Suzette Brewer
Dusten Brown with his daughter, Veronica.

Baby Veronica and the Future of ICWA: What’s Next

Christina Rose
3/12/14

At a recent symposium, Joel West Williams, Cherokee, staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund, announced, “Raise your hand if you consider yourself one percent American, or 4/56 percent a citizen of Connecticut.”

His request referenced the first sentence in the United States Supreme Court’s decision in the Baby Veronica case, which stated that Veronica is 3/256th Cherokee. Williams said, “Right off the bat, it is a preposterous sentence.”

The symposium “Deconstructing the Baby Veronica Case: Implications for the Future of the Indian Child Welfare Act” took place February 21 at Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut. Williams and Jacqueline Pata, Tlingit, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, joined Yale law student Claire Chung in the panel discussion.

Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, said the American public’s misperceptions of Native Americans played a major part in the failure of the Baby Veronica case. (Christina Rose)

The Supreme Court case was decided 5-4 on June 25, 2013 in favor of the white adoptive parents versus enrolled Cherokee citizen Dusten Brown, who lost custody of his daughter, Veronica Brown. In Williams’ opinion, the decision “was written by someone who does not grasp the foundational principles of Indian law and doesn’t understand tribal people and tribal communities.”

While Brown lost his daughter, the Supreme Court ruling did not challenge the Indian Child Welfare Act. “There are very few instances where the decision could be applied to other ICWA cases,” Williams said.

However, Williams noted that in the last nine Supreme Court cases, only one had been decided in favor of the tribes. “There is an effect of something larger in the continued trends in the U.S. Supreme Court. I am very disturbed by that. It is a scary thought,” Williams said.

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sweetgrass777's picture
sweetgrass777
Submitted by sweetgrass777 on
Oh well.....The racist Cherokee created this monster so it came back to bit them in the ass. They cannot let in freedmen but they want to put folks in who never lived as Native or by the virtue of their "white skin". Hypocrites all of them. Serves them right.

Aditohdi Aditokdi
Aditohdi Aditokdi
Submitted by Aditohdi Aditokdi on
You continue to miss spell Dusten Brown's name. This is important in that the PAP's used false data concerning a DUSTIN Brown to discredit DUSTEN during his fight for his daughter.

Aditohdi Aditokdi
Aditohdi Aditokdi
Submitted by Aditohdi Aditokdi on
In response to sweetgrass777. Not all Cherokees agree with the expulsion of the Freedmen. Also many Cherokees who have African ancestry as well as Cherokee ancestry ARE citizens of the Cherokee Nation as are Hispanic and European mixed-bloods. To lump us all in with the approximately 17% of our citizenry who voted the Freedmen out reveals your prejudice.

sweetgrass777's picture
sweetgrass777
Submitted by sweetgrass777 on
@Aditohdi Aditokdi I am not a racist.....sorry. The Cherokee Nation is. It is well documented. It is obvious. If you look at many of the 5 so "Civilized Tribes" I would say with the exceptions of the Creeks and Seminoles you will hardly see a black/Cherokee face. Tell me how these people who have been here over 500 years with Blacks and they barely make up less than 1% of the tribe. We are not talking about Hispanics, Asians, or others. We are talking about Black/Cherokee people. Anyone can see the overt racism in the Cherokee nation. It was done systematically to keep these people and their descendants out. Maybe it's not you as a individual but its the 'CHEROKEE NATION". You cannot prove I am a racist but I can prove the Cherokee are. They are a shame of Indian people. Infiltrated, Bastardized by Europeans. This child though I feel sorry for her is not representative of Native people and our struggles. Her mom nor dad to be exact. Neither one. The Cherokee Nation is a sell out and have long dishonored other Native people by being traitors. That is why everyone and their Momma claim Cherokee heritage. Still think they got what they deserve.
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