Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Oct. 10 to feature discussion on Indian Child Welfare Act

Beth Wright
Beth Wright

For Indigenous Peoples’ Day at Colorado State University, Beth Wright — an attorney from the Native American Rights Fund — will lead a keynote talk on the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law under review with the U.S. Supreme Court that protects the well-being and best interests of Native children and families.

The Oct. 10 keynote — presented by CSU’s Native American Cultural Center and RamEvents — is set for 6 p.m. in the Lory Student Center’s Longs Peak Room. The talk is open to the public.

Wright, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe, is a staff attorney at the Native American Rights Fund, a nonprofit that has provided legal assistance to Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide who might otherwise have gone without adequate representation.

At NARF, Wright focuses on Indian Boarding School healing, history and policy. She also tackles issues related to Native child welfare and Indigenous methods for dispute resolution.

Signed into law in 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act gives preference to adoption solutions that keep Native American children within the tribal community. According to the NARF, the law has been recognized by child welfare experts as the gold standard in child welfare practice and has helped tens of thousands of Indian children and families find fairness and healing in state child welfare systems.

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the constitutionality of the ICWA. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in its latest term, which begins this month.

Wright earned her law degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Syracuse University. She joined the NARF team as a staff attorney in 2022, having previously served as a NARF summer law clerk.

She previously worked for a nonprofit called Wings of America, which strives to promote the health and wellness of Native communities by running and advocating for Native youth on reservations.

The Native American Cultural Center at CSU works to ensure a successful educational experience for students by providing support and services related to recruitment, retention, graduation and community outreach.

NACC, part of the Office for Inclusive Excellence, embraces and encourages a supportive environment based on the traditions and cultures of Native American peoples. The office regularly hosts a variety of events and experiences throughout the academic year.