Hyun-Mi Kim

  • Hosted by Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach
  • Sponsored by The Morrison & Foerster Foundation
  • Service location San Francisco, California
  • Law school Seattle University School of Law
  • Issue area Indigenous Peoples' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Hyun-mi’s Fellowship aimed to protect the civil and legal rights of indigenous children and women afforded under the California Indian Child Welfare Act (Cal-ICWA) and applicable provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) through legal advocacy, community education, collaboration with tribal lawyers, and community organizations led by indigenous advocates and legal workshops with judicial personnel of county and state courts in the SF Bay Area.

The vast majority of juvenile dependency cases involving ICWA issues arise from a familial environment imperiled by domestic violence and/or substance abuse. Although ICWA does not apply to family law proceedings between parents, ICWA can be triggered in domestic violence cases when neither parent is deemed by the court to be fit to raise a child in a safe and healthy environment. My Fellowship played an essential and unique role in addressing the issue of violence against indigenous women. I provided assistance to obtain a restraining order and at the same time informed a victim/survivor of her, her child, and her tribe’s rights afforded under ICWA should an indigenous child be removed from his/her household due to domestic violence. My Fellowship project provided legal advocacy that recognized important intersectional issues between ICWA and violence against indigenous women.

Hyun-mi and her family immigrated to the US in 1995 and it was not until after she took courses in Native American history in college that she started to seriously consider the meaning of “indigeneity,” and the paradox that the land that was taken from indigenous people was the same land that immigrants, including her family, aspire to settle on, in search for a better life.

Fellowship Highlights

Some of Hyun-mi’s accomplishments during her two-year Fellowship include:

  • On May 17, 2021, Hyun-mi was invited to join the panel commemorating the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) in San Francisco, CA. The attendees were comprised of city legislators, policy commissioners, lawyers, advocates, and activists.
  • On November 10, 2021, Hyun-Mi conducted the 1.5 webinar about the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and Family Separation. This event was organized by the Judicial Council of California and sponsored by the Center for Families, Children & the Courts, and the California Department of Social Services. The event was attended by the city legislators, the staff of the Judicial Council, dependency attorneys, child welfare advocates, and law professors.

Next Steps

Hyun-mi will continue to provide legal advocacy to clients and community education to stakeholders on the issues pertinent to ICWA and violence against indigenous women. Additionally, Hyun-mi will be active in DV prevention work at API Legal Outreach.


Two law students earn prestigious Equal Justice Works fellowships

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