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ICWA protections now law in Wyoming, Montana considers similar move

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Posted at 11:17 AM, Mar 17, 2023

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon recently signed a bill that makes the Indian Child Welfare Act state law as an increasing number of states consider similar moves.

Congress enacted ICWA in 1978 to protect Native American children from removal from their tribes to be fostered or adopted by anyone from outside a federally recognized tribe.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on a case challenging those protections sometime this year after hearing arguments in the Haaland v. Brackeen case this past fall.

Eleven states have now codified ICWA, including Wyoming. Utah’s legislature is also working on a similar bill that is currently on hold but may appear again later in the session.

Montana representative Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, told MTN News he hopes his Montana Indian Child Welfare Act legislation ensures that Montana tribes continue to have a say in the child protective care process.

He said state laws regarding tribal rights to children help facilitate inter-state child protective issues.

Rep. Windy Boy’s HB 317 passed out of the House and is expected to be heard in the Senate.

The measure includes additional programming and support for Native families navigating dependent neglect cases.

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