ACLU SD joins case in support of Indian Child Welfare Act

August 24, 2022 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is joining other states in filing an amicus brief in defense of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

The ‘friend of the court’ brief involves the U.S. Supreme Court case Brackeen v. Haaland which challenges the act that establishes federal standards for placement of Native American children in foster of adoptive homes. The act seeks to give the child’s family and tribe the opportunity to be involved in decisions that previously may have been excluded from, including placement and services.

Arguments in the case are scheduled before the high court this November.

Stephanie Amiotte, legal director for the South Dakota ACLU said if the court overturns the law it could be devastating for tribes.

“ICWA was enacted by Congress to address a situation where disproportionate numbers of Indian children were being removed from their homes, and eventually a disproportionate number of them were being adopted into white families,” Amiotte tells South Dakota Public Broadcasting.


The act’s opponents say the race-based policy is unconstitutional.

Amiotte said keeping Indigenous children connected to their culture, improves outcomes.

“Native American Children have been essentially invisible within the American society,” Amiotte said. “Their cultural identity and their ethnic pride results in greater school success, lower alcohol and drug use, higher social functioning and assists them in overall success and achievement in life.”

Twelve state ACLU affiliates are included in the brief, including North Dakota.