Why Are Native American Child Abuse Cases Handled Differently? (Pt 1)

November 14, 2018 Abuse and Neglect Attorney
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Native American children are covered by the Indian Child Welfare Act in the USA.

If you’ve ever read about a child abuse case involving Native Americans, you’ll also notice that those cases aren’t handled in the same way as other child neglect and abuse cases in Michigan. And you may have wondered why. Well, there are a couple of reasons, depending on the circumstances, and we’d like to explain them here for you. Here goes…

Where it happens matters.

Reservations are on federal land, which means crimes committed there are dealt with by the federal government. If someone breaks the law on a Native American Reservation, they’re going to be investigated by federal law enforcement, and be prosecuted in a federal court. This means that if there are allegations of child abuse on an Indian Reservation, CPS can’t just show up and bang on their doors, demanding to be let in.

Why? Because Child Protective Services of Michigan are a department of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which means they’re a state run organization, and they have no jurisdiction on federal land.

So who investigates child abuse on reservations?

That depends. According to the FBI’s website, they are tasked with investigating “the most serious crimes in Indian Country – such as murder, child sexual and physical abuse, violent assaults, drug trafficking, public corruption, financial crimes, and Indian gaming violations.” In addition the the FBI however, many Native American reservations have their own tribal police forces who can conduct investigations into allegations of child abuse and neglect.

What about native peoples who don’t live on reservations?

Native Americans who have chosen to leave their trust lands and live in other parts of Michigan, or who were born and raised “off the rez”, are subject to the same laws that govern the rest of the state. So as you can see, who investigates allegations of abuse, and prosecutes cases of child neglect, or physical and sexual abuse, has everything to do with where the person was when the crime occurred.

A Native American person who lives in Lansing, or Dewitt, or Mason would have to deal with local police and CPS in the same way that everyone else would.

We believe all families belong together!

At The Kronzek Firm we believe that parents and children belong together, regardless of their race, color or creed. We also believe that no one – whether it’s the state government or the federal government – has a right to dictate how a parent raises their child. Join us next time for a look at the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of child abuse or neglect, or CPS has contacted you, call us at 866 766 5245 immediately! Our skilled child abuse and neglect defense attorneys can help you sort this out, regardless of where it took place, and what the allegations are against you!