Law | Federal Recognition

Michigan court won't apply ICWA to non-recognized Indians

The Indian Child Welfare Act does not apply to non-federally recognized Indians, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled last month.

A man who is a member of the Mackinac Bands of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians disputed the termination of his parental rights under ICWA. However, he acknowledged in court that his tribe lacks recognition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

"The Secretary of the Interior, BIA, lists 566 tribal entities that are currently 'recognized and eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs by virtue of their status as Indian tribes,' and that the Mackinac Bands of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians is not among the currently recognized tribal entities," the court of appeals said in an unpublished opinion on June 25.

Some members of the Mackinac Bands are members of, or are eligible for membership, in the federally recognized Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The father in the case did not appear to make any claims in that regard.

Michigan Court of Appeals Decision:
In the Matter of K. THIBEAULT, Minor. (June 25, 2013)

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