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.

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

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.

Supreme Court considers fate of landmark Indian adoption law

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a case that pits several prospective adoptive parents and the state of Texas against the Indian Child Welfare Act — a federal law aimed at preventing Native American children from being separated from their extended families and their tribes. Listen to the full story at the NPR … 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

Hownikan Podcast: Brackeen v. Haaland and the Indian Child Welfare Act

Kendra Lowden is a Citizen Potawatomi Nation member and Curly family descendant. She works as the Senior Program Associate at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work. She is the owner of Ghost Thunder Child Welfare Consulting and previously served as the Board President of the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Association. Kendra discussed … Read more

Can Indian Country withstand the new Supreme Court?

On Nov. 9, the eyes of Indian Country will once again turn toward the nation’s capital, where the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a law passed in 1978 that enshrines tribal governments’ right to oversee foster care placements in cases involving Native children. Read the full article at … 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

Lawyering the Indian Child Welfare Act

This Article describes how the statutory structure of child welfare laws enables lawyers and courts to exploit deep-seated stereotypes about American Indian people rooted in systemic racism to undermine the enforcement of the rights of Indian families and tribes. Even when Indian custodians and tribes are able to protect their rights in court, their adversaries … 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

Proposed Legislation: H.R.1566

H.R.1566 – 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 and to increase amounts reserved for allotment to Indian tribes and tribal organizations under certain circumstances, and to provide for a Government Accountability Office report on child abuse … Read more

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

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

Protecting Native American Children

In ‘Brackeen v. Bernhardt’, decided on Aug. 9, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the Indian Child Welfare Act was constitutional. We applaud the Fifth Circuit for upholding this federal law that is vital to safeguarding the welfare of Indian children. Read the full article at the New York … Read more

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

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

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

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

Navajo Nation v. Department of Child Safety, April 18, 2019 (Court of Appeals of Arizona)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: After child, a member of a Native American tribe, was removed from biological mother’s care by Department of Child Safety, mother moved to appoint child’s foster placement, who was not affiliated with child’s family or tribe or any Native American organization, as child’s permanent guardian, and tribe indicated that mother or … Read more

Mitchell v. Preston, April 16,2019 (Supreme Court of Wyoming)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Following extensive litigation in child custody action, 2018 WY 110, 426 P.3d 830, father, an Indian tribe member who kept child on reservation, filed motion to establish jurisdiction in tribal court and motion for change of venue, seeking an order relinquishing permanent child custody jurisdiction to the tribal court. Mother, who was … 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

Matter of Guardianship I.L.J.E., December 12, 2018 (Supreme Court of South Dakota)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Brother and sister-in-law of mother killed by child’s father petitioned for guardianship of child, but father requested that his sister, a Native American, be appointed guardian of child, who was an enrolled member of a tribe. The Circuit Court, Third Judicial Circuit, Brookings County, Gregory J. Stoltenburg, J., granted brother and sister-in-law’s … Read more

In re Shirley T., January 3, 2019 (Supreme Judicial Court of Maine)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: In child protection proceeding involving children deemed to be Indian children under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), parents and Indian tribe moved to transfer jurisdiction of matter to Tribal Court. The Portland District Court, Powers, J., denied the motions. Parents appealed. Holding provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Judicial Court, Gorman, J., … Read more

In re Interest of Mercedes L., January 15, 2019 (Court of Appeals of Nebraska)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: In child protection proceedings, the County Court, Platte County, Frank J. Skorupa, J., approved a change in permanency objective for mother and each of her six minor children from reunification to guardianship. Mother appealed, and appeals were consolidated. Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Court of Appeals held that: 1) orders issued by … Read more

In re. L.D. v. M.J., January 24, 2019 (Court of Appeals of California)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: County department of family and children’s services filed juvenile dependency petition on behalf of nine-year-old child who may have Native Alaskan ancestry. The Superior Court, Santa Clara County, No. 17JD024833, Michael L. Clark, J., found sufficient notice was sent, pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), to Athabascan Indian tribe … Read more

