For the last five years, our Duluth colleagues at the Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare have hosted a Summer Institute for tribal child welfare workers and administrators (see our post from last year). The theme of the Summer Institute this year was "Healing our Communities, Healing Ourselves." As a student attendee this year, I was honored to be able to hear the wisdom and knowledge of the many presenters and came away with a renewed sense of purpose in my work with American Indian families. Some of the highlights were:
- An opening prayer and pipe ceremony
- Hearing the Honorable Judge William Thorne speak about how Active Efforts should be best practice in all cases, not just cases that meet ICWA criteria
- Hearing first hand stories of the lasting trauma caused by the boarding schools and adoption era and why, as child welfare workers, we need to know this history in order to learn from it
- Attending a sweat lodge ceremony at a teaching lodge and experiencing a piece of the amazing, complex, and beautiful Anishinaabe heritage
- Hearing the Ojibwe language being spoken and sung throughout the four days
- Participating in a talking circle
- Gaining an understanding of the many meanings of family to the Ojibwe or Chippewa People, and that not just their immediate family is their family, but also their extended family, their tribe, their clan, and their people
- Learning the ways the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indian Child Welfare workers are working to provide services in a manner congruent with Native beliefs, needs, and principles
- Attending a short Pow-Wow where numerous generations danced and sang together
Miigwetch to the Anishanaabe people for allowing students to attend your gathering. It was an experience I will hold close to my heart.
The links below provide additional information on child welfare practice with American Indians.
Native American Community (CASCW resource)