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 will protect the legal rights of indigenous children, parents, and tribes afforded under California Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) through community outreach, direct representation, collaboration with tribal lawyers and community organizations led by indigenous advocates, and educational workshops with California social service agencies and judicial personnel of country and state courts systems in the Bay Area.

Some of the most prevalent problems in ICWA cases include the county social workers’ failure to: conduct initial inquiries into whether a child in removal proceedings may have an indigenous ancestry; send a “Notice of Child Custody Proceeding for Indian Child” to the child’s parents or guardians, and tribe(s) with which the child may be affiliated; and provide culturally appropriate resources and services. Cal-ICWA also requires county social service agencies to document that they are “actively trying to prevent the breakup of the child’s Indian family,” which social workers often do not comply with. The non­existence of community-based low cost and free legal advocacy providers for indigenous population makes this project an essential, if not imperative legal initiative in the Bay Area.

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 Plans

Hyun-mi will implement, design and provide ICWA educational training for Child Protective Services social workers, country and state judicial personnel, and lawyers in private practice who specialize in child custody and dependency cases. Hyun-mi will conduct ICWA workshops to indigenous parents and families in the Bay Area to ensure that they know when and how to assert their legal rights. Through referrals from both county agencies and local community-based indigenous organizations who provide social welfare advocacy for their constituents, she will directly represent indigenous children and parents subjected to unlawful removal and custody proceedings.


Two law students earn prestigious Equal Justice Works fellowships

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Host: Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, Inc.

Sponsor: Anonymous, DLA Piper LLP (US)

Sunshine Sykes

Host: California Indian Legal Services

Sponsor: Bingham McCutchen LLP

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Marlee Torrence

Host: Indian Child Welfare Act Law Center

Sponsor: Dorsey & Whitney LLP, U.S. Bank

Current Fellow

John Duffy

Host: Dakota Plains Legal Services

Sponsor: Dakota Plains Legal Services, Lannan Foundation