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Alaska wants to reduce tribal powers in child welfare

Alaska attorney general Gregg Renkes said the state will release new guidelines covering the handling of child welfare cases in tribal courts.

According to The Anchorage Press, the state is scaling back the ability of tribal courts to decide child welfare matters. Renkes says the cases should be turned over to state judges because tribes may not be able to handle them.

"If we have concerns about the capacity of a tribal court or tribal council to deal in a reasonable way with the welfare of a particular child, we should make that challenge in state court," he was quoted as saying.

Tribes have long handled child custody matters according to local tradition. They argue that the state cannot provide adequate services in rural areas and villages.

Under former governor Tony Knowles (D), tribal courts were given greater latitude. But new Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) has taken steps to assert state authority in villages. In one instance, he challenged a tribal court's decision to banish a man that was deemed violent to a village. The state courts refused to intervene.

Get the Story:
Kids in danger, adults at odds (The Anchorage Press 9/9)

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