Big money is behind the fight over the Indian Child Welfare Act
Oct 5, 2021
Episode 532

Big money is behind the fight over the Indian Child Welfare Act

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Plus, the birds of "Make Me Smart."

What do corporate lawyers, political operatives and right-wing groups have to do with the Indian Child Welfare Act? A whole lot.

ICWA has been around for almost 40 years. It provides protections for Native American kids who are up for foster care or adoption and it says Native kids should be placed with extended family or stay with Native communities whenever possible. 

It doesn’t seem terribly controversial on the face of it. But the child custody law has drawn the attention of groups who see the chance to undo ICWA as the first step into doing away with a whole chain of legislation around Native sovereignty, with huge implications for land use, water rights and gaming rights. In short, a successful legal challenge to this one law, which has now reached the steps of the Supreme Court, could mean a lot of money for a whole lot of non-Native people.

“I always say that federal Indian law is the canary in the coal mine, like what the courts are willing to do to tribes. I think everyone should be concerned about and this case for this term, I think will be will be an important one to watch,” said Rebecca Nagle, independent journalist and host of the podcast “This Land,” which focuses on ICWA in its latest season.

On today’s show, we’ll dig into the fight over ICWA, the players involved and who stands to benefit if it’s found unconstitutional on the basis of race.

In the news fix, we’ll talk about today’s Facebook whistleblower testimony, COVID’s two-month cycle and the cost of living in flood zones — speaking of the effects of climate change, Molly’s super secret project, the “How We Survive” podcast, launches tomorrow.

Plus, the birds of “Make Me Smart.”

When you’re done listening, tell your Echo device to “make me smart” for our daily explainers. This week we’ll explain the history behind historically Black colleges and universities, how pumpkin-spice beer became a thing and why Sherlock Holmes continues to be one of the most popular fictional detectives of all time. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter! You can find the latest issue here.

Here’s everything we talked about today: 

Read the transcript here.

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The team

Molly Wood Host
Donna Tam Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Marissa Cabrera Producer
Bridget Bodnar Senior producer