I am on my second day at the partners in action BIA conference hosted by the Potawatomi Tribe here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They are known as the keepers of the fire which is a very important and sacred responsibility. Today my partner Ryan Champagne and I presented on the topic of a Community of Hope. This was about how a systems change model that is culturally specific has transformed a number of Tribal communities dealing with suicide, substance abuse, domestic violence, and other various traumas and crisis. There were about 35 people in the room. The response was very positive and we got a lot of excellent feedback. One of the topics we covered was Tribal Leadership and I presented on a model developed by the faculty from USC which has five stages. 1 is the lowest level and 5 is the highest. Most of the Tribes present stated that based on their perspective they were at 3 or 4. And some even said some of their programs were at stage 5 which is ‘We are Great”. Even though most of them were doing well they still have some major issues they are dealing with including the current Opioid addiction crisis so many of our communities are struggling with.
After this they asked us to do an interview which will be aired on their local t.v. station on the history of the conference and what what our observations were on this years conference. We stated that it was an excellent way for the BIA region to colloborate, communicate and coordinate with all the Tribes in their region. They still have room for improvement but they are committed to consulting with Tribes in a very meaningful way to promote Tribal sovereignty.
I had lunch with my good friend Theda New Breast who was doing an all day training on GONA. I don’t work with this program anymore but I appreciate all the work Theda does is this area and she is one of the first ones to deliver this very powerful healing program. We had a really good discussion sharing our strength, hope and experience. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to be with her today.