Remembering Diane Payne

Diane Payne passed peacefully on June 3, 2019 surrounded by family and friends.

Those who have or are working on Indian Child Welfare issues, or have a Tribal Court more than likely received training from Diane during her career. A dedicated professional wanting to and succeeding in helping to make changes at the grassroots level to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse, drug endangered children and children exposed to violence.

Diane’s steady commitment over the years to train tribal staff in rural Alaska, rural Canadian tribes and many tribes in the lower 48 will be missed by all whom she has helped. We will all feel her absence. Diane served on many committees, boards and task forces developing curriculums and teaching.  Diane’s resourcefulness and her knowledge in building interagency networks to protect our Native Children is a legacy she leaves to all of us.

Diana Ruth Brown was born on September 25, 1948 in Idaho Falls, Idaho to Harold and Edith Myers Brown. Diane graduated from North Central High School in Spokane, Washington before attending George Fox College in Newberg, Oregon where she majored in Elementary Education. She married John Payne and they moved to Maryland.      

Diane started her career in Washington D.C. as a paralegal where she assisted in drafting the first Indian Child Welfare document that was eventually passed in 1978. Diane’s commitment and passion for working on justice for Native children and families was inspired by her adopted mother from the Northern Cheyenne Nation in Montana. Diane was energized to stop Native babies being taken directly out of hospitals and homes without parental consent or following tribal process.

Upon her retirement Diane recently formed, Heart 2 Heart Equine Therapy Center stemming from her personal love and understanding of horses and her ever present desire to help others.

Diane leaves a son: Jeremy Payne (wife Mandy), grandchildren Chayton & Kasey, daughter: Jennifer Payne Sterling (husband Nathan), grandchild Hunter, and her horse Veke.

A Celebration of Life is planned for July. Condolences can be sent to Jennifer Payne Sterling, P.O. Box 1141 Willow, Alaska 99688.