ICWA Jurisdiction Case out of North Carolina


Finding the tribe, not the state, has exclusive jurisdiction over child welfare issues arising on tribal land. Also interesting is the state courts’ continued resistance to recognizing tribal-state agreements surrounding ICWA (pp 9-12) (see, eg, In re R.S. (Minn. 2011)).

For purposes of the ICWA, Ellen’s domicile was that of her
parents. See Miss. Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, 490
U.S. 30, 48, 104 L. Ed. 2d 29, 46 (1989). At the time DSS filed
the juvenile petition on 8 November 2011, respondents were
domiciled in Cherokee, North Carolina, within the Tribe’s Qualla
Boundary land trust.4 Therefore, this case is governed by 25
U.S.C. § 1911, which grants exclusive jurisdiction to the tribal court, “except where such jurisdiction is otherwise vested in
the State by existing Federal law.” 25 U.S.C. § 1911(a).