NICWA News Summer 2013

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The National Indian Child Welfare Association’s Quarterly Newsletter Summer 2013

Service and Advocacy for Indian Children

Message From Executive Director Terry Cross Dear Members and Supporters: Since the announcement of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in the case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl in June, NICWA has been inundated with inquiries from practitioners in the field, the media, policymakers, and a concerned public on what the implications of the decision will mean. I want to reassure you that, although we lost a close 5–4 decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, legal analysts agree that it was the mobilization of amicus briefs in Indian Country and beyond that allowed the Supreme Court to rule on only the most narrow questions before them and reject the opposition’s early calls to dismantle ICWA. Those amicus briefs were the result of hundreds of phone calls, emails, and calls to action from our supporters. In other words, thanks to your efforts, ICWA remains the law of the land. NICWA is committed to moving forward on a policy agenda that will help close the loopholes created by the decision and strengthen laws that protect our children and families. While the spotlight has been directed toward this high-profile case, our work providing services, training, and technical assistance to Native communities has continued uninterrupted. This NICWA News showcases some of our most recent programming highlights. It also includes stories that illustrate how this is the beginning of a time of transition and renewal at NICWA. Our executive transition is well underway, and NICWA’s board has passed a new five-year strategic plan that will bring us through to 2018. These are all exciting developments. Again, it would be impossible for us to undertake without the diligent support of people like you. This support has been much appreciated by our staff, our board, and by me during these challenging last few months. Sincerely, Terry L. Cross Executive Director


Published by the National Indian Child Welfare Assocation 5100 SW Macadam Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, Oregon, 97239 P: (503) 222-4044 F: (503) 222-4007

What’s Inside the Summer 2013 Issue:


Letter from the Executive Director Kresge Supports Executive Transition National Day of Prayer NICWA’s Post-SCOTUS Pledge NICWA Adopts New Strategic Plan Elders Play Bingo for Research Inside NICWA San Manuel Grant Summer Training Institutes Where We’ve Been New and Renewing Members List Upcoming Events NICWA Cares Bring Our Children Safely Home Potlatch Funds Youth Empowerment Call for Artists In Memoriam: Bill Byler

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How Does Culture Affect Leadership Transition? With generous support from the Kresge Foundation, NICWA will host a convening of ten national, regional, and local culturally based human service nonprofits that have recently experienced, or are planning for, a future transition in executive leadership. The Kresge Foundation’s Human Service Program is very interested in NICWA’s executive transition plan and how it may compare with similar leadership transitions in other culturally based nonprofits. In early August, NICWA and the other nonprofits met with the Kresge Foundation to talk about their experiences with executive transitions and to discuss collaboration as a learning community, to share resources, and to support one another in their transitions. NICWA serves as the facilitator of this potential learning community. Nearing the end of the third year of a planned four-year executive transition between founding Executive Director Terry Cross and Deputy Director Sarah Kastelic, NICWA is facing the most critical transition in the organization’s history.

In Native cultures, leaders do not “retire”; however, they do transition into a different role—that of an elder, mentor, or thought leader who holds institutional memory and helps teach the next generation. NICWA has established its transitional plan on this culturally based model.

One of the most challenging endeavors for any organization is the transition of the top executive from leadership. When that executive is also the founder who has led the organization for three decades, the challenge is even greater. NICWA is dedicated to Indian children; we believe that, done well, this transition will enhance our capacity to achieve our organizational mission and goals. NICWA has always sought to align its philosophy, management, and services with the cultural teachings of American Indian/Alaska Native culture. We believe that our methods must be as culturally relevant as our content. Our executive transition continues this tradition. In Native cultures, leaders do not “retire”; however, they do transition into a different role—that of an elder, mentor, or thought leader who holds institutional memory and helps teach the next generation. NICWA has established its transitional plan on this culturally based model. After our executive transition occurs, Cross will take a one-year sabbatical, after which he will return to NICWA and take on the role of staff coach and mentor to prepare them for work in the field. Over two years into the process, this culturally based executive transition model has provided significant opportunities for reflection about what has been effective, what has not, and why. As such, the transitional plan is dynamic, allowing for constant adaptation as we apply the lessons we have learned. We realized, for example, that the executive transition is not just a matter of transferring duties and relationships. It includes assessing Kastelic’s strengths and style, and transferring to her management team 30 years of institutional knowledge held by Cross.

