Indigenous Connectedness as a Framework for Relational Healing within Alaska Native Child Welfare
Ullrich, Jessica Saniguq
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This study was embedded within the Alaska Native child welfare context to fill a gap in the literature that further theorized and made evident the key concepts and mechanisms of Indigenous child wellbeing. Twenty-five foster care alumni, relative caregivers and foster parents provided their perspectives and life experience of child wellbeing within ICWA preference placements. The use of directed content analysis and Indigenous storywork helped make meaning of the knowledge bearers’ stories in comparison with an Indigenous Connectedness Framework. Results indicate that: 1) relational wounds and trauma must be acknowledged and addressed; 2) relational continuity is a crucial for wellbeing within child welfare, and 3) relational healing happens when children and adults know who they are and where they come from. This study is significant because it shifts the narrative, philosophy, values, beliefs and theory of child wellbeing within child welfare and influences how we live in right relationship with ourselves and others for the benefit of our sacred children.