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Carina Dominguez
ICT

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe celebrated the launch of its latest children’s book in a series about Malichi, a deer who finds himself away from his parents and embarks on a journey to learn more about who he is.

The tribe hosted a book launch at the Casino Del Sol on July 7 in Tucson, Arizona to celebrate “Who am I?: The Journey of Malichi” with families, case workers and officials from Pima County’s ICWA court.

The book series was commissioned by the Pascua Yaqui Office of Attorney General to provide a resource for displaced youth in the foster care system.

“At some point we realized that we might not be doing as much as we should be doing to help our families. So we had a conversation in our office with paralegals, with our team, and we said, let's develop a tool that can be used in the tribal court and the state court to help the case workers provide these resources to our families and children,” Pascua Yaqui Tribe Attorney General Alfred Urbina said at the book launch.

“The Journey of Malichi” series includes two books so far, “Finding Home” andWho Am I?” Both were written by Marissa Quiroz and Norena Valenzuela, with Illustrations by Mario Valencia, Luis Rodriguez and Raul Osuna, who are all Pascua Yaqui tribal citizens.

The tribe will be celebrating the book launch in its Guadalupe community July 22. The books are meant to provide a level of connection to culture for children who are going through tumultuous times.

“For us, if we can provide them something that's gonna bring them comfort, for some children it might be a blanket, it might be a picture of their family, it could be those visitations that they have with the family but it could also be this book," Urbina said. "Something that connects them."

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"Who am I?: The Journey of Malichi" the Pascua Yaqui Tribe's Office of the Attorney General commissioned the book to provide a tool to children and caseworkers in ICWA court. (Photo by Carina Dominguez)
A page from "Who am I?: The Journey of Malichi", a story about a deer who tries to reconnect with his roots after being separated from his culture. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe commissioned the book to provide a tool to children and caseworkers in ICWA court. (Photo by Carina Dominguez)

According to the Superior Court in Pima County, the ICWA court is overseeing 179 cases impacting 344 children from 29 tribes. As of August 2021, 68 percent of Pascua Yaqui Children were with family or tribal families.

“If you can imagine yourself as a child being removed from your home whether you're two or three years old or five, 10, 11, 12, it's very traumatic. It's one of the most traumatic experiences that children go through, that process and that situation will be burned and seared in their minds,” Urbina said.

After the Supreme Court’s onslaught of rulings, some advocates fear the Indian Child Welfare Act is under threat. The Supreme Court will be hearing arguments from four cases, Brackeen v. Haaland, Haaland v. Brackeen, Cherokee Nation v. Brackeen, and Texas v. Haaland, concerning the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act this fall.

The act was meant to prevent the excessive number of Indigenous children being taken from their parents and tribal communities and assimilated through the foster care system by prioritizing placement within the family or the child’s tribe.

The four Supreme Court cases regarding ICWA will be heard next term, which begins in October. The Department of Justice and tribal nations’ briefs are due Aug. 5 with amicus briefs in support of these ICWA defenders due Aug. 12.

Many of the Supreme Court’s final opinions this term had a negative impact on Native communities, one of the biggest was the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

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