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Conn., N.Y. attorneys general urges Supreme Court to reject Indian Child Welfare Act challenge

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong
Office of Connecticut Attorney General William Tong

Connecticut and New York are among 24 states to join a bipartisan coalition to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a challenge to a law that provides protection for children under the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said the coalition wants to secure protections guaranteed to Native American children, their families and tribal communities.

The 1979 law prevents unwarranted displacement of Native American children from their Tribal communities. The law was passed in response to state child-custody proceedings that moved Native American children from the custody of their parents and placed them in the custody of non-tribal adoptive and foster homes.

Charles Bunnell, a representative for the Mohegan Tribe, said state courts have followed the law for decades to ensure that Native children are placed within tribal communities. Bunnell said the approach is recognized as the “gold standard” of child welfare practices.

“Together as sovereign governments, Connecticut and the Mohegan Tribe are working together to ensure that ICWA continues to be implemented for the protection of children, parents and the political and cultural integrity of Tribal Nations,” Bunnell said.

Bunnel said the Mohegan Tribe deeply appreciates Tong and Connecticut’s leadership in defending the constitutionality of the federal tribal welfare program. He said the law ensures active efforts to avoid the psychological harm of removing a child from extended family and placing the child within a community that is foreign.

Jeniece Roman is WSHU's Report for America corps member who writes about Indigenous communities in Southern New England and Long Island, New York.