Court Strikes Down Landmark Indian Child Welfare Act Ruling

A federal appeals court has delivered a major blow to tribes and parents who have been seeking stronger enforcement of the Indian Child Welfare Act in South Dakota. The Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and three Indian parents went to court more than five years ago, alarmed by the large numbers of Indian children being taken from their families. They secured a historic ruling which confirmed that the state was violating ICWA by failing to provide adequate notice in child welfare proceedings.” Indian children, parents and tribes deserve better,” Judge Jeffrey L. Viken stated in his landmark March 2015 ruling.But that victory is no more. In a unanimous decision, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals last week set aside the ruling, saying Viken went too far when he ordered the state to improve compliance with ICWA, the 1978 law that remains under attack throughout the nation.