February 8, 2019

Indian Child Welfare Act 40th Anniversary

By Francis Cacalda
ICW Statewide Lead / Curriculum Developer

On November 8, 2018, the Office of Tribal Relations from The Department of Children, Youth and Families recognized ICWA’s (The Indian Child Welfare Act) passage through Congress in 1978. The event was held and hosted by the Suquamish Tribe at the Clearwater Casino. Along with Tribal representatives and Child Welfare workers from across the state, DCYF Child Welfare workers and other Human Services staff were in attendance. 

The attendees received a copy of Governor Jay Inslee’s proclamation for all people in our state to observe November 8th, 2018 as “The 40th Anniversary of the Indian Child Welfare Act” – this celebration was not only a meaningful event for everyone here in Washington, but for all indigenous families of the United States.

I was able to attend this event and it reminded me of the importance of the Act and the reasons why ICWA exists.  The room was filled with faces that I recognized from my years working here in Washington State, and some faces of which I just met.  We were gathered to celebrate ICWA.  The afternoon was filled with words of proud accomplishments, past struggles and the desire to keep the Spirit of ICWA alive and strong.

At this event, there were staff recognized for their continual hard work they do for the families.  And with each recipient’s introduction, we heard words of thanks, hope and praise from those who have directly witnessed how the recipient has upheld ICWA and most importantly helped children.  We also honored all of those who have helped lead the way in ICWA practice in Washington.  Most of whom have been my teachers as well. 

It is always good to see so many gathered for a common cause; to celebrate and remember.  Celebrate and remember the accomplishments of the Tribal leaders, Tribal people, Washington state leaders and leaders for all in Child Welfare.  Over the years, I’ve met some Tribal workers from other parts of the United States speaking highly our ICWA practice here in Washington, and of that, I am proud.  Seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter as stories were shared made me realize the vision of our elders and those who have come before us. 

As with all things – we must continue.  Continue the vision, continue the work and continue to remember the spirit of ICWA.