Call for Tribal Stories & Testimonies!

Share Your Experience in the Child Welfare System

California Tribal Families Coalition (CTFC) is embarking on an important documentary project to spotlight stories of tribal children, adults, and families with lived experience in the child welfare system. We invite you to contribute your stories and testimonies!

Project Overview:

We are producing a short documentary that will serve as a powerful platform for stories from Native people from and living in California to be heard. The documentary will be narrated by tribal actors, community leaders, and artists, who will skillfully weave together the stories and testimonies collected from tribal children, adults, and families.

Why Your Story Matters:

Today, the very policies that prioritize keeping tribal children in our communities are under unprecedented threat. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) recently survived a constitutional challenge at the Supreme Court. While we are thrilled with this outcome, we must continue to educate the broader community on the importance and impact of ICWA to ensure its protections remain strong in California.

We believe that storytelling, a cherished tradition in our community, is a powerful tool to drive justice and understanding. By shedding light on our community’s hidden experiences, burdened by legal restrictions and shame, we emphasize the vital importance of preserving our tribal communities and families. Intact communities are resilient, safeguarding our traditions and culture. Yet, many outside our community fail to comprehend the devastating impact of existing policies.

Now, more than ever, we must foster understanding and rally support in the face of existential threats to our families and tribal sovereignty. By sharing your story, you can make a profound impact on the broader community and inspire positive change.

How to Participate:

If you or your family have experienced the child welfare system and would like to contribute to this short documentary, we invite you to share your story or testimony with us. To participate, please follow these simple steps:

  1. Prepare your story or testimony. To ensure accessibility and accommodate different storytelling preferences, we accept various forms of submissions:
    • Written testimony: Craft a written testimony highlighting your experiences, including any challenges, successes, or specific issues you faced within the child welfare system. length: 3,000 words.
    • Audio/video recording: Record a personal narrative, recounting your experiences, thoughts, and emotions. This can be a self-recorded video or audio clip. Max length: 5 mins.
  2. Ensure your submission is respectful, authentic, and represents your own personal experiences.
  3. Submit your story or testimony via this form.

The deadline for submissions is August 31, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.

We understand that sharing personal stories and testimonies can be a sensitive and sometimes challenging process. If you require any assistance or support with preparing and submitting your story or testimony, please contact us:

Perspectives We Seek to Highlight in the Documentary:

We aim to showcase a diverse range of perspectives to offer a comprehensive understanding of the experiences of Native people within the California child welfare system. The following list provides some examples of perspectives we are interested in featuring; however, it is by no means exhaustive. We encourage you to share your story or testimony, regardless of whether it aligns with these categories:

  • An adult who went through the child welfare system and was placed outside of their tribal community. Please speak about how that experience impacted your connection to your family and culture.
  • An adult who went through the child welfare system and was placed with family, or other tribal members. What did it mean to still be in community with tribal people?
  • Parents or family members of children placed outside of the tribal community and what it meant to lose them.
  • Tribal leaders and advocates who can speak to the importance of keeping tribal communities together and are willing to share anecdotes and personal experiences.
  • Minors who are still in the child welfare system but have been placed within their families or tribal communities about how much it has helped to be in community.

Guiding Questions:

As we seek to compile a rich tapestry of stories and testimonies for the documentary, we offer the following guiding questions to spark inspiration. While these questions are provided as prompts, you are not required to respond to them directly in your submission. They are intended to help you reflect on your experiences within the child welfare system and share your unique perspective:

  • What were the most significant challenges you faced while navigating the child welfare system as a tribal child, adult, or family? How did these challenges impact your life and well-being?
  • Were there any positive or empowering experiences you encountered within the child welfare system? How did these experiences shape your resilience and journey?
  • How has the child welfare system affected your connection to your tribal community, cultural identity, and traditions? How have you managed to preserve and strengthen these connections despite the obstacles you faced?
  • What support systems, resources, or advocacy efforts have you found helpful during your involvement with the child welfare system? How did they contribute to your well-being and empowerment?
  • Reflecting on your experiences, what changes or improvements do you believe are necessary within the child welfare system to better support tribal children, families, and communities?
  • How has your journey within the child welfare system influenced your aspirations, goals, or activism in advocating for the rights and well-being of tribal individuals and families?
  • What message or advice would you like to share with other tribal children, adults, or families who may be going through or have experienced the child welfare system?

Important Notes:

  • Your participation is voluntary, and you have the right to withdraw your submission at any time.
  • By submitting your story/testimony, you grant permission to the California Tribal Families Coalition to use and incorporate your story in the documentary project.
  • Any personal information shared with us will be treated with the strictest confidence. Your name, contact details, and any identifying information will only be used for communication purposes directly related to the documentary project. We will take all necessary precautions to ensure the protection and security of your information.
  • Your anonymity will be respected throughout the documentary production. Your story or testimony will be shared without disclosing your identity, allowing you to share your experiences freely and without concern.
  • The documentary will be shared publicly, raising awareness, and advocating for positive change within the child welfare system.

Thank you for your courage and willingness to contribute to this vital project. Together, we can make a meaningful impact in advocating for the rights and well-being of tribal children, adults, and families within the child welfare system.

About California Tribal Families Coalition:

The California Tribal Families Coalition is a collective of tribes, tribal organizations, and tribal leaders dedicated to advocating for the rights and well-being of tribal children and families within the child welfare system. We are a tribal organization led by a Board of Directors comprised of elected tribal leaders from around California. We aim to raise awareness and promote positive change in policies and practices impacting tribal families. Our mission is to promote and protect the health, safety and welfare of tribal children and families, which are inherent tribal governmental functions and are at the core of tribal sovereignty and tribal governance.

This project is made possible through the support of The James Irvine Foundation and Tre Borden / Co

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