Seattle Hosts Major Native American Child Welfare Seminar -- 13 November 2008

On November 13, 2008, the Seattle office of Foster Pepper PLLC played host to a unique and far-ranging seminar entitled “Advocacy For The Native American Child – Honoring The Spirit And Intent Of The Indian Child Welfare Act”. The day-long program provided a comprehensive overview of the legal issues and cultural impacts of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, and offered specific instruction on the legal representation of Native children in Tribal, state, and federal courts.

Seminar attendees received tremendous volume and depth of instruction from distinguished panel of legal and cultural experts from across the country. Keynote speaker Judge William A. Thorne Jr. of the Utah State Court of Appeals addressed the problems of disproportionality of Native American children in government dependency systems; University of Washington professors Lorraine Brave and Ron Whitener highlighted cultural and ethical considerations for representing Native children in the courts; a panel comprised of child advocates, foster parents, and foster care alumni discussed the practical realities of life for Native American children in the dependency system; and Justice Bobbe Bridge of the Center for Children & Youth Justice closed the program with an inspirational message on the importance of strong and capable advocacy for the rights and welfare of Native children.

In addition to the live presentations, the seminar unveiled the new Indian Child Welfare Act practitioner’s desk book and digital training guide, produced by Foster Pepper attorneys in partnership with King County CASA. These resources give attorneys and advocates practical tools and guidance for effective representation of Native American children in dependency actions. Podcasts and video links for the presentations, along with copies of the program materials and desk book resources, will be accessible via this website

(Presentations are in Adobe PDF format and require Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

(Audio files are in .mp3 format and require an Audio player or you can listen via iTunes.)

Listen to all the audio files and subscribe to the RSS feed.

(Video files are in .m4v format and require QuickTime.)

Watch all the video files and subscribe to the RSS feed.

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Native American Legal Update - April 14, 2009 9:46 AM
The King County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program has announced the Seattle law firm of Foster Pepper PLLC as the 2009 recipient of the Judge David Soukup Pro Bono Recognition Award. W. Gregory Guedel, Chair of the firm’s Native...
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Lisa - June 13, 2009 11:06 AM

The Second Appellate Court in California issued a partially published opinion in Justin L. v. Superior. The Court wrote;
“We are growing weary of appeals in which the only error is the
Department’s failure to comply with ICWA. (See In re I.G. (2005) 133
Cal.App.4th 1246, 1254-1255 [14 published opinions in 2002 through 2005, and
72 unpublished cases statewide in 2005 alone reversing in whole or in part for
noncompliance with ICWA].) Remand for the limited purpose of the ICWA
compliance is all too common. (Ibid.) ICWA’s requirements are not new. Yet
the prevalence of inadequate notice remains disturbingly high.”

Perhaps compliance is difficult because the law itself is unjust, and caring people don't like to see children subjected to not only unjust, but dangerous law.

And under the single criterion that a home be ICWA eligable, kids are continually being placed into horrible situations with the blessing of both the federal and tribal governments.

And not just kids of tribal heritage - but children of every heritage, because a child doesn't need to be 100% tribal to for a tribe to have jurisdiction over them through ICWA. Most tribes require only 1/4 blood quantum, meaning the child has an even greater heritage somewhere else. Some tribes require even less to claim a child. For example, a child in Texas has less than 2% tribal heritage, but the tribe is trying to claim him.

The law itself is a crime, and as long as it stays that way, there will be difficulty in getting compassionate people to comply.

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