Column on Wayne County and ICWA in Chronicle for Social Change

Here

Some notes.

It’s a federal requirement to inquire about a child’s tribal citizenship regardless of state law. There are eight states with comprehensive state ICWA laws (the article is missing California and Wisconsin), and that doesn’t count states that have incorporated the regulations into law (Louisiana) or have other elements of ICWA in their laws.

I know the lawyer he is referring to–s/he did not drive 300 miles for every hearing, but when no one would call the tribe back or answer the phone for a hearing s/he sure did.

ICWA is a remedial statute designed to change state practice, not tribal.

It might be worth mentioning that Michigan has twelve federally recognized tribes, and while the total population of Native children might be small, we are still putting Native children in foster care at disproportionate rates–that said, it’s difficult to tell given the issues with our data collection.

And finally, if you are wondering what ICWA/MIFPA inquiry looks like in Wayne County, here is a colloquy from an unpublished case four years ago:

The Court: All right, the petition is authorized. The children have been
placed with relatives. What else? I guess— is that it? Did anyone ever ask
is there any . . . American Indian heritage in this family? American Indian
heritage?
Ms. Safran (attorney for respondent [parent]): Do you have any Indian heritage in your family?
The Court: Cherokee, Chippewa.
Ms. Safran: There might be some grand— on the grandmother’s side,
what was it? Some time— some type; attenuated.
Ms. Trott (attorney for petitioner [state]): Ms. Topp was told no at the
other—
Ms. Safran: Well, we didn’t have all the parties.
Ms. Topp (case worker): I talked to [respondent], as well, in the police station[,] and I was told no.
Ms. Safran: She doesn’t think—
The Court:  You don’t have any kind— are you sure it’s American, or, any
idea what we’re talking about? I mean, what kind of Indian? Cherokees,
Chippewa? I mean, there’s a whole bunch.
Unidentified speaker: I don’t— I don’t know; I can ask.
The Court: And . . . what relative? Grandma? Great-grandma?
Ms. Safran:  Your Honor, can we get a date because . . . they want me in
[Judge] Slavens[’ courtroom] and I can’t believe it.
The Court:  ­You’ve got to wait just one second. All right, you can investigate and see. That’s pretty distant; great-grandma is pretty far back. So, I’m
not gonna demand that we send notice.
Ms. Trott: This is on the paternal side? Or maternal? Of which father?
The Court: On the mother’s side or father? It better be a maternal because
right now— all right. You have the right to have this heard by a referee as
to all the children . . . or by a judge with or without a jury, and, of course,
continued right to an attorney at all hearings. We’re setting this for trial?
Ms. Trott:  Yes.

In re Harrell, No. 316067, 2014 WL 465718, at *6-7 (Mich. Ct. App. Feb. 4, 2014)

 

Posted in Author: Kate E. Fort, Child Welfare, ICWA | Tagged , , , ,

Maurisa Bell, NNALSA 3L of the Year

 

Bell

National NALSA 3L of the Year Award recipient, Maurisa Bell (right).

Maurisa Bell grew up on the Wind River Reservation in Riverton, Wyoming. She is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and was also raised around her Northern Arapaho family. In 2015, she graduated from Montana State University in Bozeman, MT and completed the Pre-Law Summer Institute program during the summer of 2016. While in law school, Maurisa served as Vice President and Treasurer for the MSU-NALSA, an Area representative for National-NALSA, and volunteered as a student mentor for the Indigenous Law and Policy Center.

She spent her summers in Washington, D.C. working for the Department of Justice’s Office of Tribal Justice; the National Indian Gaming Commission; and Dentons, US LLP in their Native American Law and Policy practice group. She is a dedicated and driven leader who, in just a few weeks, will graduate from the Michigan State University College of Law.

Maurisa will work for Dentons upon graduation, pursuing her passion in helping tribes and tribal communities.

Congratulations, Maurisa!

Posted in Research, Student Activities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fletcher: “Indian Children and the Fifth Amendment”

Forthcoming in the Montana Law Review’s Browning Symposium issue, available at SSRN here.

An excerpt:

