indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Indian Law Online Master Degree
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
U.S. Supreme Court won't hear Indian child welfare case
Tuesday, May 2, 2006

An Indian child welfare case that was being watched by tribes and Indian organizations across the nation was turned down by the U.S. Supreme on Monday.

Without comment, the justices declined to review Doe v. Mann, a case from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The move affirms a precedent that tribal advocates say runs counter to federal law by giving states more control over Indian child welfare proceedings.

Under the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, tribes normally have exclusive jurisdiction over adoptions and custody disputes involving tribal children. Congress passed the law in response to extremely high rates of Indian children being placed in non-Indian homes by states.

But in California, home to the largest Indian population in the country, tribes will have to share jurisdiction with the state despite the historical record. In the case at issue, a mother from the Elem Indian Colony has to give up her child because a state court terminated her parental rights without the tribe's involvement.

"The tribe's sovereignty and self-government has been gutted," the Elem Indian Colony wrote in a court brief, "and the tribe's families have been left vulnerable to all of the evils the ICWA was designed to protect, as demonstrated by the state's actions in this case."

The conflict arose because California is one of several states that fall under Public Law 280. The law, passed in the 1950s when Congress was terminating the federal government's relationship with tribes, grants the state criminal and civil jurisdiction in Indian Country.

Federal courts have ruled that Public Law 280 hasn't divested tribes of their inherent sovereignty over tribal members. But the 9th Circuit, in the first case of its kind, ruled that ICWA contains an exception for Public Law 280 states like California even though both laws are separated by three decades and a shift in federal policy towards self-determination.

"When Congress enacted ICWA, states already were exercising their Public Law 280 jurisdiction over child dependency proceedings, a fact we presume Congress knew," the court wrote.

So rather than "undo this statutory and historical framework and immediately vest exclusive jurisdiction in the tribes," the court said Public Law 280 states share "concurrent jurisdiction" over Indian child dependency proceedings.

The 9th Circuit noted that ICWA contains a procedure for tribes in California and other Public Law 280 states to assume "exclusive" jurisdiction. Section 1918 requires the tribe to submit an application to the Interior Department, something that didn't happen in the Elem Indian Colony's case.

In its brief at the 9th Circuit level, the Elem Indian Colony acknowledges the existence of Section 1918 but said it only applies in private child custody proceedings, not in situations where a state takes action. In this case, the state went onto the Elem Reservation and removed the Indian child from the home.

Section 1918 was at issue in another ICWA case in the state courts. Siskiyou County objected when the Karuk Tribe sought to transfer a child welfare case to tribal court, arguing that the tribe failed to submit an application to the Interior Department.

Bu the 3rd District appeals court ruled the section didn't apply because the tribe was only seeking to transfer the case, not seek exclusive jurisdiction. Citing the 9th Circuit's ruling in Doe v. Mann, the court said "all tribes, regardless of their 280 status, be able to accept transfer jurisdiction of ICWA cases from state courts."

Doe v. Mann drew significant attention nationwide at it went before the 9th Circuit. The Yurok Tribe and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, both of California, each submitted briefs in support of the Elem Indian Colony.

The National Indian Child Welfare Association, the Association of Indian Affairs and the Tanana Chiefs Conference submitted a joint brief to the 9th Circuit. The Tribal Supreme Court Project of the Native American Rights Fund and the National Congress of American Indians monitored the case as it went before the justices.

9th Circuit Decision:
Doe v. Mann (July 19, 2005)

