Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Arizona court rejects tribe's appeal in girl's adoption case


PHOENIX (AP) — A state appeals court has ruled a move by lawyers for Arizona's Gila River Indian Community to shift custody proceedings to its own court came too late as the tribe tried to intervene in the adoption of a Native American girl to a non-Native American couple.

The tribe had aimed to transfer the case to its jurisdiction under the Indian Child Welfare Act — a federal law that prioritizes placing Native American children removed from the custody of their parents with relatives or another Native American family. It was passed in 1978 to prevent the break-up of Native American families after officials found children within tribes were being removed from homes at disproportionately high rates.

"The net effect of today's appellate decision, if upheld, will be to tear a small child away from her siblings and from her Akimel O'otham heritage," Gov. Stephen Lewis, of Gilar River Indian Community, said in a written statement. "Our Community believes this is not at all in the best interest of the child, nor does it represent the intent of the Indian Child Welfare Act."


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