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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Four Tribes Respond to False Briefs Filed in Court of Appeals Opposing #ICWA

Published February 7, 2019
NEW ORLEANS — Four tribal leaders issued a statement on Wednesday to denounce the filing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by
Signing on the joint statement were: Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Cherokee Nation; Chairman Robert Martin, Morongo Band of Mission Indians; Chairman Tehassi Hill, Oneida Nation; and President Fawn Sharp, Quinault Indian Nation.
Joint Tribal Statement Responding to Briefs Filed in Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Opposing the Indian Child Welfare Act
We are dismayed that opponents of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and tribal sovereignty continued to perpetuate damaging falsehoods in briefs filed this week with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit regarding tribal citizenship and the care that Native children receive under the ICWA’s landmark protections.
Passed more than 40 years ago by Congress, ICWA was designed to reverse decades of cultural insensitivity and political bias that had resulted in up to a third of all Indian children being forcibly removed from their families, their tribes and their cultural heritage.
ICWA ensures the best interests and wellbeing of Native American children are protected. ICWA preserves the stability and cohesion of Tribal families, Tribal communities and Tribal cultures. As federally-recognized sovereign nations, we have the duty, the responsibility, and the wisdom to protect our children.
The flawed arguments by the plaintiffs and their allies have been rejected time and again by state and federal courts over the past 40 years. ICWA is not based on race but on the political relationships of individual Native Americans with federally-recognized tribes. The district court’s flawed decision potentially upsets a foundational precept of federal Indian law—that the relationship between tribes and tribal citizens is a political one.
Most importantly, opponents disregard decades of evidence and case law that show ICWA’s provisions are demonstrably in the best interests of the child. Accepted best practices among child welfare experts – including those in Texas – call for keeping a child with his or her family or relatives whenever possible. ICWA does just that. That is why ICWA is regarded as the gold standardfor child welfare and is so strongly supported by preeminent organizations such as the National CASA Association, the National Association of Social Workers, Casey Family Programs and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
We stand with the bipartisan coalition of federal lawmakers, attorneys general from 21 states, and 30 child welfare organizations who have joined 325 Tribal governments and 57 Tribal organizations in filing numerous amicus briefs urging the Fifth Circuit to overturn the district court’s disastrous ruling
We remain committed to protecting the Constitutionality of ICWA for Native children, families, and Tribes. We firmly believe that our rights, and our children’s rights, will be affirmed and reinforced.

Four Tribes Respond to False Briefs Filed in Court of Appeals Opposing the Indian Child Welfare Act

by Native News Online Staff

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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.

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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.