When Congress enacted the across-the board budget cuts known as the sequester in March, they cut $60 million for American Indian schools across the country.
Since people living on reservations don't pay state property taxes, the schools heavily depend on federal aid. For the Navajo Nation that means larger class sizes, fewer school buses and putting off building repairs.
A Bumpy Ride
Navajo children travel up to 70 miles to get to school. Many of them ride small school buses over roads that look like off-road trails for weekend warriors.
The Voluntary Relocation act of 1952 was designed to decrease government spending on reservation services by transitioning Native people to urban living in cities like Dallas, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles – and Denver.
Take the usual agony of an adoption dispute. Add in the disgraceful U.S. history of ripping Indian children from their Native American families. Mix in a dose of initial fatherly abandonment. And there you have it — a poisonous and painful legal cocktail that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.
At issue is the reach of the Indian Child Welfare Act, known as ICWA. The law was enacted in 1978 to protect Native American tribes from having their children almost literally stolen away and given to non-Indian adoptive or foster parents.