On March 16, CNAY participated in Casey Family Programs‘ National Tribal Leaders Meeting held in Washington, DC. This gathering of over 50 tribal leaders was themed Building Communities of Hope and focused primarily on strategic support for the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) by providing updates on current ICWA court cases, deconstructing misinformation about the purpose and function of ICWA, and providing tools for communicating the importance of the Act in strengthening Native families and communities.
CNAY Founder & Chairman Senator Byron Dorgan (ret.) provided opening remarks, and emphasized the importance of the work tribal leaders are doing to support systems and practices that keep Native children connected to their tribal communities. Senator Dorgan highlighted the impact of youth voices in these conversations, and Casey Family Programs honored Senator Dorgan with a blanket in acknowledgment of his commitment to Indian children.
Youth from CNAY’s Champions for Change leadership development program participated in a panel discussion on the importance of ICWA. Panelists included Sarah Schilling (2013 CFC class), Keith Martinez (2014), Christie Wildcat, Sam Slater, and Brayden White (2016 Champions). Throughout the discussion, Champions said that being connected to their culture, language and community provided a sense of “home” that has played an important part in their identities as Native youth.
In addition to providing an overview of the history of ICWA and updates on the BIA’s ICWA guidelines, the meeting highlighted impactful programs in tribal and urban Indian communities that are strengthening communities and reinforcing tribal sovereignty.