In re Michael R. CA4/3
We have been seeing a distinct pattern in recent juvenile dependency appeals. Pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq., and its implementing provisions under California law, our trial courts and social services agencies are responsible for conducting appropriate inquiries and giving notice, if required, to Native American tribes of the potential involvement of tribal members in child custody proceedings. This responsibility falls on our state judicial and administrative systems precisely because we have an unfortunate national history of failing to “recognize the essential tribal relations of Indian people and the cultural and social standards prevailing in Indian communities and families.” (25 U.S.C. § 1901, subd. (5).) Thus, the inquiry and notice requirements of ICWA and related state law are not a ministerial exercise. They are an essential safeguard of rights.