The Kenaitze Indian Tribe has joined with other Tribes and Tribal Organizations around the country in an amicus brief in support of the Indian Child Welfare Act and the law’s focus on the best interests of American Indian and Alaska Native children.
The brief was filed with the United States Supreme Court on Aug. 19 in the case of Haaland v. Brackeen on behalf of 497 Tribes and 62 Tribal and Native Organizations.
“It’s critical for the Tribal Court. It’s critical for the Tribe. The case involves our sovereignty and the protection of our children and families,” Tribal Council Vice Chair Mary Ann Mills said. “If this case is lost, it could affect the sovereignty of tribal nations.”
According to the Native American Rights Fund, it is likely the most Tribal signatories to have ever joined together on a single Supreme Court brief and highlights the united effort to protect American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, and tribal sovereignty.
The plaintiffs in the case are challenging requirements in the Indian Child Welfare Act that in any custody proceeding involving an “Indian child,” preference be given to placing the child with a member of the child’s extended family, other members of the child’s tribe, or with other Indian families, rather than with non-Indian adoptive parents. Plaintiffs also argue that the U.S. Congress exceeded its authority in enacting those preferences in the law.
Defendants in the lawsuit are the Cherokee Nation and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. Defendants argue that Congress was well within its authority to enact the Indian Child Welfare Act, and that law supports tribal sovereignty, self-government, and the best interests of Alaska Native and American Indian children.
The amicus brief, in support of the defendants, argues that “Congress carefully crafted ICWA to protect the legal rights of Indian children and parents and to incorporate important jurisdictional and political interests of Tribes in decisions concerning the welfare and placement of their children.”
Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Nov. 9.