California Appellate Court Decides ICWA Notice Case

Here is the opinion in In re I.W. An excerpt:

As we have mentioned, this case began in 2006 and the section 366 .26 hearing occurred in August 2008. Between those times, mother had provided information about her Indian ancestry to the Department and the Department had sent notices and received negative responses from the Cherokee and Blackfeet tribes. At a hearing about ICWA compliance in December 2008, however, mother revealed for the first time that she had a maternal aunt who was a member of the Choctaw tribe and living in Oklahoma. The Department then sent ICWA-030 notices to the Choctaw tribes in Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Mississippi and resent notices to the Cherokee and Blackfeet tribes. At a hearing in February 2009, the Department reported to the juvenile court as follows: “Attached to an addendum for today’s hearing are letters from the Blackfeet tribe in Browning, Montana, indicating that the Act does not apply to any of the children; a letter from the Jena band of Choctaw Indians in Jena, Louisiana, indicating that the Act does not apply to any of the children; and three letters from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Cherokee Boys Club in Cherokee, North Carolina. There is one for each child indicating that the Act does not apply as far as that child is concerned. [¶] Otherwise, attached to the prior addendums and reports are the return receipts for all the tribes that were noticed as well as the letters, tribal responses from other tribes that were previously submitted.”

Ninth Circuit Reviews Who is An “Indian” under Major Crimes Act

The opinion in United States v. Cruz is here. An excerpt:

At first glance, there appears to be something odd about a court of law in a diverse nation such as ours deciding whether a specific individual is or is not “an Indian.” Yet, given the long and complex relationship between the government of the United States and the sovereign tribal nations within its borders, the criminal jurisdiction of the federal government often turns on precisely this question — whether a particular individual “counts” as an Indian — and it is this question that we address once again today.


Because the evidence adduced during Christopher Cruz’s trial does not satisfy any of the four factors outlined in the second prong of the Bruce test, we hold that, even when viewed in the light most favorable to the government, his conviction cannot stand. The district court’s failure to grant Cruz’s motion for judgment of acquittal was plain error, and accordingly we reverse.

Here are the briefs:




Article on Tribal Court Authority to Subpoena BIA Officers

From the The Glacier Reporter:

A new system of law enforcement introduced, includes prevention

By John McGill
Wednesday, November 28, 2007 10:26 AM MST

The fact that Bureau of Indian Affairs police officers serving in Blackfeet Country cannot be compelled to appear in Blackfeet Tribal Court by tribal judges, according to a recent U.S. Solicitor General’s opinion, was one of the more interesting tidbits garnered at Monday’s law and order meeting held at Tribal Headquarters. Steve Juneau of Lamar Associates emceed the meeting, which outlined plans adopted by the Blackfeet Tribe for reassuming control of law enforcement and creating a Department of Public Safety that would “provide leadership separate from political changes in tribal government,” Juneau said.

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