Why is the right suddenly interested in Native American adoption law? | Nick Estes

A 1978 law tried to remedy adoption practices created to forcibly assimilate Native children. Now conservative lawyers are arguing that the law constitutes ‘reverse racism’

George Armstrong Custer of the Seventh Cavalry was infamous during the 19th-century Indian wars for riding into the enemy camp, holding Native women, children and elders hostage at gunpoint, and forcing the surrender of the tribe. He systematically attacked and captured civilians to crush Indigenous resistance, which is partly how he defeated the Cheyenne at the Battle of Washita River in 1868. Cheyenne, Lakota and Arapaho warriors later killed Custer as he fled after trying the same hostage-taking ploy at the Battle of Greasy Grass in 1876.

Attacking non-combatants, especially children, to enable the conquest of land by destroying the family, and therefore Indigenous nations, wasn’t unique to Custer or the US military.

Nick Estes is a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. He is a journalist, historian, and host of The Red Nation Podcast. He is the author of Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance (Verso, 2019)

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