Kastelic will assume leadership of NICWA in 2015.

NICWA has much to share with other nonprofit leaders experiencing executive transition. We also believe the spirit, strength, and incredible diversity of the nonprofit sector means that there is a great deal we can learn from other nonprofits experiencing executive transition as well. Through the support of the Kresge Foundation, we are pleased to be able to lead such important conversations in a way that will positively impact the nonprofit sector in Indian Country and beyond.


NICWA Calls for National Day of Prayer for Native Children

Portland, Oregon Duluth, Minnesota

On June 26, 2013, the day after the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, NICWA called for Indian Country to join together for a National Day of Prayer for Native Children.

Shoshone Bannock Tribe, Idaho

We were amazed at the response, as gatherings arose almost spontaneously in a dozen Native communities across the country. Here are some of the communities that gathered together in support of the Brown family and the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma

Muscogee Creek Nation, Oklahoma

Portland, Oregon


NICWA Pledges to Strengthen ICWA in Post-Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl Era This summer, headlines in the media reflect the highly charged national debate that has ensued in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against Cherokee father Dusten Brown in its Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl decision. NICWA’s staff, board, and partners were pleased that the Indian Child Welfare Act was upheld by the Supreme Court in June despite the disappointing decision of the Court that Brown himself was not protected under ICWA’s provisions. It is clear that misinformation on the ramifications of the decision, and indeed ICWA itself, still abounds. In the months since the decision was announced, NICWA has remained an ardent supporter of the Brown family and are actively involved in addressing the unfathomable actions that have occurred in the South Carolina courts and in the media circus that has followed the case to Oklahoma. For example, NICWA has joined in support of the lawsuit filed on behalf of Veronica herself that contends that, by foregoing a new best interest hearing for Veronica in South Carolina, her civil rights were violated. NICWA further submitted documentation and a request to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to ensure the protection of Veronica’s rights. We have urged the media to cover the story responsibly and worked with the Brown family to ensure their perspective has been shared. NICWA continues to counter misinformation on the case. Board members and staff alike have presented on the case and its broader impact on ICWA at national gatherings including the Native American Veronica with her father in July. Journalists Association annual conference, the All Indian Pueblo Council, the Aspen Institute’s Center for Native American Youth, the North American Council on Adoptable Children conference, an adult adoptee conference, an Idle No More gathering in Seattle, the Eight Northern Indian Pueblo Council, and a communications and nonprofit professionals gathering hosted by Pyramid Communications, the Potlatch Fund, and Ecotrust. In addition to our media and national advocacy, NICWA has endeavored to keep its members and supporters informed via ongoing updates and social media. Our work in the post-Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl era is just beginning. Our government affairs staff is working in close collaboration with the Association on Indian Affairs to develop and publish a practical guide on how to interpret and apply the decision that will augment the information NICWA provided in the webinar on interpreting the case that we hosted in July. NICWA is committed to addressing the continued attacks upon ICWA that have increased as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the now 35-year-old law. We have begun work with our allies on Capitol Hill to lead a Congressional education campaign that will ensure policymakers are informed and apprised of tribal child welfare matters as we work to close loopholes created by the decision and strengthen ICWA itself against any future challenges to it. NICWA’s Addie Smith led a webinar on the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.


