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Utah sides with tribes asking to uphold Indian Child Welfare Act

Utah State Capitol
Posted at 4:30 PM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 18:30:55-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to side with the federal government and tribes to ensure protections in the Indian Child Welfare Act.

In a "friend of the court" brief filed on Friday, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 25 other attorneys general to support four tribes and the United States in a lawsuit before the nation's stop court. In the filing, the coalition argues that states have an interest in standing up for the well-being of all children in state custody proceedings, including Native American children.

"ICWA is a valid exercise of congressional power and serves an important role in fostering a good relationship between the state and Indian tribes. Most importantly, ICWA helps ensure that Indian children maintain connections to their families and their tribe when placed in foster care or when adopted. The state will continue to work with its tribal partners to promote the interests of Utah’s Indian children," Solicitor General Melissa Holyoak said in a statement.

The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed in 1978 to respond to custody proceedings that removed Native American children from their parents' custody and placed them in non-tribal foster homes — often without good cause, said the Utah Attorney General's Office.

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a custody case involving a Native American child and white foster parents in Texas.

Read the amicus filing here: