Response to Media Dustup in California ICWA Case

NICWA’s statement:

We are disturbed by this weekend’s flurry of negative media attention regarding the attempted reunification of a child with her family in Utah. In this contentious custody case, there have never been any surprises as far as what the law required. The foster family was well aware years ago this girl is an Indian child, whose case is subject to the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and who has relatives who were willing to raise her if reunification with her father was unsuccessful.
In fact, the only surprising turn of events is the lengths the foster family has gone to, under the advice of an attorney with a long history of trying to overturn ICWA, to drag out litigation as long as possible, creating instability for the child in question. That the foster family now argues bonding and attachment should supersede all else despite testimony of those closest to her case, seems like a long-term, calculated legal strategy based on the simple fact that the law was always clear, they understood it, but just chose not to abide by it.
The purpose of foster care is to provide temporary care for children while families get services and support to reunite with their children, not to fast-track the creation of new families when there is extended family available who want to care for the child. The temporary nature of these relationships is also the reason we view those who serve as foster parents as selfless and nurturing individuals. Reunification and placement with extended family whenever possible is best practice for all children, not just Native American children.
We call on the media to provide balanced reporting and to ask vital questions regarding these facts before inflaming the public and subjecting the privacy and future well-being of a little girl to national debate.


Our previous coverage of the appeal of this case is here.

As always, we remain concerned with the lack of privacy for a child who doesn’t get to make decisions about her identity being put forward into the press. In perhaps no surprise to anyone, this case involves repeat players from the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl case.

Letter(S) to the Editor Regarding ICWA in the Washington Post


Bolstering accountability of the U.S. justice system and providing regulations for its interaction with Indian child-welfare cases secures the safety, health and well-being of Indian children and their tribal nations. The act is a public-health policy that prompts prevention-based measures to restore wellness for Indian children and their families. A sharp focus on the legal status of native children as citizens of self-determining tribal nations is fundamental. Indian children possess an inherent political status that predates the United States, a reality supported by centuries of U.S. law and policy.

Edited to add Senator Dorgan’s letter in the WaPo as well. Here:

When we talk about “blood-stained” laws, we should talk about the history of the treatment of Native Americans: laws of genocide, sterilization, forced removal and assimilation; compulsory boarding schools; underfunding of critical health care; and a trail of broken promises.

These were written in response to a particularly egregious and racist syndicated column by George Will we did not post.

On Friday he put up a second column about the Washington football team. If you want to know what he’s saying, given that his columns are syndicated and run nationwide, here are links to them that don’t boost them on a google search:

Anti-ICWA Column

Name of Washington Football Team Column