Indian Child Welfare

"My people understand that you children are sacred. You are precious. You are our future. Your elders, parents, and teachers need to teach you well so that you can help them when they are old. Listen to what they are teaching you so you will know what to do when you are in charge."

-- Wallace Black Elk

Indian child welfare, over the years, has been a very controversial and complex issue. Much has been written about the history of Indian child welfare. What is clear that the welfare of Indian children has too often been seen through the eyes of individuals, agencies, and governments without an understanding of Indian culture, traditions, and customs. Because of this, the history of Indian child welfare has included the forced removal of children from their families and Tribes; placement in non-Indian foster and adoptive homes; separation from Native culture, customs, religion, language, and traditions; and the loss of history because much of that history is oral and because generations – children, parents, and elders -- were separated.

In some cases, these practices were put in place by governments intent on destroying the Native culture. In other cases, the practices were implemented by social services and child welfare agencies which had more positive motives but whose actions were equally destructive to Tribal children and families and to the Tribes themselves.

Read more about the history of Indian Child welfare.

Last Revised: February 12, 2014


The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.