Court Briefs and Case Documents:
NCAI-NARF Tribal Supreme Court Project

Relevant Links:
National Indian Child Welfare Association - http://www.nicwa.org

Related Stories:
Christian Mag: Children at mercy of ICWA tribes (04/14)
California appeals court rules in ICWA transfer case (03/10)
Paper concludes series on Indian child welfare (01/06)
Rapid City Journal runs series on Indian child welfare (1/5)
South Dakota panel pressed on Indian child welfare (10/04)
White Earth Band seeks control of child custody case (09/15)
Meskwaki mother decides not to give up baby son (08/26)
Oglala Sioux Tribe seeks role in child welfare case (8/25)
Indian mother gives up son to non-Indian couple (08/15)
Child welfare case handed to Ute Mountain Ute Tribe (8/8)
Meskwaki mother asks tribe not to hold up adoption (07/28)
9th Circuit rules against tribe in California ICWA case (07/20)
Meskwaki mom wants son to go to non-Native family (07/06)
Adopted Navajo child to return home to reservation (06/22)
Wisconsin tribes form child welfare partnership (06/16)
GAO calls for better state data in ICWA cases (04/08)
Failures cited in child abuse on Utah reservation (03/21)
Couple says mother didn't want son in her tribe (03/01)
Hearing slated on custody dispute over Indian boy (02/28)
Yellow Bird: A nation cannot flourish without children (02/01)
Indian mother in South Dakota wants adopted son back (01/31)
Navajo child welfare case sparks legal battle (01/31)
New Mexico infant law said to conflict with ICWA (01/28)
Iowa announces foster care plan for Indian children (11/24)
Alaska opinion backs away from tribal courts (11/01)
Alaska wants to reduce tribal powers in child welfare (09/09)
Fort Peck Tribes sign child welfare agreement (09/07)
Dispute over child welfare contract continues (09/06)
South Dakota Supreme Court supports ICWA case (08/27)
Choctaw Nation helping man in child custody battle (07/06)
Foster care commission seeks tribal inclusion (05/19)
Judge cites ICWA in returning drug addicted baby (03/22)
Native children living in poor, single-parent homes (03/19)
S.D. tribes unhappy with gutting of ICWA bill (02/24)
Bill seeks study of Indian child welfare system in S.D. (02/05)
High rate of Indian adoptions in Iowa protested (01/13)

Copyright 2000-2006 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribes united against Keystone XL Pipeline (9/19)
Regina Brave: The earth that once was will soon be no more (9/19)
Chelsey Luger and Gyasi Ross: A conversation about suicide (9/19)
Cobell settlement checks being cashed across Indian Country (9/19)
Congress passes measure for tribal general welfare programs (9/19)
Native Sun News: US Senate candidates debate Native issues (9/18)
Cobell settlement checks landing in Indian Country mailboxes (9/18)
Sen. Walsh welcomes arrival of last Cobell settlement payout (9/18)
Rep. Daines praises House action on tribal general welfare bill (9/18)
Winnebago attorney joins BIA as a deputy assistant secretary (9/18)
NWIFC schedules briefing on 'Treaty Rights 101' on Capitol Hill (9/18)
Norbert Hill: It's past time to drop the Washington NFL mascot (9/18)
Peter d'Errico: Connecting mascots to racism and termination (9/18)
Opinion: Eliminating NFL team's racist mascot is just the start (9/18)
Student newspaper punished over refusal to print the R-word (9/18)
Officer investigated for 'drunk uneducated animals' comment (9/18)
9th Circuit rules against Chemehuevi Tribe in land deed case (9/18)
Mashable: Oglala Sioux man still pushing MazaCoin currency (9/18)
City won't allow vote on Tohono O'odham Nation casino plan (9/18)
9th Circuit poses tough questions in Big Lagoon casino case (9/18)
North Fork Rancheria banks on voter approval of casino deal (9/18)
KBIC judge dismisses lawsuit challenging plan for new casino (9/18)
Oneida Nation concerned about location of commercial casino (9/18)
Mashantucket Tribe's gaming executive to resign next month (9/18)
Column: Time for Mohegan Tribe to show its hand over casino (9/18)
Native Sun News: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe honors veterans (9/17)
Mark Trahant: Is independence in the future for tribal nations? (9/17)
Audio: SCIA takes up bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/17)
House approves bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/17)
House Natural Resources Committee sets markup on tribal bills (9/17)
House subcommittee to hold hearing on bill for Hualapai Tribe (9/17)
9th Circuit takes up Big Lagoon Rancheria gaming land dispute (9/17)
House passes bill to shield Gun Lake Tribe casino from litigation (9/17)
Andre Cramblit: Enjoying life at Dartmouth as a Native student (9/17)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Tribes need to lead climate change reform (9/17)
Sarah Deer wins genius grant for work to protect Native women (9/17)
Tex Hall loses bid for another term as chair of North Dakota tribe (9/17)
Group starts dragging of river in search of missing Native women (9/17)
Appeal filed over Navajo language ability of presidential hopeful (9/17)
Trial delayed for leader of Muscogee Nation accused in theft case (9/17)
Editorial: Pass bill to extend federal recognition to Virginia tribes (9/17)
NLRB reaffirms jurisdiction over Little River Band gaming facility (9/17)
Chumash Tribe to use labor unions for all work on casino project (9/17)
Student arrested over theft at Saginaw Chippewa Tribe's casino (9/17)
Native Sun News: Homeless students find support in Rapid City (9/16)
Checks from final payment of Cobell settlement put in the mail (9/16)
DOI offers $9.4M for Cobell buy-backs on Umatilla Reservation (9/16)
House takes up bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/16)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.