A new story from Native America Calling
This is national native news. I'm Antonia Gonzalez. Alaska congresswoman Mary peltola and other House Democrats say they're worried the U.S. Supreme Court is about to weaken the Indian child welfare act to the detriment of native children and their tribes. Peltola, the first Alaska native person elected to Congress, previously worked as a tribal court judge, where child custody cases were a mainstay. At a congressional roundtable Tuesday, peltola stressed the importance of keeping children with their families or placing them within their tribe. I think for every single human group, ever in existence, children are precious, children are our future. And certainly for natives, it is no different. The Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on a challenge to ICWA brought by the state of Texas and a group of non native adoptive parents. They say the Indian child welfare act makes unconstitutional distinctions based on race, supporters of iq wasse, it's based on tribal affiliation, Congress passed the law to reverse the wholesale alienation of children from their tribes. New York University law professor Maggie Blackhawk says the trend reached terrifying levels by the 1950s and 60s. State government separated over 100,000 of the estimated 400,000 native children from their parents and placed those children in homes with no political culture, cultural or linguistic connection to their nations. The case is called brocken versus Holland, the justices heard arguments in November, a ruling is expected by the end of June. For nearly two decades, a North Dakota county elected local commissioners in a way that did not comply with a consent decree concerning Native American interests, advocates say a settlement has been reached to ensure a fair system is reestablished. Mike moen reports. The Native American rights fund recently announced the pending agreement with Benson county, in 2000 a court order, spurred by a Department of Justice filing, said the county's choice of an at large election process diminished the political power of natives in the area. But in 2004 the county went back to that process. Michael Carter says recent census figures show Nate is deserved greater representation. The county had a majority Native American population. However, there was only one Native American serving on the board. The group, which represented the spirit Lake tribe, contends the county's actions violated the federal Voting Rights Act. The Benson county states attorney calls the settlement a good result, he notes that in 2004, the commission responded to a shift in native population numbers, and didn't think the original decree was permanent. And a phased in structure, the new agreement gives native voters an opportunity to elect three candidates of their choice to the Benson county board of commissioners. Carter says cases like this one stemmed from a project narf launched in 2020 to work with tribes around the country on redistricting efforts at the importance of fair political maps. These are ongoing issues that require the local voters to stay engaged and stay informed about what county and local officials are doing. The organization is involved in a pair of other legal cases concerning redistricting in North Dakota and its impact on Native American voters. Those lawsuits are related to legislative seats, Carter says one they filed the schedule to go to trial in June. That was Mike mohen. This week, Orlando teller, a member of the Navajo Nation was sworn in as the first ever assistant secretary for Indian affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation. The new position was established under the infrastructure law, creating the office of tribal affairs to serve under the U.S. transportation secretary. Navajo leaders were among those to join teller in Washington D.C. for the swearing in ceremony. I'm Antonia Gonzalez.