Ute Indian Tribe and State of Utah Formalize Agreement Concerning Ute Children
By Kristin Forbis, May 3, 2021
The Ute Indian Tribe announced in a press release that on April 22nd the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee formally approved an Intergovernmental Agreement with the State of Utah to memorialize the mutual commitment of the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation and the State of Utah, by and through their respective governmental agencies of Ute Family Services and Utah’s Licensing, Division of Child and Family Services, to work together to establish joint policies and procedures pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act to protect Ute Indian children...The Intergovernmental Agreement will go before the Governor of the State of Utah for final approval and signature. Once signed, the Intergovernmental Agreement will govern all jurisdictional transfers of child welfare cases concerning Ute Indian children that may come under state court jurisdiction to ensure that they are properly adjudicated in the Ute Tribal Court – Juvenile Division pursuant to Ute tribal laws. [It] also restricts access to the Reservation by state DCFS workers in family services matters...Business Committee Chairman Luke Duncan stated that “the purpose of ICWA is to keep Indian children with Indian families, this IGA will ensure the Ute Indian Tribe’s children are protected so as to preserve Ute Indian families.” Moving forward, Chairman Duncan stated that “no Ute Indian child should ever be placed in a non-Indian home unless each and every option to place such children with tribal member family or tribal member foster care homes have been fully exhausted” as further required under the IGA and Ute tribal law pursuant to Business Committee Resolution No. 21-081, which requires kinship placement for foster care placement or adoption of Ute Indian children.