Indian Nations Agreement Signed with Washington State to Provide Indian Child Welfare Services

Under the terms of the agreement, which recognizes the government-to-government relationship between federally-recognized tribes and the United States, Tlingit & Haida will collaborate closely with DCYF to deliver culturally sensitive and responsive services that prioritize the well-being of tribal children and families. Read the full article at Alaska Native News.

Healing the Children of Horse Nations

“I’m ready to hurry up and get the program started, because horses are in our DNA, they’re in our culture and our heritage,” Sam said. “Whether they’re with their own families or not, that horse can bring peace to them. Horses can bring healing to a part of their heart. That feeling is culturally tied, … Read more

Indian Child Welfare Act Faces Another Constitutional Challenge in Minnesota

A case now before the Minnesota Court of Appeals revives debate over the nation’s 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act and a local version of the law — alleging that the legal statutes protecting Indigenous children, families and tribes racially discriminate against white foster parents. Read the full article at The Imprint.

Seneca Nation Elder Reflects on a 51-year Child Welfare Career 

Seneca Nation citizen Terry Cross is widely known as the founding executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, launched in the early 1980s, and continues to serve as a senior adviser to the organization assisting tribes with preventing child abuse and neglect.  Read the full article at The Imprint.

Reunifying Native families after foster care

How a Billings court is putting the Indian Child Welfare Act into action The Family Recovery Court, a specialized track for parents involved in ICWA-eligible child welfare cases, launched in 2021 with more than $600,000 in federal grant support and the encouragement of community groups who wanted to better serve Native families navigating the local … Read more

Native American child welfare bills return to legislature after federal ICWA upheld

Pourier’s bills would create a two-year task force to study Native American child welfare as well as codify and expand a piece of ICWA in state law.  Republican Rep. Tamara St. John, from Sisseton and a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, is the prime sponsor of a bill that would establish an Indian Child Welfare Advisory Council in the state … Read more

Native American mothers whose children have been separated from them experience a raw and ongoing grief that has no end

Native American mothers whose children were separated from them – either through child removal for assimilation into residential boarding schools or through coerced adoption – experience the kind of grief no parent should ever feel. Yet theirs is a loss that is ongoing, with no sense of meaning or closure. Read the full article at The Conversation.

Where the money goes: Foster families get paid, relatives caring for children get nothing

A quarter of all foster children in 2021 were placed in kinship care, with Native American children accounting for 53% of the kinship placements, according to the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect. Bruner and other kinship families say the lack of support is a massive barrier preventing others from accepting a kinship placement. Foster … Read more

The challenges of enforcing ICWA

A non-Native woman in Alaska refuses to abide by a tribal court order to turn an Alaska Native foster child over to the girl’s family members. It’s a blatant disregard of tribal sovereignty even after a notable re-affirmation of the Indian Child Welfare Act by the U.S. Supreme Court. The woman took custody of the … Read more

FireLodge employees work together to help

Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s FireLodge Children & Family Services works to protect children and vulnerable adults who are at risk of being abused or neglected, providing services such as court advocacy, investigations, prevention services, parenting education, counseling, foster home approval and adoption.  Read the full article at

Senators Ben Ray Luján, Susan Collins Reintroduce Legislation to Protect Native American Children

U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) reintroduced the Native American Child Protection Act (NACPA), bipartisan legislation that authorizes three programs that ensure Tribes have the tools needed to treat, prevent, investigate and prosecute Native American child abuse and neglect. Read the full article at the Los Alamos Daily Post.

Montana acts to protect Native American priority in adopting Native children

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has signed legislation giving Native American families preference in fostering and adopting Native children involved with child protective services, a proactive move to protect such rights as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a case that could undercut them nationally. Read full article at Religion News Service.

The implications of the case against ICWA

The Supreme Court is about to decide on a case arguing that the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, discriminates against white people. The lawsuit seeks to reframe tribal membership as a racial rather than a political category, and argues that it disadvantages white foster parents trying to adopt Native children. This week, Rebecca Nagle, host of the This Land … Read more

Bills would ensure guardianship cases in tribal court are eligible for state assistance

Right now, people who become a child’s legal guardian aren’t eligible for state assistance if their case is in a Michigan tribal court. Two bills in the state legislature would change that. They would extend the financial benefits of the Guardianship Assistance Program to all legal guardians, regardless of what court handles their case. Read … Read more

Northern California County’s Child Welfare System Again Called out by Civil Grand Jury

A report released Monday by a northern California civil grand jury finds that the local child welfare system routinely misses court deadlines, creating “an unnecessary amount of stress” for children and families — particularly members of tribal communities who are overrepresented in the foster care system. Read the full article at The Imprint.

Oklahoma can place some tribal children in foster care without tribal sign-off, state high court rules

In a novel ruling, the Oklahoma Supreme Court found the exclusivity does not cover children who belong to one tribal nation but live on the reservation of another. The state can assert decision-making power over the lives of those children without the consent of the reservation tribe, the court determined. Read the full article at … Read more

Oklahoma Supreme Court’s opinion challenging parts of the Indian Child Welfare Act is flawed, experts say

The Oklahoma Supreme Court used the reasoning of the 2022 ruling in Castro-Huerta v. Oklahoma, which rolled back parts of McGirt, to come to their decision. The Oklahoma Supreme Court say that states have jurisdiction over child custody proceedings, and ICWA only limits the state’s jurisdiction when a member child is on their tribe’s reservation. Read the … Read more

Minnesota moves to protect Native children as Supreme Court decision looms

Uncertainty about the future of ICWA brought urgency to legislative efforts this year to strengthen the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act or MIFPA. Lawmakers in both houses passed the legislation and Governor Walz is expected to sign it. “MIFPA legislation creates basically the gold standard of protection for our native kids,” said State Senator Mary … Read more

Overturning Indian Child Welfare Act bad for kids, families, Native Americans everywhere

Let me be clear, this law is not about preventing non-Native families from adopting children when the situation and best interests of the child call for it. It’s about keeping families together whenever possible; it’s about fighting for the futures of Native American children; and it’s about giving tribes a long-awaited seat at the table. … Read more

North Dakota bill seeks to protect Native American adoption rules as court decision looms

Davis said the potential reversal of ICWA at the federal level adds urgency to her mission to pass a similar state law in North Dakota. The Democratic legislator said all five tribes that share geography with North Dakota were consulted during the drafting of House Bill 1536. Read the full article at InForum.

