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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Cherokee Nation seeks to define membership of child for ICWA case

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fanciershawl_250x.jpgA controversial ruling by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding an Indian Child Welfare Act case has been brought to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokee Nation is asking the U.S. Supremem Court to determine whether the tribe has the jurisdiction to define their members regarding Indian Child Welfare Act cases.

As this MPR news story (originally aired November 30, 2011) reports, American Indian children have high rates of removal and are much more likely to be placed into out-of-home care. In Minnesota, that rate is 14 times higher than white children. The Indian Child Welfare Act was created to give tribes jurisdiction over the placement of their children. Prior to the enactment of ICWA, American Indian children were placed in non-Native foster and adoptive homes and boarding schools where the goal was to strip them of their culture. Today, many of those who experienced these placements are speaking out, as in this article, The Adoption Era, defined: Native Americans expose a forgotten period in their history.

The question raised by the Cherokee Nation is whether the courts violated ICWA because of the Cherokee Nation Citizenship Act that grants tribal membership to all infants up to 240 days after birth. The 10th Circuit Court ruled that ICWA does not apply to the Cherokee Nation Citizenship Act because by definition, an Indian child under ICWA must be already enrolled in the tribe and in this particular case the child's mother was not an enrolled memeber of the Cherokee tribune until after the placement.

For the full article, Supreme Court Approached on ICWA Issue, click here.

You can also listen to the NPR story by reporter Sasha Aslanian below:

or at the MPR website.

For more resources on Indian child welfare and the Indian Child Welfare Act, here are some resources:

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