Wyoming codifies ICWA into state law. Could Montana be next?

Gov. Mark Gordon gives his State of the State address before a joint session of the Wyoming Legislature on Feb. 10 at the Wyoming Capitol in Cheyenne. 

Cayla Nimmo, Casper Star-Tribune

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon last week signed legislation codifying the Indian Child Welfare Act into state law. A similar bill is moving through the Montana Legislature.

The Indian Child Welfare Act, known as ICWA, dictates how Native children are placed in foster or adoptive homes. The law was enacted in 1978 in response to decades of state child welfare and private adoption agencies separating Native children from their families.

ICWA has gained national attention recently, as the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in July on a case that challenges the federal law.

ICWA challengers argue the law is unconstitutional, saying it discriminates based on race. ICWA defenders say the law — and all of federal Indian law — operates under the assumption that being a member of a federally recognized tribe is a political classification. More than 400 tribes and dozens of tribal organizations nationwide have expressed support for ICWA

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