3/11/15 - By Joaqlin Estus SOURCE
The Alaska Federation of Natives, and all the regional Native nonprofit organizations in the state are asking Governor Bill Walker to change his position in a case involving the adoption of an Alaska Native child. They say the state’s position in the case Tununuk II vs. the state of Alaska erects barriers between tribal children and tribal homes. The state has said it’s only arguing for compliance with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Under the terms of the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, Alaska Native children must be placed for adoption with their relatives or tribal members unless it’s clearly in the child’s interests to do otherwise.
An Alaska Supreme Court ruling last December allowed the non-Native Smith family to adopt "Baby Dawn" even though her Native grandmother wanted to adopt her. The state had successfully argued the grandmother failed to file a petition to adopt required under a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Lloyd Miller is a partner in the law firm Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Miller and Munson, which is representing Elise, of Tununuk, the grandmother in the case. He says the state is misinterpreting the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling. Miller says it requires formal action, a standard he says the grandmother met when she told the state’s Office of Children’s Services, and testified in court that she wanted to adopt her grandchild.
The village of Tununuk requested a rehearing in the case. Briefs to the Alaska Supreme Court on that request are due Monday.
An earlier post about Alaska: http://splitfeathers.blogspot.com/2014/12/children-in-crosshairs-emerging-battle.html