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Monday, October 8, 2018

Partnership for Native Children Decries Anti-ICWA Decision

Calls judge’s ruling ‘an outlier, out of step with the law and constitutional jurisprudence’
The Partnership for Native Children strongly disagrees with and is disturbed by Judge O’Connor’s decision in Brackeen v. Zinke which has stricken down the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) four decades after it was enacted. This is the first decision of its kind, and is an outlier—out of step with the law and decades of constitutional jurisprudence.
With the support and guidance of a longstanding coalition of anti-ICWA activists, the plantiffs in Brackeen want to remove ICWA’s provisions that protect against removing Native children from their parents and culture, leaving unfettered access to Native children. Not content with that outcome, they wish to undermine the U.S. Constitution and centuries of established law by eradicating tribes’ Constitutionally-protected relationship with the United States government.
Although this decision is limited in application, it serves as a roadmap for other ICWA litigation intending to overturn ICWA and we should expect future litigation seeking to undermine tribal sovereignty and federal Indian law writ large.
Emboldened by the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl decision in 2013, these anti-ICWA forces—led by the adoption industry, religious coalitions, and a conservative think tank—have spent years bringing forth suit after suit in courts throughout the country, sometimes even using identical briefs in different forums, all in the attempt to have ICWA declared unconstitutional. After losing each case, due in part to their outrageous contention that ICWA is a race-based law (it is not), they have finally found a judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas sympathetic to their arguments.
While they choose to ignore thousands of testimonials from Native families who assert that those who will be most hurt by this decisions are our most sacred and vulnerable children, the Partnership for Native Children stands with Indian Country and affirms that we will continue to fight for them. We support legal efforts to appeal this unprecedented decision. We will work tirelessly to demand the media cover these issues thoroughly and responsibly. And we will work closely with those children, families, and tribes who want their perspectives finally included in the national dialogue about the best interests of our children. Their voices have been ignored for far too long.
The Partnership for Native Children refuses to go back to those the days where tribal children were removed simply because of cultural misunderstandings, for financial gain, and due to pure prejudice. We also refuse to let extremist groups use our children as a tool to undermine the foundations of Indian law and tribal sovereignty.
The Partnership for Native Children remains unwavering in our commitment to defend the constitutionality of ICWA by all available means and will continue to work in support of tribes and Native people throughout the country to ensure that Native children, families, and tribes are protected.
Here is our press release.
source:

Partnership for Native Children PR on Texas ICWA Case

by Matthew L.M. Fletcher

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Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

Indian Country is under attack. We need you. Please join the ranks of Modern Day Warriors. Please donate today to help Native people protect their rights.

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