Alaska officials call on court to uphold Indian Child Welfare Act

Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young in 2014. (Photo by Jennifer Canfield/KTOO)

Alaska’s attorney general and two of the state’s congressional lawmakers are calling on a federal appeals court to uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA.

The 1978 law is designed to keep Native American and Alaska Native children with family members or within Native communities if they are up for adoption or removed from their home by state welfare agencies.

Last year, the law was struck down by a U.S. district court judge in Texas. The judge ruled it unconstitutional, saying it discriminates against non-Native Americans. That ruling is currently being appealed.

Alaska attorney general Kevin Clarkson joined attorneys general from 20 other states in filing a brief on Monday in support of the law.

On Wednesday, Alaska Republicans Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young co-signed a similar brief, along with five congressional colleagues. Both briefs state ICWA is constitutional and an important tool to protect Native rights.

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