Get new posts by email:

How to Use this Blog

BOOZHOO! We've amassed tons of information and important history on this blog since 2010. If you have a keyword, use the search box below. Also check out the reference section above. If you have a question or need help searching, use the contact form at the bottom of the blog.

We want you to use BOOKSHOP! (the editor will earn a small amount of money or commission. (we thank you) (that is our disclaimer statement)

This is a blog. It is not a peer-reviewed journal, not a sponsored publication... WE DO NOT HAVE ADS or earn MONEY from this website. The ideas, news and thoughts posted are sourced… or written by the editor or contributors.

EMAIL ME: (outlook email is gone)


Friday, September 30, 2022

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


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

US Supreme Court
Joe Ravi /Wikimedia Commons
The U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the Indian Child Welfare Act sometime in 2023, the Northern Arapaho are asking for state protections and guidelines.

Northern Arapaho business council member Lee Spoonhunter has one request of the Wyoming legislature.

“Let's get started on working on legislation to protect the children of the state of Wyoming,” Spoonhunter asked

An upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case looking at the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), first passed in 1978. A law that keeps tribes of Indigenous children in the loop of family court proceedings to maintain families and communities. Spoonhunter is asking the state-tribal relations committee on behalf of the Northern Arapaho tribe to enact a state law protecting the tenets of ICWA.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on Brackeen v. Haaland before summer of next year, and some fear that ICWA will be repealed.

“We're going to lose our children to the system. We're not going to find them until they've been adopted out,” said Spoonhunter. “And that's just the reality of what's going to happen if this law is struck down.”

An ICWA case requires two things: One, a child who is enrolled or could be enrolled in a tribe and one of their parents needs to be enrolled and two: the child’s case needs to be going through some kind of child custody proceedings. This includes foster care, adoption, or a termination of parental rights.

Clare Johnson, the Northern Arapaho tribe attorney, said she is currently working on 62 ICWA cases, about half within the state of Wyoming and the other half Northern Arapaho children in other states. They are all unique in what the individual child requires to be compliant with ICWA. But all have one thing in common.

“The Northern Arapaho tribe strongly believes in bringing these cases back to tribal court to attempt to reunify the child with their family. And if that's not possible to place them with other members of their family or their tribe,” said Johnson.

Being adopted outside of the community might lead a child to feel disconnected from their culture. And the U.S. has a long history of actively taking away Indigenous children from their families in boarding schools. This was a policy that removed Indigenous children from their homes in order to break cultural traditions.

Department of Interior Deb Haaland has enacted its Indian Boarding School Initiative, aimed at detailing the forced assimilation of Indigenous children.

ICWA has allowed children to stay in their communities.

“The tribe likes to have the children within the tribal system so we can look at alternative solutions,” said Johnson. “So, that maybe we place with grandma, and parents have a chance to work the system and get into a place where they can one day have their children back.”

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.

But Senator Affie Ellis said it might be prudent to wait and see what the federal government does before drafting legislation. Since tribes are political entities, they have a special status under the law that describes them as sovereign, unlike other racial categories. This gives them political power and protections under the tribes that they are enrolled in.

Ellis said if the law was repealed, this unique political distinction afforded to tribes would be called into question.

“So, that's what's at stake here, is if the Supreme Court somehow finds that that political classification no longer applies, and it's just race-based, then we can't just mimic the federal law, because then it really just takes it all away,” she said.

So, Ellis said waiting might be the better move.

Kate Fort, director of the Indian Law Clinic at Michigan State University, is an expert on ICWA. She said ICWA brings state and tribal governments together in a unique way.

“State ICWA laws are going to protect and ensure that the protections that exist now continue,” she said. “It provides guidance to your state agencies. I think one thing that is really hard to explain to the Supreme Court is sort of how much work has been built up around ICWA.”

Fort said it's hard to say if the federal government is prepared to upend decades of federal Indian law, but being prepared isn’t a bad thing. While the tribes are essential to getting a state ICWA law going, the state should get involved.

“ICWA is the state's responsibility, it was, frankly, a remedial law to ensure that states aren't acting agencies and courts aren't acting wrong when they get native children in front of them,” she said.

Ten states currently have state ICWA laws including Iowa, Nebraska, and New Mexico.

The next tribal committee meeting is in October on the University of Wyoming campus where the committee will continue to discuss whether to write a bill or wait to see what the supreme court does.


Group of Omaha boys in cadet uniforms, Carlisle Indian School, Pennsylvania, ca. 1880. (National Archives Identifier 519136)


ACLU of Wyoming urges Supreme Court to uphold Indian Child Welfare Act  

The ACLU of Wyoming is weighing in on a U.S. Supreme Court case that could overturn the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law that protects Indigenous children from forced removal from their families and tribes.

The court will start reviewing the act in November, and the Wyoming ACLU branch recently sent the justices a brief, along with 13 other states, urging them to uphold the act.

"It basically ensures that all efforts are made to maintain those ties and connections between Indian children and their heritage," said Stephanie Amiotte, legal director of the Wyoming ACLU, and an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe in South Dakota.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Please: Share your reaction, your thoughts, and your opinions. Be passionate, be unapologetic. Offensive remarks will not be published. We are getting more and more spam. Comments will be monitored.
Use the comment form at the bottom of this website which is private and sent direct to Trace.

Wilfred Buck Tells The Story Of Mista Muskwa

Happy Visitors!

They Took Us Away

They Took Us Away
click image to see more and read more

Blog Archive

Most READ Posts


You are not alone

You are not alone

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

Diane Tells His Name

click photo

60s Scoop Survivors Legal Support


Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines
click to read and listen about Trace, Diane, Julie and Suzie


As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.


Original Birth Certificate Map in the USA

Why tribes do not recommend the DNA swab

Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

Google Followers