The Indian Child Welfare Act changes the legal relationship between Indian tribes and the states in child welfare matters. It gives legal sanction to child care patterns of Native culture, particularly to the extended family and to tribal courts. With over half the Indian population now living in cities, social workers are now likely to encounter Indian child welfare cases. The whole separation of Indian children from their families has been the most tragic and destructive aspect of recent American Indian life. Social workers who are ignorant of Indian cultural values and social norms have too often made inappropriate decisions - discovering neglect or abandonment where none exists. The context and the dynamics of the Indian family largely have been misunderstood (Author abstract, edited).