Many of my first memories revolve around my grandmother Laura Mamagona’s apartment in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She shared the apartment with my uncle Crockett, who was a college student. Her apartment was the upstairs room of an old house on the side of a hill on College Street. My memories are mostly of domestic activities. Cooking. Sweeping. Sitting around. Playing with trains. Leafing through Crockett’s Sports Illustrated magazine collection. Laura worked the night shift at the veteran’s hospital across from Riverside Park. Early on weekday mornings, June, my mother, would drop me off at Laura’s place in her VW bug, the first car I remember. I had my own crib at Laura’s, one I can remember escaping pretty easily. Often, Laura would sleep most of the morning while I puttered around the house. Sometimes, Crockett would be there. Family lore tells that once, June dropped me off earlier than usual and Laura had worked a little late, so I was probably there alone for a short while. I heard the story so often growing up that I can seemingly remember that day, too. This was in the mid-1970s, before Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Recently, my wife Wenona Singel discovered documents about Laura’s childhood home life in the National Archives in Chicago. Wenona was there to research family boarding school histories. Laura’s name as a young woman, Laura Stevens, was listed alongside several of her brothers and sisters as former students at Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School. They were all born with the Pokagon surname, but Laura’s dad, Peter Stevens, changed their names, thinking it would help the family blend in with white America. Laura never attended the boarding school, and instead spent those years in quarantine in a hospital in Kalamazoo. We think she tested positive for tuberculosis at the boarding school intake and was diverted to quarantine. While Laura was there in the hospital during several of her early teen years, her biological mother walked on. Laura had younger brothers and sisters in her family home in Allegan County, Michigan. So, Peter—who was single then—drove to Kalamazoo and took Laura home. As a young woman, but the oldest sibling left in the house, Laura was forced to replace her mom. The archive documents contain reports by social workers who visited the house, we think, on somewhat random occasions. They were spot checks, of sorts, by the State of Michigan, to see how this Indian family with no mother in the home was coming along. The social workers detailed every aspect of the Stevens’ home in the reports. They noted how many Bibles were in the house and where they were placed. They noted how many portraits of Jesus Christ there were and the location each was hung. They reported Laura’s younger siblings were all dressed for company and quietly studying. They focused especially on teenaged Laura. There she was, sweeping the kitchen. There she was, cooking dinner. There she was, folding clothes. The social workers were impressed. Well, they were barely impressed. Laura was, after all, still an Indian. Reading the reports, one can’t help but think that young Laura Stevens was the only thing stopping the State from taking Peter Stevens’s kids away from him. Imagine if she had been out shopping on the day of the spot visit. The little Stevens kids would have been home alone, dishes in the sink and dirty clothes on the floor. Laura might have come home from shopping, and then later Peter from work, to find a home stripped of its children. However, this never came to be. Perhaps out of sheer luck, Laura was always home when the social workers showed up.

And:

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution is a truly fateful provision for Indian people. On occasion, Wenona and I teach at the Pre-Law Summer Institute (PLSI) for American Indians. It’s an eight week program that serves a little bit like a summer boot camp for Indian people who are planning to matriculate to law schools in the fall. Wenona teaches Property and I teach Indian Law. Compared with the regular law school survey-the-field course in Federal Indian Law, the short class I teach at PLSI is even more truncated. I can only assign a cross-section of the “greatest hits” of Indian law Supreme Court decisions because I don’t have time to conduct a full survey. I also try to assign cases where tribal interests prevailed. It turns out tribal interests and Indian people prevail more than not when the Fifth Amendment is in play. However, there are cases where tribal interests painfully and dramatically suffer under the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Fifth Amendment.

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, ICWA, legal history, Michigan Indian, Scholarship | Tagged , , ,

Tenth Circuit Orders Resentencing in Indian Country Child Abuse Matter

Here is the opinion in United States v. Jones.

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Criminal, Research | Tagged , , , ,

Federal Court Declines to Enjoin Secretarial Election at Calif. Valley Miwok

Here are the materials in Aranda v. Sweeney (E.D. Cal.):

1 Complaint

4-2 Motion for TRO

4-3 Declaration of Everyone

6 DCT Order Denying Motion for TRO

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Research, tribal election | Tagged , , ,

New Student Scholarship on Indian Country Abortion Access

Heidi L. Guzmán has published “Roe on the Rez: The Case for Expanding Abortion Access on Tribal Land” in the Columbia Journal of Race and Law.

Here is the abstract:

While the courts have codified and reaffirmed the right to abortion, some state legislatures have enacted increasingly burdensome restrictions on abortion. In a number of states, there is only one abortion clinic available for thousands of people. This Note explores whether Native American tribes, as sovereigns, may establish holistic reproductive health clinics on tribal land. It analyzes abortion law in Wisconsin under the framework of Public Law 280 jurisprudence to determine that clinics in Indian Country would not be subject to state abortion regulations. This Note also explores the practical implications of a Native-owned-and-operated clinic, and concludes that these clinics would greatly increase access to safe reproductive health care for Native and non-Native people.

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Scholarship, Student Activities | Tagged , ,

“Waters of the United States” Comments by Michigan Tribal Interests

CORA, GTB, and Bay Mills comments on EPA’s proposal to change the definition of “Waters of the United States.”

Bay Mills-WOTUS Comments Regarding EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149

CORA Comments WOTUS 2019

GTB 4-12-19 letter +map

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, cultural resources, Environmental, Michigan Indian, Regulations, Research, treaty rights, trust relationship | Tagged , , , , ,

Troy Eid: “President Trump: Make Bears Ears your legacy”

Here.

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, cultural resources, Environmental, News | Tagged

House Elections Subcommittee Field Hearing at Standing Rock

Here.

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Research | Tagged ,

Third Circuit Briefs in United States v. Neff [third-party use of tribal immunity defense; “rent-a-tribe”]

Here are the materials in United States v. Neff:

Hallinan Appellant Brief

Neff Appellant Brief

US Answer Brief

Neff Reply

Hallinan Reply

Posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Criminal, economic development, Research, sovereign immunity | Tagged , , , , ,