Column: Lawyer switches sides for Indian Child Welfare Act case

"In 1994, Minneapolis attorney Mark Fiddler was involved in what he thought at the time was a significant victory for American Indians in the Minnesota Supreme Court. As executive director of the Indian Child Welfare Law Center, he opposed the adoption of Sierra Goodman to Eugene and Carol Campbell because she was Indian and they were not.

Fiddler, who is part Indian, believed that if the Campbells were able to adopt Goodman, it would violate the Indian Child Welfare Act, which had been passed because of widespread removal of Indian children from their homes in the 1980s. Indian children were better off if they remained with families of their own culture, the courts agreed.

Fiddler still believes keeping an Indian child with the tribe is a good idea if possible. But experience has taught him that in some cases, the desires of the Indian tribe to keep children in the tribe overrules the best interests of the child. He is now the attorney for a couple in South Carolina who recently lost their adopted Indian daughter because of the ICWA, and he's reaching out to an unusual person to help him bring the case to the U.S. Supreme Court: Sierra Goodman (now McGaughey)."

Get the Story:
Jon Tevlin: Adoption case from long ago brings lessons for one now (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 9/5)

South Carolina Supreme Court Decision:
Adoptive Couple v. Cherokee Nation (July 26, 2012)

Related Stories:
Court won't rehear ICWA case involving Cherokee Nation father (8/30)
Opinion: ICWA punishes child returned to her Cherokee father (8/28)
Opinion: Media slanted against ICWA in South Carolina case (8/23)
Couple wants rehearing in ICWA case of Cherokee Nation girl (8/14)
Court supports return of child to Cherokee father under ICWA (7/26)
Terry Cross: Compliance with Indian Child Welfare Act needed (7/25)
New group lobbies Congress to change Indian Child Welfare Act (7/11)
Couple in ICWA case says Cherokee child is more 'Latino' (04/19)
South Carolina court hears ICWA case for Cherokee child (4/17)
Former Sen. Abourezk clarifies comment about ICWA case (01/24)
South Carolina Supreme Court pushed to take up ICWA case (01/18)
Cherokee Nation seeks gag order in ICWA dispute making news (1/5)
Cherokee Nation man wins custody of daughter in ICWA case (1/3)

Join the Conversation