Michigan Radio on ICWA, Baby Veronica, and MIFPA

Here. Judge Allie Maldonado, Judge Tim Connors, and our own Kate Fort are interviewed. [Everyone’s name is spelled wrong, but there’s no spelling on radio….]

An excerpt:

The state law is called the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act. People in the know shorten it to MIFPA.

As State Court Judge Tim Connors sees it, the law could be a model for the whole state. He get’s really passionate about the law, going so far as to call it “salvation” and “a tremendous gift.” Connors  sees MIFPA’s approach as an alternative to breaking apart families when the state takes children away from their parents. Connors is not afraid to say what he thinks about that approach. “The truth of the matter is that what we do in our state courts and (sic) family courts is very destructive to families, to individuals, to children,” he says.

The tribes want families kept out of this system. Their history and a ton of statistics tell them it takes kids a long time to get out, and it can be pretty damaging.

Tribes would rather parents get the help they need to be better parents and keep a family together.

Of course that isn’t always possible. Abusive and neglectful parents should not get to keep their kids under MIFPA or any other law.

But for many other families who have problems, MIFPA says the state needs to work a little harder to connect Indian families to the resources that can make a difference for them and their children. It’s called an “active efforts” requirement. Judge Connors explains it to himself as “following through” and “walking the talk.”  Connors also says he thinks the active efforts requirement should be the law for all kids in the state.

Judge Connors highlights something that always gets lost in discussions about the Indian Child Welfare Act — ICWA and MIFPA really are best practices statutes, and when someone asks why Indians should get a “special” statute, the answer is that every child should have these legal rights.

Michigan Radio: Great Lakes Futures Project

Another story from Michigan Radio this morning. We hope the January meeting will include invitations to tribes as well.

A new project is going to try to predict the future of the Great Lakes.

It’s called… wait for it… the Great Lakes Futures Project.  It’s a collaboration of 21 universities from the U.S. and Canada.

Don Scavia is the director of the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan. He’s one of four project leaders.  He says students will team up with a counterpart from the other country, along with a faculty mentor.  The teams will develop white papers outlining the biggest things driving change in the Great Lakes region.

“They’ll be looking at things like climate, economics, demographics, chemical and biological pollution, invasive species. Looking back, what have the trends been in the past 50 years and what do we expect trends to look like in the next 50 years?”

Michigan Radio Story on Latest Regarding Lansing Casino

Apropos of our conference tomorrow.


The proposed $245 million casino project involves a complicated business and land deal between the city of Lansing, private developers and an indian tribe from the Upper Peninsula.

So complicated those involved were not able to reach an agreement on the various aspects of the project by an August deadline.   So they gave themselves an extension until November 1st.

But with two weeks before the extended deadline there’s still no final agreement.

John Wernet is an attorney for the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.   He says they are “on track to close on the purchase by November 1, though the amount of work….is a bit daunting.”