May 29, 2024

Quarterly Newsletter


2024 Spring NICWA News

Together We Stand: Preserving the Spirit of ICWA

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 42nd Annual Protecting Our Children Conference theme, Together We Stand: Preserving the Spirit of ICWA. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 powerfully proclaims “…that it is the policy of this Nation to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian families…” (25 U.S.C. § 1902). The spirit of ICWA ensures our children grow up with strong cultural identities, rooted in the language and traditions of our ancestors, so that our tribal communities remain strong.

For over 45 years, tribal nations fought to uphold this declaration and constitutional protection of their children. This stance was evident in the coalition-building, including grassroots efforts, during the Haaland v. Brackeen case. We saw 502 tribal nations, 62 Native organizations, 23 states and D.C., 87 congresspersons, and 27 child welfare and adoption organizations declare in unity their support for ICWA. Standing in solidarity with one another is how we achieved success.
With this decision on the record, Indian Country is emboldened in our work to ensure compliance with ICWA and strengthen its implementation. With ICWA’s solid legal foundation affirmed, now is the time to work together to lift up tribal best practices and increase tribal child welfare capacity. To strengthen ICWA implementation, we must put our sights on tribal and state relationships and agreements; increased funding for tribal services, including culturally based services; and federal policy and data collection. The time to set our comprehensive vision for ICWA 2050 is now, with about 25 years to work toward our long-term strategic plan. Within roughly one generation, we can change the trajectory and outcomes for generations of Native children.

As you’ll read about in this issue, we’ve just wrapped up our incredibly successful 42nd annual conference, the largest in our history. We welcomed 2,026 people to our first hybrid in-person and virtual conference. We gratefully acknowledged 40 sponsors who generously contributed nearly $300,000 to create this enriching experience. This was a gathering of service providers, community members, and advocates who came together for four days of learning, networking, and celebration together, furthering NICWA’s mission of strengthening the well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native children and families.

Our conference is a powerful reminder of the commitment and impact of the workers in our tribal and state helping programs and systems. Each one of you, thousands in number, has dedicated your career to serving Native families and strengthening their well-being. Your interventions have stopped the intergenerational transmission of trauma and created a place for families to heal, truly preserving and carrying forward the spirit of ICWA. Your hard work and your heart for Native families are truly appreciated.

With gratitude for your advocacy for Native children,

Sarah L. Kastelic, PhD (Alutiiq)

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