Tribes question Oklahoma court's foster care ruling
(KTEN) — The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that some tribal children can be placed into foster care without tribal approval.
In the ruling, the court said the State of Oklahoma has the power to place a Muskogee Nation infant into foster care without consent from the tribe.
The child was born in March 2020. The state took custody of the child after receiving reports of domestic violence between the parents.
However, since 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act has given tribes the exclusive right to hear child welfare cases involving tribal citizens who live on tribal reservations. When needed, tribal authorities could place children with another Native American family.
"The sovereign status of a tribe and its territorial jurisdiction over its members and territory is the cornerstone of self-governance," the Choctaw Nation said in a written statement, adding that the Supreme Court's ruling could impact a tribe's ability to protect tribal members' social and cultural connections.