Navajo Tribal Council, “Tribal Policy on Adoption of Navajo Orphans and Abandoned or Neglected Children,” 1960

Following is one of the first Tribal Resolutions regarding the adoption of Indian children by non-tribal members, adopted by the Navajo Tribal Council in 1960.

Navajo Tribal Council, Tribal Policy on Adoption of Navajo Orphans and Abandoned or Neglected Children, 1960

WHEREAS:
(1) By Resolution No. CN-63-60 the Navajo Tribe has established a procedure for adoption of members of the Tribe who are brought in person before a court of the Navajo Tribe, and said resolution is applicable to adoptions either by Navajos or non-Navajos, provided the child is a member of the Navajo Tribe and is brought in person before the Tribal Court.

(2) By Resolution CN-60-56, the Navajo Tribe has specified the following ground among those authorizing removal of any non-Navajo from Navajo tribal land: “Removing or attempting to remove any Navajo minor from the Navajo Reservation without prior approval of the Advisory Committee of the Navajo Tribal Council, except for the purpose of attending school under a non-sectarian program approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.”

(3) Heretofore the Navajo Tribal Council has not established a definite policy either in favor or in opposition to the adoption of Navajo children by non-members of the Tribe.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
(1) The Navajo Tribal Council favors the formal adoption of Navajo children in accordance with the provisions of Resolution No.CN-63-60 in all cases where the parents of such children are dead or where said children are being regularly and continuously neglected by their parents, or where the parents have abandoned said children. The Navajo Tribal Council looks with disfavor upon informal arrangements for the custody of such children except for temporary periods pending their formal adoption.

(2) In the cases referred to in the preceding section of this resolution, the Navajo Tribe neither favors nor disfavors adoption of Navajo children by persons who are not members of the Navajo Tribe, but states its policy that each case shall be considered individually on its own merits by the Trial Court of the Navajo Tribe.

(3) The Navajo Tribe looks with disfavor upon the adoption of Navajo children by non-members of the Tribe in cases where the parents of the children are living, in good health, and have not abandoned or continuously neglected said children.

(4) The Navajo Tribe condemns the removal or attempted removal of any Navajo minor from the Navajo Reservation by any non-member without the prior approval of the Advisory Committee, except for the purpose of attending school under a non-sectarian program approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, provided however, that the Navajo Tribe does not condemn the removal of Navajo children from the Navajo Reservation by their adopted parents pursuant to a final judgment of adoption rendered by the Trial Court of the Navajo Tribe under said resolution.

(5) Subparagraph O of paragraph 2 of Resolution CN-60-56 (Navajo Tribal Council Resolution, 1956, p. 168) shall not apply in cases where a Navajo minor is removed from the Navajo Reservation by its adopted parents, or by persons who have received custody of such child pursuant to an order of the Trial Court of the Navajo Tribe.

(6) The Chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council is hereby directed to cause an investigation to be made of missionaries and other non-Navajo persons who may have been violating said subparagraph of Resolution No. CN-60-56, and where there is ground to believe that such missionaries or other persons propose to continue violating said subparagraph, to cause them to be excluded from the Navajo Reservation. In case such missionaries or other persons operate from islands of fee-patent land on the Navajo Indian Reservation, the Chairman is nevertheless authorized, in accordance with the procedure prescribed in section 6 of said resolution, to have said persons physically removed from Navajo Tribal land.

Adopted November 18, 1960.

 

Source: Steven Unger, ed., The Destruction of American Indian Families (New York: Association on American Indian Affairs, 1977), 85-86.

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To learn more about The Adoption History Project, please contact Ellen Herman
Department of History, University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-1288
(541) 346-3118
E-mail: adoption@uoregon.edu
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