Native American Children Training Forum

Message from NARF (August 9, 2019)

Dear Tribal Leaders and Tribal Counsel,

Looking for some good news? We just got the Fifth Circuit’s opinion in Brackeen v. Bernhard, the big federal court challenge to ICWA and TRIBES WON. ICWA stands.

We’ll have a more detailed write up for everyone soon, but we’ve also attached the opinion here for your review. And here’s the fun part:

For these reasons, we conclude that Plaintiffs had standing to bring all claims and that ICWA and the Final Rule are constitutional because they are based on a political classification that is rationally related to the fulfillment of Congress’s unique obligation toward Indians; ICWA preempts conflicting state laws and does not violate the Tenth Amendment anticommandeering doctrine; and ICWA and the Final Rule do not violate the nondelegation doctrine. We also conclude that the Final Rule implementing the ICWA is valid because the ICWA is constitutional, the BIA did not exceed its authority when it issued the Final Rule, and the agency’s interpretation of ICWA section 1915 is reasonable. Accordingly, we AFFIRM the district court’s judgment that Plaintiffs had Article III standing. But we REVERSE the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Plaintiffs and RENDER judgment in favor of Defendants on all claims.

Download the Brackeen Opinion in PDF: Brackeen Opinion


With the help of The National Indian Justice Center (NIJC), NPC Research conducted a survey for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) and The California Children’s Justice Act (CJA) Task Force  to assess the needs of the Indian child welfare (ICWA) system in California. Thank you for all those who contributed to this survey. The report is finalized. To view report findings, please click here.  Please cite appropriately when using the report as a reference.

California Department of Social Services-Office of Tribal Affairs
To view the October 11, 2018 news release go to:

Our December 2018 Native American Children Training Forum Newsletter: click here to view.

New Indian Child Welfare Act Challenges On The Horizon
Two types of challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq., now feature prominently: equal protection challenges and challenges based on the intrafamily dispute. To continue reading, click here: New Indian Child Welfare Act Challenges On The Horizon

Our Children, Our Sovereignty, Our Culture, Our Choice--ICWA Guide for Tribal Governments and Leaders
The Indian Child Welfare Act, when complied with, can help prevent these unwarranted removals and ensure Indian children are kept safe while remaining with their families. The purpose of this Guide is to suggest actions that Tribal Leadership can take towards ensuring compliance. To view the entire article, click here. < >

Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Final Rule
A webinar was held Friday, January 13, 2016 and a revised Power Point for the webinar isattached. 

National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC): A National Conversation on ICWA and the New Regulations
A new article from the NACC Guardian, Vol. 38, No. 06, published in August 2016. Why Should Indian Children be Treated Differently? Written by Judge Leonard Edwards (Retired). To read the full article click here.

American Academy of Pediatrics
On July 27 and article, Updated Clinical Guidelines for Diagnosing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, was published in the latest issue of Pediatrics as an e-pub ahead of print by Dr. Eugene Hoyme and Colleagues. To view the entire article click here.

Department of Interior (DOI) Releases Schedule of ICWA Trainings
The trainings are available at the listed locations and via webinar. In order to attend, tribes should respond to as early as possible for each session they plan to attend because space is limited. The email RSVP needs to include the name and location of the session (or webinar) in addition to the information about the tribal representative(s) attending. To view the training details and registration information go to:

Heitkamp, Murkowski Bill to Stand up for Native Children Unanimously Passes in U.S. House of Representatives Committee
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) announced that their bipartisan bill to improve the lives of Native American children unanimously passed in the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources – the final step before a vote in the full U.S. House of Representatives. Their bill passed in the Senate last year. To view the full press announcementclick here.

CILS Presents Keeping Native Families Safe – DV and ICWA Resources Training
CILS in conjunction with Indian Health Council is presenting a training entitled Keeping Native Families Safe – Domestic Violence and ICWA Resources. To view flyer and registration, click here.

Interior, Justice and HHS Departments Announce Revised BIA Model Indian Juvenile Code
The Departments are seeking public comment on the draft, which will be the subject of listening and consultation sessions scheduled for March and April of 2016. For more information, click here.

Indian Child Welfare Act: Designated Tribal Agents of Service Notice
To view the complete list of agents click here.

Assistant Secretary Washburn Answers Call to Strengthen Implementation of Indian Child Welfare Act
For more information and the press release, click here.

Secretary Jewell Announces Partnership With Verizon and Microsoft to Provide Wireless Broadband and Tablets to Native American Students
To read the full announcement click here.

New Core 3.0 ICWA: Classroom Training
This new Core 3.0 ICWA and Working with Native American Tribes was designed with the intention to ensure participants learned about bias and historical context in addition to the law. For more information, click here.


This project is supported with funding awarded by the federal Children's Justice Act, through the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, with grant award CF15048670