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Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho

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The tribe received a prestigious National Conservation Achievement Award in the Special Achievement Category at the National Wildlife Federation's 65th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. It was recognized for outstanding efforts to protect and restore wolf population and other endangered species in Idaho and the Northern Rockies. The tribe offered human resources and the local expertise to monitor the movements of the animal, educate the general public about the species and teach local ranchers about the available management options, the organization said. The federation also cited tribal efforts in the conservation of Pacific salmon and said the Nez Perce will be a key player in reintroduction of the grizzly bear into the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness of Idaho and Montana.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has announced it needs good parents to help raise hundreds of abused and neglected children. In Nez Perce, Latah, and Lewis and Clearwater counties, 95 children were in foster care last year with 83 licensed families. Officials said there are 76 licenses foster care homes, but 15 are licensed only to care for relatives. Many of the remaining 61 often turn down certain age groups and those with disabilities and medical problems. Ann Mattoon, chief of social work, pointed out that there is a significant problem for the region's large tribal populations. The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 dictates that Native children must be placed in American Indian homes as much as possible to promote tribal stability. In this region, all the tribal foster homes are in Kamiah, so children from the Lapwai area often must go to non-Indian homes, adding more stress to their lives. "we want to be as least disruptive to the child as possible," Matoon said noting that it can be traumatic to leave the familiarity of a home community when their lives are in turmoil. And distance complicates visits and reunification with parents.

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