In re Interest of Audrey T., January 29, 2019 (Court of Appeals of Nebraska)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: State filed an adjudication petition alleging that mother was unable to meet child’s basic needs for care and protection, mother used inappropriate discipline, and mother’s mental-health issues put child at risk of abuse and/or neglect. The County Court, Scotts Bluff County, James M. Worden, J., entered an order placing temporary custody of … Read more

Interest of D.E.D.I, January 31, 2019 (Court of Appeals of Texas)

Synopsis from Westlaw: Father appealed order of 446th District Court, Ector County, terminating his parental rights to Indian child. Holding from Westlaw: The Court of Appeals, Jim R. Wright, Senior Chief Justice, held that trial court was able to determine that Indian tribe’s representative was qualified as an expert witness. Affirmed. Read the full decision … 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

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 Indianz.com … 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

2018 ICWA by the Numbers

There were 206 appealed ICWA cases this year, down 7 from last year. However, there were 50 reported cases this year, which is nearly 20 more than last year. As always, California leads the states with 125 cases, 9 were reported. Alaska is second with 11, 3 reported. Montana had 10, including 7 reported, which is up considerably … 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 https://www.narf.org/icwa-brackeen/. (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

People in Interest of M.D., November 20,2018 (Supreme Court of South Dakota)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Native American father’s parental rights to child were terminated, following dispositional hearing in the Second Judicial Circuit Court, Minnehaha County, Susan M. Sabers, J., and father appealed. Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Court, Gilbertson, C.J., held that:1) evidence did not support father’s claim that Department of Social Services (DSS) did not make … Read more

In re E.R., October 10, 2018 (Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 6, California.)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: After Nevada juvenile court declined to exercise further jurisdiction after initially sustaining Nevada Department of Family Services (DFS) juvenile dependency petition, California county human services agency (HSA) filed juvenile dependency petitions in California, alleging that mother and father were unable to care for and protect their infant children and repeated allegations … 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

In re Adoption of Micah H., October 26, 2018 (Supreme Court of Nebraska)

October 26, 2018 Synopsis from Westlaw: Maternal grandparents and guardians of minor child brought petition seeking to terminate parental rights and to adopt the child whose mother was member of Indian tribe. The County Court, Saunders County, Patrick R. McDermott, J., denied petition. Grandparents appealed.The Supreme Court, 295 Neb. 213887 N.W.2d 859, reversed and remanded. On … Read more

Demetria H. v. State, October 5, 2018 (Supreme Court of Alaska)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Department of Health and Social Services, Office of Children’s Services, (OCS) petitioned to terminate mother’s parental rights to Indian child. The Superior Court, Third Judicial District,Anchorage, Andrew Guidi, J., terminated mother’s parental rights, and she appealed.  Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Court, Carney, J., held that:1) evidence was sufficient to support trial court’s … Read more

In re N.G., September 21, 2018 (Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 2, California.)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: After Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) sent Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) notices to the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana, the Navajo Nation, the Colorado River Indian Tribes, and the Colorado River Tribal Council, the Superior Court, Riverside County, No. RIJ1100389, Jean P. Leonard, Retired Judge, sitting by assignment, terminated mother’s parental rights. … Read more

In re Beers, September 11, 2018 (Court of Appeals of Michigan)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: A petition to terminate mother and father’s parental rights was filed. The Circuit Court, Family Division, Eaton County,No. 15-019320-NA, terminated mother and father’s parental rights. Parents appealed.  Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Court of Appeals, Murphy, P.J., held that:1) the trial court erred in failing to apply the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA) … Read more

People in Interest of M.D., November 20, 2018 (Supreme Court of South Dakota)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Native American father’s parental rights to child were terminated, following dispositional hearing in the Second Judicial Circuit Court, Minnehaha County, Susan M. Sabers, J., and father appealed. Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Court, Gilbertson, C.J., held that:1) evidence did not support father’s claim that Department of Social Services (DSS) did not make … 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

