In this case, the State called Patterson to testify that returning Eyllan to Nathaniel’s care was likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to him. Patterson is currently employed as a school psychologist. Her educational background includes an education specialist degree and a bachelor’s degree in social work. Previous to her current employment position, she has worked as a social worker who specialized in and worked exclusively with Native American families. As a part of this employment, she provided expert testimony in NICWA cases, developed activities for children living outside of their tribe to maintain “cultural connectiveness,” and worked with tribes to facilitate enrollment of Indian children. In addition,Patterson has experience providing parental supervision, parenting education, and in-home counseling for Native American families. Patterson testified that she continues to have knowledge of “the prevailing social and cultural standard for rearing children within the Native American community.” She also indicated that she has experience with the Sioux Tribe, which is the tribe in which Eyllan is eligible for enrollment.
One side note–the Nebraska Court of Appeals only cites to the Nebraska ICWA rather than the federal ICWA (they do also cite to the BIA Guidelines via an NE Supreme Court case). Without reading through the whole statute, the state version does appear to essentially mirror the federal one. However, this week I had a conversation about how important it turned out to be for Michigan, specifically regarding investment in state education and state training on ICWA issues, to have a state ICWA law passed. Cases like this reinforce that belief.