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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

Justice Officials Meet to Address Impacts of Violence on Native Children

[Montana U.S. Attorney Michael] Cotter and D-o-J’s Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Robert Listenbee, discuss the scourge of violence on some tribal communities and what’s being done about it. Listen to the interview at the Montana Public Radio website.

In the Matter of K.B. and T.B., Supreme Court of Montana, May 15, 2013

This case considered whether the earlier termination proceedings complied with statutory requirements for proceedings involving Indian children.  On May 15, 2013, the Supreme Court of Montana remanded the case to the Eighth Judicial District for the purpose of curing statutory deficiencies and holding a new termination hearing. Read more about the case at the National … Read more

In the Matter of D.S.B. and D.S.B., Supreme Court of Montana. April 30, 2013.

On April 30, 2013, the Montana Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the fourth district court to terminate parental rights.  Issues considered included: Whether the District Court properly concluded treatment plans were appropriate. Whether the State presented sufficient evidence to terminate parental rights under the ICWA. Whether the state made “active efforts” to prevent the … Read more

A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act

The Guide is intended to answer questions and provide a comprehensive resource of information on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The online version at was created as a complement to the print version of the Guide, which was printed by the Native American Rights Fund in 2007. While the topical sections are identical … Read more