the case when the child resides on, or is domiciled on, the reservation, or when the child is a ward of the tribe; and concurrent, but presumptive, jurisdiction over non-reservation Native Americans’ foster care placement proceedings.


ICWA was enacted in 1978 because of the high removal rate of Indian children from their traditional homes and essentially from Indian culture as a whole. Before enactment, as many as 25 to 35 percent of all Indian children were being removed from their Indian homes and placed in non-Indian homes, with presumably the absence of Indian culture. In some cases, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) paid the states to remove Indian children and to place them with non-Indian families and religious groups.<ref...
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