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NICWA’s Orlando conference theme has Seminole connection

Tribal member Erica Deitz created the watercolor painting “Homecoming” that represents the theme for NICWA’s 2022 Orlando conference. (Courtesy NICWA)

National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) officials are hopeful that the next conference will be a marker toward some normalcy. The annual gathering has been a virtual one for the last two years due to the pandemic, but its 2022 version is scheduled to be an in-person affair in Orlando. There will also be online options for those who don’t travel to the Sunshine State.

The Seminole Tribe has been a staunch supporter of NICWA for years – it is often the lead sponsor for the conference – and this year it has even more connections. A watercolor painting by tribal member and artist Erica Deitz was chosen to represent the conference theme – “Homecoming.”

Deitz’s painting depicts a Seminole camp scene with chickees, women cooking over a fire, grinding corn, and living a traditional camp life.

“Our ancestors, in their villages and camps, often traveled to neighboring places to visit relatives, replenish supplies, celebrate seasons and hunts, and visit to enjoy each other’s company and share news,” NICWA said in an announcement about the conference theme. “This physical movement was part of the cycle of their calendars, something to anticipate and look forward to. Through these relationships and interdependence, our peoples were sustained over generations. Similarly, today, no matter where we work, travel, or live, home remains the place where we feel connected.”

The conference is a mix of general sessions, workshops, meetings and keynote speakers. Those who attend are often engaged in child welfare systems, including government officials, young people, mental health workers, juvenile justice service providers, students, those in legal professions, child advocates and tribal, state and federal leaders.

Topics include child welfare, adoption services, foster care, children’s mental health, judicial and legal affairs, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and more.

The conference also features an exhibition space with various vendors and an awards ceremony.

“This conference is an opportunity for reflection and stock-taking,” the NICWA announcement continued. “We can observe where we are now, the characteristics of this place – both literally and figuratively, and the status of our people. This is a chance to affirm what we do and to adjust practices so that we may serve families better.” 

The 40th “Protecting Our Children Conference” runs from April 3-6, 2022. The Orlando venue for the conference has yet to be announced. For more information, click here.

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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 damonscott@semtribe.com.
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