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“At the heart of every successful Indian Child Welfare case is a dedicated judge”

The Court Improvement Program (CIP) Indian Child Welfare Subcommittee and the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Association is accepting nominations for the “ICWA Judicial Excellence Award,” which is awarded every other year. Nominations will be accepted from Indian Child Welfare staff and submitted to a panel of ICWA experts for selection of the award recipient.  An award of a Pendleton blanket and certificate will be presented at the CIP Judicial Conference on November 9-10, 2021 in Norman, Oklahoma. The selected judge will be notified by October 9th.

The prestigious award honors a current or former Oklahoma State District Judge, who demonstrates outstanding qualities of judicial excellence, including integrity, fairness, open-mindedness, knowledge of the law, professionalism, ethics, creativity, sound judgment, courage, and decisiveness. The ideal nominee will have had a career committed to the advancement of the rule of law and the administration of justice in the Indian Child Welfare Act and the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Act.

Inaugural Recipient in 2017: Honorable Judge Cassandra Williams from Oklahoma County Juvenile Court for implementing an ICW Deprived Case Docket and hosting a collaboration meeting with Indian Child Welfare Leadership each year.
2019 Recipient: Honorable Judge Rodney Sparkman from Tulsa County Juvenile Court for respectfully requesting input and recommendations on ICWA cases ensuring tribes have a voice in his courtroom and working closely with tribes regarding active efforts at each hearing. 
Nominees may not be candidates for election or appointment to any elected public office at the time of their nomination or selection.

Nominations due by September 30th. Submit this form and attached nomination narrative. Please contact Kendra Lowden at with any questions.

To nominate a candidate, please submit the following:

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