Board Adopts New Five-Year Strategic Plan for NICWA NICWA’s Board of Directors has granted final approval to a new five-year strategic plan for the organization. The plan was developed in close consultation with NICWA membership, and other stakeholders. At the April membership meeting, NICWA Board President Gil Vigil explained, “Your input was the foundation of information the board considered as we charted the direction for the future of NICWA.” The plan includes new, assertive, and board-driven fundraising goals that will allow NICWA to be much The new plan is the product of several months of ongoing consultation more proactive and nimble in addressing emerging issues as well as protecting the organization against between NICWA’s board and its members. the ups and downs of the economy. The plan also calls for the strengthening of NICWA’s leadership “Your input was the role in advocacy efforts that decolonize Indian child welfare, and protect the welfare of Native children and families. As Vigil exfoundation of information the board considered as we plained, “NICWA is already the preeminent Native children’s advocacy organization building tribal capacity to address the needs of charted the direction for the children and families, but we can do more. We will push harder for future of NICWA.” policies that bring new resources to tribal governments and urban —Gil Vigl Indian communities. We will work to ensure that those resources the flexibility that allows tribes to use them in ways that honor NICWA Board President have their culture and best meet the needs of families.” Goals of the plan include enhancing NICWA’s reputation for excellent technical assistance that puts sovereignty first, supports the highest quality tribal services, holds states accountable for equity in services to tribal children, and holds the federal government accountable for the fulfillment of its trust responsibility regarding child and family well-being. Providing high-quality leadership training for tribal leaders and young people is also emphasized in the new plan. “I’m really excited about the direction that our board has charted out for the next five years,” said NICWA Deputy Director Sarah Kastelic. “I appreciate their focus on goals that will have the greatest impact on our mission: the well-being of Native children and families. As I step into the role of NICWA executive director in 2015, I will have a solid target for what the board wants us to achieve and lots of flexibility to determine the best path to achieve it.”

NICWA will fight to protect our children. Will you help us?

Name Address City/State/Zip Email Credit Card No. & Exp. Date Signature

Please clip and send checks payable to NICWA at NICWA, 5100 SW Macadam Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR 97239 6

EIN 93-0951531

Yes, I believe in protecting Native children and preserving Native culture. My enclosed gift is: $35 $50 $100 $20

All gifts are tax-deductible.

NICWA estimates it incurred over $500,000 in additional expenses—expenses not anticipated when our annual budget was developed over a year ago—conducting work vital to the Baby Veronica case. Your support will ensure that NICWA will continue to fight to protect our children and preserve our culture against this and future attacks.

Cowlitz Elders Play Bingo for Research On a sunny Monday afternoon in August, elders of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe assembled at St. Mary’s Mission in Toledo, Washington, to have lunch and play bingo. However, this wasn’t your usual bingo game, but one facilitated and designed by NICWA’s Terry Cross for the purpose of giving Cowlitz elders an opportunity to identify Cowlitz tribal activities, crafts, ceremonies, and other cultural skills and knowledge that they believe are important for Cowlitz youth to learn. NICWA’s current research project, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), is looking at the relationship between cultural identity and delinquency. NICWA researchers, with partners Portland State University (PSU) and the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), are generating evidence to demonstrate that, when American Indian/Alaska Native youth achieve culturally based, community-defined outcomes, delinquency is reduced. For the last several months, NICWA and PSU research staff have been conducting focus groups with Cowlitz tribal members—including elders, health and human services staff, youth development leaders, and youth—to identify indicators of “successful” Cowlitz youth. A similar process was conducted several years ago with the NAYA community in Portland, Oregon, in the creation of the NAYA Assessment Tool (NAT), an evaluation tool created for use at NAYA. As part of the OJJDP project, the research team is adapting the NAT tool for use at Cowlitz Health and Human Services. The bingo game helped generate cultural activity items for the Cowlitz program evaluation tool. NICWA Research Assistant Jen Rountree created cards with bingo call letters and numbers, as well as various cultural themes on one side, and space on the other side where elders could write down their examples of the cultural skills and knowledge they feel are important for Cowlitz youth. As the bingo letters and numbers were called, Rountree created a list to capture all of the items identified by the elders. “I can see by looking at this list that there are some activities here that are really important to you,” said bingo facilitator and NICWA Executive Director Terry Cross, to the participants. “This will inform us in our work to create an evaluation tool for Cowlitz programs based on the outcomes that you’ve identified as most important for your young people.” 7

Save the Date!

