Native American panelists will present their perspective on the Indian Child Welfare Act during a discussion on Tuesday, May 30, at noon in Muskegon Community College’s Blue and Gold Room.
The event is free and open to the public and is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the national Endowment for the Arts. Those interested in attending can contact Hollie Benson – before Tuesday, May 23 – to reserve a free box lunch. She can be reached at (231) 777-0392 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The panelists, who are all members of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, include:
- Ryan Champagne, who was the Juvenile Justice Social Worker for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and later was employed as the Director of Social Service for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and Lac Du Flambeau. He earned a Master of Social Work.
- Cynthia Champagne, who was on the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Child Welfare Committee. Both Ryan and Cynthia Champagne are in the process of being licensed by the State of Michigan for child placement.
- Katrina Gerrido, a parent who successfully went through the child welfare system and is now a spokesperson on behalf of other parents going through the system.
- Alyse Hambright, an adult who went through the system as a child.
- Bernadene Crampton, who has worked as a Child Welfare Social Worker for 10 years at the Michigan Indian Child Welfare Agency, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, another Native Nation and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and an MPA for non-profit organizations.
“The Indian Child Welfare Act was enacted in November of 1978,” explained Crampton. “Since that time, there have been many challenges to the law by caretakers of children in out-of-home placement, states, child placing agencies and lawmakers at both the state and federal level. During this whole process, there are dedicated persons who believe that children are a part of their biological families, whether they know them or not, and are working to help families in this endeavor.”