Barbara Atwood, a prominent commentator on the Indian Child Welfare Act, soon will be publishing her book, “Children, Tribes, and States: Adoption and Custody Conflicts over American Indian Children” with Carolina Academic Press. She has posted the first chapter of the book on SSRN.
Here is the abstract:
This Introduction to Children, Tribes, and States: Adoption and Custody Conflicts over American Indian Children (Carolina Academic Press forthcoming 2010) provides an overview of the book but begins with the story of my representation of a Northern Cheyenne woman in a child custody dispute two decades ago – a professional experience that fueled my longstanding interest in child welfare and custody law affecting American Indian and Alaska Native children. The book examines the policies driving the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 against the backdrop of current ICWA controversies in state courts. In addition, it explores tribal-state competition in inter-parental custody disputes involving Indian children, a contentious arena that falls outside the purview of ICWA and implicates federal, state, and tribal jurisdictional premises. The book emphasizes the emotional and political costs of jurisdictional battles in both ICWA and non-ICWA cases. I propose jurisdictional guidelines for state and tribal courts that build on respect for one another’s legitimacy and competence. At the same time, I develop analytical frameworks to address Native children’s individualized identities, perspectives, and needs.