April 13–16, 2014 32nd Annual Protecting Our Children National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect We hope to see you in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the nation’s largest gathering committed to tribal child welfare. www.nicwa/conference

Gil Vigil

Inside NICWA Mary Renville Joins NICWA Staff

Mary Renville (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate) has officially joined the NICWA staff as an ICWA specialist responsible for responding to the myriad requests for information and resources the organization receives every year from families seeking support. As a retired social worker with many years of experience in both reservation and urban Native communities, she brings a depth of expertise to this position. Since moving to the Northwest Coast in 2006, she has been active within the Native community, particularly NAYA Family Center, Portland Youth and Elders Council, the Future Generations Collaborative, and the Office of Equity and Human Rights.

Vigil New ENIPC ED

NICWA Board President Gil Vigil (Tesuque Pueblo) was recently selected to be the executive director of the New Mexico-based Eight Northern Indian Pueblo Council, a nonprofit that provides health, education, and economic programs to the original eight pueblos. Vigil was also profiled in the National Museum of the American Indian’s “Meet Native America” series.

Mary Renville

Association, and serves as advocacy chair for the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. For over ten years, she directed Indian child welfare programming for the Chickasaw Nation. Recognized as an expert in her field and lifelong advocate for Native children, she was appointed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to serve on the Oklahoma Foster Care Task Force. She received her bachelor’s degree from Eastern Central University and her master of social work from the University of Oklahoma.

Martin and Connor Join NICWA Board of Directors

The NICWA Board of Directors recently welcomed two new members. Aurene Martin (Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa) is president of Spirit Rock Consulting, Incorporated. She began her career as senior staff attorney to the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, where she handled ICWA litigation. Prior to entering private practice, Martin had a lengthy career in public service including serving as the acting assistant secretary for Indian affairs at the Department of the Interior, and as senior counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Ms. Martin attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Università di Bologna in Bologna, Italy. She received her juris doctor degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

NICWA’s Yolonda Salguiero (right) recently accepted an award from the Regional Research Institute’s Barbara Friesen (left) at Portland State University’s Native American Student and Community Center in recognition of the longstanding collaborative partnership between the two organizations.

Angela Connor (Choctaw) is the family support system associate administrator for the Chickasaw Nation’s Division of Youth and Family Services, the president of the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare 8

San Manuel Grant Will Enhance NICWA’s Response Efforts NICWA receives hundreds of calls from concerned American Indian families each year. Many are routine inquiries for ICWA-related information or requests for referral services. But many also come from families in heart-wrenching situations, often threatened with the immediate removal of their children. Recognizing the importance of this aspect of NICWA’s work in the daily lives of Native families, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians awarded NICWA a $73,674 grant to enhance our capacity to provide routine information and referral services as well as emergency telephone crisis support. “We have supported the efforts of NICWA for several years and view their work as critical to protecting Native children and preserving Native families,” said San Manuel Chairperson Carla Rodriguez. NICWA will use the grant funds to bolster the capacity of staff social workers who field calls and in developing stronger educational materials about ICWA.

Training Institutes Provide Valuable Insight into Complex Child Welfare Issues NICWA’s training institutes are cost-effective professional development opportunities aimed at delving deeply into the complex and ever-changing field of tribal child welfare. This summer, NICWA continued its 2013 series of institutes. In June, over 30 people from around the country participated in two of our most popular institutes. In the train-the-trainer Positive Indian Parenting institute, participants learned different elements of teaching effective parenting classes in their communities using culture as a strength and resource Michele Meier, Michelle Maas, and from which to draw. During Introduction to Tribal Child Welfare, Janet King participated in August’s training institutes. participants covered topics that practitioners in the field face, including foster care, customary adoptions, tribal sovereignty, and laws governing child welfare. Two August training institutes were held in Portland, Oregon, attracting participants from as far away as Cherokee, North Carolina, and Mission, South Dakota. NICWA Executive Director Terry Cross served as instructor for the Developing the Capacity for Cultural Competence in Organizations institute, earning positive reviews from Janet King, Urban Trails project director from Oakland, California. She explained the institute’s relevancy to her work, stating, “The thing about these trainings is that you get to learn about culture. Working in an urban environment that’s multitribal, the more I know about different tribes the more I can help create community and create connections.” The next series of training institutes will be held in September. NICWA will offer a series on the Indian Child Welfare Act as well as a series on offering in-home services to youth. For more information, visit training/institutes/.

