Published ICWA Inquiry Case from Colorado Court of Appeals


The court found that the agency has to ask about tribal citizenship each time a the agency initiates proceedings against a parent, and not rely on findings in a separate, previous proceeding.

Moreover, while not applicable here, we note that new federal regulations that codify this inquiry obligation became effective on December 12, 2016. See 25 C.F.R. §§ 23.107-.109, .111 (2016). The new regulations were quickly followed by new guidelines issued in December 2016. See Bureau of Indian Affairs, Guidelines for Implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act (Dec. 2016), (2016 Guidelines). Consistent with the 2015 Guidelines applicable here, these new regulations and guidelines require the court to ask all participants in the case whether there is reason to know the child is an Indian child and to instruct the participants to inform the court if they later discover information that provides reason to know the child is an Indian child. See 25 C.F.R. § 23.107(a); 2016 Guidelines at 11. And, if a new child custody proceeding is initiated for the same child, the court must again inquire into whether there is a reason to know that the child is an Indian child. 25 C.F.R. § 23.107(a).