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(Portland, Ore., July 26, 2022)—The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) and Social Current today announced a webinar to take place on August 11, 2022, from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. ET on Challenging the Indian Child Welfare Act and Tribal Sovereignty. The webinar will feature Sarah Kastelic (Alutiiq), executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, and Social Current president and CEO Jody Levison-Johnson discussing the impact of challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act, known as ICWA.

This fall, the Supreme Court will take up Haaland v. Brackeen, a case that challenges ICWA, which was passed by Congress in 1978 in response to the high rate of removal of Native children from their families. The law emphasizes that Native children be placed with extended families and tribal communities whenever possible to ensure children have a continued connection to their culture and people. Child welfare leaders and organizations agree that ICWA is the “gold standard” of child welfare policy. In the decades since its passage, placing children with relatives whenever possible has become a best practice that is increasingly codified into state and federal law.

Urgently, ICWA faces new, pressing challenges today from opponents who maliciously argue that the law is racist and unconstitutional because it creates a different set of rules for Native children. This is a blatant and intentional misunderstanding of tribal sovereignty, and an attempt to use ICWA as a backdoor to ultimately undermine the rights of tribes in areas like tribal economic development and land rights.

The webinar will feature a far-ranging conversational discussion on:

  • What tribal sovereignty means
  • How ICWA is connected to tribal sovereignty and why opponents of ICWA are seeking to dismantle tribal rights
  • What you can do today to stand up for the rights of Native children and families and protect tribal sovereignty

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was passed by Congress in response to a family separation crisis. Research at that time found that 25%-35% of all American Indian and Alaska Native children were separated from their parents, extended families, and communities by state child welfare and private adoption agencies, compounding nearly 200 years of active cultural genocide through the boarding school system that began in the early 1800s. ICWA put child welfare best practice into law to reverse these assimilationist policies and practices.

The webinar is open to the public and to the media. If interested, please register here.

To request an interview with Jody Levison-Johnson, please contact Jdevlin@social-current.org. To request an interview with Sarah Kastelic, please contact Amory@NICWA.org.

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About the National Indian Child Welfare Association
The National Indian Child Welfare Association works to support the safety, health, and spiritual strength of Native children­­­­ along the broad continuum of their lives. NICWA promotes building tribal capacity to prevent child abuse and neglect through positive systems change at the state, federal, and tribal level. For more information, visit www.nicwa.org.

About Social Current

Social Current activates the power of the social sector by bringing together a dynamic network of human/social service organizations and partners. Leveraging the collective experience of the field and research, we energize and activate the sector and drive continuous evolution and improvement. Social Current amplifies the work of the social sector through collaboration, innovation, policy, and practice excellence. We offer access to intellectual capital of thousands of professionals within our network through peer groups, learning opportunities, collective advocacy, individualized consultation, tools, and resources that address the sector’s most critical challenges.