Putting Learning Into Practice : The Indian Child Welfare Act
Dr. Wayne Moore
Prior to European conquest, Indian populations in North America were mainly communal and self-sustaining societies with organized political structures, moral codes, and religious beliefs adapted to the particular environment they inhabited. There was also tradition involving child rearing practices and child protection. Discovery and settlement by Europeans radically changed life for local Indians. As Europeans strived to gain the natural resources and land occupied by the Native Americans, Indian policy primarily consisted of treaties. Initially, these treaties addressed issues of trade and establishing boundaries. In order to understand the circumstances surrounding the treaties, it is essential to consider the following: the American Indians did not believe in the concept of land ownership, did not read, write, or speak English, and intimidation was a tactic commonly used by government agents. These agreements were used to acquire vast amounts of land justified by the idea of Manifest Destiny.
In some instances, when attempted use of treaties proved to be ineffective, the federal government passed policies to obtain the land by force. The Indian Removal Act of 1830, signed by Andrew Jackson, resulted in the forceful removal of many tribes from their homelands to established reservations. This accelerated the Federal…