Asked in Child Custody, Family Law and Native American Law for New Mexico

Q: Acoma Pueblo is a sovereign nation. So cyfd and Acoma Pueblo are Collaborated and cyfd took custody of my children. But

We domicile on the Acoma Pueblo . So who has the jurisdiction of this case? We have went to court adjudicatory hearing and cyfd attorney had to do a continuance on this hearing 3 times already. To my knowledge cyfd should have already transferred or gave the Tribal courts jurisdiction, over my girls her. Instead they we went to court and go called to the stand under oath to find out where we I live Also district family court and Pueblo of Acoma tribal court have a joint hearing where they are going to decide who has jurisdiction? Is that even possible? If there is any info you could tell me that would be helpful It would be kindly appreciated

Thank you.

1 Lawyer Answer
Scott E Beemer
Scott E Beemer
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Maricopa, AZ

A: Hello,

I am sorry to hear of your situation.

Dealing with a State Agency on Tribal Lands can be a complex situation. Today many tribes have entered into Intergovernmental Agreements (IGA) with the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) of the State as it pertains to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). As a result of the July 2015 Tribal State Leaders Summit in New Mexico, CYFD begin the process of communication and collaboration with the following tribes: Pueblo and Apache Tribes relative to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), Juvenile Justice Services IGA and Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Maintenance Agreements: Pueblo of Acoma, Pueblo of Cochiti, Pueblo of Jemez, Pueblo of Laguna, Pueblo of Nambe, Pueblo of Santa Clara, Pueblo of Tesuque and Pueblo of Zuni.

It appears at this juncture (without knowing all the particulars of the situation), or whether there were emergent circumstances that warranted the CYFD action(s) but the State and Tribe are arguing jurisdiction and the best interest of the children which is not uncommon in these State-Tribal agreements (IGA).

I hope this helped to clarify the State-Tribal agreement intervention but if you need further assistance please contact my office or an attorney that is knowledgeable of the ICWA and the Tribal Justice System.

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