Native Village of Venetie I.R.A. Council v. State of Alaska

944 F.2d 548 (1991)

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Native Village of Venetie I.R.A. Council v. State of Alaska

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
944 F.2d 548 (1991)

Facts

The Native Villages of Venetie and Fort Yukon were Indian tribes that were governed by the Native Village of Venetie I.R.A. Council and the Native Village of Fort Yukon I.R.A. Council (councils) (plaintiffs). The councils did not petition the federal government for jurisdiction over matters concerning tribe members. Margaret Solomon and Nancy Joseph (plaintiffs) were unrelated Athabascan Indians who were domiciled in Fort Yukon and who separately adopted children. Solomon’s adoption was adjudicated by the Fort Yukon tribal court and Joseph’s adoption by the Venetie tribal court. The State of Alaska (defendant) refused to recognize the adoptions. The councils, Solomon, and Joseph sued the state in the United States District Court for the District of Alaska, seeking an injunction forbidding the state from refusing to recognize the adoptions. The councils, Solomon, and Joseph argued that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) required states to give full faith and credit (FFC) to tribal-court adoption adjudications. The state argued that Public Law 280 (PL 280) granted the Alaskan government exclusive jurisdiction over matters concerning Indians because the councils had not petitioned the federal government for jurisdiction. The councils, Solomon, Joseph, and the state moved for summary judgment. The court granted the state’s motion, finding that the state had exclusive jurisdiction over matters pertaining to Indians. The councils, Solomon, and Joseph appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (O’Scannlain, J.)

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