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

Matter of D.E. August 7, 2018 (Montana)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: In child protection proceedings, the District Court, Second Judicial District, Butte/Silver Bow County, Nos. DN-15-75-BN and DN-15-76-BN, Brad Newman, J., terminated mother’s parental rights with respect to two children. Mother appealed, and appeals were consolidated. Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Court, Gustafson, J., held that: 1) Department of Public Health … Read more

In the Matter of: P.T.D. August 22, 2018 (Montana)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Department of Public Health and Human Services, Child and Family Services Division, filed a petition to terminate putative father’s parental rights to child, who was a member of or eligible for membership in the Fort Peck Indian Tribe. The District Court, 12th Judicial District, Hill County, No. DN-15-010, Daniel A. Boucher, J., … 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.

Appeals court won’t rule on challenge to Indian Child Welfare Act

A federal appeals court has turned away a closely-watched conservative challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act.The Goldwater Institute sued the federal government and the state of Arizona, arguing that ICWA is racist because it only applies to “Indian” children. But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to rule on the merits of the claim because a panel of … Read more

In re C.A., May 23, 2018 (California)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Dependency proceeding was initiated regarding child born with amphetamine and methamphetamine in her system at birth. Following determination that Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) did not apply to child’s presumed father or biological father, the Superior Court, San Diego County, No. J519280, Kimberlee Lagotta, J., terminated mother’s parental rights to child. Mother and … Read more

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.

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

In Matter of L.D. March 27, 2018 (Montana)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: In child protection proceeding, the District Court, Eighth Judicial District, Cascade County, John A. Kutzman, J., terminated mother’s parental rights. Mother appealed. Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Court, Sandefur, J., held that: 1) Department of Health and Human Services could not passively rely on inaction of Indian tribe to satisfy burden under Indian … Read more

In the Matter of J.W.E., I.W.E., and J.W.E. April 11, 2018 (Oklahoma)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: The Department of Human Services filed petition to terminate mother’s parental rights. The District Court, Blaine County, Mark A. Moore, J., terminated mother’s rights and denied her motion for new trial that alleged that Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applied to proceedings. Mother appealed. Holding provided by Westlaw: The Court of Civil Appeals, Jane … 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

In re K.R v. E.K. February 22, 2018 (California)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Dependency proceeding was initiated by county department of public social services regarding three children. The Superior Court, Riverside County, No. SWJ1600319, Judith C. Clark, J., determined that Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) did not apply and subsequently terminated mother’s parental rights to children. Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Court of Appeal, McKinster Acting P.J., held … Read more

In Interest of L.H. February 23, 2018 (Colorado)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: County department of human services sought to terminate mother’s parent-child legal relationship with her child who had possible Indian heritage. The District Court, Jefferson County, No. 15JV650, Ann Gail Meinster, J., determined that Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) did not apply and terminated mother’s parental rights. Mother appealed. Holding provided by Westlaw: The … Read more

Diego K. v. State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, February 23, 2018 (Alaska)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Office of Children’s Services (OCS) petitioned for removal of Indian child from parents’ custody. The Superior Court, Fourth Judicial District, Bethel, No. 4SM-14-00002 CN, Dwayne W. McConnell, J., ordered child removed from her parents’ home. Parents appealed. The Supreme Court remanded for additional findings. Following remand, the Superior Court, McConnell, J., issued ordering clarifying … Read more

ICWA case denied at U.S. Supreme Court: R.K.B. et al., v. E.T.

On March 26, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear this case: R.K.B. et al., v. E.T. Briefs and Pleadings Docket No. 17-942 Question Presented: The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, 25 U.S.C. 1901–1963, applies to state custody proceedings involving an Indian child. State courts of last resort are divided on the following … 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

New Indian Child Welfare Act Challenges On The Horizon

Two types of challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq., now feature prominently: equal protection challenges and challenges based on the “intrafamily dispute” exception to ICWA. A petition for a writ of certiorari to decide both issues is currently pending in one such case: S.S. v. Stephanie H. … 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.

