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Whose Best Interest?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Regarding the Oct. 9 editorial "A Tribal Question":

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) provides protections to Native American children to prevent their unnecessary removal from their families, but it does not prevent them from receiving the help necessary to protect their best interests.

The ICWA was passed in 1978 in response to the staggering number of children being removed from their homes, the vast majority of whom were placed out of their communities and lost their connection to their tribes.

Unfortunately, most attorneys and courts don't learn about the ICWA until it is too late. Once confronted with its requirements, they find that they have failed to meet its standards.

Most tribes understand this and are willing to work with authorities to make sure that the children involved receive the best care possible. Although tribes would like to place children within their communities, they first prefer that children are placed with family members.

Given the facts that the editorial reported, I find it hard to believe that any court would find that it is in the best interest of those children to be returned to their parents.

AURENE M. MARTIN

Washington

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