Tribal Rights Still in Force in Alaska Adoptions

Tribes have the right to take responsibility for child welfare.

Denalee Chapman November 12, 2014
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Jessica McGinty, Alaskan mother of 4, recently expressed gratitude for continual reinforcement of Native Rights to initiate child protection in their Tribal Courts.

The ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) was created over 30 years ago following several cases of removal of Native children from their families by state governments. It was determined, and made law, that a tribal court has the ability to take custody of its member children. Unfortunately, according to McGinty, the state of Alaska keeps fighting against this right. In fact, the state of Alaska has been fighting for years over all tribal rights. This is due, in part, to findings of the Indian Law & Order Commission which was established in 2010. They found that Alaska is far behind the rest of the United States in providing a safe and secure environment in rural villages.

One of Jessica McGinty’s children is adopted. She is appalled that some higher-ranking members of Alaska’s government continue to fight against customary tribal adoption. If at some point they are able to overturn the ICWA, McGinty and others like her may not be able to adopt children from their own tribe. This is not only unacceptable but, to McGinty, it would also be “unforgivable.”

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Denalee Chapman

Denalee is an adoptive mother, a motivational speaker, a writer, and a lover of life. She and her husband have adventured through the hills and valleys of life to find that the highest highs and the lowest lows are equally fulfilling. Book Denalee to speak to your group, or find Denalee's writings, including her books on her website at

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