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

In the Interest of K.G. and A.R., November 29, 2017 (Colorado)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Department of human services moved for an allocation of parental responsibilities of two children from mother to children’s aunt and uncle. The District Court, Mesa County, Valerie J. Robinson, J., entered an order allocating parental responsibilities, and did not address any applicability of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Mother appealed. Holdings … Read more

In the Interest of K.S.D. , December 7, 2017 (North Dakota)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: County Social Services filed petition to terminate mother’s and father’s parental rights to Native American children. The Juvenile Court, Grand Forks County, Northeast Central Judicial District, Jon J. Jensen, J., terminated father’s parental rights, and father appealed. Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Court, Stacy J., Louser, District Court Judge, sitting for Jensen, J., disqualified, … Read more

R.K.B. et al., v. E.T. (Case Petitioned to the U.S. Supreme Court on 12/29/17.)

Briefs and Pleadings Docket No. 17-942 Question Presented: The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, 25 U.S.C. 1901–1963, applies to state custody proceedings involving an Indian child. State courts of last resort are divided on the following critical question, a question that likely affects thousands of adoption proceedings each year, and on which this court … 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.

Indian Child Welfare Act Under Attack Again as Conservative Group Submits Appeal to Supreme Court

The conservative Goldwater Institute is attacking the Indian Child Welfare Act again.The group has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an ICWA case from California. The petition in Renteria v. Superior Court of California, Tulare County claims the 1978 law is based on “race” and should be deemed unconstitutional. Read the full article at the Indianz.com website.

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

Supreme Court Won’t Take up Race-Based Challenge to Indian Child Welfare Act

Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition in S.S. v. Colorado River Indian Tribes. The action, which came in an order list on Monday morning, lets stand a decision from Arizona, where opponents of ICWA tried to undermine the landmark law by claiming it is based on “race.” The Arizona Court of Appeals … Read more

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

A.D. v. Washburn, March 16, 2017 (U.S. Dis. Court, Arizona)

Legal Topics: Indian Child Welfare Act – Unconstitutional Related News Stories: Indian Child Welfare Act survives attack from conservative groups (Indianz) 3/21/17 (Turtle Talk material), ICWA: Goldwater case thrown out of federal court (Indian Country Today) 3/21/17 Read the full decision at the National Indian Law Library website.  

 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

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

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

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

A Federal Register Notice by the Indian Affairs Bureau made on 3/08/17. 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

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

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.

In re Charlotte V., November 1, 2016, (California)

Read the full decision at the National Indian Law Library website. Synopsis from Westlaw: County child welfare agency filed dependency petition. The Superior Court, Los Angeles County, No. CK81121, Emma Castro, Commissioner, terminated parental rights. Mother appealed. Holding from Westlaw: The Court of Appeal, Bigelow, P.J., held that agency provided adequate ICWA notice to conclude … Read more

Guardianship of C.H.S., November 22, 2016, (Oklahoma)

Read the full copy of the decision at the National Indian Law Library website. Synopsis from Westlaw: Cherokee Nation filed petition to transfer guardianship action regarding Indian children to Cherokee Nation District Court, to which children’s guardians objected. The District Court, Okfuskee County, Lawrence W. Parish, J., denied transfer. Cherokee Nation appealed. Holding from Westlaw: … 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

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

Case petitioned to U.S. Supreme Court: R.P. v. LA County Department of Children and Family Services

R.P. v. LA County Department of Children and Family Services U.S. Supreme Court Briefs and Pleadings Docket No. 16-500 Question Presented: The questions presented are: (1) Whether ICWA applies where the child has not been removed from an Indian family or community. (2) Whether ICWA’s adoptive placement preferences, 25 U.S.C.1915(a), require removal from a foster … Read more

