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Tribal Child Welfare Values Culture

Tribal child welfare programs can benefit from the strength and resiliency of tribal communities where there are supportive interconnected extended family systems and cultural traditions and values that are the foundation of practice. Native children’s well-being is grounded in culture through a child’s active involvement with the tribal worldview and life ways. Cultural involvement can take a number of forms, such as learning the history, traditions, practices, and language of the tribal group; participating in traditional social, spiritual, and ceremonial practices; incorporating cultural values into thinking and behaving; and interacting as a member of one’s relational or kinship system. Cultural well-being stems from a foundation of kinship, community membership, and involvement in cultural practices, and leads to a meaningful identity as a tribal person.

Integration of cultural knowledge with child welfare practice skills is considered critical to effective child welfare work with American Indian families (Lucero & Bussey, 2014; Red Horse et al., 2001). American Indian/ Alaska Native workers who share tribal and community membership as well as cultural practices and worldview with the children and families they serve are uniquely situated to accomplish this integration. The link between child protection and cultural preservation arises from a cultural value that sees children as the tribe’s future. This link is also a response to historical attempts to destroy tribal cultures through the use of boarding schools and child welfare actions that removed large numbers of Native children from their families and tribes.

IINII uses a revolutionary Design Thinking process to help your school community gain an understanding of one’s sense of self, as well as developing an understanding of students’ and parents’ values; having an understanding of one’s values matters because research has shown that it is linked to better well-being, less stress, and increased confidence in one’s ability to succeed.

Understanding students’ values can be developed with culturally sustaining practices that reflect a student’s identity and experience. Particularly helpful is focusing efforts on cultural competence and relevance and providing opportunities for students to practice bridging differences between diverse identities in a safe environment. To learn how you can create a dynamic youth-centered environment that honors the unique values of your students and parents, visit our website at, or contact us at or 1800-507-2502.

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