Native children and sovereignty targeted in right-wing lawsuit


December 2, 2021

Determined right-wing forces have piled onto the Brackeen v. Haaland court case in order to overturn the hard-won Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978. They charge that ICWA is "racist against whites" because it defends Native children being raised in their own culture and families; and "unconstitutional" because it disrespects "states' rights." This legalistic war may soon end up in the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court.

The Brackeen custody case, moving through the legal system since 2016, started with an Evangelical white couple in Texas who sued to adopt a Navajo child against tribal wishes. Right-wing think tanks Goldwater Institute, Heritage Foundation, and Cato Institute have backed Brackeen and several anti-ICWA cases in the past. The Brackeens are represented (free of charge) by the Gibson Dunn law firm, which also represents huge oil transfer companies Enbridge and Energy Transfer, of the Dakota Access and Line 3 pipelines. Fossil fuel corporations have been the worst violators of Native land rights and treaties. They covet the land and resources.

Native American nations recognize this war as far more than a custody trial. It is a wholesale assault on Indian children and families, and an undisguised attempt to delegitimize Native sovereignty and erase Indigenous culture. It is clearly a battlefield in the far right's intensifying campaigns against critical race theory, transgender rights, voters' rights, and reproductive rights - parts of the war on working people, women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ folks.


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