(AP) -- North Dakota’s Republican Gov. Doug Burgum has signed a law that protects tribal cultures by codifying the federal Indian Child Welfare Act into state law.

The measure gives preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings of Native children.

The federal law was enacted in 1978 in response to the alarming rate at which Native American and Alaska Native children were taken from their homes by public and private agencies.

Several other states — including Montana, Wyoming and Utah — have considered codifying the act this year, as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a challenge to the federal law.

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