Justice Department Finds Alaska Unnecessarily Segregates Children with Behavioral Health Disabilities in Institutions

The department’s investigation found that Alaska’s system of care is heavily reliant on institutions and that key community-based services and supports needed to serve children with behavioral health disabilities in family homes, such as home-based family treatment, crisis services and therapeutic treatment home services, are often unavailable. As a result, many children with behavioral health … Read more

Choctaws fight to preserve authority over Native American adoptions

“As the only federally recognized tribe in the State of Mississippi, our 11,000 plus members are descendants of those members who chose to remain here in Mississippi to preserve our cultural heritage on our ancestral homelands,” the tribe said in a statement. “Today, just as in the past, the preservation and security of our tribe, … Read more

California Tribal Families Coalition Establishes “The California ICWA Institute” Think Tank

On the heels of oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), an organization comprised of a coalition of California tribes on Nov. 21 announced its creation of a think tank to advance and defend protections for Native children. The California ICWA Institute—a new project under The California Tribal … Read more

Utah lawmakers want to protect Native American adoptions — no matter how the Supreme Court rules

If the law is stricken, Utah legislators talked Tuesday about plans to enact a nearly identical version statewide that would codify the same preference for continuing to place Native kids with Native foster parents. The Native American Legislative Liaison Committee voted unanimously in support of running that bill for the upcoming session that starts in January. Read … Read more

Alaska could see effects of Indian Child Welfare Act challenge heard by Supreme Court

And because Native children represent about 55% of all children in state custody, Chen says overturning ICWA would have huge implications for Alaska. At the same time, Native people only make up a little over 20% of the population, so there’s a disparity, she says, and a feeling that the state hasn’t done enough to … Read more

The Indian Child Welfare Act: What it is and What’s at Stake

The law, known as ICWA, includes many other provisions that impact Native families across Indian Country. What ICWA will look like following the Supreme Court’s decision depends on how the justices rule. Amicus curiae briefs filed in the case cover arguments made for and against the law.  Read the full article at Native News Online.

The Supreme Court Case That Could Break Native American Sovereignty

In the sprawling federal lawsuit Haaland v. Brackeen, a handful of white foster parents, among other plaintiffs, are asking the Supreme Court to overturn a law called the Indian Child Welfare Act. ICWA was created in 1978 to prevent family separation in Native communities. When the law passed, about a third of Native children had been removed from … Read more

Clarence Thomas May Destroy Native Children’s Rights Based on a Lie

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Brackeen v. Haaland, a case engineered to hobble the federal government’s power to protect Native communities from exploitation. The plaintiffs are asking the justices to invalidate the 44-year-old Indian Child Welfare Act, which prioritizes the placement of Native children in custody proceedings with Native families. But they’re … Read more

Tribal leaders vow to protect their families from separation as Indian Child Welfare law heads to the Supreme Court

California’s Morongo Band of Mission Indians is one of five tribes that have intervened in the Brackeen v. Haaland case, scheduled for oral arguments Nov. 9. The tribesspoke out this week alongside leaders of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, the Quinault Indian Nation of Washington, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Navajo Nation.  Read the … Read more

Current Supreme Court term could impact South Dakota tribes

Brackeen v. Haaland is a case centering around the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), which focuses on assimilation, tribal culture and the adoption of Native children. Across the country, tribes are watching this case unfold to see how it will impact tribal sovereignty and the relationship between tribes and the federal government. Read the … Read more

U.S. Representatives Chu and Bacon introduce bipartisan Indian child welfare legislation

This week, Representative Judy Chu (CA-27) and Representative Don Bacon (NE-02) introduced the bipartisan Strengthening Tribal Families Act, legislation designed to assist state and local child welfare agencies with implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). ICWA, which sets federal standards for abuse or neglect custody proceedings involving native children, lessens the trauma of removal … Read more

Northern Arapaho tribe asks Wyoming for a state ICWA law as U.S. Supreme Court decision looms

The proposed options could include drafting a trigger protection legislation. What that means is if the federal government does strike down ICWA, Wyoming could say ‘no, we will still follow the tenets of ICWA’. Or use the federal law as a template to draft a state law. Read or listen to the full article at … Read more

Pascua Yaqui & state of Arizona agree on roles in foster children cases ahead of Supreme Court decision

Pascua Yaqui children taken into state custody in Arizona will continue to learn and grow up according to the tribe’s customs and traditions, and the tribe will still be able to intervene in custody proceedings such as adoptions and the termination of parental rights. The state and tribe signed a memo of understanding last week … Read more

First-of-its-kind Survey Examines Trauma and Healing Among Indigenous Survivors of Family Separation

The Minneapolis-based National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, the First Nations Repatriation Institute, and the University of Minnesota are collaborating on a first-of-its-kind survey asking those difficult questions. Researchers have compiled close to 1,000 accounts, submitted on paper and online, for the Child Removal in Native Communities survey, which concludes September 11.  Read the full article … Read more

Supporters File 21 Amicus Briefs to Uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act in Haaland v. Brackeen

In an outpouring of support, 497 Tribal Nations, 62 Native organizations, 23 states and DC, 87 congresspeople, and 27 child welfare and adoption organizations, and many others signed on to 21 briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of upholding ICWA. This large, bipartisan coalition of tribal leaders, policymakers, and organizations understand that the far-reaching … Read more

Historic Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact becomes Law

On Friday, August 5, HB 184, a bill codifying the Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact, automatically became State law without the Governor’s signature. The Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact began in 2017, under Governor Bill Walker and HSS Commissioner Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson, who signed the landmark State-Tribal Compact with 18 Tribal Co-Signers, representing 161 federally-recognized Tribes. … Read more

Advocates worry federal law protecting Native adoptees could be overturned by Supreme Court

For the last 44 years, a federal law called the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) has sought to prevent these situations by prioritizing that Native children adoptees be placed, when possible, with Native relatives or other members within the child’s tribe. But after months of consequential rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court’s right-wing majority, four … Read more

Casey Family Programs honors 10 people from across the nation who are working to improve child and family well-being

Casey Family Programs, the nation’s largest operating foundation dedicated to safely reducing the need for foster care and building Communities of Hope for children and families, announced today the recipients of the 2022 Casey Excellence for Children Awards. These awards recognize outstanding individuals for their inspiring work, exceptional leadership and unwavering dedication to improving the … Read more

United Indian Nations of Oklahoma, the Shawnee Tribe, and the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition to host a session on Indian Boarding Schools in Tulsa, Oklahoma

The United Indian Nations of Oklahoma (UINO), the Shawnee Tribe and the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) announced today that they will host a summit with tribes in the area discussing the history and impacts of Indian Boarding schools on June 22 at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The … Read more

California Tribal Families Coalition applauds Biden administration for withdrawing the SUNSET Rule

The California Tribal Families Coalition (CTFC) applauds the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for withdrawing a controversial rule from the Trump Administration that would have exposed millions of tribal children and families to unnecessary risk and removed countless regulations meant to uphold key healthcare standards. Read the full article in Indian Country Today.

