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The Supreme Court case that could wipe out indigenous sovereignty in the US

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a high-stakes case about indigenous children and culture. On the surface, the case known as Brackeen v. Haaland revolves around a dispute over whether a non-native family can adopt a native baby. At the heart of the case is the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law passed in 1978 that says if a state determines a Native child must be legally removed from their home, they must be placed with an American Indian family or, if possible, a member of the child’s extended family or tribe. Non-native families and states are challenging the constitutionality of ICWA, arguing it discriminates on the basis of race. But the case could have implications that extend far beyond that - potentially upending Native sovereignty altogether. “A lot of laws flow from this special nation-to-nation relationship between tribes and the US federal government,” says Cherokee Nation journalist Rebecca Nagle. “And the fear is that because the plaintiffs are making such broad and sweeping arguments in Brackeen, (if the court strikes down ICWA) they could turn all of that – literally centuries of laws – on their head.”
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