By Sonoran News –
Attorneys for the Gila River Indian Community Monday made oral arguments before the Arizona Supreme Court in a controversial case involving which court – Arizona state Court or the Community’s Tribal Court – will be the ultimate decision-maker regarding the future of a Native American child at risk of being permanently removed from her community.
The case – the first of its kind argued before the Arizona Supreme Court focused on the transfer provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act – involves the permanent custody of a Native American child, A.D., a 2-year-old born to Gila River Indian Community parents who lived on the Gila River Indian Reservation for most of her life. After A.D.’s off-reservation birth, she was placed into the Arizona foster care system. The community previously sought transfer of the state court case to its Children’s Court under the Indian Child Welfare Act, but that motion was denied. The community appealed.
“My genuine hope is that no one loses sight of the fact that a best interest determination is of paramount importance when deciding this particular child’s placement. I appreciate some legal wrangling must take place and I understand the historical landscape underlying this dispute. But I have never been fond of choosing form over substance – and particularly when it comes to ensuring the well-being of children.”