United Auburn Indian Community of the Auburn Rancheria v. Edmund G. Brown, Jr., October 13, 2016, (California)

Read a full copy of the decision at the National Indian Law Library website. Synopsis provided by Westlaw: State moved to terminate natural mother’s parental rights, default order was entered against mother, and Indian tribe intervened after mother became enrolled citizen of tribe. The District Court, Rogers County, Stephen R. Pazzo, J., granted tribe’s motion … Read more

In re Alexandria P., July 8, 2016 (California)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: County department of children and family services (DCFS) filed dependency petition on behalf of child, who was considered an Indian child under Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and, after child was placed with foster family and efforts to reunify child with father failed, DCFS, father, and Indian tribe recommended that child … Read more

In re Abbigail A. , July 14, 2016 (California)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: County department of health and human services filed dependency petitions as to two children. The Superior Court, Sacramento County, Nos. JD232871 and JD232872, Paul L. Seave, J., directed counsel to make reasonable efforts to enroll the children and their father in a tribe which had notified the court that they were … Read more

In re Andrew S., August 15, 2016 (California)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Child dependency proceeding was commenced. The Superior Court, Los Angeles County, No. DK11636, Philip L. Soto, J., found jurisdiction over the children and removed them from parental custody, and father appealed. Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Court of Appeal, Perluss, P.J., held that: 1) father’s failure to provide children with support, … 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.

Implementing and Defending the Indian Child Welfare Act Through Revised State Requirements

The issuances by the Department of the Interior of non-binding guidelines in 2015 and of legislative rules in 2016 are opportunities for states to promptly examine their current practices and standards and voluntarily adopt the guidelines and regulations as enforceable state requirements. New York State is an example of a state that has evidenced support … Read more

Families, Tribes, and the Indian Child Welfare Act (Essay series from Cato Unbound)

The  Indian Child Welfare act is a unique piece of legislation that governs the settlement of family law cases for children of Native American descent. Critics allege, however, that its definition of who counts as a Native American, as well as several other aspects of the law, can often work against children’s best interests. The … Read more

Matthew Fletcher: The Next U.S. Supreme Court Justice’s Impact On The Indian Child Welfare Act

Justice Antonin Scalia’s death impacts Indian country in dramatic ways. Last term, the most critical tribal court jurisdiction appeal to hit the Supreme Court of the United States in decades was affirmed by a 4-4 tie in favor of tribal jurisdiction. The court declined certiorari in a pair of tribal labor relations cases where there was a gaping circuit split, possibly … Read more

Gila River Indian Community Weighs Options After Losing Indian Child Welfare Act Case

Although the proceeding only involved one child, it’s being closely watched because the non-Indian foster couple is being represented by the Goldwater Institute. The conservative-leaning organization, which is based in Arizona, has launched a public relations and legal campaign aimed at undermining and even invalidating the landmark Indian Child Welfare Act. Read the full article … Read more

Arizona Court Upholds Adoption by Non-Indian Family

Over the objections of a tribe, the state Court of Appeals has allowed a non-Indian family to adopt the child of a Native American mother. Read the full article at the Arizona Daily Sun website. See also “Arizona court rejects tribe’s appeal in girl’s adoption case” at the AZFamily.com website.

Walker Signs Two Bills into Law

Gov. Bill Walker has signed into law bills intended to help foster youths and ease adoption in Alaska. Among other elements, House Bill 200 implements portions of the Indian Child Welfare Act that ease the adoption process for tribal members adopting a child of the same tribe. The bill also allows up to four legal … Read more

DOI Announces Trainings on New ICWA Regulations

Dear Tribal Leader: We would like to invite you and/or your child welfare designee to trainings on the recently published final regulations governing the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The final ICWA rule was published in the Federal Register on June 14, 2016 (see 81 Fed. Reg. 38778), and takes effect on December 12, 2016. … Read more

Article: Killing the policy to save the child: Comparing the historical removal of Indigenous children in Australia to the United States and how the countries can learn from each other

Title: Killing the policy to save the child: Comparing the historical removal of Indigenous children in Australia to the United States and how the countries can learn from each other Author: Pollom, Drew Source: American Indian Law Journal Vol. 4, p. 256-296 (2016)

California Appeals Court Rules in Favor of ICWA Placement Preference in R.P. et al. v. J.E. et al.

