Publication Date

December 29, 2022

Perspectives Section


Post Type


In the fall of 2022, the AHA sent two letters: one in favor of the nomination of Colleen Shogan as the new archivist of the United States and one to the Virginia Board of Education in support of adopting the draft standards of learning for history and social science. In November, the US Supreme Court heard Haaland v. Brackeen, for which the AHA and OAH co-sponsored an amicus curiae brief.

AHA Supports Nomination of Colleen Shogan as Archivist of the United States

On September 16, the AHA sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs stating that it “enthusiastically supports” the nomination of Colleen Shogan as the 11th Archivist of the United States. Shogan “has worked effectively and productively with our members in such important settings as the Library of Congress, the White House Historical Society, and the America250 Commission,” the AHA wrote. “She has been especially effective as a collaborator across disciplines, drawing on her political science background to complement the work of archivists, librarians, and historians.”

AHA Sends Letter to Virginia Board of Education Urging Adoption of Proposed History Standards

On October 19, the AHA sent a letter to the Virginia Board of Education urging the board to proceed with adoption of the draft standards of learning for history and social science. “The history education elaborated in these standards would properly expose students to complex and contested voices from the past, making them competitive job candidates and enhancing their future career prospects,” wrote the AHA. “Moving forward with the proposed standards will show historians, teachers, parents, and students that their careful input is valued.” See page 4 for the full letter.

AHA and OAH Co-sponsor Amicus Brief in Haaland v. Brackeen

In November, the US Supreme Court heard the case Haaland v. Brackeen. The AHA co-sponsored, along with the Organization of American Historians, an amicus curiae brief, based on decades of study and research by professional historians, that aimed to provide an accurate historical perspective as the court considers the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After rejecting jurisdiction over Native children when the federal government tried to transfer that responsibility to the states for the first time in the 1930s, state governments accepted jurisdiction over Native children only when those programs were entirely federally funded. To avoid having to delve into any state welfare funds and to protect their bottom lines, state and local governments placed Native children in non-Native homes, separating them from their families and their nations. By the late 1960s, state and local governments were forcibly removing 25 to 35 percent of Native American children from their parents. The ICWA, enacted in 1978 with strong support from Native Americans, sought to prevent this policy by strengthening the authority of tribal governments and prioritizing the placement of Native American children with their extended families and tribal communities.

Everything has a history, and the historical context of the ICWA and the impact of the legislation itself are straightforward. Considering this historical record, the AHA and OAH contend that the challenged provisions of the ICWA should be upheld in full.

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Becky West
Rebecca L. West

American Historical Association