89.9 FM Live From The University Of New Mexico
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Let's Talk about the Indian Child Welfare Act

Native American children dressed in traditional attire.
Native American children dressed in traditional attire.

Let’s Talk New Mexico, 12/15, 8a: Approximately 80% of Native American families on reservations had at least one child in foster care, prior to the creation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978. Native children were routinely removed from their families and tribes by adoption agencies and placed in non-Native homes where they would be denied access to cultural customs. ICWA is intended to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families.”

In March, Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into legislation the Indian Family Protect Act in New Mexico that will further reinforce laws made in ICWA, that will keep Native children in the state with their primary Native families.

In recent years, individual parties and states like Texas, Indiana, and Louisiana are bringing cases to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge and even dismantle ICWA. Some are calling the current one before the court, Brackeen v. Haaland, the most significant challenge the law has faced.

On this week’s Let’s Talk New Mexico, we’ll be taking a closer look at the Indian Child Welfare Act. If ICWA is deemed unconstitutional, how will this rule impact tribal sovereignty and tribal-owned energy companies, gaming establishments and lands? How will this potential overturn of ICWA affect New Mexico Native children in foster care? Email us at LetsTalk@kunm.org or call in live during the show.


  • Evelyn Blanchard, Family and Children Advocate at Native Family Study Institute at the University of New Mexico
  • Cheryl Fairbanks, Attorney who specializes in Indian Law, Tribal Court of Appeals Justice and Peacemaker. Currently she is the founder and Executive Director for Sovereignty 360, a peacemaking entity.
  • Christy Chapman,  Guardian ad Litem, Pegasus Legal Services for Children, UNM Indigenous Design and Planning Institute
  • Phillip Perez, Former Governor of Nambé Pueblo 2018, Special Projects Coordinator for New Mexico Children, Youth & Families Department--

New Mexico Indian Family Protection Act- New Mexico Indian Family Protection
The Indian Child Welfare Act must remain intact- The Ticker
Governor signs historic legislation providing protection for Native American children and families- New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD)
The platinum standard of the Indian Child Welfare Act- Source NM

The Fate of ICWA- Native American Calling
The Indian Child Welfare Act is before the Supreme Court. What is it?- 1A

Stay Connected
Jeanette DeDios is from the Jicarilla Apache and Diné Nations and grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2022 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism, English and Film. She’s a former Local News Fund Fellow. Jeanette can be contacted at jeanettededios@kunm.org or via Twitter @JeanetteDeDios.
  1. Supreme Court struggles with a case dealing with the rights of Native American Tribes
  2. The Supreme Court will decide the future of the Indian Child Welfare Act
  3. Supreme Court considers fate of landmark Indian adoption law
  4. 'Baby Veronica' Custody Battle Continues
  5. US Supreme Court Ruling On Baby Veronica Case Could Threaten Native American Parental Rights