Rarely do family court matters become so public, but members of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes took to the streets to picket outside the Tribal Justice Center in Fort Hall Dec. 18. They were protesting the decision of a tribal court in a child custody case.
KIFI-TV in Idaho Falls reports that the protest stems from a tribal member who gave birth to a child while incarcerated. The child was taken in by a non-native family in Shelley, but shortly thereafter, an extended relative of the child's mother said he wanted custody and the man's family has had the child for nearly a year.
That is until Dec. 17, when when the tribal council agreed with the family from Shelley, who petitioned for custody. A judge ordered the child back to the Shelley family but tribal members are taking their protest public.
"It is stressed in the law code that our Indian children should be placed with Indian families," said Randy'L Teton, public affairs manager for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. "We are in support of a peaceful rally because of the concerns of having our children with nontribal families."
In October, a similar scenario played out in a South Carolina courtroom, where the Cherokee father of so-callled "Baby Veronica" gave up his four-year custody battle. The child was adopted by a white family after the infant was given up by her birth mother. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the father, saying he never had custody of the child in the first place.