At issue is whether a small tribal court in the village of Minto, 130 road miles west of Fairbanks, could strip Parks of his parental rights to one of his daughters, named “S.P.” in legal filings, and approve her adoption by Jeff Simmonds, the cousin of the child’s mother, and Simmonds’ wife Rozella. According to court filings, S.P. is a member of the Minto tribe, as is her mother, Stearman, the victim of Parks’ rage. Jeff Simmonds is also a Minto tribe member, while Rozella Simmonds is a Zuni Pueblo Indian from the Southwest.
One of Parks’ parents is Alaska Native and Parks himself is an enrolled member of the tribe at Stevens Village, about 60 miles north of Minto on the Yukon River, according to the court filings.
To the state, that meant that the Minto court was trying to enforce its order against a nonmember of its tribe. The Minto court’s declaration on May 7, 2009, that Parks was an unfit parent was improperly reached, the state said in its brief to the Alaska Supreme Court, filed in April.
The proper venue for that question is before a state judge in Fairbanks, not the elders of the Minto court, the state said.
[Natalie] Landreth, from the Native American Rights Fund office in Anchorage, said the state is overreaching and ignoring the years of legal precedent since Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978.
Related case in the 9th Circuit here.