June 5, 2023

Quarterly Newsletter


 2023 Spring NICWA News

“Healing Our Spirits: Nurturing and Restoring Hope”

NICWA News is the quarterly newsletter for members and donors of the National Indian Child Welfare Association. Donate or become a member today to subscribe.

A Message from NICWA’s Executive Director

Dear NICWA Members, Sponsors, Donors, and Friends,

Welcome to the Spring issue of NICWA News. This issue embraces the 41st Annual Protecting Our Children Conference theme, Healing Our Spirits: Nurturing and Restoring Hope. As Indigenous peoples, we know a lot about healing. Healing is culturally specific and nonlinear. It happens collectively with our families and communities. It’s not all or nothing, but a life-long journey of reestablishing our balance. Healing starts with truth telling and feeling all of our feelings because we’re strong enough to feel them and survive. We have ways of commemorating loss, grieving, focusing on survival, and expressing gratitude for our ancestors. Our cultures guide us to heal ourselves, our families, and our communities. Through healing ourselves, we can stop the transmission of intergenerational trauma, help families heal together, and protect our children.

Often healing is a natural result of culture, relationships, spirituality, and the balance across our mind, body, spirit, and context. We heal for ourselves and others. Each Indigenous nation’s cultural teachings originated and evolved with our ancestors who were connected with our natural environment and the spiritual realms with teachings that the people needed to survive and thrive. Today, those teachings still exist in many tribes, and even for those whose culture has been devastated or diminished by colonization, they have access to the same spiritual realm that gave the teachings to our ancestors.

Tribal teachings about healing share common elements. Culture, hope, safety, gratitude, respect, laughter, our medicines, the land, truth, tears, stories, honesty, trust, generosity, spirituality, courage, wisdom, kindness, faith, and love all heal us and are all intertwined. Living these and embedding them in our policies, service structures, practice models, and daily work is the challenge.

In times of uncertainty and stress, when we lose balance and a sense of well-being, we come together in small and large groups. We gather our energy, share burdens and joys, and reaffirm the indispensable truth that we are here and will continue to be here. We are healing ourselves for ourselves, for the seven generations before us, and for the seven generations to come.

As you’ll read in this issue, we’re on the heels of an incredibly successful 41st annual conference, the largest in our history. We welcomed 1,802 people to our first in-person conference since 2019, and it was good to be together again! Our conference is a powerful reminder of the commitment and impact of those who work in tribal and state helping programs and systems. Thousands of you have dedicated your careers to serving Native families and strengthening their well-being, intervening to stop the intergenerational transmission of trauma, and creating a place for families to heal. Thank you for your hard work and for your heart for Native families.

With gratitude for your service to Native children and families,
Sarah L. Kastelic, PhD (Alutiiq)

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