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UNITED STATES CODE TITLE 25 – Indian Child Welfare Act


Subpart A: Purpose, Definitions, and Policy



23.2 – Definitions.


Act means the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), Pub. L. 95-608, 92 Stat. 3069, 25 U.S.C. 1901 et seq.

Assistant Secretary means the Assistant Secretary? Indian Affairs, the Department of the Interior.

Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) means the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of the Interior.


Child custody proceeding includes:


(1) Foster care placement, which shall mean any action removing an Indian child from his or her parent or Indian custodian for temporary placement in a foster home or institution or the home of a guardian or conservator where the parent or Indian custodian cannot have the child returned upon demand, but where parental rights have not been terminated;


(2) Termination of parental rights, which shall mean any action resulting in the termination of the parent-child relationship;


(3) Preadoptive placement, which shall mean the temporary placement of an Indian child in a foster home or institution after the termination of parental rights, but prior to or in lieu of adoptive placement;


(4) Adoptive placement, which shall mean the permanent placement of an Indian child for adoption, including any action resulting in a final decree of adoption; and


(5) Other tribal placements made in accordance with the placement preferences of the Act, including the temporary or permanent placement of an Indian child in accordance with tribal children’s codes and local tribal custom or tradition;


(6) The above terms shall not include a placement based upon an act which, if committed by an adult, would be deemed a crime in the jurisdiction where the act occurred or upon an award, in a divorce proceeding, of custody to one of the parents.

Consortium means an association or partnership of two or more eligible applicants who enter into an agreement to administer a grant program and to provide services under the grant to Indian residents in a specific geographical area when it is administratively feasible to provide an adequate level of services within the area.


Extended family member shall be as defined by the law or custom of the Indian child’s tribe or, in the absence of such law or custom, shall be a person who has reached the age of 18 and who is the Indian child’s grandparent, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, brother-in-law or sister-in-law, niece or nephew, first or second cousin, or stepparent.


Grant means a written agreement between the BIA and the governing body of an Indian tribe or Indian organization wherein the BIA provides funds to the grantee to plan, conduct or administer specific programs, services, or activities and where the administrative and programmatic provisions are specifically delineated.


Grantee means the tribal governing body of an Indian tribe or Board of Directors of an Indian organization responsible for grant administration.


Grants officer means an officially designated officer who administers ICWA grants awarded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Department of the Interior.


Indian means any person who is a member of an Indian tribe, or who is an Alaska Native and a member of a Regional Corporation as defined in section 7 of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, 43 U.S.C. 1606.


Indian child means any unmarried person who is under age 18 and is either a member of an Indian tribe, or is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe.


Indian child’s tribe means the Indian tribe in which an Indian child is a member or is eligible for membership or, in the case of an Indian child who is a member of or is eligible for membership in more than one tribe, the Indian tribe with which the Indian child has the more significant contacts, to be determined in accordance with the BIA’s ?Guidelines for State Courts?Indian Child Custody Proceedings.?


Indian custodian means any Indian person who has legal custody of an Indian child under tribal law or custom or under state law or to whom temporary physical care, custody and control has been transferred by the parent of such child.

Indian organization, solely for purposes of eligibility for grants under subpart D of this part, means any legally established group, association, partnership, corporation, or other legal entity which is owned or controlled by Indians, or a majority (51 percent or more) of whose members are Indians.

Indian preference means preference and opportunities for employment and training provided to Indians in the administration of grants in accordance with section 7 (b) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450).


Indian tribe means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community of Indians federally recognized as eligible for the services provided to Indians by the Secretary because of their status as Indians, including any Alaska Native village as defined in section 3 (c) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, 43 U.S.C. 1602 (c).


Off-reservation ICWA program means an ICWA program administered in accordance with 25 U.S.C. 1932 by an off-reservation Indian organization.


Parent means the biological parent or parents of an Indian child or any Indian person who has lawfully adopted an Indian child, including adoptions under tribal law or custom. The term does not include the unwed father where paternity has not been acknowledged or established.


Reservation means Indian country as defined in 18 U.S.C. 1151 and any lands not covered under such section, title to which is either held by the United States in trust for the benefit of any Indian tribe or individual or held by any Indian tribe or individual subject to a restriction by the United States against alienation.


Secretary means the Secretary of the Interior.


Service areas solely for newly recognized or restored Indian tribes without established reservations means those service areas congressionally established by Federal law to be the equivalent of a reservation for the purpose of determining the eligibility of a newly recognized or restored Indian tribe and its members for all Federal services and benefits.


State court means any agent or agency of a state, including the District of Columbia or any territory or possession of the United States, or any political subdivision empowered by law to terminate parental rights or to make foster care placements, preadoptive placements, or adoptive placements.


Subgrant means a secondary grant that undertakes part of the obligations of the primary grant, and assumes the legal and financial responsibility for the funds awarded and for the performance of the grant-supported activity.


Technical assistance means the provision of oral, written, or other relevant information and assistance to prospective grant applicants in the development of their grant proposals. Technical assistance may include a preliminary review of an application to assist the applicant in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal, ongoing program planning, design and evaluation, and such other program-specific assistance as is necessary for ongoing grant administration and management.


Title II means title II of Public Law 95-608, the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, which authorizes the Secretary to make grants to Indian tribes and off-reservation Indian organizations for the establishment and operation of Indian child and family service programs.


Tribal Court means a court with jurisdiction over child custody proceedings and which is either a Court of Indian Offenses, a court established and operated under the code or custom of an Indian tribe, or any other administrative body of a tribe which is vested with authority over child custody proceedings.


Tribal government means the federally recognized governing body of an Indian tribe.


Value means face, par, or market value, or cost price, either wholesale or retail, whichever is greater.





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