True Story about how Indian boarding school legacy intertwined with the Indian Child Welfare Act

The true story of the Indian Child Welfare Act diverges from what people believe about it. Some of the first violations of trust came from the federal government when it began its off – reservation boarding or residential school legacy. It was intended to assimilate Indians, or as Richard Pratt, founder of the boarding school concept noted, death of the Indian inside was to save him. Save him in the sense of the Christian religion that is and in places like Carlisle Indian Industrial School. It was all out war, effective uprooting and “be damned” “Americanization,” and “Christianization” would happen. Suppression at its worst, it was a well known fact that with control over the educational process, you could control the individual and his or her mind. Federal practices and the boarding school legacy didn’t end until the 1980s when many large boarding schools were finally closed.

Later, we were told that the Indian Child Welfare Act was created to reduce removal of American Indian children from their homes and communities but this time by state based removal actions. Years of state violations and many child removal actions later, the truth is that the ICWA didn’t change much of anything. In fact, it solidified the status quo.

Access to legal services and legal education have been woefully inadequate in Indian Country. Little progress has been made at narrowing that gap – an access gap to much needed legal education and provision of cheap legal services. There are now quite obvious solutions for reducing and eliminating state based removal of Indian children and they have been around for quite awhile. First, provide greater access to legal services in Indian Country and in so doing, increase the number of Guardianships. Read more about my findings at


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