Lecture, Virtual Event     

“Brakeen v. Haaland” and the Indian Child Welfare Act

Free and open to the public

Thursday, December 15, 2022
7PM – 8PM

  • Free
  • RSVP Required
  • Teachers
  • Researchers

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Event Type: Lecture, Virtual EventAudience(s): Teachers, Researchers

Understanding the 1978 Legislation and the 2022 SCOTUS Case

After a mid-1970s congressional investigation revealed that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families and communities and placing them in non-Native foster or adoptive homes or residential institutions, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The law has been largely successful, resulting in better outcomes for Native children, helping to increase tribal participation in children’s cases and protecting the rights of Native children. That success is now being challenged, including through a Supreme Court case, Haaland v. Brackeen. This virtual program will feature Erin Dougherty Lynch and Beth Wright, both of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), to speak on Haaland v. Brackeen, for which Supreme Court oral arguments will be heard on November 9. The speakers will offer historical context for the creation of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978 and its affect on Native children and communities, an explanation of the case brought before the Supreme Court, and a reflection on the arguments and justices’ questions and comments.

Ability Accommodation Information

This event provides the following accommodations:

  • Handicap Accessible

About the Presenters

Erin Dougherty Lynch is a senior staff attorney in NARF’s Anchorage, Alaska, office. At NARF, Lynch litigates a variety of federal Indian law issues, including tribal child welfare, subsistence hunting and fishing rights, voting rights, tribal jurisdiction and sovereignty, tribal sovereign immunity, and issues related to Alaska Native communities and climate change. Lynch leads NARF’s tribal child welfare work and is heavily involved in national efforts to protect the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). With co-counsel she has authored tribal amicus briefs in all three of the federal court challenges to ICWA, including most recently, Brackeen v. Haaland. Lynch received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and received her B.A. from Willamette University. She is a member of the Alaska bar as well as the bars of the U.S. Supreme Court; the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Fifth, Eight, Ninth, Tenth, and District of Columbia Circuits; and the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska. 

Erin Dougherty Lynch. Courtesy of Native American Rights Fund.

Beth Margaret Wright (Pueblo of Laguna) is a staff attorney at NARF. Throughout her education and career, Wright has focused on advancing Indian Country’s next generation. Her work is inspired by a desire to uplift Indigenous joy, strength, and success. Wright devotes much of her attention to Indian Boarding School Healing, history, and policy, but she also tackles issues related to Indian child welfare and Indigenous methods for dispute resolution (through the Indigenous Peacemaking Initiative). Wright received a bachelor of arts in economics from Syracuse University. After graduating from Syracuse, Wright combined her passions for running and working with Native youth and began work at the nonprofit Wings of America. Wings’ mission is to promote the health and wellness of Native communities through running and advocating for Native youth on reservations. Wright received her J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law. 

Beth Wright. Courtesy of Native American Rights Fund.

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