I am writing today as the principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation to shed some light on the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was grossly mischaracterized in a recent opinion piece by Louisiana’s Solicitor General Liz Murrill. ICWA is a federal law that makes sure Indian children in the foster care system can stay within their tribal communities, connected to their culture and heritage. It protects our children by ensuring tribes can participate in each and every single foster care case involving a Native American child to ensure they are handled with the care and cultural sensitivity that is required.
A federal judge recently declared ICWA unconstitutional, and the decision was appealed in the Fifth Circuit under Brackeen v. Bernhardt. In her piece, Solicitor General Liz Murrill said that the federal judge struck down some of ICWA’s provisions because they strip state courts of their powers. It does no such thing. The fact of the matter is that ICWA is federal law; states must follow both state and federal laws governing child welfare. ICWA also recognizes the inherent sovereign rights that tribes have over their affairs. There is no issue more important to the Cherokee Nation than the safety and welfare of our children, which is why the Cherokee Nation devotes many resources, time and effort to be involved in every foster care case involving a Cherokee child.