Communities as caretakers: The Indian Child Welfare Act as an antiracist framework for all child welfare cases.

The child welfare system is racist.  As with all systems in the United States, the system charged with protecting children is not exempt from the racist policies, practices, and mindsets that created and justified colonialization and slavery.  Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color continue to fall prey to the harsh realities of child welfare … Read more

Community members needed to help improve Minnesota child welfare policies and practices

Minnesotans are needed to help shape child welfare policy, practice and training recommendations by serving on Citizen Review Panels for the state’s child protection system. The Minnesota Department of Human Services is currently seeking more than 80 volunteers for citizen panels in Chisago, Hennepin, Ramsey and Winona counties. By bringing a crucial community voice to … Read more

Relative Placement in Washington Supreme Court Decision

Even though this is not an ICWA case, three people have sent me this opinion by Justice Montoya Lewis regarding the primacy of relative placement in child protection proceedings. This opinion points to all sorts of issues that beleaguers relative placement, especially certain aspects of background checks and prior involvement with the system. Here, the … Read more

Hanna hired for ICWA cases

The OST Council met Tuesday in Batesland at the Bill C. Bear Memorial gym at Batesland school for their January regular session; after many questions from the gathered tribal council representatives, the council voted 11-6-1 to approve the annual attorney contract for Dana Hanna who represents the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Indian Child Welfare Act … Read more

The Indian Child Welfare Act is the gold standard

George F. Will’s Jan. 6 op-ed, “The racial politics of the Indian Child Welfare Act,”  ignored the benefits of the Indian Child Welfare Act and the basic facts of tribal citizenship. The ICWA is considered the gold standard of child welfare laws and establishes a process that promotes efforts to keep children connected to their families, … Read more

Tribes file cert petition defending Indian Child Welfare Act before Supreme Court

On September 3, four tribes and the United States Solicitor General filed cert petitions with the U.S. Supreme Court in Brackeen v. Haaland, defending the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and its constitutionality. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., Morongo Band of Mission Indians Chairman Charles Martin, Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi Hill, and Quinault Indian Nation President Guy … Read more

Domestic violence, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and Alaska Natives: How domestic violence is weaponized against Alaska Native survivors.

After the forced separation of Indian families, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to create heightened procedural protections to maintain and preserve Indian families. Following Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 570 U.S. 637 (2013), courts have indicated concern that the heightened standards of ICWA may be overbroad and harm Indian children. This Note … Read more

Lummi Nation reimagines foster care for Indigenous families

Several years ago, the Lummi Tribal Council told Diana Phair, the executive director of the tribe’s Housing Authority: “We have 200-some children in foster care. We need to bring our children home.”  With the tribal members’ input, she and her colleagues devised Sche’lang’en Village, a novel housing arrangement for parents seeking to reunite with their … Read more

Bay Mills to Host Third Annual VAWA and ICWA Training

Bay Mills Indian Community 3rd annual Noojimo’iwewin: A VAWA and ICWA Training Aug. 4-6, in-person and online  BRIMLEY, Mich. — Picking up where last year’s training left off, Bay Mills Indian Community sets out to host its third annual Noojimo’iwewin: A VAWA and ICWA Training, Aug. 4-6. The event is hosted both in-person at the Bay Mills … Read more

Proposed Legislation: S.2326

S.2326 — A bill to amend the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act to reauthorize programs under that Act, and for other purposes. Read about this bill at the 117th Congress website.

First Indigenous woman appointed to Calif. commission advocating for women and girls

SAN DIEGO — Gov. Gavin Newsom has appointed Carlsbad resident and professor Joely Proudfit to the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, making her the first Indigenous woman to serve the organization. Proudfit (Luiseño/Payómkawichum) is a professor at California State University, San Marcos who has served as American Indian studies chair and director … Read more

Proposed Legislation: H.R.4348

H.R.4348 – To remove administrative barriers to participation of Indian tribes in Federal child welfare programs, and increase Federal funding for tribal child welfare programs, and for other purposes. Read about this bill at the 117th Congress website.

Proposed Legislation: S.2167/H.R.4052

S.2167/H.R.4052 – A bill to establish a national, research-based, and comprehensive home study assessment process for the evaluation of prospective foster parents and adoptive parents and provide funding to States and Indian tribes to adopt such process. Read more about this bill in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Opinion: Deb Haaland: My grandparents were stolen from their families as children. We must learn about this history.

As I read stories about an unmarked grave in Canada where the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found last month, I was sick to my stomach. But the deaths of Indigenous children at the hands of government were not limited to that side of the border. Many Americans may be alarmed to learn that the United … Read more

NCAI Weighs in on Discovery of Remains of 215 Children at Indian Residential School in Canada

The NCAI, which passed two different resolutions in the past decade on the issue, is calling for transparency and accountability for historical and generational trauma caused by boarding schools that was a program of the federal government that operated on the mantra to “Kill the Indian, Save the man.” Read the full article on the … Read more

Proposed Legislation: S.1868

S.1868 – A bill to amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to require that equitable distribution of assistance include equitable distribution to Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations, to increase amounts reserved for allotment to Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations under certain circumstances, and to reserve amounts for migrant programs under certain circumstances, and … Read more

ICWA: Reclaiming Indigenous identity

The Indian Child Welfare Act became law in 1978 with a goal of keeping Native children with their families and tribes. As Blackfeet citizen and Salish descendant Brooke Pepion Swaney found out, the law was overlooked when Kendra was adopted by the Mylnechuk family. Brooke’s first feature-length documentary, “Daughter of a Lost Bird,” premieres at the prestigious Human Rights … Read more

ICWA’s Irony

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA or the Act) is a federal statute that protects Indian children by keeping them connected to their families and culture. The Act’s provisions include support for family reunification, kinship care preferences, cultural competency considerations and community involvement. These provisions parallel national child welfare policies. Nevertheless, the Act is relentlessly … Read more

Four California tribes voice urgent concerns about the Humboldt child welfare system

Today, the Yurok Tribe, Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria, the Wiyot Tribe and the Trinidad Rancheria announced their support of the California Attorney General’s effort to pursue a court order requiring the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services Child Welfare Services Division and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office to fully and … Read more

Realizing ICWA’s promise

Repairing and strengthening Indian Country’s ancestral social safety net Indian Country Today Opinion by: -Tara ‘Katuk’ Sweeney, Iñupiat member of the Native Village of Barrow and the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope and Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior -Jeannie Hovland, Flandreau Santee Sioux Member and Commissioner … Read more

Court focuses on Native idea of family

Under the direction of Children, Youth and Families Secretary Brian Blalock, state leaders announced in October the creation of New Mexico’s first Indian Child Welfare Act court. Only the nation’s sixth, the court opened Jan. 1 in the 2nd Judicial District to enforce and adjudicate the 1978 congressional law that requires the placement of Native … Read more

CYFD forging ahead with Native American court, kinship care to improve child welfare

CYFD, in an effort to align with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) — a congressional law that aims to keep Native American children with Native families — created an all-woman, all-Native American ICWA unit within the child protective services division. Additionally, the state’s first — and only the nation’s sixth — ICWA court officially … Read more

The Necessity of the Indian Child Welfare Act : A case now before the Fifth Circuit threatens to upend the laws that enable Native self-governance.

