AK Bill Designed to Address Tununak ICWA Case Signed into Law by Governor Walker

Press Release here.

House Bill 200 was sponsored by Governor Walker, working in close collaboration with the Alaska Federation of Natives and Tribes. The bill is designed to correct and minimize recent legal barriers that were put in place for families interested in adopting Alaska Native children following the U.S Supreme Court Baby Girl Veronica decision and the Tununak litigation in the Alaska Supreme Court.

Bill here.

Rehearing Denied in Tununak II (ICWA Placement Preferences)

Order denying rehearing in Native Village of Tununak v. State, Dep’t of Health & Social Services, Office of Children’s Services (applying Baby Girl case to involuntary proceedings) is here.

Previous coverage here. Original opinion here.

Developments in Alaska ICWA Case, Native Village of Tununak v. State of Alaska

State’s (AG) Response to Tribe’s Pet for Rehearing

Earlier briefs on the rehearing petition are here.

The Alaska executive branch published emergency regulations addressing formal petitions for adoptions in cases involving Indian children: Emergency Regulations 7 AAC 54.600

Here is the draft state bill sent to the Legislature by the Governor: Draft Bill

These emergency regulations allow for a simple request by a relative, tribal member or other Indian family at any court hearing, or a request by the same conveyed to the department by phone, mail, fax, email or in person, or by the request of the child’s tribe on behalf of a relative or tribal member to constitute a proxy for a formal petition for adoption.

In addition, the Governor is holding a press conference on this today (10:30am/2:30pm EDT) :



Grace Jang, Press Secretary – (907) 465-3976

Katie Marquette, Deputy Press Secretary – (907) 465-5801

Governor Walker to Hold News Conference Tomorrow

WHO: Governor Bill Walker, Lt. Governor Byron Mallott, DHSS Commissioner Val Davidson and Alaska Federation of Natives President Julie Kitka

WHAT: News conference to discuss Indian Child Welfare Act-related emergency regulations

WHEN: Thursday, April 16, 2015, 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

WHERE: Governor’s Cabinet Room, Capitol Building, Juneau


LIVESTREAM: gov.alaska.gov/livestream<http://gov.alaska.gov/Walker/multimedia/livestream.html>


Alaska SCT Applies Adoptive Couple to Affirm Non-Native Adoption

Here is the opinion in Native Village of Tununak v. State, Dep’t of Health & Social Services, Office of Children’s Services (Alaska).

An excerpt:

We asked the parties to provide supplemental briefing and oral argument on the effect of the Supreme Court’s Baby Girl decision on the adoption appeal currently before us.26 We now hold that because the United States Supreme Court’s decisions on issues of federal law bind state courts’ consideration of federal law issues — including the Indian Child Welfare Act — the decision in Baby Girl applies directly to the adoptive placement case on remand and to this adoption appeal. We discern no material factual differences between the Baby Girl case and this case, so we are unable to distinguish the holding in Baby Girl. Because the Supreme Court’s holding in Baby Girl is clear and not qualified in any material way, and because it is undisputed that Elise did not “formally [seek] to adopt” Dawn in the superior court, we conclude that, as in Baby Girl, “there simply is no ‘preference’ to apply[,] [as] no alternative party that is eligible to be preferred under § 1915(a) has come forward[,]” and therefore ICWA “§ 1915(a)’s [placement] preferences are inapplicable.”27 We affirm the superior court’s order granting the Smiths’ petition to adopt Dawn and vacate our remand order in Tununak I requiring the superior court to conduct further adoptive placement proceedings. We do not otherwise disturb our decision in Tununak I.

We posted briefs here.