Written Comments on ICWA Consultation Due Soon

Aug 23, 2023 | News

On July 17, 2023, the Department of the Interior, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Justice (the Administration) sent a letter to Tribal leaders asking for input on how the Administration can promote federal protections for Indian children and their caregivers.  Specifically, the Administration seeks input on the following matters:

  • What additional support would Tribal leaders find helpful to build their Tribe’s capacity to exercise their rights and responsibilities under ICWA?
  • Are there specific supports you believe the federal government could provide to help state courts and child welfare agencies meet their obligations under ICWA?
  • In your experience, are there specific aspects or requirements of ICWA where state courts and agencies need to build greater understanding or capacity?
  • Are there existing State-Tribe collaborative partnerships or processes that you believe have helped support effective implementation of ICWA?

Written comments addressing these and other issues are due by Friday September 15, 2023 and may be submitted to consultation@bia.gov.  Two virtual tribal consultation sessions were held in early August.

Despite the recent Supreme Court decision in Haaland v. Brackeen, ICWA is still vulnerable to attack, Brackeen did not reach the issue of whether ICWA violates the Equal Protection Clause which has become a popular argument in certain legal circles.  Additionally, ICWA may be weakened by administrative rules or policies reducing funding and relaxing reporting requirements.  In light of these uncertainties, opportunities for input are incredibly valuable to assert the importance of ICWA to Tribal communities and strengthen existing ICWA protections.

The Dear Tribal Leader Letter with additional details is available here.

Patterson Earnhart Real Bird & Wilson LLP is dedicated to the representation of American Indian tribes, tribal entities, and individual Indians across the United States. Our mission is to support and advance the sovereignty, self-sufficiency, and self-governance of our tribal clients.

To learn more about how we can assist your tribe, contact our DC office at 202-434-8903.