Helms School of Government
Master of Arts in Public Policy (MAPP)
Jennifer Anderson Purvis
Federal Indian Policy, Child Welfare, ICWA, Native American, Indian Commerce Clause, Tribal Sovereignty
History | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Public Policy
Morris, Elizabeth Sharon, "The Philosophical Underpinnings and Negative Consequences of the Indian Child Welfare Act" (2019). Masters Theses. 591.
This paper will examine the philosophical underpinnings of current federal Indian policy and its physical, emotional, and economic consequences on individuals and communities. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission found in 1990 that “[T]he Government of the United States has failed to provide civil rights protection for Native Americans living on reservations” (W. B. Allen 1990, 2). As Regan (2014) observes, individuals have been denied full title to their property – and thus use of the property as leverage to improve their economic condition (Regan 2014). Tribal executive and judicial branches have been accused of illegal search and seizures, denial of right to counsel or jury, ex parte hearings and violations of due process and equal protection (W. B. Allen 1990, 3). Violence, criminal activity, child abuse and trafficking are rampant on many reservations (DOJ 2018). Largely because of crime and corruption, many have left the reservation system. The last two U.S. censuses’ report 75% of tribal members do not live in Indian Country (US Census Bureau 2010). Research suggests current federal Indian policy and the reservation system are built on philosophies destructive to the physical, emotional and economic health of individual tribal members. This paper contends that allowing property rights for individual tribal members, enforcing rule of law within reservation systems, supporting law enforcement, and upholding full constitutional rights and protections of all citizens would secure the lives, liberties and properties of affected individuals and families.