The case centers on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which was designed to protect American Indian communities against state-led efforts to break up Native families. The challengers in the case—several Republican-led states and non-Native families seeking to adopt Native children—are attempting to invalidate ICWA’s restrictions on breaking up Native families and on non-Native families … Read more

Tribe, state look for ways to improve child protective services

Northern Arapaho leaders and state officials are looking for ways to improve a child protective services program that the tribe says needs more money from the state to be more effective. Gov. Mark Gordon and Northern Arapaho Tribe leaders met last week to discuss the tribe’s child protective and social services, which is funded with … Read more

Bipartisan, Bicameral Group of Lawmakers File Amicus Brief Supporting the Indian Child Welfare Act

The amicus brief urges the Fifth Circuit to uphold the court’s previous decision affirming the constitutionality of IWCA. The decision the Fifth Circuit issued in August reversed an unprecedented ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas which wrongly struck down ICWA as unconstitutional. Read the full press release and view … Read more

Indian Child Welfare Act court hearing scheduled for January 2020

Get ready for round two. Oral arguments in a closely-watched Indian Child Welfare Act case will take place on January 22, 2020. After offering a tentative date last month, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals made it official on Wednesday. The case known as Brackeen v. Bernhardt will go before an en banc panel of judges … Read more

Seeking Native American foster parents for the first-of-its-kind “Simply Smiles Children’s Village” on the Cheyenne River Reservation

Simply Smiles, Inc. is seeking Native American foster parents for the Simply Smiles Children’s Village on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation (South Dakota). … Native foster parents at the Simply Smiles Children’s Village will ensure that Native children who have been removed from their homes on Cheyenne River can remain with their “kin and … Read more

Indian child welfare legal challenge is about ending tribal sovereignty

Attacks on the law, enacted in 1978, have inexplicably risen in the past seven years and attracted the support of a seemingly disparate array of high power ultra conservative players and organizations. Today’s challenges to the child welfare protocols aren’t only about adoption because if the Indian Child Welfare Act is found to be unconstitutional … Read more

Pima County considering new court for American Indian child welfare cases

Pima County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Quigley said having an ICWA court would allow a legal team to specialize in these cases, much like with a mental health or drug court. “Instead of having 14 judges deal with ICWA cases, we’d have one judge who would deal with it the same way, so everybody could … Read more

Montana view: Child Welfare Act court making a difference

The Yellowstone County District Court is working to improve the outcome for Native children with the Indian Child Welfare Act Court launched 18 months ago with Judge Rod Souza presiding. It is one of only six ICWA courts in the nation. Read the full article at the Montana Standard website.

Who Should Be Allowed To Adopt Native American Children?

Native American tribes got a big win in August when a federal court upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act, a pivotal 1978 law that requires states to prioritize placing Native children in foster or adoptive homes with Native families over non-Native families.  But the decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals … Read more

Tribal families get priority in Native American adoptions. An appeals court will decide whether that’s fair.

In the 40 years since Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act, the law has been criticized in legal challenges that have climbed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But the ICWA, as the act is known, has always prevailed. Now its constitutionality is being questioned again. On Thursday, the U.S. Court of … Read more

‘We’re under attack’: Tribes defend Indian Child Welfare Act in critical case

After initially deciding the closely-watched case in favor of Indian Country, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals announced that it will hear the dispute all over again. A larger set of judges will now scrutinize the landmark law but tribal nations remain confident that their sovereign rights and their most precious resource — their children — will win … Read more

Fifth Circuit to Rehear Indian Child Welfare Act Challenge

Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an order directing a challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to be reheard en banc — before the entire Fifth Circuit. As previously reported, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit had held ICWA Constitutional in August, finding it was not a race-based statute that would violate the … Read more

The complicated nature of Native American adoptions: Does a Utah court ruling conflict with federal law?

More than 40 years after the federal law took effect, the child welfare system continues to absorb a disproportionate number of Native American children nationally and in Utah, noted Alisa Lee, Indian child welfare program administrator for the Utah Division of Child and Family Services. Data provided by Lee’s office shows that roughly 5% of … Read more

US Supreme Court declines to hear Oglala, Rosebud case against South Dakota officials

The Supreme Court didn’t give a reason it declined to hear the case that began in 2013, when the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes and three parents in Pennington County brought a class action lawsuit against state Department of Social Services and Pennington County officials.The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the tribes and parents, alleged that Native American … Read more

Records Show Petersen’s Firm Planned Native Adoption, Raising Legal Questions

Emails to the adoptive family from the director of Bright Star Adoptions, an adoption firm for which Petersen served as general counsel, suggest that concerns came up about the firm’s compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act following Petersen’s arrest. Read the full article at the Phoenix New Times website. Read related news: “Indigenous Lawmakers … Read more

The U.S. stole generations of Indigenous children to open the West

Carlisle, and boarding schools like it, are remembered as a dark chapter in the history of the ill-conceived assimilation policies designed to strip Native people of their cultures and languages by indoctrinating them with U.S. patriotism. But child removal is a longstanding practice, ultimately created to take away Native land. Although Carlisle is located in … Read more

Advocates raise red flag on proposed repeal of majority of Nebraska child welfare regulations

Nearly 200 pages of child welfare regulations are proposed for repeal by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and will be replaced by less than a dozen pages of regulations on adoption, the Indian Child Welfare Act and alternative response. Read the full article at the Beatrice Daily Sun website.

‘A historic leap forward’: ND tribes sign updated agreement with state over child welfare services

The leaders of four American Indian tribes in North Dakota have signed a new agreement with the state over federal funding for child welfare services, including allowing tribes to license foster care parents on and off reservations. Read the full article at the Bismark Tribune website.

