Statement on Indian Child Welfare Protections Remaining Applicable in All 50 States


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Official Statement from the Native American Rights Fund, the National Indian Child Welfare Association, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Association on American Indian Affairs about the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) judgment stay pending appeal:

Yesterday’s decision to stay the District Court’s ruling in Brackeen v. Zinke pending appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is welcome news for Indian children and families, especially in states like Texas where efforts already were underway to remove ICWA’s protections. ICWA remains the law of the land and applicable in all 50 states. The critical work between states and tribes to apply the ‘gold standard in child welfare’ by keeping Indian children with their family and community will continue.

NCAI President Jefferson Keel (Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma) said, “The stay granted yesterday by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is a welcome and positive step. It means that no Indian child who encounters the child welfare system in Texas, Indiana and Louisiana during this time should be denied the protections and safeguards afforded them under the Indian Child Welfare Act. NCAI will continue to support the intervening Tribal Nations and the Department of Justice as they fight to protect the best interests of all Indian children across the United States through the Indian Child Welfare Act.”

NARF Staff Attorney Dan Lewerenz (Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska) said, “The Fifth Circuit made the right decision. ICWA is not some new, unimplemented statute that can be set aside without repercussions. It is an Act of Congress, 40 years tried and true, that is intricately woven into state and tribal child welfare systems. Its unraveling would have had serious and harmful effects on dozens, if not hundreds, of Native children. We’re glad that the Fifth Circuit recognizes that.”

Read more about NARF’s work to protect the welfare of Indian children.