Watso v. Lourey, No. 18-1723 (8th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, individually and on behalf of her minor children and mother, filed suit against the Commissioner, the County, two tribal courts, and related tribal judges, contesting the tribal court's jurisdiction over the children's child custody proceedings.
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that there was no conflict between the Indian Child Welfare Manual's requirement that local social service agencies refer child custody proceedings involving Indian children to tribal social service agencies for proceedings in tribal court, and the Indian Child Welfare Act's recognition of exclusive or presumptive tribal jurisdiction for child custody proceedings involving Indian children. Section 1911(b) of the Act addresses the transfer of proceedings from state court to tribal court and, in this case, there were no state court proceedings. Furthermore, the tribal court's jurisdiction over the children was consistent with Public Law 280. Finally, the court held that plaintiffs have presented no evidence of a due process violation.