Bill would honor tribal sovereignty and help Native American families preserve culture
Santa Fe, NM- HB 135, the Indian Child Welfare Act, which would require New Mexico’s Children Youth and Families Division (CYFD) to prioritize placing Native American children within their tribes and keeping Native families together, passed the House today by a vote of 52 to 12.
When Native American children are placed into custody outside of tribal and familial environments, it can result in children becoming disconnected from their cultural identity and heritage. HB 135 would also require CYFD to help children determine and establish tribal membership. Placing Native children within their tribe would protect family units and preserve traditions and cultures.
This bill would provide many of the same protections for New Mexico’s Native American children as the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, which is currently before the US Supreme Court and could be struck down.
“The Indian Family Protection Act is hallmark legislation to solidify and expand protections for Native American children and families in the child welfare system,” said Representative Georgene Louis, a member of the Pueblo of Acoma (D-Albuquerque). “This bill honors tribal sovereignty and tribes’ inherent rights to care for their children.”
HB 135 is sponsored by Representative Louis and was developed with input from New Mexico’s pueblos and tribal nations.