Fostering our most precious gifts

Stephanie Benally joins the newscast to talk about her efforts within Utah's foster case care system. Plus reporter producer Aliyah Chavez has more on Deb Haaland becoming the first Indigenous cabinet secretary in the history of the United States.
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Stephanie Benally, who is Navajo, is on today's show. She is the Native American Specialist at Utah Foster Care. The organization is a nonprofit that recruits, trains, and supports foster parents. In November 2020, Utah Foster Care launched an ICWA Alert system.

And reporter producer Aliyah Chavez has been covering every twist and turn in Deb Haaland’s transition from member of Congress to Secretary of the Interior. She joins us from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • Citizens of tribes across the U.S. cried and clapped in celebration Monday as Deb Haaland became the first Native American confirmed as secretary of a Cabinet agency.
  • The Biden Administration is making another high level appointment of a Native American. 
  • March 15th marks the one year and one day anniversary since the Blackfeet Nation in Montana declared a reservation-wide state of emergency due to the pandemic. 
  • One tribe is working with architect’s to design a COVID-era school. 
  • The Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation-Belardes and the California Cultural Resources Preservation Alliance, filed an opening brief in their lawsuit against California State University-Long Beach.
  • Tocabe, an American Indian Eatery, is to become a national retail brand.

You'll find more details on these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Some quotes from today's show.

Stephanie Benally:

"So I've been with Utah Foster Care for over four years, and I found that there was a lot of misconceptions about what foster care is and that people weren't aware that there was a need for foster Native foster homes. And so just going out into the community, working with our community partners to make people aware that there is a need. A lot of the barriers that we found were the application process."

"So explaining to them about the process step-by-step and then just being available as they go through that process. Also a question we always ask is, can there be a multi-generation household for people to foster? You can be a multi-generation household. And so there's just like general requirements to become a foster parent. Background checks is another barrier."

"So we are working to make the community aware of the process and then the awareness that we do need more Native foster homes. And when we go out into the community, we not only are looking to recruit for people to become licensed through the state, but also through to the tribe. So across the board, we're sharing that information. Nationwide there is a shortage and if they can't foster through the state or become licensed through the state, then contact their tribe."

Utah ICWA Alert is a new resource to increase the number of Native foster and adoptive homes for ICWA children. The ICWA Alert is a targeted recruitment process to engage the Native community to become advocates in increasing Native foster or adoptive placements for ICWA children.
Stephanie.Benally@utahfostercare.org
801-783-4430 (Direct)
385-743-0617 (Text)

Aliyah Chavez:

"Incredible is the only way to describe it. For the first time in US history, an Indigenous woman is the caretaker of the nation's public lands and waters. Yesterday incoming Interior secretary Deb Haaland was confirmed by the US Senate. 51 in favor to 40 who were opposed. And most notably there was actually a handful of republican Senators who broke from party lines to vote for her."

"Those were republican Senators, Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska. So definitely a few surprises there, but all in all we can say that Deb Haaland was confirmed and will soon be sworn in officially after she resigns from her seat in Congress." 

"Senator Dan Sullivan released a statement after he voted in favor of Deb Haaland's confirmation. And he said that it was one of the hardest votes he had ever had to make as a Senator. And so when you're putting that into perspective, senators vote all the time. And when someone says, this is one of the hardest votes that I've ever had to decide, it really puts into perspective how big of a deal this was. And especially in a state like Alaska, sort of what the repercussions could be now that she's been confirmed."

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix.

Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at achavez@indiancountrytoday.com

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