Annually there is an average of 200 appellate cases dealing with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) —though this includes published and unpublished opinions.[1] Since our first annual review of the case law in 2017, the numbers remain stable. There are approximately thirty reported state appellate court cases involving ICWA each year. This annual review is the only systematic look at the ICWA cases on appeal, including an analysis of who is appealing, what the primary issues are on appeal, and what topical trends are.

This article provides a comprehensive catalogue of published ICWA cases from across all fifty states in 2019. Designed as a quick reference for the ICWA practitioner, this article summarizes key case decisions that have interpreted the law in meaningful, significant, or surprising ways and tracks current attempts by ICWA’s opponents to overturn the law piece-by-piece and in its entirety. By providing an overview of last year’s ICWA cases this article is meant to keep practitioners up-to-date so that they can be effective in the juvenile courtroom without sorting through and reading the dozens of cases published across all fifty jurisdictions.

[1] Data on file with the authors and journal. Data is collected from both Westlaw and Lexis over the course of the year via case alerts that collect cases from all fifty states and using the search terms “Indian Tribe”, “American Indian”, “Native American.” The cases are sorted into an Excel spreadsheet with case name, date, court, state, whether the case is reported or not, the top two issues, up to three named tribes, the outcome of the case, and who appealed the case. Because the data is over 200 cases, the document is on file with the authors and the journal. All reported cases from the data set are listed at the end of the article.



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