New Mexico can provide support for Native families and their children this legislative session — perhaps in the nick of time, depending on the Supreme Court.

Currently, federal law requires that before Native children can be taken from their family, the tribe must be brought into the discussion. That’s to ensure children aren’t summarily removed from their families and culture, as had happened for decades. To tribal members, the theft — and that’s what it often was — of Native babies and children served as a new sort of genocide, decimating culture as children were raised without tradition and language.

According to the National Indian Child Welfare Association, at one time, from 25 percent to 35 percent of all Native children were being removed, with 85 percent of them placed outside their families and communities. That took place even when willing and able relatives could care for the children.

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