TRIBAL ALERT: Thank You, Tribes

CILS wants to thank all of the California tribes (72) and Indian organizations (11) that signed on to the amicus brief in the Brackeen et al. v. Zinke et al. case that is pending before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The following is a statement from the four defendant tribes that intervened in the case:

We applaud the broad coalition of federal lawmakers, attorneys general from 21 states, and 30 child welfare organizations who have joined 325 Tribal governments and 57 Tribal organizations in filing numerous amicus briefs with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to defend the Constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

The past 96 hours have witnessed an unprecedented and overwhelming demonstration of support for ICWA, and its constitutionality as a wave of amicus briefs were filed urging the Fifth Circuit to reverse the district court’s ruling in Brackeen v. Zinke, which erroneously deemed key provisions of ICWA as being unconstitutional.

Passed more than 40 years ago by Congress, ICWA was designed to reverse decades of cultural insensitivity and political bias that had resulted in one-third of all Indian children being forcibly removed by the government from their families, their tribes and their cultural heritage.

ICWA ensures the best interests and wellbeing of Native American children are protected. ICWA preserves the stability and cohesion of Tribal families, Tribal communities and Tribal cultures. It maintains and reinforces the political and cultural connections between an Indian child and his or her tribe.

Review the amicus brief here.  CILS will continue to keep you updated on the progress of the case.

TRIBAL ALERT: Deadline for Brackeen et al. v. Zinke Amicus Brief

To All Tribal Leaders:

Time is running out. If your tribe or tribal organization has not yet signed on to the amicus brief in the Brackeen v. Zinke being submitted by NARF, NCIA and over 100 tribes and 15 tribal consortia and Indian organizations please do so now.

Brackeen v. Zinke is a challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in which a federal district court judge in Texas recently found ICWA to be unconstitutional. The case is currently on Appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. ICWA has never been challenged as unconstitutional by any state, until now, and this case is therefore of significant concern to tribes, both for its potential effect on ICWA but also on potential ramifications for all of federal Indian law.

To sign on to the brief and/or obtain a copy of the draft brief to review, please send an email to NARF attorneys Dan Lewerenz and Erin Dougherty Lynch at and In your email please provides the following:

  1. A statement from an individual (chairperson, executive director, general counsel, etc.) or body (tribal council, board of directors etc.) authorized to do so, asking to be added as a signatory on the brief; and
  2. The full name and correct spelling of the tribe or organization as it should appear on the brief.
  3. For tribal consortia and Indian organizations, we will also need a short 50- to 75-word description of your organization. We can provide examples from other organizations if that is helpful. Tribes do not need to submit such a statement.

There is no cost to join the brief.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Dan Lewerenz at, Erin Dougherty Lynch at, Dorothy Alther at, or any CILS office.