Given the multiple references in the record to possible Cherokee heritage, the DHHS had adequate information to make an “initial determination” that C.J. “may be a member” of the Cherokee tribe, implicating a duty to “exercise due diligence to contact” the Cherokee tribe “in writing so that the tribe may verify membership or eligibility for membership.” MCL 712B.9(3) (emphasis added). This was not done. Furthermore, assuming that the DHHS was “unable to make [such] an initial determination” relative to the Cherokee tribe, there is no indication in the record, nor does the DHHS argue on appeal, that the tribe or tribes located in Kalamazoo County were given written notification, which is a minimal requirement under the final sentence in MCL 712B.9(3).FN9 Indeed, the DHHS does not even present an appellant argument under MCL 712B.9(3), despite respondent’s partial reliance on the provision. Accordingly, MCL 712B.9(3), along with 25 USC 1912(a) and MCL 712B.9(1), serves as a basis to order conditional reversal in regard to C.J. On remand, notice must be sent to the Cherokee tribe and, if one exists, to any tribe or tribes in Kalamazoo County.
Thanks to everyone who sent this one in.