The Indian Adoption Project and the Profession of Social Work

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This historical analysis examines the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Child Welfare League of America’s collaborative Indian Adoption Project, its influence on the evolution and practice of social work, and social work’s response. It presents a narrative of the Indian Adoption Project’s development and implementation and of the passing of the Indian Child Welfare Act. We use methods of document analysis, as well as content analysis and critical discourse analysis, to not only describe this history but also to explain and critically evaluate the role of our source documents and subsequent events in creating, maintaining, and legitimating inequality and oppression among Native Americans. Finally, the article presents implications and suggestions for the profession of social work, including the importance of cultural considerations, social work title protection, and the inclusion of historical and current content affecting Indian Country in all social work programs.