Short Film Highlighting ICWA Impacts Released

Place Where I Belong Film Premier

Place Where I Belong is now live!

Member Tribes of the California Tribal Families Coalition (CTFC) often advocate together for systems change by consulting with state officials, writing legislation, or fighting on the front lines in the court room. Now, we’re asking you to join us in another kind of important systems change advocacy – to alter the narratives the public, and especially opponents of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), often hear and perpetuate about tribes, tribal sovereignty, and the laws put in place to protect tribal children and families.

On June 15, 2024, and during the week leading up to it, CTFC and tribes across the nation commemorate “ICWA Day” as the one-year anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that affirmed the constitutionality of ICWA and the rights of American Indian and Alaskan Native nations.

One way we are celebrating this important anniversary is by releasing Place Where I Belong, a heartfelt, short documentary highlighting the inspiring journey of Wakara Scott, a Cultural Development Specialist at Two Feathers Native American Family Services in McKinleyville, California. 

Place Where I Belong is a short documentary directed by Christopher Nataanii Cegielski, exploring Wakara’s experiences as a former foster youth and her path to healing with the care and support of her family and community. Produced by Tre Borden /Co for the California Tribal Families Coalition, the documentary underscores the critical importance of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in preserving the unity and strength of tribal families. 

Enacted in 1978, ICWA was a response to the forced removal and assimilation of tribal children into non-Native families, aiming to safeguard the best interests of these children and ensure the stability of Native tribes and families. Through Wakara’s story, the film illustrates the profound impact of ICWA, highlighting how her connection to her tribe and community was vital to her resilience and growth. Wakara’s transformation into a community role model exemplifies the irreplaceable role that staying within her tribe played in her life.

Place Where I Belong serves as a testament to the necessity of ICWA, advocating for the continued protection and support of tribal families involved in the child welfare system. 

We share immense gratitude with Wakara Scott and her family and community for sharing the story, to brilliant Director Christopher Nataanii Cegielski, Producer Tré Borden in partnership with Voyager TV, and support from the The James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards.

The full film can be viewed at: https://vimeo.com/917263553

Additional thanks to the rest of the cast & crew including:
Executive Producer: Blair Kreuzer
Executive Producer: Andrew Hutcheson
Executive Producer: Alissa Feldbau
Producer: Tré Borden
Producer: Dorian Lynde
Producer: Christopher Nataanii Cegielski

Director of Photography: Riley Anton Donavan
Assistant Camera: Sydney Kaplan
Editor: Mattias Evangelista
Assistant Editor: Dylan Chant
Colorist: Dylan Hageman
Sound Mix: Roman Richard
Composer: Jeff Melanson

McKinleyville Community:
Wakara Scott
Ellen Colegrove
Vicki McCulley
Dr. Amanda Young
Rachel Sundberg
Charlena Tello

Special Thank You:
Jasmine Pedroza
TWO FEATHERS-NAFS
RareBreeds
Christian Klein
Niveens Restaurant

We acknowledge the ancestral homelands of the Hupa, Karuk and Yurok tribes where this piece was filmed. We thank the community for their hospitality and graciousness during our production.

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