Mich. COA Decides ICWA-Related Case

The opinion in In the Matter of Coyle is here. The Court of Appeal concluded that ICWA’s tribal notice requirements did not apply. An excerpt:

Finally, respondent argues that petitioner should have notified the Cherokee tribe, and there was insufficient evidence that any tribe was notified. ***

In the present case, respondent stated during the preliminary hearing that her grandparents were Cherokee Indians. However, she never mentioned the Cherokee tribe again and never objected to references to the Chippewa Tribe of Sault Ste. Marie in several later hearings. Her statement that her father tried to get her grandparents’ tribe involved in 2003, followed by references to the Chippewa tribe trying to get involved in 2003, strongly indicated that her grandparents’ tribe was actually the Chippewa and she was mistaken when she called it Cherokee. Respondent did not give the trial court reason to believe her children might actually be members of a Cherokee tribe, in light of her repeated failure to object to references to the Chippewa and failure to request that another tribe or the Bureau of Indian Affairs be notified. Respondent also did not question petitioner’s assertions that the Chippewa tribe was contacted. Petitioner’s unchallenged assertions constitute sufficient evidence that notice occurred. The trial court did not commit any error requiring reversal.