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Sean D. Reyes
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Utah Attorney General’s Office Supports HB 40, Indian Child Welfare Amendments

 February 6, 2023

This month, the Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and Special Counsel for Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk have been working with Utah’s sovereign tribes in support of HB 40, which would codify the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act ( ICWA) into Utah law. 

The Indian Child Welfare Act became law in 1978 and gives tribal governments exclusive jurisdiction over children who are living on a reservation. That authority gives the tribes jurisdiction over the removal of American Indian children from their families in custody, foster care and adoption cases. HB40, Indian Child Welfare Amendments, seeks to codify ICWA into Utah law to “preserve and strengthen Indian families and Indian culture,” when it comes to decisions about child custody.  

Members of the eight federally recognized tribes which reside in Utah have been active on Capitol Hill this year and are actively lobbying in favor of the bill. Last week, sovereign leaders met with Attorney General Reyes and Mr. Echo Hawk to emphasize how important ICWA is to the tribes.  

The Attorney General’s Office, the Utah Committee on juvenile Justice, Voices for Utah Children and other key stakeholders are working on and support the bill.  As of February 6, 2023, the bill is tabled in the House judiciary committee due to the concerns of some legislators.