Parents and attorneys in the Indian child custody lawsuit in Minnesota. Photo: Americans For Tribal Court Equality Inc

Non-Indian parents file lawsuit to halt transfer of child custody cases to tribes

Two non-Indian parents filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the state of Minnesota from transferring Indian child custody cases to tribes.

The parents are suing Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper as well as Scott County. They allege the defendants violated state and federal law, including the Indian Child Welfare Act, by transferring cases involving their children to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

"Time and time again, we see the member parents being preferred over the non-member parents in tribal courts," attorney Erick Kaardal said at a press conference on Tuesday, The Prior Lake American reported. "The tribal courts prefer Indian relatives to non-Indian relatives. That's a discrimination."

The parents, though, are not suing the tribe, which could raise issues of sovereign immunity. The complaint, which was filed on Tuesday, merely lists the tribe in a section titled "Others."

"We believe in the fairness of our tribal court system, which has been in place for nearly 30 years. The community views these matters as personal and private and will not discuss them publicly," the tribe said in a statement to The Prior Lake American in response to the lawsuit.

The parents are part of a group calling itself Americans for Tribal Court Equality, which is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Read More on the Story:
Scott County faces lawsuit over tribal custody cases (The Prior Lake American October 9, 2017)
New lawsuit targets custody battles in tribal courts (KMSP October 10, 2017)
Minnesota Parents File Suit Over Tribal Court Custody Cases (WCCO October 10, 2017)

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