Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Consultations Begin This Week

By: Michele B. Brown| Senior Counsel | michele.brown@procopio.com
Stephanie Conduff | Attorney | stephanie.conduff@procopio.com
Theodore J. Griswold
 | Partner | ted.griswold@procopio.com

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is hosting a series of consultative meetings with tribal leaders and the public starting this week and concluding on May 14th in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

On March 20, 2015, the published draft regulations were released by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). They seek to improve the implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) for state courts and public and private agencies. As part of the notice and comment period the BIA is hosting a series of public hearings and tribal consultations.

One of the main issues turns on the word “must” or “should.” The BIA asks commenters to analyze the draft regulations’ use of the term that an action “must” be taken because it is authorized by ICWA versus proposed provisions which provide that certain actions “should” be taken.

The first meeting was held Monday in Portland, Oregon in conjunction with the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) conference in Portland, Oregon.

Upcoming Tribal Consultation Sessions:

  • Thursday, April 23, 9 a.m. – noon MST, Rapid City, South Dakota
  • Tuesday, May 5, 9 a.m. – noon MST, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Thursday, May 7, 9 a.m. – noon CST, Prior Lake, Minnesota
  • Monday, May 11, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST, via teleconference call-in number 888-730-9138, Passcode: INTERIOR
  • Thursday, May 14, 9 a.m. – noon CST, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Upcoming Public Meetings:

  • Thursday, April 23, 1 p.m. – 4 MST, Rapid City, South Dakota
  • Tuesday, May 5, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. MST, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Thursday, May 7, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. CST, Prior Lake, Minnesota
  • Tuesday, May 12, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST, via teleconference
  • Thursday, May 14, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. CST, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Assistant Secretary Washburn invites public comments at the consultation sessions or, hand delivered to Ms. Elizabeth Appel, in DC or in submitted in writing to comments@bia.gov.

For specific instructions in submitting comments, please visit the tribal leader letter that can be accessed here: http://www.indianaffairs.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc1-029630.pdf

A copy of the proposed regulations and schedule of tribal consultations and public hearings is available here: http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc1-029629.pdf

Please let us know if we may provide additional information or assistance regarding the Bureau of Indian Affairs proposed regulations for the Indian Child Welfare Act or related matters.

Michele B. Brown focuses her practice on family law. Since 2002, Michele has been a Certified Family Law Specialist, certified by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization. She is extensively involved in drafting and reviewing family law legislation in California and frequently testifies before the Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees on family law.

Stephanie Conduff, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, is a member of the firm’s Real Estate and Environmental Team and a member of the Native American Law practice group. Her practice emphasizes working with tribal governments, individual Native people, and companies doing business in Indian Country. She provides advice and strategic policy analysis on national regulatory issues and advises clients of the legal and policy issues. Stephanie’s work focuses on tribal sovereignty and self-governance, tribal lands, and the federal trust responsibility.

Ted is head of the Native American Law practice group and primary editor for the Blogging Circle. Connect with Ted at ted.griswold@procopio.com and 619.515.3277.