indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
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:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Sen. Barrasso introduces another version of land-into-trust fix (7/29)
Native Sun News: Rapid City trial ends with no defense witnesses (7/29)
Lakota Country Times: Youth come to Pine Ridge for 'Exposures' (7/29)
Charles Trimble: Being mixed-race Indian and being proud of it (7/29)
Ivan Star: It's up to all of us to keep the Lakota language alive (7/29)
Congress fails to provide funds to help tribes comply with VAWA (7/29)
Suit alleges tribal leaders received kickbacks from lobbying firm (7/29)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe claims DOJ support for marijuana (7/29)
Community on Crow Reservation on lockdown due to shooting (7/29)
Hillary Clinton refuses to answer questions about Keystone XL (7/29)
Judge upset with delay in drilling dispute affecting sacred land (7/29)
Tribal leaders scale back plans to regulate energy development (7/29)
Fort Belknap Indian Community awaits tests in deaths of bison (7/29)
Public school board in Indiana votes to eliminate 'Indian' mascot (7/29)
Column: Northern Cheyenne Tribe took a final stand in Oklahoma (7/29)
Study outlines impacts of tribal gaming on economy in Oklahoma (7/29)
Judge orders Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe to stop work on casino (7/29)
Fond du Lac Band prevails yet again in long-running casino feud (7/29)
Chukchansi Tribe hosts job fair amid hopes of reopening casino (7/29)
Cowlitz Tribe still working on design plans for contested casino (7/29)
Indian Health Service discusses LGBT issues in historic meeting (7/28)
Haskell students to study fracking on North Dakota reservation (7/28)
Erica Pinto makes history as first woman leader of Jamul Village (7/28)
Native Sun News: Young artist wins top award at Native market (7/28)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe hosts war pony races (7/28)
Steve Russell: The hypocrisy of race and Cherokee citizenship (7/28)
Terese Marie Mailhot: I was raised to be angry at White women (7/28)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Indian Country stuck with bad Republican (7/28)
Aaron Angerman: Alaska Natives not consulted about mine plan (7/28)
IHS hired physician who was sanctioned by Justice Department (7/28)
Cherokee Nation candidate emerges victorious in new election (7/28)
Ponca Tribe reclaims small part of ancestral lands in Nebraska (7/28)
Tuscarora Nation returns to ancestral home in North Carolina (7/28)
9th Circuit sides with Suquamish Tribe in fishing rights dispute (7/28)
10th Circuit affirms convictions of former Paiute Tribe employee (7/28)
Warm Springs Tribes welcome early start to huckleberry season (7/28)
Young man from Omaha Tribe sentenced for sexual abuse of child (7/28)
Makah Nation man charged for assault during attempted escape (7/28)
Miami Nation stays out of public school mascot debate in Indiana (7/28)
Tohono O'odham Nation wins round in casino battle with Arizona (7/28)
Wisconsin asks Supreme Court to rule on Ho-Chunk Nation poker (7/28)
Navajo Nation Council passes tax on alcohol at gaming facilities (7/28)
Seminole Tribe reiterates request for mediation in casino dispute (7/28)
Mohegan Tribe fired worker who helped casino regular break rules (7/28)
War of words escalates on mine at sacred Apache site in Arizona (7/27)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to take up land-into-trust fix (7/27)
Senate panel sets hearing on substance abuse in Indian Country (7/27)
Red Lake Nation schedules August 19 referendum on liquor sales (7/27)
Poarch Creeks win injunction blocking county from imposing tax (7/27)
Native Sun News: Indian elders suffer from higher dementia risk (7/27)
Lakota Country Times: Lawmakers hear about tribal economies (7/27)
Mark Trahant: Press the Republican candidates on Indian issues (7/27)
Brandon Ecoffey: Race remains an issue for police in Rapid City (7/27)
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.