Merrill v. AltmanAnnotate this Case
Maternal grandparents petitioned for permanent guardianship of a minor Indian child in the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe tribal court. After receiving the guardianship, they sought to have it recognized in a South Dakota circuit court, which had been exercising jurisdiction over the child and his deceased mother since 2007. The circuit court concluded that the tribal court did not have jurisdiction and, consequently, denied the grandparents' motion to recognize the tribal court order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the minor child did not reside on the Mille Lacs Reservation for purposes of exclusive jurisdiction under the Indian Child Welfare Act; and (2) because the tribal court did not have exclusive jurisdiction over the grandparents' guardianship petition, the circuit court did not err in denying the grandparents' petition to recognize the tribal court order.