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Department of Social Work Education

Title IV-E Harry Specht Memorial Symposium 2024

Preserving Indigenous Rights: An Exploration of ICWA’s
2023 Re-Affirmation and Native American Sovereignty

        photo of cutcha risling baldy  


Dr. Cutcha Risling Baldy 


Dr. Cutcha Risling Baldy  is an Associate Professor and Department Chair of Native American Studies at Humboldt State University. Her research is focused on Indigenous feminisms, California Indians and decolonization. She received her Ph.D. in Native American Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research from the University of California, Davis and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Literary Research from San Diego State University. She also has her B.A. in Psychology from Stanford University. She has published in the Ecological Processes Journal, the Wicazo Sa Review, and the Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society journal. She has also published creative writing in the As/Us journal and News from Native California. She is also the author of a popular blog that explores issues of social justice, history and California Indian politics and culture.   ​

Dr. Risling Baldy's first book We Are Dancing For You: Native feminisms and the revitalization of women's coming-of-age ceremonies uses a framework of Native Feminisms to locate revitalization within a broad context of decolonizing praxis and considers how this renaissance of women's coming-of-age ceremonies confounds ethnographic depictions of Native women; challenges anthropological theories about menstruation, gender, and coming-of-age; and addresses gender inequality and gender violence within Native communities. The book is available with the University of Washington Press. 

Dr. Risling Baldy is Hupa, Yurok and Karuk and an enrolled member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe in Northern California. She grew up practicing the traditional ways of her people and values the lessons and knowledge that she gained from these experiences. In 2007, Dr. Risling Baldy co-founded the Native Women's Collective, a nonprofit organization that supports the continued revitalization of Native American arts and culture. She lives in Humboldt County with her husband, daughter, and a puppy named Buffy.

Cutcha Risling Baldy

        small picture of angela kaster


Angela Kaster 


Angela grew up in Fresno, California. She has been married for 15 years and has five children. She is a Tribal member from North Fork Mono Rancheria.

Working with the Native community is her passion. She thrives to make a difference and advocates for the Native community. She was a former foster child who was lost in the child welfare system. She has beaten all odds to be where she is today and built a strong foundation for herself, her family, and her children.

Angela received her Associate's degree in Social Work, Human Resources certificate, Native American Arts certificate, and Resources for American Indian Needs at Fresno City College. She completed her internships at Fresno Community Hospital and Madera County. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and is currently in the Social Work program part-time at Fresno State University working on her Master’s.

She is a full-time ICWA Representative with Santa Rosa Rancheria. She advocates for the families she works with. She helps families be successful during the hardest time of their lives. She provides resources and tools. She accompanies Kings County CPS for investigations, referrals, home contacts, family meetings, and assists with adoptions.



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Sandy White Hawk 


Sandy White Hawk is a survivor of America’s Indian Adoption Era who helps generations of displaced relatives find their way, home through song and ceremony. For Sandy White Hawk, the story of the Adoption Era is not one of saving children but of destroying families and tribes. At 18 months of age, Sandy was  removed from her Sicangu Lakota relatives and placed with white missionaries over four hundred miles from the reservation. Growing up as the only brown girl in a small Wisconsin town, Sandy’s cultural identity was rejected, leaving her feeling ugly, alone, and unworthy of love. After a 30-year struggle through abuse and recovery, Sandy set out to restore the missing pieces of her stolen past. She soon discovered that her adoption was not an isolated case but part of a nationwide assimilative movement that had effectively displaced one-third of children from
tribal communities nationwide. Through Sandy’s journey of coming home, she discovered the powerful role that traditional song and ceremony can play in healing this intergenerational wound. Today, she is an international child welfare advocate and has assisted countless displaced relatives and their families through
the process of reunification. Blood Memory explores the communal healing that is sparked by the return of this stolen generation, as Sandy helps organize the first annual Welcome Home Ceremony for Adopted and Foster Relatives of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe - the community from which she was removed over 60 years ago.

Sandy White Hawk



    blood memory dvd cover


 Blood Memory 

Battles over blood quantum and ‘best interests’ resurface the untold history of America’s Indian Adoption Era - a time when nearly one-third of children were removed from tribal communities nationwide.  As political scrutiny over Indian child welfare intensifies, an adoption survivor helps others find their way home through song and ceremony.


Blood Memory Discussion Guide


 Supreme Court Decision 

Haaland, Secretary of the Interior, ET AL. v. Brackeen ET AL.

This is the link to the Supreme Court Decision for the case concerning ICWA decided on June 15, 2023.

ICWA Supreme Court Decsion


 Other Links 

DSS Office of Tribal Affairs

Bobby Von Martin

Bobby Von Martin Instagram

      Art by Bobby Von Martin