On November 13, 2008, the Seattle office of Foster Pepper PLLC played host to a unique and far-ranging seminar entitled “Advocacy For The Native American Child – Honoring The Spirit And Intent Of The Indian Child Welfare Act”. The day-long program provided a comprehensive overview of the legal issues and cultural impacts of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, and offered specific instruction on the legal representation of Native children in Tribal, state, and federal courts.
Seminar attendees received tremendous volume and depth of instruction from distinguished panel of legal and cultural experts from across the country. Keynote speaker Judge William A. Thorne Jr. of the Utah State Court of Appeals addressed the problems of disproportionality of Native American children in government dependency systems; University of Washington professors Lorraine Brave and Ron Whitener highlighted cultural and ethical considerations for representing Native children in the courts; a panel comprised of child advocates, foster parents, and foster care alumni discussed the practical realities of life for Native American children in the dependency system; and Justice Bobbe Bridge of the Center for Children & Youth Justice closed the program with an inspirational message on the importance of strong and capable advocacy for the rights and welfare of Native children.
In addition to the live presentations, the seminar unveiled the new Indian Child Welfare Act practitioner’s desk book and digital training guide, produced by Foster Pepper attorneys in partnership with King County CASA. These resources give attorneys and advocates practical tools and guidance for effective representation of Native American children in dependency actions.