Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA The South Carolina Supreme Court last Thursday denied a motion to rehear a case that drew national attention because it involved the Indian Child Welfare Act.
The biological father can continue to raise his 3 year old daughter.
In late July, the justices ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law designed to keep American Indian children with their tribes, supersedes state adoption laws. In a one sentence order yesterday, the court ruled in a 3-2 decision to deny a request for rehearing the case. This brings the three year old case to a close in the South Carolina courts.
The case involved the illegal adoption by a non-Indian couple who reside in Charlestown, South Carolina. The biological parents of the child who is now three, never married. The biological father is a tribal citizen of the Cherokee Nation based in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The biological mother is non-Native.
“Cherokee Nation is pleased that the South Carolina Supreme Court has upheld the family court's decision to return the child to her father,”
Cherokee Nation Assistant Attorney General Chrissi Ross Nimmo said.
“We are proud of our role in the reunification process.”
The father was deployed to Iraq where he earned a Bronze Medal.
Contained in the South Carolina Supreme Court case are numerous incidents of unscrupulous behavior in order for the adoption to take place in the first place. The biological mother, who had knowledge of the fact the father is American Indian failed to present proper information to the Cherokee Nation to see if in fact the father was a tribal citizen.
For a span of time he was unaware his child was put up for adoption. It was discovered that the adoption papers never disclosed Brown was a tribal citizen.
Upon his return from active duty, the father went to court seeking custody of his daughter, using the Indian Child Welfare Act that was enacted in 1978 due to the large number of American Indian children that were removed from their homes. The Indian Child Welfare Act grants rights to American Indian children's tribes and family to raise Indian children in American Indian families.
“In light of the South Carolina Supreme Court's decision regarding the custody the National Indian Child Welfare Association commends the court's affirmation of the rights of the biological father to maintain custody of his daughter.”
commented Terry Cross, executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, based in Portland, Oregon.
“Our hearts go out to the families on both sides of this case. At the heart of the National Indian Child Welfare Association's mission is advocacy for full implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act in order to protect all families from such tragic situations.”
The biological father and his parents are raising his three year old daughter. In an interview with the father's attorneys last month, Native News Network discovered the father works two jobs so that he can pay the legal fees that were incurred to argue the case.
The case drew the ire of the general public because of its presentation by the national media, such as Anderson Cooper on CNN, citing the abuse of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
The South Carolina Supreme Court did not see it that way.
Editor's Note: The Cherokee Nation has not released the name of the father due to privacy issues involving this family. In conversations with the biological father's attorneys it was revealed that the family has received numerous threats due to public reaction involving the Indian Child Welfare Act. For purposes of this article, Native News Network has decided to follow the lead of the Cherokee Nation and not disclose the Name of the Father.
posted August 27, 2012 9:20 am edt