Commentary: Appeals Court Affirms Indigenous Children Belong to a Political Class, not Racial

In the 21st century, we are still fighting to protect indigenous children whether it is north or south of the Mexican border. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act was a critical step to keep our families, communities and identities intact. Now, some legal protections need to be … Read more

Indian Country Fights to Protect Its Children and Preserve Its Sovereignty

As president of both the Quinault Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Fawn Sharp is a busy person. As of late, much of her time has been dedicated to the fight for Native children and, more broadly, tribal sovereignty. Sharp knows firsthand how difficult it is for Native parents hoping to provide a … Read more

Fifth Circuit Court Rules that ICWA is Constitutional (Brackeen v. Bernhardt)

United States: Fifth Circuit Upholds Indian Child Welfare Act As Constitutional. Akin Gump (Aug. 14, 2019) Federal District Court of Appeals Upholds Indian Child Welfare Act. Nonprofit Quarterly (Aug. 13, 2019) EDITORIAL: ICWA ruling a victory for tribes. Tahlequah Daily Press. (Aug. 13, 2019) Fifth Circuit Court reaffirms Indian Child Welfare is constitutional. The Ada … Read more

Opinion: Family Ties: A Look at Familial Connections in Adoption & Child Welfare

During her testimony, Representative Smith described her disillusion with some social workers who only look at potential foster and adoptive parents from a European standard; in doing so, Smith stated that they dismiss and diminish cultural norms that are in place to provide positive reinforcements for Native children. Having heard stories of other parents of color involved … Read more

The Fight Over Native American Adoptions Is About More Than Just the Children

Now the [Indian Child Welfare Act] is facing its most serious challenge yet. In a case that has implications far beyond the adoptions of American Indian children, three non-Native families and three Republican state attorneys general have sued the federal government saying that the ICWA relies on racial classifications that violate the equal protection clause … Read more

Opinion: Protecting Native Children, Letter from Oneida Nation Vice Chairman Yellowbird-Stevens

The Indian Child Welfare Act was established to ensure that children benefit from Native families remaining together. Our families should not ever fear the removal of their children from their tribes and their culture. It is in the best interest of Indian children to keep their connections to their culture, communities and extended families. It’s … Read more

How a Right-Wing Attack on Protections for Native American Children Could Upend Indian Law

A LAW KEY  to preventing state welfare agencies from separating Indigenous children from their families is at risk of being overturned thanks to the yearslong effort of a network of libertarian and right-wing organizations. In the 1970s, between a quarter and a third of Indigenous children across the United States had been removed from their … Read more

Who Can Adopt a Native American Child? A Texas Couple vs. 573 Tribes

Zachary, or A.L.M. as he is called in legal papers, has a Navajo birth mother, a Cherokee birth father and adoptive parents, Jennifer and Chad Brackeen, neither of whom is Native American. The Brackeens are challenging a federal law governing Native American children in state foster care: It requires that priority to adopt them be given to Native families, to … Read more

US Supreme Court Denies Review of Arizona Child Welfare Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied review of an Arizona case challenging a law that gives preference to American Indians in adoptions of Native children.The order last week leaves in place a lower court ruling that dismissed a complaint from a Phoenix-based, right-leaning think tank. Read the full article at the Navajo-Hopi Observer. Read related … Read more

Noojimo’iwewin: A VAWA and ICWA Training (Brimley, MI)

Please join the Bay Mills Indian Community for this multi-disciplinary, tuition-free training geared toward child welfare and domestic violence advocates to implement effective service and advocacy strategies in cases involving child welfare, domestic violence, or both. Minnesota CLEs are available for this training. This training will be in Brimley, Michigan on August 1-2, 2019. For … Read more

Applications Open for Office of Child Care Non-Profit Organization Grants

On April 23, 2019, ACF’s  Office of Child Care (OCC) announced the availability of funds and requested applications for:* American Indian and Native Hawaiian Nonprofit Organization Child Care Grant* Native Hawaiian Nonprofit Organization Child Care Grant Each of these competitive funding opportunity announcements (FOA) provides grant funding for a private, nonprofit organization to provide child care services through … Read more

Proposed Law Would Make it Easier for Native Americans to Argue their Side in Child Custody Cases

California lawmakers are considering a proposal to make it easier for Native American tribes to make their arguments in child custody cases.Technically, the proposed legislation, AB 686, would let lawyers or other representatives of Native American tribes appear by phone or electronically in cases involving the possible removal of Native American children from their families … Read more

Announcing the First Comprehensive Study on Child Removal in Native Communities

The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, First Nations Repatriation Institute, and the University of Minnesota are pleased to announce the launch of our study: Child Removal in Native Communities. This is an anonymous survey about American Indian and Alaskan Native experiences and impacts of child removal to #BreakTheSilence and #BeginTheHealing. … If you are … Read more

Who Should Get to Adopt Native American Children?

Another way that ICWA differs from conventional child welfare laws is that it mandates “active efforts” to keep children with their families or tribe. In most regular child protection cases, social-service workers are obligated to provide “reasonable efforts” to help parents and children reunify, such as offering lists of treatment facilities, therapists, affordable-housing agencies or … Read more

American Indian Adoptees Deal with Painful Past and Family Separations

Despite these challenges, Native American adoptees continue to lead a resilient fight both inside and outside the child welfare system to address disparities, often by providing support systems and advocates beyond what county or state governments offer families. And Native-led organizations hold the government accountable, ensuring that agencies and courts properly uphold ICWA and honor … Read more

Matter of S.R., February 21, 2019 (Supreme Judicial Court of Montana)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Department of Public Health and Human Services petitioned to terminate mother’s parental rights to children. The District Court, Silver Bow County, Brad Newman, J., terminated rights. Mother appealed, arguing that District Court had possessed reason to know that children could have been eligible for tribal enrollment so as to trigger Indian Child … Read more

Trump Administration Forms Presidential Task Force for Protecting Native Children in IHS

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced the formation of the Presidential Task Force on Protecting Native American Children in the Indian Health Service System.A senior administration official hosted a White House conference call, and released statements to the media which outlined that President Trump has “charged the task force with investigating the institutional and systemic … Read more

Appeals Court Hears Case on Adoptions of Native Americans

 1978 law giving preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings involving American Indian children is an unconstitutional race-based intrusion on state powers that has caused families to be “literally torn apart,” an attorney told a federal appeals court March 13.But supporters of the decades-old law say it’s needed to protect and … Read more

Latest Edition of ABA book Outlines New Regulations of the Indian Child Welfare Act

The American Bar Association’s recently published book, “The Indian Child Welfare Act Handbook: A Legal Guide to the Custody and Adoption of Native American Children, Third Edition,” focuses on the new federal regulations of the ICWA and important cases decided during the last 10 years. Authors Kelly Gaines-Stoner, Mark C. Tilden and Jack F. Trope … Read more

Colorado is Out of Compliance with Indian Child Welfare Act

Colorado is out of compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act, which requires courts make an effort to place Native American children in state custody with tribal or Native homes. House Bill 1232, co-sponsored by Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, offers minor fixes to Colorado laws for administering ICWA. “This proposed law writes into Colorado law … Read more

