Is sovereignty necessary? The role of sovereignty in Indigenous child protection

Date & time
1–2pm Thursday 26 April 2018

Phillipa Weeks Staff Library

ANU College of Law, 5 Fellows Rd Acton

Professor Marcia Zug


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Nicole Harman
College seminar
Marcia Zug

This research seminar will examine whether a national law, similar to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), could be enacted in Australia. The ICWA was passed in response to the long history of government removals of Indian children from their families and tribes. Australia's Indigenous people have experienced many of the same problems the ICWA was designed to address and Indigenous advocates have long argued for the passage of an "Australian ICWA." However, Australia's Indigenous people lack the recognised sovereignty enjoyed by American Indian tribes and it is unclear whether the protections of ICWA can work in its absence.

In this research seminar, Professor Zug will argue that a non-sovereignty based ICWA loses many of its strongest protections, but it remains beneficial. Although the ICWA is widely considered a success, it is not a perfect piece of legislation. Respect for tribal sovereignty is one of the Act’s greatest strengths, but it has also created some of its biggest obstacles, some of which a non-sovereignty based approach could potentially avoid.




  • Professor Marcia Zug »

    Professor Zug is a Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Yale Law School and a former Editor of the Yale Law Journal. Professor Zug's work focuses on the intersection of family law and Indian law. She is a 2017 recipient of the Fulbright Award and is currently a research fellow at the University of Canberra.

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