January 24th, 2013
In early January, the United State Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of an Indian Child Welfare Act case. The Act was enacted into law in 1978 based on serious concerns about the overwhelming removal of Indian child from their families and communities based on misguided and ethnocentric views of state agencies about American Indian families and cultures. Congress also broke new ground in the Act and stated that tribal governments had an interest in Indian children and in striving to keep those future citizens of the tribes within their communities and cultures and to be raised by Indian families.
The Court is hearing an appeal by Matt and Melanie Capobianco, from North Carolina, about a 3-year old Cherokee girl they adopted from Oklahoma. The North Carolina courts held that the adoption was in violation of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act and the child had to be returned to her Indian father.
The Act has only been considered once before by the Supreme Court, in 1989, in MIssissippi Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30 (1989). In that case, the Court strongly upheld the Act.