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PHOENIX -- The state Supreme Court has denied review of a ruling that allows the placement of a Navajo boy with a non-American Indian family.

Lower courts had found good cause to deviate from the Indian Child Welfare Act that gives preference to tribal members as caretakers.

The child was a month old when relatives of the man once believed to be his father took him in. The courts have said he would suffer severe distress if removed from his setting. The family was certified to adopt the now 2-year-old and pledged to expose him to Navajo culture.

Navajo officials argued that the culture must be learned in a Navajo home through ceremonies and by being surrounded by the language. A tribal justice official did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Associated Press,

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