Stateline: Indian Child Welfare Act Likely Headed to Supreme Court

A case before a federal appeals court could upend an historic adoption law meant to combat centuries of brutal discrimination against American Indians and keep their children with families and tribal communities.For the first time, a few states have sued to overturn the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, which Congress enacted in 1978 as an antidote to … Read more

Fawn Sharp: The Attack on the Indian Child Welfare Act Cannot Stand & Louisiana Solicitor General Commentary “absurd and illogical”

With the fate of the Indian Child Welfare Act in the hands of a federal appeals courts, tribes and some states have come together to defend the law, which Congress enacted in 1978 to address the high rates of Indian children being taken from their families and their communities. Read the full opinion piece at the … Read more

Media Coverage of Fifth Circuit Hearing in Brackeen v. Bernhardt

Non-Indians think they know better than Indians what is best for Native American children, said lawyers for the Navajo Nation in arguments before a federal appeals court.It’s a bold argument, but goes to the heart of the case in Brackeen v. Bernhardt. Under the Indian Child Welfare Act, Indian tribes have priority over non-Indians in Native … Read more

Utah Signs Inter-Governmental Agreement to Support Navajo Families

February 5, 2019Yesterday, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes met with the leadership of the Navajo Nation, reported on the proceedings of the ICWA lawsuit, and signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (between DCFS & Navajo Nation) with Governor Gary R. Herbert. The Agreement is the result of a two-year process working with the Navajo Nation on the … Read more

Tribal Adoption Parity Act Reintroduced

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, John Hoeven, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Tom Udall and Jerry Moran reintroduced the bipartisan Tribal Adoption Parity Act legislation that would bring parity to tribal government for the adoption tax credit. Read the full article at the Minot … Read more

Assessing An NPR Report On The Indian Child Welfare Act

A Dec. 17 report on All Things Considered about the Indian Child Welfare Act prompted harsh criticism from the Native American Journalists Association, which called it “inaccurate and imprecise.” A meeting between NAJA leaders and NPR editors resulted in a clarification being posted on the online version of the piece, but NAJA members continued to have concerns about the reporting.  Read … Read more

Overwhelming Support for ICWA

Joint Press Release from National Native Organizations on the Overwhelming Support for the Indian Child Welfare Act Available at (Portland, Ore., January 18, 2019)—On Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 325 tribal nations, 57 Native organizations, 21 states, 31 child welfare organizations, Indian and constitutional law scholars, and seven members of Congress joined the United States … Read more

Adoption didn’t solve the ‘Indian Problem’

An author recounts how 1960s policies ripped apart families and communities, including her own. An essay from author Susan Harness about her memoir, Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption. Read the full article at the High Country News website.

Cronkite News: Tribes on ‘Pins and Needles’ in Indian Child Welfare Act Case

The Indian Child Welfare Act requires that Native American children be placed in Native American foster or adoptive homes, where possible, to maintain their heritage and identity.The law is being challenged with increasing regularity in courts and by special-interest groups who contend it prioritizes race over a child’s best interest.In October, U.S. District Judge Reed … Read more

Udall, Heinrich Hail Senate Passage of Resolution Recognizing 40th Anniversary of the Indian Child Welfare

[Dec. 13, 2018]WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Martin Heinrich praised the Senate passage of a bicameral resolution commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and recognizing its importance to promoting the stability and security of Tribal communities and families.  Read the full press release at … Read more

Matter of L.A.G., October 16, 2018 (Supreme Court of Minnesota)

Synopsis from Westlaw: Department of Public Health and Human Services filed petition for termination of mother’s parental rights as to her two minor children. Following termination hearing, the District Court, Cascade County, Nos. ADN 16-175 and ADN-16-176, Gregory G. Pinski, P.J., terminated mother’s parental rights. Mother appealed. Holdings from Westlaw: The Supreme Court, Beth Baker, J., … Read more

Brackeen v. Zinke, October 4, 2018 (United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Foster and adoptive parents and states of Texas,Louisiana, and Indiana brought action against United States, United States Department of the Interior and its Secretary, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)and its Director, BIA Principal Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs,Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Secretary seeking declaration that Indian … Read more

Indian Child Welfare Act Remains in Force after Appeals Court Order (Brackeen v. Zinke)

A federal appeals court granted a stay requested by the four tribes on Monday to preserve the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act. “The law is going to stay the same for now,” said Dan Lewerenz, one of the attorneys working on the Brackeen v. Zinke case. That means Native American families will stay together under the law. Read … Read more

‘Dawnland’ Documents Untold Story of Native American Child Removal in the U.S.

“Dawnland” is premiering on the PBS series Independent Lens, as part of November Native American Heritage Month programming. The investigation by the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission represented a groundbreaking moment in the history of tribal-state relations and its goal was to uncover and acknowledge the truth about what happened to Wabanaki … Read more

Responses to ICWA Court Ruling

Treppa: Why the ICWA is critical to the health of native children and tribal communities SHERRY TREPPA POSTED ON WEDNESDAY, 24 OCTOBER 2018 A Texas judge’s recent decision to strike down the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, sets a dangerous precedent that unravels federal policy carefully designed to correct centuries of tragic injustices committed … Read more

Court Strikes Down Landmark Indian Child Welfare Act Ruling

A federal appeals court has delivered a major blow to tribes and parents who have been seeking stronger enforcement of the Indian Child Welfare Act in South Dakota.The Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and three Indian parents went to court more than five years ago, alarmed by the large numbers of Indian children being taken from their families. They … Read more

Trump Administration Delays New Child Welfare Data Rules Until 2020, But Plans Changes to Obama Plan

In 2016, the Obama administration finalized AFCARS rules that would for the first time require states to track information related to, among other subjects, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), the disruption of adoptions and guardianships, education stability and sexual orientation. Read the full article at the Chronicle of Social Change website.

Court dismisses challenge to Indian Child Welfare Act [Carter v. Tahsuda]

See the following stories: Judge upholds Indian Child Welfare Act (Arizona Daily Sun) 8/7/18,Court rejects challenge to Native American law on adoptions (Arizona Republic) 8/7/18, and Appeals court won’t rule on challenge on Indian Child Welfare Act (Indianz) 8/7/18. Read the court decision at the National Indian Law Library website.

1 year into Native foster care court, most kids taken from unsafe homes are placed in tribe-approved homes

When social workers take a Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Assiniboine or Sioux child from their parents in Yellowstone County, 75 percent go to live somewhere with a Native connection — mostly to relatives … Read the full article at the Billings Gazette website.