On Friday, July 8, 2016, the Court of Appeal of the State of California – Second Appellate District upheld a lower court’s decision in R.P. et al. v. J.E. et al. that used the Indian Child Welfare Act as its basis to remove a four-year-old female child from her non-Native foster family. We have twice … Read more

Study of Coordination of Tribal TANF and Child Welfare Services: Final Report

WASHINGTON, June 23 — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation issued the following report: This report details 14 tribes and tribal organizations’ implementation of service coordination efforts across Tribal TANF and child welfare services. It describes the tribes and tribal organizations, explores … Read more

Media Coverage of the New ICWA Regulations

Interior Secretary Says Changes To Indian Child Welfare Act ‘Close Loopholes.’ Oregon Public Broadcasting. June 10, 2016. BIA announces final ICWA rule revisions. Native Times. June 9, 2010. Breaking: BIA Publishes Final ICWA Rule. Indian Country Today. June 8, 2010. Judges must ask about youths’ tribal status under new rule. Salon.com (AP). June 8, 2016.

New Indian Child Welfare Act Regulations Published in the Federal Register

RULES AND REGULATIONS DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Bureau of Indian Affairs (6/14/16) Indian Child Welfare Act Proceedings See: 81 FR 38777 SUMMARY: This final rule adds a new subpart to the Department of the Interior’s (Department) regulations implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), to improve ICWA implementation. The final rule addresses requirements for State … Read more

Obama signs bill protecting children in tribal foster care

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — President Barack Obama on Friday signed into law a measure meant to bolster protections for Native American children placed into the tribal foster care system. The law, which comes years after serious flaws were uncovered in the child welfare system of a Native American tribe in North Dakota, requires background checks … Read more

New Federal Rules on Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System

RULES AND REGULATIONS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Office of the Secretary Administration for Children and Families (6/2/16) Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System 81 FR 35449, (PDF) SUMMARY: This final rule replaces the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (S/TACWIS) rule with the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) rule. The rule … Read more

Article: What is Measured is What is Done: Methods to Measure Compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Title: What is Measured is What is Done: Methods to Measure Compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Author: Williams, Jason R. et al. Cite: 4 American Indian Law Journal 502 (2016) Enacted more than three and a half decades ago, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA or “Act”) of 1978 is one of the … Read more

State v. Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, March 25, 2016 (Alaska)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes filed action against state, seeking declaratory judgment that its tribal court system had subject matter jurisdiction over child support matters and seeking an injunction requiring the state’s child support enforcement agency to recognize tribal courts’ child support orders. The Superior Court, First Judicial … Read more

In re Doe, March 24, 2016 (Idaho)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Mother’s parental rights were terminated by the Second Judicial District Court, Nez Perce County, Michelle Evans, Magistrate Judge, and she appealed. Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Court, W. Jones, J., held that: 1) trial court’s determination that mother neglected child was supported by substantial and competent evidence; 2) Department of … Read more

In re Adoption of B.T.S. , March 7, 2016 (Oklahoma)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Prospective adoptive parents filed a petition for adoption which also sought to terminate mother and father’s parental rights and an order determining that child was eligible for adoption without mother’s consent. The District Court, Cherokee County, Sandy Crosslin, J., determined child was eligible for adoption without mother’s consent. Mother appealed. Holding … Read more

