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Name: In re Damian C.
Case #: D054918
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 09/17/2009

ICWA notice was required where the mother suspected Indian heritage, but the grandfather was unable to verify Indian status. After detention of the minor, the mother submitted a Parental Notification of Indian Status form stating that the minor’s maternal grandfather, Manuel C., was descended from the Yaqui tribe. The agency interviewed Manuel, who said that he had been told that his father was either Yaqui or Navajo, but had also been told that he had no Indian heritage, and that efforts to trace his lineage had been unsuccessful. The court found that ICWA did not apply, and no notices were sent. The appellate court reversed and remanded for proper ICWA notice. The mother gave information that she believed the child to have Indian heritage, which triggered the notice requirement. Even if Manuel reported that the family had been unsuccessful in establishing the family’s Indian heritage, the question of membership lies with the tribe itself. Manuel’s explanation that he lacked sufficient information to determine his lineage did not release the agency from the obligation to provide notice to the tribe.