ST. PAUL, Minn. — In a victory for Native tribes and families across Minnesota, on Thursday the Minnesota House approved SF 667, Senator Mary Kunesh’s bill to strengthen the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA). The bill passed 128-0.
Senator Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton) celebrated the bill’s passage and releases the following statement:
“Children are the future of every nation and every culture. I extend great thanks to Representative Heather Keeler, Representative Jamie Becker-Finn and Representative Alicia Kozlowski for championing this legislation in the House, and I am grateful to all my colleagues in the Legislature for passing this bill, which will protect Native families and help tribes, counties, and government agencies and prevent the removal and disconnection of Indian children from their families, culture, and tribes,” said Senator Kunesh. “The history of forced family separations in the U.S. and Minnesota—through boarding schools, adoptions, and out-of-home placement—affects every Native community to this day. Federal and state governments weaponized these policies as tools for genocide and jeopardized, rather than protected, Native children. By strengthening MIFPA, we take one more step toward a world where Native families stay together and tribal sovereignty is respected. I look forward to this bill’s swift movement to Governor Walz’s desk.”
SF 667 codifies sections of MIFPA that were dependent on the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) into Minnesota law and clarifies various terms that are undefined in ICWA. The bill protects Native families from unnecessary separation and is a result of recommendations from the Tribal MIFPA working group with input from Minnesota Department of Human Services, the Minnesota Association of County Social Services Administrators, and more. The bill will help Minnesota avoid an overwhelming amount of litigation in Child Welfare and Family law if ICWA is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, as it may be by the case Haaland v. Brackeen.