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An Interior spokeswoman said Congress has determined it “is in the best interests of an Indian child to keep that child…with the child’s parents,” extended family and tribal community.
Kathryn Fort, a lawyer with the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University, defends the law and the guidelines. Ms. Fort said that before the law was passed, social workers would argue that it was in the “best interests” of an Indian child to be permanently removed from a house that was merely messy or lacked the most modern conveniences. “It’s really a way of allowing—and perpetuating—discrimination against Indians,” she said.
Supporters of the law say the adoption delays often required are part of its point. The law “demands excellence in how we treat Indian children,” said Matthew Newman, a staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund. “That often requires a bit of time.”