Navajo Nation expedites membership verification for Indian Child Welfare Act
The Navajo Nation has developed a streamlined process to determine whether a Native child who may be adopted is actually Navajo.
The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed in 1978 to establish basic requirements to protect Native American children from removal from their homes and communities.
If a child is determined to be a tribal member, the ICWA then triggers legal protections and the right of the Navajo Nation to intervene.
However, the process to verify tribal membership can take several months.
Tribal officials say this new agreement will significantly shorten the time to determine membership by improving coordination and the sharing of records between Navajo Nation divisions and the offices that work with children in custody, adoption or foster cases.
Caseworkers will then be able to determine if ICWA applies in a matter of weeks, which will allow the Navajo government to intervene sooner.
President Buu Nygren signed off on the memorandum of agreement October 30, 2023.