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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Heather Keeler (DFL)

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House Judiciary and Children and Families Committee advances Rep. Keeler’s Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act   

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Yesterday, the Minnesota House Judiciary and Children and Families Committee held a public hearing on HF 1071, authored by Rep. Heather Keeler (DFL – Moorhead). The bill will make improvements to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 which establishes child protection procedures and requirements for children who are members of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized Tribe.   

“Raising our next generation and keeping them in our Indigenous families is essential to preserving our culture, language, traditions, and way of life,” said Representative Keeler. “We need to protect our Indigenous families and the integrity of our relatives. Our next seven generations are sacred to our community, and taking them away and stripping them of their identity is a form of genocide. We cannot allow these atrocities to continue. We need to act now to ensure the next generation of our community stay within our tribal community. We must protect our family lineage and the existence of our tribal nations."

Patricia Binesii’ikwe Staine, spoke in support of the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act.  

“It is important we strengthen our state requirements on the MIFPA. Our 87 counties and 11 tribal nations serve as a guide for our nation and the world as to how we value our culture, earth keepers, caretakers, and our future,” Staine said. “The decision you as lawmakers will affect more than one person, one county agency worker, one family. This is for our future.”  

“I have been in foster care but luckily, I was placed with my family for almost five years. I have grown to be successful in school and being able to overcome multiple obstacles,” said Cayeden Holmes, an advocate of the bill. “Rather than breaking up families during a crisis, I want the next generation to have the opportunity like me to stay with their family and relatives.” 

This bill makes technical changes and adds numerous provisions to the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA), incorporating federal ICWA procedures and requirements for voluntary and involuntary child placement and permanency proceedings. The bill also removes the expiration for the American Indian Child Welfare Advisory Council. 

Additional information and documents from the hearing are available on the Judiciary Finance and Civil Law committee webpage and the Children and Families Finance and Policy committee webpage.   

Photo Cutline: Rep. Alicia Kozlowski, Rep. Heather Keeler, and Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn presents HF 1071 in House Judiciary and Children and Families Committee