Important Hearing on Indian Child Welfare Case

On July 8, 2014 at 8:00 a.m. the Second District of the California Court of Appeal will hear oral argument In the Matter of A.P., a dependency case involving a child who is a member of the Choctaw Nation. The narrow issue before the court is whether the lower court erred in following the placement provisions under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and accompanying California law implementing the ICWA. The lower court placed A.P. with her extended Indian family over the objection of the de facto parents, who are A.P.’s foster parents. The broader issues raised by the foster parents are: (1) ICWA does not apply because A.P. was never in the physical custody of her Indian father and thus A.P. was not removed from an “Indian family”; and (2) the ICWA is unconstitutional.

The arguments advanced by the foster parents have been rejected by the California courts and legislature but are being resurrected in the hope that the recent United States Supreme Court case Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl has breathed new life into them. The foster parents’ legal team includes many of the attorneys involved in the Baby Girl case and are using the same arguments here in California to advocate for limiting the application of the ICWA and, if possible, having the ICWA declared unconstitutional.

CILS encourages tribes and tribal community members to show their support for the preservation of the ICWA in California and attend the July 8th hearing if possible. The hearing will be held at:

300 South Spring Street, 3rd FloorLos Angeles, CA (Ronald Reagan Building)

CILS, NARF and ACLU assist students with graduation honor

Once again, CILS together with NARF and the ACLU of Northern California successfully advocated for eight Native American students to wear eagle feathers during their high school graduation ceremony. Eagle feathers are gifted to graduates in honor of their personal achievement and to mark an important transition. CILS is proud of all Native American graduates this graduation season!

Register for 21st Annual Statewide ICWA Conference

2014 ICWA Conf Reg Form





Now is the time to register. Click on the registration form to fill out.

For questions and information, please contact: Renee Getty; Phone: (559) 877-2461 x. 203 or (559) 760-9212; Fax: (559) 877-2467.

2013 CILS Annual Report Available Online



“The last year has been challenging but extremely rewarding for CILS. Our staff engaged in several major federal impact cases, advocated on behalf of tribal members and tribes in state court and before administrative agencies, canvassed the state making presentations and providing community education on a wide variety of topics and issues affecting California tribal communities, and continued to build tribal justice systems to ensure safer tribal communities.” – Dorothy Alther, Executive Director of CILS. Take a look at CILS highlights in our latest Annual Report. (Note: .pdf may take a few minutes to load.)

CILS celebrates the life of Amos Merrill Tripp


Former CILS attorney Amos M. Tripp left a legacy of change throughout the Native American communities that he served. CILS was among the Native organizations where Mr. Tripp worked during his long law career. He was part of CILS when the organization was still a fledgling Native legal aid service, struggling to attend to the many battles in Indian Country. The Lost Coast Outpost published an obituary that provides more on the highlights of this outstanding leader.