Cherokee Nation strengthens placement laws for Cherokee children


Cherokee Nation Color Guard President Don Stroud places the traditional feathered cape on Miss Cherokee Julie Thornton at the January Tribal Council meeting.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council passed a resolution Monday to establish a chain of priority placement in Cherokee adoptive and foster care cases.

“This law will strengthen the cases for our social workers and lawyers the next time they are in custody court. It is also a demonstration of this Tribal Council’s support in the fight to keep our most precious treasures, our Cherokee children, at home in Indian Country,” Tribal Council Speaker Tina Glory-Jordan said.

The resolution now places biological parents deemed fit as the first preference in adoptive and foster care cases involving Cherokee children. A member of the child’s extended family, other members of the Cherokee Nation or other Native American families would receive next priority in the placement of a child.

“Without a doubt our people, especially our youth, are the tribe’s most valuable asset,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “This new Cherokee Nation law will give our tribal sovereign government and our hard-working ICWA staff an additional tool to protect our people and ensure Cherokee children have the opportunity to live in a loving and nurturing home that is culturally appropriate.”

Within the past five years, Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare has had court involvement with approximately 1,200 to 1,600 Cherokee children per year. Out of these cases, approximately a third are children needing placement in either an adoptive or foster home.

In other business, the legislative body addressed the following:

Confirmed Carole Richmond of Tulsa as a Cherokee Nation Foundation board member. Richmond worked 30 years as a social worker and more than 10 years as social work professor. Richmond received her bachelor’s degree at Northeastern State University, master’s in sociology at Kansas State University and master’s degree in social work at the University of Oklahoma.

Passage of a resolution recognizing Cherokee National Youth Choir Director Mary Kay Henderson for her years of dedicated service to the tribe.

Miss Cherokee Julie Thornton was honored by the Cherokee Nation Color Guard with a traditional feathered cape and a freshwater pearl and copper necklace for serving as the tribe’s ambassador at Cherokee Nation community events and at-large gatherings.

The next Tribal Council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. at the W.W. Keeler Complex in Tahlequah.


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