Cherokee Nation Applauds BIA’s Indian Child Welfare Act Guideline Revision

Cherokee Dustin Brown fought vigorously to keep custody of daughter, Veronica and lost.

Cherokee Dustin Brown fought vigorously to keep custody of daughter, Veronica and lost.

TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA —This week the U.S. Department of Interior Asst. Sec.for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn addressed tribal leaders, including Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, on the revision of Indian Child Welfare Act guidelines for state courts. The briefing was given during the National Congress of American Indians meeting in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. Crittenden serves as a NCAI regional vice president.

The BIA’s new guidelines prioritize early intervention with services designed to prevent Native children from being removed from their homes. The new guidelines also give state courts clear direction on how to locate family and tribal members for placement if a Native child can no longer safely remain in his or her own home.

“The Cherokee Nation applauds Mr. Washburn and his staff for taking the time to listen to the concerns of tribes and Indian families,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “The Cherokee Nation, along with many other tribes and Indian organizations, submitted comments to the BIA on the need for updated guidelines following the case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.”

Chief Baker said if these best practices had been utilized in the Adoptive Couple case, Veronica Brown could have remained in the care of her family and within her Cherokee community.

“Tribal governments nationwide have known for years the requirements in these new guidelines are the best practices and should be followed when an Indian child is involved in the state court system,” Chief Baker said. “It is our hope the changes will lead to increased tribal involvement, safer communities, and the preservation, retention and protection of our most vital resource – our Cherokee children.”


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