Attorney Lisa F. Cook, a member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, delivered a presentation explaining the goals of ICWA, passed in 1978, along with ways she said the law has failed to work.
â€œThe core of ICWA
is designed to prevent the breakup of the Indian family, or to reunite the Indian family as soon as possible,â€ she
said in an interview after the presentation.
said the law mandates notice to a family before a child is removed, and it facilitates the transfer of cases to tribal courts.
If a child does have to be removed, she
added, the law requires that the childâ€™s placement follow a priority list.
said circumstances sometimes make it hard for ICWA
to work effectively.
mentioned, for instance, times in which adoption agencies and other organizations had sent notice to families on reservations, but because of incorrect spelling or transposed numbers, the information never reached the family.
said the law had been affected by court interpretation, as well.
â€œThe Indian Child Welfare Act is a good law,â€ she
said. â€œHowever, interpretation of it in state court is making a bunch of lousy laws.â€