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April 18, 2014

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Native American groups ask for child welfare probe

Updated Monday, Feb. 3, 2014 | 12:50 p.m.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Native American organizations are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the treatment of American Indian and Alaska Native children in the private adoption and public child welfare systems.

Tribal leaders delivered a letter Monday to DOJ Attorney General for Civil Rights Jocelyn Samuels demanding the investigation.

The request follows a recent custody battle over a Cherokee girl known as Baby Veronica who eventually was adopted by a white South Carolina couple. It also comes after lawsuits alleging violations of federal law governing foster care and adoptions in some states.

In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act to curb the high number of Indian children being removed from their homes and placed in non-Indian foster care.

Experts say the law has slowed the removals, but Native children are still disproportionately represented in the child welfare system nationwide.