News Release: DCYF's Response to the U.S. Supreme Court's Decision on Brackeen v. Haaland

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June 15, 2023

DCYF's Response to the U.S. Supreme Court's
Decision on Brackeen v. Haaland

Olympia, WA – Following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Brackeen v. Haaland, a case that challenged the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) applauds the court's decision to uphold a law that ensures that American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children retain opportunities for permanence with tribal community, kin, and family.

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law vital to tribal sovereignty,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee. “This ruling affirms the current efforts within Washington State to uphold the enduring rights of Tribal nations and people to care for children in home communities so they can grow up in their supportive cultures.”

"As I said back in November, we stand shoulder to shoulder with tribal governments across the nation in protecting Indian children and families," said DCYF Secretary Ross Hunter. “At DCYF, we will suppport ICWA’s protections of tribal sovereignty and the rights of children as many times as these rights are challenged.”

The court ruled 7-2 in favor of the law, rejecting challenges posed and leaving ICWA intact. Prior to the passage of ICWA in 1978, a highly disproportional number of AI/AN children were removed from their homes by state child welfare agencies and placed with non-Native families.

“This Supreme Court decision is a huge victory for all 574 Tribes across the country,” said Chairman Allen from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. “It not only protects the Tribes’ jurisdictional right to protect our children and their future, but it affirms the unique political governing standing of Tribes exercising our sovereignty. It rightfully references the recognition of Tribes in the U.S. Constitution.”

Said Colville Confederated Tribes Chairman Erickson: “The Colville Tribes celebrate today that the Indian Child Welfare Act remains the law. This is an opportunity to acknowledge and thank the many people who helped achieve this important legal ruling and, just as importantly, to thank those who work every day to protect the rights of Indian children and families. For social workers, court and legal staff, medical personnel, law enforcement, advocacy groups, and so many others around the country, the work will continue.”

"We are elated by the decision,” said Tleena Ives, DCYF Director of Tribal Relations. "This challenge to ICWA was in direct opposition to tribal sovereignty and the rights of AI/AN families and children. We are heartened by the court’s commitment to family integrity and to fostering healing and progress.”

For more information about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Brackeen v. Haaland, visit:



Jason Wettstein, Director of Communications | 360-464-0294 |