North Dakota Legislature Passes Indian Child Welfare Act Language

Representative Jayme Davis, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians who represents North Dakota’s District 9A in the North Dakota House of Representatives, led successful passage of House Bill 1536. This bill codifies the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) into North Dakota Century Code.

Davis introduced HB 1536 because the United States Supreme Court will decide a case this term that could strike down ICWA. If the U.S. Supreme Court were to make changes to the federal law, they would not apply to North Dakota law unless the North Dakota Legislature chose to amend the law adopted in HB 1536 in a future legislative session.

“ICWA as it is written today honors tribal sovereignty, but most importantly Indigenous children, our lineage, and our culture. A repeal or significant changes to ICWA by the US Supreme Court could have significant negative impacts on American Indian and Alaskan Native children’s ability to be placed with family members or their tribe determining a placement in the best interest of them as Native children,” said Davis. “Adding ICWA to North Dakota Century Code protects the children of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, MHA Nation, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Spirit Lake Nation, and Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate,” she added.

HB 1536 passed 46-0 in the Senate and 91-1 in the House. It now heads to Governor Burgum for his signature. If signed, as expected, the law becomes effective on August 1, 2023.