cultural biases into the analysis,457 or that Indian children suffer by being removed from their
families, or that tribal cultures are worth preserving, or even that tribal courts should have
jurisdiction to adjudicate the child custody disputes of tribal members domiciled on reservations.
But it is to deny that “Indian children are different, an exemption requiring a separate
argument”458 on account of their genetic ancestry, or that children like Lexi—whose only
connection to an Indian tribe is biological—can or should be segregated when it comes to legal
proceedings that are supposed to protect them from abuse and find them permanent, caring
And it is to deny that the welfare of Indian children is none of non-Indians’ business. As
Martin Luther King explained, “the interrelatedness of all communities and states” makes it
wrong to “sit idly by” while our fellow citizens are treated unjustly on account of their race.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” he wrote. “Anyone who lives inside the
United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”459 It should go
without saying, of course, that it is also ultimately in the best interests of Native Americans
themselves to prioritize the individual safety and well-being of Indian children, even over the
distinct interests of tribal governments.460
457 See, e.g., Brokenleg v. Butts, 559 S. W.2d 853, 855 (Tex. Civ. App. 1977).
458 Matthew L.M. Fletcher & Wenona T. Siegel, Introduction, in FLETCHER, ET AL., supra note 51, at xiii.
459 Martin Luther King, Letter from Birmingham Jail (1963), in WASHINGTON, supra note 443, at 290.
460 Cf. Michelle Zehnder, Who Should Protect the Native American Child: A Philosophical Debate Between the
Rights of the Individual Verses the Rights of the Indian Tribe, 22 WM. MITCHELL L. REV. 903, 949–50 (1996) (“If
child abuse continues unabated on reservations, the ability of tribes to achieve total independence could be
jeopardized . . . . Punishing those who abuse children will break the cycle of abuse, allowing Indian children to
grow up free of dysfunction and become strong tribal leaders.”).