A selection of The Imprint’s most impactful stories from the past year
In 2018, the future of the Indian Child Welfare Act was put in jeopardy by a case that would come to be known as Brackeen v. Haaland. A federal district court judge ruled that the 45-year-old law known as ICWA was unconstitutional in its entirety. As the case progressed, many supporters of the law — which is designed to maintain the bonds between Native children and their families and tribes — feared that the U.S. Supreme Court would gut or erase ICWA.
This June, the court did the opposite in a 7-2 ruling that strongly affirmed the Indian Child Welfare Act’s constitutionality.
“The bottom line is that we reject all of petitioners’ challenges to the statute, some on the merits and others for lack of standing,” wrote Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
The Imprint’s five years of coverage on the Brackeen case includes Nancy Marie Spears’ reporting on the arguments considered by the Supreme Court and the prayers and protests outside that day. And check out The Imprint Weekly Podcast episode from the week after the court’s decision for more insight from several leading experts on ICWA and tribal law.
But Spears’ reporting in 2023 went well beyond the Supreme Court case. She profled the Indigenous practices that ICWA is meant to protect, such as the My Two Aunties program developed by a group of tribes in Southern California. Her recent three-part series, Born of History, explores the ways in which the colonization of the past, and the present constraints of federal funding, make it difficult for many tribes to make full use of ICWA’s protections.