Judge in South Dakota Sanctioned in Indian Child Welfare Act Case

A judge in South Dakota has agreed to pay $50,000 in sanctions in an Indian Child Welfare Act case. Judge Jeff Davis did not admit to “concealing” information sought by the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, two of the plaintiffs in the case. But he agreed to pay attorney’s fees for failing … Read more

Tester Introduces Major Legislation to Help Indian Country Fight Growing Drug Epidemic

Tester’s bill, the Tribal Youth and Community Protection Act, will reestablish the ability for tribes to arrest and prosecute any offender for drug related crimes, domestic violence against children, and crimes committed against tribal law enforcement officers. “Tribal communities must have every tool they need to protect themselves from folks who traffic illegal drugs and … Read more

Proposed Federal Regulation on Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System

PROPOSED RULES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Administration for Children and Families (4/7/16) Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System 81 FR 20283, (PDF) SUMMARY: On February 9, 2015, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting … Read more

In re Interest of Tavian B., February 19, 2016 (Nebraska)

Background from Westlaw: State filed petition to terminate the parental rights of mother and father to their purportedly Indian children. Father sought transfer of proceedings to Tribal Court. Prior to juvenile court’s ruling on motion to transfer, the state withdrew its motion to terminate parental rights. The Separate Juvenile Court, Lancaster County, Reggie L. Ryder, … Read more

State in Interest of M.D., January 7, 2016 (Utah)

Synopsis from Westlaw: A petition to terminate father’s parental rights to his three Indian children was filed. The Third District Juvenile Court, Salt Lake Department, No. 1094548, Charles D. Behrens, J., terminated parental rights. Father appealed. Holdings from Westlaw: The Court of Appeals held that evidence supported finding that the State made active efforts to … Read more

Alaska Supreme Court Orders State to Enforce Tribal Child Support Orders as Essential

In a major decision on child support, the Alaska Supreme Court stopped a Parnell administration effort against tribal rights that lingered during Gov. Bill Walker’s reign. The court ruled unanimously Friday in a case going back to the beginning of the decade that tribes have authority over child support. The court directed the state to enforce … Read more

Indian Children’s Law in Choctaw Foster Case Praised by Some, Criticized by Others

A California couple’s fight to reunite with a 6-year-old foster child who was taken from their home last week because she is 1/64th Choctaw Native American has cast a spotlight on the Indian Child Welfare Act. The law has been long hailed as a protective tool for Native American communities by some and criticized as … Read more

Historic Agreement Gives Tribe Foster Care Control: Jurisdiction Over Child Welfare to Transfer from State to Tlingit and Haida Central Council

When children are taken out of their homes due to neglect or abuse, they’re under the responsibility and jurisdiction of the State Office of Children’s Services. Now, through an agreement signed Wednesday night at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall between the State of Alaska and Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, … Read more

ICWA: Victory for Tribes as Judge Reaffirms South Dakota Decision

The class action case is now in its third year, having been filed in March 2013 by three Indian mothers and the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes in South Dakota to address ongoing violations in that state. According to tribal officials and advocacy groups, approximately 750 Indian children a year are swept into foster care, … Read more

Gila River Indian Community v. Department of Child Safety, December 8, 2015 (Arizona)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Indian community moved to change child’s custody from foster home to aunt. After an evidentiary hearing, the Superior Court, Maricopa County, No. JD 510468, Shellie F. Smith, Judge Pro Tem, denied the motion. Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Court of Appeals, Downie, J., held that: [1] as a matter of first … Read more

In re Doe, February 1, 2016 (Idaho)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: In adoption proceedings in which Indian tribes intervened, claiming the child at issue was an Indian child protected by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), the 7th Judicial District Court, Bonneville County, Ralph L. Savage, Magistrate Judge, determined that child was not an Indian child, granted adoption, and granted attorney fees … Read more

