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NICWA to host amended annual conference online

The conference has been amended and will take place online. (Image courtesy NICWA.)

The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) will host its 38th annual “Protecting Our Children” conference online.

The in-person conference that was scheduled to take place in Denver from March 29 to April 1 was cancelled due to concerns related to the spread of COVID-19.

The amended conference is set to be three-days long – from March 30 to April 1.

“Supporting the health and well-being of Native children and families is central to NICWA’s mission, and keeping people safe, especially during these rapidly developing circumstances, is paramount,” NICWA said in a statement. “As the largest national gathering of advocates for American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, we recognize our responsibility to consider the safety of families, tribes, and communities and not convene a large public gathering. Particularly given the history of epidemics in Native populations and use of disease in warfare against Indigenous peoples, the current COVID-19 pandemic has a particular cultural context for us.”

Organizers are now encouraging people to participate in the conference from their respective communities.

There will be three featured keynote speakers: Terry Cross, founder and senior adviser of NICWA; Cindy Blackstock, executive director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society; and Don Coyhis, president and founder of White Bison.

The amended conference still includes workshops that will be viewed as webinars.

“We selected 12 workshops from the 85 workshops planned. Topics vary and include tribal-state collaborations, intergenerational trauma, and supporting youth,” organizers said in a statement.

Workshop highlights include:

  • Working with substance-abusing families.
  • Family healing-to-wellness courts and active efforts.
  • The “Family First Prevention Service Act.”
  • Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in the courts and state legislatures.

In addition, the annual NICWA membership meeting will be held online.

“Despite the new setting, we will join together as members, vote on board nominees, hear from leaders, and win prizes,” the statement read. “Like in previous years, members will vote on a slate of nominations for the NICWA board. As members, your voice is important, and we rely on your support to help guide our mission.”

NICWA is also continuing with fundraising efforts, with a goal of raising $10,000, through its “sweepstakes.” The public can purchase tickets online to enter the sweepstakes.

Registration for the conference is $150. For more information, to register, and for a schedule of events, go to

For those who are unable to attend the conference virtually, and would like to read a summary of the event, see the April 30 edition of The Seminole Tribune and go online to after April 1.

For the latest on court cases challenging the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), search “ICWA Supporters Anxiously Await Court Ruling” on, or click here.

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at