We believe Native children deserve to be with the families that love them and connected to the culture that will sustain them.

The Partnership for Native Children (PNC) provides accurate information, support, and resources to the media, tribes, and the public regarding Native American children, families, and the laws that protect them from unnecessary breakup. We believe Native children deserve to be with the families that love them and connected to the culture that will sustain them.

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The PNC is currently working closely with our partners to offer our support and expertise on the Texas v Zinke (PNC uses this interchangeably with Brackeen v Zinke, as it's likely the name will change through the appeals process) case involving ICWA. We are reaching out to the media and Indian Country to ensure our voices are included in the national dialogue about ICWA and the best interests of our children. The latest information on this case can be found on our blog under the  Latest tab. Bookmark it! ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Sign up to receive email updates. 

Quick Glance at Brackeen v. Zinke

On October 4, 2018, the Northern District Court of Texas, Ft. Worth Division issued its decision in ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Brackeen v. Zinke. In its decision, the court deemed nearly all of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) and its 2016 Regulations unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause, the non-delegation doctrine, and the anti-commandeering principle. It also found the new Regulations to have violated the Administrative Procedures Act. 
What You Need to Know
  • This is the first time a court has deemed ICWA, in its near entirety, unconstitutional.
  • The holding in this decision is limited in its reach, and may be stayed (putting the effects on hold) during the appeals process. Remember, numerous state and federal courts have already found ICWA to be CONSTITUTIONAL in the face of similar challenges. 
  • Aspects of this holding are very specific to the unique provisions of ICWA. The crux of the court’s decision is based on ICWA’s applicability to children eligible for membership (meaning children who are not yet members and therefore cannot claim a unique political status) and on ICWA’s unique application as a  federal law applied in  state causes of action. 
  • Nevertheless, this decision threatens more than just the constitutionality of ICWA. This decision threatens the ability of Congress to legislate based on the political status of all tribes and tribal members. In other words, if this judge says this one federal Indian law is race-based and unconstitutional, then will others argue that all federal Indian law is race-based and unconstitutional too?