TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council passed a resolution Monday to establish a chain of priority placement in Cherokee adoptive and foster care cases.
“This law will strengthen the cases for our social workers and lawyers the next time they are in custody court. It is also a demonstration of this Tribal Council’s support in the fight to keep our most precious treasures, our Cherokee children, at home in Indian country,” Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory-Jordan said.
The Cherokee Nation was involved with the controversial Veronica Brown case that all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Ultimately, Veronica was placed with a non-Native adoptive South Carolina couple.
The resolution now places biological parents deemed fit as the first preference in adoptive and foster care cases involving Cherokee children. A member of the child’s extended family, other members of the Cherokee Nation or other American Indian families would receive next priority in the placement of a child.
“Without a doubt our people, especially our youth, are the tribe’s most valuable asset,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “This new Cherokee Nation law will give our tribal sovereign government and our hard-working ICWA staff an additional tool to protect our people and ensure Cherokee children have the opportunity to live in a loving and nurturing home that is culturally appropriate.”
Within the past five years, Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare has had court involvement with approximately 1,200 to 1,600 Cherokee children per year. Out of these cases, approximately a third are children needing placement in either an adoptive or foster home.