ST. PAUL, Minn. — In a victory for Native tribes and families across Minnesota, Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton) successfully passed her bill to strengthen the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA) through the Minnesota Senate on Monday. The bill passed 66-1.
“I am proud to have passed this bill, which will help tribes, counties, and government agencies work together to prevent the removal and disconnection of Indian children from their families, culture, and tribes,” said Senator Kunesh. “Every Native family has been affected by the history of U.S. and Minnesotan family separations, which were weaponized as tools for genocide and jeopardized, rather than protected, Native children. By strengthening MIFPA, we take one more step away from those policies and toward a world where Native families stay together and tribal sovereignty is respected. I’m grateful to my colleagues for their votes and look forward to this bill’s swift movement through the House and 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.