Revised Indian Child Welfare Act; Designated Tribal Agents for Service of Notice

A Federal Register Notice by the Indian Affairs Bureau made on 6/04/18. The regulations implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act provide that Indian tribes may designate an agent other than the tribal chairman for service of notice of proceedings under the Act. This notice includes the current list of designated tribal agents for service of … Read more

Glendive Woman Sues Over Child Custody Dispute That Put Tribal, Minnesota Courts at Odds

A Glendive woman is suing the Bureau of Indian Affairs for $1 million over a 2015 child custody dispute that pitted state and tribal courts against each other. Patsy Fercho, 64, fled to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in 2015 with her two grandchildren in an attempt to avoid a Minnesota court’s order granting custody to … Read more

Tribe Signs Funding Agreement to Expand Child Welfare Services

Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida) entered into a Support Services Funding Agreement with the State of Alaska’s Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS), Office of Children’s Services (OCS) to conduct diligent relative and Indian Child Welfare Act preference searches. Read the full article at the Alaska … Read more

Miccosukee Tribe Ties Child Welfare Case to Violence Against Women

The Miccosukee Tribe is defending its handling of a child welfare case that has drawn national attention.The tribe said a newborn was taken from her mother, a Miccosukee citizen, in order to protect the baby girl and her older siblings from domestic violence. The mother had previously been victimized by her non-Indian former partner, whose presence at … Read more

Legal experts say Miccosukee tribe overstepped authority in seizing baby from Miami hospital

MIAMI — The Miccosukee nation insists that it acted lawfully when its tribal court issued a child-custody order, and then sent two tribal detectives to seize newborn Ingrid Johnson from her Indian mother at a hospital. But Indian law experts and two former Miccosukee police chiefs said they believe the tribe overstepped its authority. And … Read more

5-year-old Native American Boy to Remain in Ohio for Now

A 5-year-old Native American boy at the center of controversy for more than a year will remain with his Coshocton County foster family, for now. Last week, the Ohio Court of Appeals reversed an earlier juvenile court ruling that would have sent the preschooler 2,000 miles from his home to a reservation in Arizona. The ruling stated the juvenile court should … Read more

Supreme Court Turns Away Another Conservative Attack on Indian Child Welfare Act

Without comment, the justices on Tuesday denied a petition in Renteria v. Superior Court of California, Tulare County. The move, which came in an order list, ends a lawsuit which claimed ICWA was based on “race” and should be declared unconstitutional. Read the full article at the Indianz website.

Court Hears Tribal Challenge to South Dakota Child Removals

A lawyer representing two American Indian tribes urged a federal appeals court Tuesday to keep in place the changes a judge ordered for a South Dakota county’s system of removing children from homes in endangerment cases. Read the full article at the ABC News website. Read related coverage at the Indianz website.

State Begins Transfer of Child Welfare Services to Tribal Communities

The Office of Children’s Services and tribal governments are taking the first steps to implement an agreement that transfers control of welfare services for Alaska Native children from the state to a group of 18 tribal governments and organizations. Read the full article at the Peninsula Clarion website.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Written Advisement Form Does Not Satisfy ICWA Notice Requirements

The Department contended that mother’s signing of a written advisement of her rights, which included a question about the ICWA, served as the court’s initial inquiry. The inquiry should be made on the record. Regardless, the Court of Appeals found that the Department failed to send notice to the appropriate tribes when mother identified a … Read more

South Dakota’s Federal ICWA Ruling Heads To 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

The Indian Child Welfare Act lawsuit filed in Rapid City’s federal court almost five years ago is going to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel is hearing oral arguments in St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday, Feb. 12. In March 2013, the Rosebud and Oglala Sioux Tribes, as well as tribal parents, brought … Read more

Rep. Rendon Supports Bill to Allow Tribal Representatives Access to Documents

State Rep. Daire Rendon has voted with the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee to give tribal social services access to certain records that would allow them to communicate with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for the best interest of children in their tribe. Read the full press release at the Michigan … Read more

Article: Are you my father? Adopting a federal standard for acknowledging or establishing paternity in state court ICWA proceedings

Title: Are you my father? Adopting a federal standard for acknowledging or establishing paternity in state court ICWA proceedings. Author: Heiner, Kevin Source: 117 Colum. L. Rev. 2151 (2017) Contact the National Indian Law Library if you need help obtaining a copy of the article.

Historic Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact Signed

Alaska Governor Bill Walker used an appearance Thursday at the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Anchorage to sign a historic compact between the State of Alaska, tribes, and tribal organizations. The compact will allow tribes and tribal organizations to provide child welfare services and programs that previously were delivered by the Alaska Office … Read more

Wisconsin Supreme Court: Conference on Child Welfare and the Courts Seeks Innovative Solutions to Complex Problems Facing Today’s Children And Families

Madison, Wis. (Oct. 16, 2017) – More than 350 court, child welfare, school, tribal representatives, and legal professionals from across Wisconsin will join forces Oct. 18-20 in Elkhart Lake to find better ways to serve youth and their families involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Read the full article at

2017 Report on Disproportionality of Placements of Indian Children

Research and data from states tell us that American  Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) children are disproportionately represented (or overrepresented) in the child welfare system nationwide, especially in foster care. This means that higher  percentages of AI/AN children are found in the child welfare system than in the general population. The overrepresentation of AI/AN children often starts … Read more

New court to connect Native American foster kids with family

Bonnie Littlesun is raising eight children, all but one of whom are her grandkids, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “They’re crazy,” she said, laughing. It was midmorning and she had a brief break while her grandbaby slept and the others were at school. The kids range in age from 13 months to … Read more

ND Child Support Program Recognized for Collaboration With Tribal Child Support Programs

The North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Child Support Division recently received the 2017 Partnership Award from the National Tribal Child Support Association for its collaboration with tribal child support programs in accessing federal offset payments that support tribal children and  families. “Partnerships with other jurisdictions are vital in child support. Borders shouldn’t be barriers … Read more

Stealing Children: A Look at Indigenous Child Removal Policies

“So they turned to this policy of trying to close down the boarding schools and they turned toward a policy of trying to turn over the education and care of Indian children to the states,” says Jacobs. While there were some American Indians working for the BIA in the ‘50s and some sympathy to the … Read more

Indian Child Welfare Act Conference set for Thursday at Choctaw

The seventh annual Indian Child Welfare Act Conference is scheduled Thursday at the Silver Star Convention Center at Choctaw. Tribal leaders and as many as 200 attorneys, judges, social workers and other professionals who deal with Native American children in a youth court setting are expected to attend the conference. Read the full article at the … Read more

 A Right-Wing Think Tank Is Trying to Bring Down the Indian Child Welfare Act. Why?