Where We’ve Been

Every year, NICWA program staff provide on-site training and technical assistance to dozens of communities in the U.S. and Canada. Here is where we’ve been so far in 2013. 9

New and Renewing Members May 1–August 21, 2013

Member support sustains the important work that NICWA undertakes on behalf of Native children, families, and communities. NICWA members enjoy benefits according to their membership tier. Thank you to these tribes, organizations, corporations, and individuals for standing with us to ensure Native children grow up safe, healthy, and spiritually strong.

Coral Membership Tier Tribes


Association of Village Council Presidents Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana Osage Nation Social Services South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation

Katharine Cahn Terry Cross Leola McKenzie

Turquoise Membership Tier Tribes



Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Indian Child Welfare Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation Cowlitz Indian Tribe Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Pueblo of Acoma Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma Quinault Indian Nation Six Nations of the Grand River Child & Family Services Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians Smith River Rancheria

Alaska Legal Services Corporation Center for the Study of Social Policy Hobbs, Straus, Dean & Walker, LLP Lakemary Center New York Council on Adoptable Children Northwest Adoption Exchange State of Nevada Division of Child and Family Services University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work United Indians of All Tribes Foundation

Suzanne Ballen Karen Blakeney Teresa Contreras Laura Lein Allison Long Cynthia Mackay William A. Metcalfe Chrissi Nimmo Dale Powless Mary Prentiss Joe A. Quetone Ahniwake Rose Tamera C. Shanker Petra Solimon Dale Twedt

Organizations Carlton County Public Health & Human Services

Associate Membership Tier Individuals Vertis C. Belcher Sarah L. Bruce Linda Fiechtl Jefferson Keel Heather Kuhn 10

Manuela Ortiz Joan Policastri Lochlan Stuart Shilo Tippett

NICWA Board of Directors

Upcoming NICWA Events Our training institutes are cost-effective professional development opportunities. Join us for our upcoming training institutes or at our annual golf tournament and conference! NICWA Training Institutes September 9–10, 2013 Portland, Oregon • Understanding the Indian Child Welfare Act • Overview of Tribal Inhome Services Systems of Care NICWA Training Institutes September 11–12, 2013 Portland, Oregon • Advanced Practice in ICWA • Planning and Sustaining Tribal In-home Services Systems of Care

Annual Golf Tournament November 11, 2013 San Jacinto, California 32 Annual Protecting Our Children National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect April 13–16, 2014 Fort Lauderdale, Florida nd

Register today by visiting or email

Abalone Membership Tierr Jody Alholinna Martha Beard Laura L. Bentle Misty J. Brammer Kimberly Cluff Angela Connor Tania Cornelius Kimberly Crampton Leticia D’Amore Mary Annette Garcia Maureen Geary Dana Hanna Ava Hansen Wendy Harris Kandace Henry Judy Houck Brandy Jaramillo

Tamera Long Sandra L. Macauley Mary McCarthy Daniel Mittan Linda Morceau Lucinda Myers Korina Nejo Edith Nelson Delia Parr Kathleen Ross Deborah Scott Eileen Skahill Kristie Swanson Rachel Tobin-Smith Natalie Wiegel Joanne Willis Newton April Ybarra

A complete list of our donors will now be compiled and included in NICWA’s annual report. Thank you for your support! 11


Gil Vigil (Tesuque Pueblo) President Theodore Nelson, Sr. (Seminole Tribe of Florida) Vice President Rochelle Ettawageshik (Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians) Secretary Gary Peterson (Skokomish) Treasurer


Marla Jean Big Boy (Oglala Lakota) Patricia Carter-Goodheart (Nez Perce) Angela Connor (Choctaw) Paul Day (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) Jennifer Elliott (Sac and Fox) Donne Fleagle (Athabascan) Jocelyn Formsma (Swampy Cree) Debra Foxcroft (Tseshaht) Linda Logan (Oklahoma Choctaw) Maurice Lyons (Morongo Band of Mission Indians) Aurene Martin (Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa) Robbie McGhee (Poarch Band of Creek Indians) Jaymee Moore (Colorado River Indian Tribes) Mary Tenorio (Santo Domingo Pueblo) Derek C. Valdo (Pueblo of Acoma) Alex Wesaw (Pokagon Band of Potawatomi) Jeffrey C. Whelan (Saint Regis Mohawk)

