2021 Virtual
Intergenerational Conference

June 15-17, 2021

RECORDING | WS-B-1 - Grandparents as Parents and Caregivers within Indian Country: Keeping with Our Cultural Identity

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RECORDING | WS-B-1 - Grandparents as Parents and Caregivers within Indian Country: Keeping with Our Cultural Identity
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Approximately 7.9 million children are raised by grandparents, extended family or close family friends with taking the responsibility to care for them while their parents are unable to take on this responsibility. Within the Native American households, about 8% of the American Indian and Alaskan Native children are raised and supported within these grandfamilies. Various socioeconomically factors affect these families and disrupt the essence of culture, our heritage and the future of our Native people. This panel will discuss personal experiences, barriers and challenges that they have experienced with how they obtained their loved ones, identify and remedied problems they experienced and how our culture has supported our families.

Sonya Begay

Navajo Nation and Generations United GRAND Voices Network

Sonya Begay is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and is a single grandparent raising her 3 grandchildren. Sonya's son lost custody of his children who were then placed in foster care in Kentucky. While the children were placed with foster parents, they cut the oldest grandson's long hair, disrespecting her tradition. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) requires child welfare agencies to work with the tribe with which a child is affiliated. but the agency in Kentucky did not comply with the provisions of ICWA.

Marisa Van Zile

Sokaogen Chippewa Band of Lake Superior Indians and Generations United GRAND Voices Network

Marisa Van Zile is a member of the Sokaogon Chippewa Band of Lake Superior Indians. Marisa has two biological children (Mona and Creighton) and one adopted child (Aidono). All three children are members of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The family welcomed Aidono into their lives on the day he was born in 2015. After Aidono's birth, Marisa learned there was a 50% chance that Aidono would have muscular dystrophy. Aidono was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at 3 months old. Aidono was adopted in 2017 after a long challenging experience including racial bias among peers and social services. Aidono's mother, Marisa, and his birth mother are cousins. Marisa and her family are glad that Aidono will know where he came from.

Sharon Gebhardt

Turtle Mountain Chippewa and Generations United GRAND Voices Network

Jeanette Walker

Koyukon Athabascan, Generations United GrAND Network

Ana Beltran

Generations United

Ana Beltran is an attorney and co-Director of the National Center on Grandfamilies. Ana is a national expert on Grandfamilies, authoring several Generations United publications on the subject and publishing articles in various publications and academic journals. Ana has spoken extensively about relatives raising children at national, state, and local conferences. As someone who was raised in part by her grandmother, Ana has a personal commitment to the families.