Kara Briggs: Social work and the Indian world view
"Terry Cross, the executive director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, came to the field of social work in the radical 1970s when a Vine Deloria-brand of Indian consciousness was reshaping ideas about Indian child welfare.

In the years leading up to 1978 and the enactment of the Indian Child Welfare Act, between 25 and 35 percent of Indian children were living outside their tribal families in non-Indian households or institutions.

And among young Native social workers the desire to keep children in Indian homes was not only ideal, it was imperative if the future of Indian nations depended on the health and welfare of Indian children.

Thirty years later, Cross, who is Seneca, remains the soft-spoken, intellectual at the helm of the national Indian child welfare non-profit that he founded in 1983. NICWA, as it is commonly known throughout Indian country, trains Indian child welfare workers, facilitates tribes’ efforts to develop mental health programs and evaluates such programs.

Based in Portland, Ore., NICWA is also the national organization that takes the media calls whenever a fire storm about tribes having authority over the placement of Indian foster children hits.

In recent years Cross has also increasingly engaged in an ambitious effort to reconcile mainstream social work’s problem-focused model with an Indian world view."

Get the Story:
Kara Briggs: Codifying a Native world view (Indian Country Today 2/11)

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