Federal Judge Dismisses Anti-ICWA Suit

On Thursday a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia dismissed a suit challenging both the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act and the new federal guidelines that were implemented last February by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, citing a lack of subject matter jurisdiction and standing in the case. Read the full … Read more

In re K.M., November 20, 2015 (California)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: In a dependency proceeding, the Superior Court, Orange County, No. DP024561, Craig E. Arthur, J., terminated parental rights to child. Mother and father appealed. While the matter was still pending on appeal, the Superior Court issued a post judgment order finding that the county child welfare agency complied with the Indian … Read more

Disenrollment from Pala Band Affects Children in ICWA Case

Two children who were disenrolled by the Pala Band of Mission Indians cannot be protected by the Indian Child Welfare Act, a California appeals court ruled on Tuesday.   The tribe formally objected in July 2009 when K.P. and Kristopher were put up for adoption. Their mother, Michelle T., is enrolled.   But sometime during … Read more

In re Candace A., November 9, 2015 (California)

Synopsis from Westlaw: County child welfare agency filed dependency petition. The Superior Court, Los Angeles County, Valerie Skeba, No. DK05991, Juvenile Court Referee, issued jurisdiction findings and disposition order declaring child a dependent of the juvenile court and removing her from parents’ custody. Parents appealed. Holdings from Westlaw: The Court of Appeal, Perluss, P.J., held … Read more

Jennifer L. v. State Department of Health and Social Services, August 28, 2015 (Alaska)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: After Office of Children’s Services (OCS) took three minor children into emergency custody, a standing master determined that no probable cause existed and recommended that children be returned to mother’s custody. Following remand from the Supreme Court, 2014 WL 1888190, the Superior Court, Fourth Judicial District, Aniak, Douglas Blankenship, J., rejected … Read more

In re M.R., September 17, 2015 (North Dakota)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Father appealed from decision of the Juvenile Court, Cass County, East Central Judicial District, Susan J. Solheim, Judicial Referee, terminating his parental rights. Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Court, Kapsner, J., held that: (1) juvenile court’s finding that the conditions and causes of child’s deprivation were likely to continue was … Read more

S. Rept. 114-37 – Amending the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act…

The failure to protect children has a damaging impact on the quality of life on Indian reservations. Native youth are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of abuse or neglect than youth of other ethnicities. Children exposed to violence are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic … Read more

Congress Should Bolster Jurisdiction of Tribal Courts Over Violence Against Children, ABA Urges

The [American Bar Association] ABA is urging Congress to follow the recommendations of recent reports by the U.S. Justice Department and the Indian Law and Order Commission that call for giving American Indian and Alaska Native tribes more authority to exercise criminal jurisdiction and apply their own remedies in cases that occur on tribal lands, … Read more

State, Feds Defend Tribal Adoption Law

In court filings Friday, attorneys for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the state Department of Child Safety federal agency acknowledged the Indian Child Welfare Act does require state courts when placing Indian children for adoption to give preference to a member of the child’s extended family. That is followed by priority by other members … Read more

Couples Sue Over Tribal Adoption Hurdles

For nearly four decades, couples wishing to adopt American Indian children out of troubled situations have faced several hurdles, including giving the child’s tribe a chance to find suitable tribal parents first. Now some prospective adoptive parents, Indian birthparents and members of the adoption industry are challenging the laws and regulations involved. Read the excerpt … Read more

In re I.R., July 28, 2015, (Maine)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: The Department of Health and Human Services initiated child protection proceedings with regard to mother’s child. The District Court, Portland, Powers, J., entered judgment terminating mother’s parental rights. Mother appealed. Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Judicial Court held that: (1) the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) did not apply to … Read more

In re I.B. v. W.H., August 11, 2015, (California)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: County Department of Children and Family Services filed juvenile dependency petition. After petition was sustained at jurisdictional hearing, the Department provided notice of the action to certain Indian tribes pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Following six-month review hearing, the Superior Court, Los Angeles County, No. CK76502, Timothy Saito, … Read more