Today, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed legislation codifying the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) into state law. ICWA prioritizes keeping Native American children in the homes of their families or tribes when safe and possible, and ensures tribes have a role in cases involving their children. The new law comes as the U.S. Supreme Court considers the case of Brackeen vs. Haaland, on the constitutionality of ICWA.
In response to Wyoming’s passage of the bill, defending tribes in the Supreme Court case – represented by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., Morongo Band of Mission Indians Chairman Charles Martin, and Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi Hill – issued the following statement:
“Wyoming’s lawmakers have taken a critical step in protecting children by passing this legislation, which will codify ICWA into state law. The passage of this bill is further proof that the importance of ICWA is not a politically divisive issue, but a matter of bipartisan consensus. From the most conservative states to the most progressive, legislatures and leaders across the country are moving to enshrine the principles of ICWA in their state laws because it works. It works for tribes, it works for families, and above all, it works for children.
“This of course is only the latest evidence of ICWA’s overwhelming, bipartisan support. Half of U.S. states – spanning diverse political views – and Washington, D.C. filed a brief with the Supreme Court defending ICWA’s constitutionality and praising its success. They were joined by Democratic and Republican members of both chambers of Congress and countless other tribes, health organizations, legal scholars and child welfare experts in speaking out in support of the law.
“Despite the dogged attempts to politicize ICWA, lawmakers are continuing to look at the facts and listen to child welfare experts on this issue. All the signs are pointing to the same truth: ICWA is the gold standard for child welfare, and it is critical to ensuring the best outcomes for Native American children. In the coming weeks and months, we look forward to the Supreme Court ruling on the side of ICWA, and on the side of children and families.”