Board of Regents

Brad Earl (Nez Perce descendent) David Powless (Oneida) Sherry Salway Black (Oglala Lakota) Don Sampson (Walla Walla) John Shagonaby (Potawatomi) Mike Tiger (Seminole Tribe of Florida)

Council of Elders

Anita Chisholm (Absentee Shawnee) William Clark (Cherokee) Don Milligan (Metis: Cree/Assiniboine, Yakama, Kootenai) Lola Sohappy (Warm Springs)

Strategic Leadership Council Jefferson Keel (Chickasaw) Ernie Stevens, Jr. (Oneida)

NICWA Cares Staff Rise Before the Sun to Serve Breakfast for Canoe Families On a cool July morning, NICWA staff members, along with elders and staff from the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), rose before the sun to help serve paddlers breakfast before their six-hour journey down the Willamette River and onto the Columbia River. The day before, canoe families from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Coos Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, Coquille Tribe, and Tana Stobs from Suquamish had pulled into Cathedral Park in Portland, Oregon after paddling 20 miles on the Willamette River. They set up camp to rest, eat, sing, and dance before heading out on their 21-mile pull to St. Helens, their next stop on their way north to Quinault. “NICWA was well represented, both serving breakfast and especially in the canoe. [I was] so honored that we were allowed to be a part of such an event,” said Mary Renville, NICWA staff member and NAYA elder who helped coordinate the breakfast, “I’m so pleased that it all went like clockwork!” Beginning with the first “Paddle to Canoe Journey participants Seattle” in 1989, tribes and First Nations of the Pacific Northwest and Canada have come together to travel their traditional waterways on Canoe Journey. To the Indigenous people of the region, canoes are an important part of their culture. Each summer, Canoe Journey is a chance to celebrate that tradition with an intertribal, intergenerational, alcohol- and drug-free event that brings communities together. This year’s event culminated in thousands of people and nearly 100 canoes ending their journey on the Quinault Indian Reservation. NICWA’s Debra Clayton and Alexis Contreras

NICWA Sponsors Natural High Fun Run and Walk at Delta Park

This year NICWA, once again, sponsored the Natural High Fun Run and Walk, an annual event coinciding with the Delta Park Pow Wow in Portland, Oregon, that promotes sobriety and a healthy lifestyle. Over 100 participants, including these first- and second-place finishers (right), took part in this year’s run. 12

NICWA Receives $50,000 Grant from Spirit Mountain Community Fund to Launch “Bring Our Children Safely Home Initiative” NICWA has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, a charitable foundation of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, to address the needs of Native American children in foster care. The Bring Our Children Safely Home Initiative will build awareness and provide crosscultural training aimed at decreasing the disproportionate representation of Native children in foster care. Research shows that placements of Native children outside the home are sometimes unwarranted. Unnecessary placements add significant trauma to children and families and increase the likelihood for future problems such as juvenile delinquency. This project will help families avoid the removal of their children by addressing safety concerns with culturally based supports, early intervention, and diversion, and will directly touch the lives of over 3,000 American Indian and Alaska Native children in Multnomah County, Oregon. NICWA Executive Director Terry Cross remarked, “We are excited to deepen our work in the local community. The goal of this project is to strengthen our Native families so that our children will never have to leave their homes to go into foster care. We commend the foundation for their attention and commitment to these important issues.”

