In wake of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, KU tribal law conference to explore Indian Child Welfare Act

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

LAWRENCE – Legal experts and tribal government officials will grapple with the implications of the Supreme Court’s recent decision implicating the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) at the University of Kansas School of Law’s 18th annual Tribal Law & Government Conference this week in Lawrence.  

The conference — "The Indian Child Welfare Act: Past, Present & Future" — will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 7, at the Burge Union. Registration has reached capacity and is now closed. Members of the media who wish to attend should contact Mindie Paget at mpaget@ku.edu in advance of the conference.

One of the most sweeping statutes in federal Indian law, the ICWA was designed to respond to the longstanding practice of removing Indian children from their homes and communities and placing them in boarding schools and foster care. The Supreme Court’s consideration of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl in June 2013, which pitted the rights of adoptive parents against those of a child’s biological American Indian father, sparked renewed interest in the law and its current applications.

“The Indian Child Welfare Act is especially timely today given the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision,” said Elizabeth Kronk Warner, associate professor of law and director of KU’s Tribal Law & Government Center. “The KU conference will be one of the first to explore the ramifications of this decision.”

Dean Stacy Leeds of the University of Arkansas School of Law will open the conference with a presentation on the law’s origins and application, followed by an exploration of the Court’s decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl by attorney Mark Fiddler, who represented the adoptive parents in the case, and Cherokee Nation Assistant Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo. The biological father at issue in the Supreme Court case is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Attorney Russ Brien, Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation attorney Vivien Olsen and professor Colette Routel of the William Mitchell College of Law will discuss the future of the ICWA. Professor Kate Fort of the Michigan State University College of Law will close the conference with an examination of the law’s ethical considerations.

Six hours of CLE credit are approved in Kansas and Missouri. 

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