Cloaking its efforts in the language of civil rights, Goldwater has launched a coordinated attack against ICWA alongside evangelical and anti-Indian-sovereignty groups, adoption advocates, and conservative organizations like the Cato Institute. Since 2015, Goldwater has litigated four state or federal cases against ICWA, and filed several briefs in support of other cases. Goldwater’s stated goal … Read more

Butte County (SD) sees upsurge in Indian Child Welfare Act cases

Butte County State’s Attorney Cassie Wendt presented to the Butte County Commission during its March 21 meeting, delineating to the commission the county’s rise in Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) cases and the added expense the county has shouldered in recent months. Read the full article at the Black Hills Pioneer website.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Dependency and Neglect Court Should Have Followed ICWA’s Notice Requirements

On appeal, A.T. contended that the order should be reversed because the Department did not comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) notice requirements. First, when there is “reason to know” the child is an Indian child, the juvenile court must ensure that the Department sends notice to any identified Indian Tribe. Second, the … Read more

Opinion: An Indian Child Welfare Act Disappointment: Lack of Support from Tribe

This past Monday morning (March 13) in a courtroom in Alameda County I witnessed three non-Native attorneys and a non-Native judge make the decision to end reunification and move towards terminating Allen Kepa’s parental rights. It was a broken day for Native American children and Native American Parents. The Honorable Judge Ursula Jones spoke about … Read more

Court rejects challenge to law safeguarding Native children and families

March 17 – Yesterday, the federal District Court for the District of Arizona dismissed A.D. v. Washburn, a case brought by the Goldwater Institute challenging the Indian Child Welfare Act’s (ICWA) application to Native children in the Arizona foster care system. This case was an attempt by a special interest group to dismantle the law … Read more

Skirting the Indian Child Welfare Act Is a Lucrative Business

On January 22, 1818, the House Committee on Indian Affairs reported that Indian children “will grow up in habits of morality and industry…and become useful members of society” if they are given ‘the primer…the hoe…”and the Bible. By 1879 off-reservation schools were created to separate Indian children from their families, culture, language, sacred history, and … Read more

Alaska Tribal Court Selected to Participate in NCJFCJ’s Implementation Sites Project

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) has selected the Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Child Dependency Court as one of six new courts to join their Implementation Sites Project, which helps to improve outcomes for abused and neglected children and their families. Read the full article at … Read more

In South Dakota, Officials Defied a Federal Judge and Took Indian Kids Away From Their Parents in Rigged Proceedings

In March 2015, Chief Federal District Court Judge Jeffrey L. Viken confirmed what our complaint had alleged: State employees were removing children from their homes and then holding hearings in state court within 48 hours, in which parents were not assigned counsel to represent them, were not given a copy of the petition accusing them … Read more

Indian Child Welfare and Wellness conference to be held Feb. 22-24 (ND)

The Indian Child Welfare and Wellness Conference will be held Feb. 22-24 at the Baymont Inn and Suites in Mandan. The Native American Training Institute will host the 16th annual conference, which will cover child welfare issues, juvenile justice, cultural and tribal relations, as well as child behavioral health. Read the full announcement at the … Read more

Indian Child Welfare Court in Duluth Aims for Better Outcomes for Native American Families

Two years ago, Tarnowski attended a training in Duluth given by the National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues. Stories of historical trauma that have helped lead to that disparity, and also what led to the creation of the Indian Child Welfare Act, were shared, Tarnowski said, creating “a little fire in … Read more

State Pledges $400,000 to Reduce Number of Indian Children in Foster Care (MN)

With the number of American Indian children in Minnesota foster care reaching “unacceptable” levels, the state pledged Thursday to spend $400,000 over the next three years to reduce those numbers. The announcement comes after a Star Tribune report found that Minnesota has more Indian children in foster care than any other state, including those with … Read more

State, County Officials Appeal Ruling on Native Children Case

South Dakota and Pennington County officials filed an appeal Friday challenging U.S. District Court rulings that ordered changes in their handling of temporary custody hearings involving Native American children. Read the full article at the Rapid City Journal website. Read a related article at the Native Sun News website.

UMD Leads American Indian Child Welfare Act Project (MN)

UMD’s Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies, which is part of the Department of Social Work, will serve as the grant’s lead organization and will work with six other organizations including courts, child welfare agencies, and tribes, to determine the most successful methods to help children and families. Read the full announcement at … Read more

Native Tradition a Vital Part of Advocate’s Strategy

“The important thing to remember is that you’re not saving these children,” Walksalong said. “You’re helping them.” Walksalong began in October working as CASA’s Indian Child Welfare Act program coordinator. Part of her job is helping programs like the Center for Children and Families and Child and Family Services, understand the cultural background of Native American … Read more

In re O.C., November 22, 2016, (California)

Read the full decision at the National Indian Law Library website. Synopsis from Westlaw: County children and family services agency filed petition against mother and father to terminate their parental rights to minor children, who potentially had Indian heritage. Following hearing, the Superior Court, Mendocino County, Nos. SCUK-JVSQ-14-1702501 and SCUK-JVSQ-14-1702601, David Riemenschneider, J., found both … Read more

Utah tribal leaders address the protection of Native American children

Utah tribal leaders gathered in the community of Wendover, Utah to discuss issues that would affect tribes at the state and national level, such as the Indian Child Welfare Act and voting issues that includes inefficient polling sites and a lack of language interpreters to aid non-English speaking Navajo people in San Juan County, Utah. … Read more

Girls Caught in Custody Battle After Parents are Killed in Head-On Collision

The children have recovered from their injuries, but they now are innocent victims of a custody battle that pits their relatives in Visalia, Calif., against relatives in the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians in Placerville, Calif. The case in U.S. District Court in Sacramento is being closely watched because a federal judge has ruled … Read more

UND Receives Funding to Develop ICWA Training and Implementation Support

The University of North Dakota Department of Social Work has received a $2.4-million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support implementation and evaluation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in North Dakota over the next five years. UND is partnering in this grant with the Children and Family Services … Read more

In re Michael V., September 14, 2016 (California)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: County child welfare agency filed dependency petition as to two daughters. The Superior Court, Los Angeles County, No. DK02646, Zeke D. Zeidler, J., terminated parental rights and transferred care, custody, and control of the daughters to the county child welfare agency for adoptive planning and placement. Mother appealed. Holding provided by … Read more

Tribes Suing OCS Director and North Star Seek Quicker Court Oversight of Foster Children

The tribes, represented by Alaska Legal Services Corp., had alleged defendants North Star Behavioral Health Center and Christy Lawton, director of the Alaska Office Children’s Services, had improperly warehoused foster children at the [psychicatric hospital] facility for indefinite periods of time. Read the full article at the Alaska Dispatch News website.