by Kate Fort
There has been a lot of ICWA talk in national and local news this week due to a case we linked to here. I spoke with a person at the CNN In America blog (nothing up there yet) just about the general provisions of ICWA, and what struck me in that conversation was how few people today still know nothing about this law.
This same week we had two cases argued at the Michigan Supreme Court on notice compliance. We're having a meeting about enacting a state ICWA law here in Michigan. We received a link to this newsletter about ICWA compliance and monitoring at the trial court level in Minnesota. Sometimes it feels like ICWA is everywhere, if a person knows where to look for it. And yet most national media coverage of the Act is usually so biased and ignorant there's no way the coverage doesn't gin up serious opposition to the Act (the recent exception to this was NPR's excellent three part series on ICWA and foster care in South Dakota). And thus one, relatively minor, conundrum--talk to the media about the Act in the hopes of gaining a semblance of balance, or ignore the media in a case that is putting a child in the middle of that very media storm?
The case garnering this attention is difficult to get a handle on, fact-wise, and we're hesitant to add more commentary or links here, as we can't believe this level of attention is good for the child. It certainly isn't good attention for the Act, given the adoptive parents' full-out assault on it. There's a reason these cases are usually, or ought to be, anonymous. Regardless, we publish the Cherokee Nation's statement here to one media outlet, since it points out it has called on the court for both a gag order, and to release the final order (something we'd certainly feel more comfortable commenting on, rather than inconsistent media accounts):
Chrissi Ross Nimmo, the Assistant Attorney General who represented the Cherokee Nation in this case, gave FOX23 this statement:
“As a matter of law and policy, the Cherokee Nation’s attorney general’s office generally does not comment on juvenile cases due to their sensitive nature and confidential information. In an effort to quell the undue outside attention to this sensitive affair, the Cherokee Nation attorney general’s office filed a motion for a gag order in this case Wednesday afternoon, along with a motion to release the judge’s final order to the public. I ask that all parties involved in the matter respect the confidential nature of these juvenile court proceedings. The Cherokee Nation has 115 Indian Child Welfare employees and nine assistant attorneys general who work tirelessly to fight for the rights of Cherokee children and their parents, not only within our 14-county jurisdiction, but in tribal, state and federal courts across the nation. The Indian Child Welfare Act was written to help keep Native American children with their families whenever possible – a concept embraced wholeheartedly by the Cherokee Nation.”