Today’s celebration and recognition of Indigenous Peoples comes at a time when we are understanding that Native American people and people of color have long fought for justice and equity in a system that was often severely biased against them. Indigenous peoples across the nation, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, missing and murdered Indigenous women and Native American youth have had their lands stolen and their families destroyed.
Current data shows that Native American children are also overrepresented in foster care at a rate that is almost three times higher than in the general population. In Minnesota for example, Native American young people in foster care are more than 15 times the percent of that state's general population. Native American families are two times more likely to be investigated and four times more likely to have their children removed and placed in foster care than their white peers.1
Removing Native American children from their families has been a regular practice in American history - from the early days of the country. In the 19th and 20th Centuries, children and young people continued to be separated from their families and placed in boarding schools where they were often punished for practicing their cultural traditions and speaking their language. Next, separation took the form of foster care and adoption - increasingly placing Native American children with white families.2
At FosterClub we work with young Native Americans. We will continue to work to elevate the voices of Native American youth, and develop leadership opportunities for them to drive change within the system. We support ICWA - the Indian Child Welfare Act - and other policies and practices that work to address historical separation policies and keep Native American families together.
To Indigenous young people with lived experience in foster care: we see you and we value your culture and your vibrant heritage. We hear your voices and are dedicated to strengthening them to overcome the struggles and improve the lives of peers and generations to come. We invite you to join us in our efforts. If you would like to join the FosterClub team and help forward our work, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Entangled Roots: The Role of Race in Policies that Separate Families (Center for the Study of Social Policy, Oct 2018)