Reason to Know [ICWA] Out of the Ohio Court of Appeals

2019-ohio-178

In most states, this would most certainly be reason to know, and the agency would be required to do additional inquiry and notify a tribe. When we talk about inconsistent application of the law, this is definitely one of those areas.

With respect to Mother, the following exchange took place:

[MOTHER]: My dad is an Iroquois tribe, but I don’t know if he’s registered, but, I mean, his family is all native Americans and stuff. Yes, they are.

[COUNSEL]: But what we need to know is whether you yourself are registered with a tribe.

[MOTHER]: Oh, no.

[COUNSEL]: You’re not. Okay. That’s what we needed. Thank you, your Honor.

THE COURT: Okay.

[COUNSEL]: So ICWA does not apply then. THE COURT: Okay. You’re definitely not registered?

[MOTHER]: No, sir. (Jan. 16, 2018 tr. 5-6.) {¶23}

Thus neither L.D. nor S.D. are members of a tribe, and Mother, herself, is not a member of any tribe. Although Mother alleged that her father is an Iroquois, L.D. and S.D. are not his children; they are his grandchildren. As previously stated, the ICWA defines an “Indian child” as any minor child who is either a member of an Indian tribe or “is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe.” 25 U.S.C. 1903(4) (Emphasis added.) A grandchild of a member of an Indian tribe falls outside the definition and therefore does not qualify as an “Indian child” under the act. Therefore, the ICWA is inapplicable, and the trial court was not required to comply with its mandates.

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