Potlatch Fund Helps NICWA Empower Native Youth NICWA received a nearly $5,000 grant from the Seattle-based Potlatch Fund to help provide leadership development opportunities for American Indian and Alaskan Native youth in Oregon. The grant will help fund the Oregon Indian Youth Empowerment Project, which will provide Indian youth with the training, tools, and skills necessary for them to become leaders, advocates, and role models among their peers at the local, state, and national levels. Potlatch Fund Executive Director Dana Arviso said, “Potlatch Fund is deeply committed to funding youth leadership development projects in the Pacific Northwest that empower, educate, and instill cultural values in our next generation of Native leaders.” NICWA will work closely with project partners, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and Native American Youth and Family Center, to train youth and adult allies and provide technical assistance and coaching. NICWA Youth Engagement Specialist Rudy Soto stated, “We at NICWA are really excited to assist with uniting youth from the urban area with youth from the reservation. We hope to help them expand their outlook about each other and to build lasting connections through this peer-to-peer exchange.” 13

Call for Artists Announced

NICWA invites American Indian and Alaska Native artists to participate in our Call for Artists competition. NICWA’s annual Call for Artists competition for the “Protecting Our Children” conference has proven to be very successful and we are excited to once again provide an opportunity for artists to showcase their talents during our 2015 conference in Portland, Oregon. One artist will be awarded a cash prize of $1,500 for the winning conference image of an upcoming NICWA conference. Artists interested in becoming conference arts-and-crafts vendors can opt to receive a prize of $1,200 and a committed booth space at the 2015 annual conference. The image will be published on NICWA’s website and printed materials that reach thousands, and will be the visual centerpiece throughout the event. This is a can’t-miss opportunity for any Native artist looking to achieve exposure on a national scale. Artwork and submission forms should be emailed to NICWA Event Manager Lauren Shapiro at Submissions may also be mailed. Receipt deadline is no later than October 7, 2013. For more information on the Call for Artists competition including requirements, submission forms and the announcement of winners, please visit or call (503) 222-4044 x118.


In Memoriam: Bill Byler, ICWA Champion It is April 8,1974. William Byler, executive director of the Association of American Indian Affairs (AAIA), steps to the microphone to address the United States Senate Subcommittee on Indian Affairs. “We have been hoping to have such a hearing as this for six or seven years, and we thank you for your initiative in bringing this about.” So began the landmark testimony which ultimately led to the enactment of the Indian Child Welfare Act. NICWA was saddened to hear of Bill’s passing in April. A lifelong advocate for American Indians, Byler was an early and steadfast advocate in the movement that led to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978. Under Bill’s leadership as executive director from 1963 to 1981, AAIA became the major change agent driving reform for Native American child welfare. In 1968, AAIA was approached by the Devil’s Lake Sioux Tribe to assist in establishing a tribal child welfare board. Bill led this project and brought the issue to the attention of the public via a press conference at the Overseas Press Club in New York City. In 1969, 1974, and 1976, AAIA researched and compiled data on outof-home placement rates for Native American children. The data showed that up to 35% of the children were placed in non-Native homes. This was a shocking finding that, for the first time, provided statistical evidence for what families throughout Indian Country had long known anecdotally—the removal of Indian children was not only rampant, but that it was decimating whole Indian communities. In 1974, Bill and AAIA attorney Bert Hersh presented this data to the Senate and pleaded eloquently for action. ICWA became law in 1978. During Bill’s directorship, AAIA successfully argued for the enactment of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the Indian Self-Determination and Education and Assistance Act, the Havasupai amendment to the Grand Canyon Enlargement Act, and the Indian Health Care Improvement Act in addition to advocating for numerous initiatives, projects, and pilot programs that led to improved federal and community policies and programs. After his tenure at AAIA, Bill founded William Byler Associates, Inc., and served as president from 1980 to 2005. As a consultant, Bill assisted the public in conflict resolutions between federal, state, and local governments and Indian tribes. Bill was born in Chicago and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Yale in 1955. A recipient of football scholarships in high school and college, Bill also loved hiking, cool jazz, and poetry. He was a voracious reader and treasured story teller. A lifetime learner, Bill’s extensive interests included classical Greek, quantum theory, Buddhist logic, and Haiku. Bill is survived by his widow, Mary Lou, and daughters Cecilia and Helen. Longtime friend Bert Hersh stated, “Without Bill, I think it is safe to say there would have been no ICWA. He helped conceptualize every part.” NICWA’s board and staff are grateful for Bill’s profound contributions and offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends.


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