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1. Suicide will continue to be a major issue for some Tribal communities. The good news is that a number of Tribes are using best practices and evidenced based culturally responsive programs to turn the corner on the tragic events that have devastated so many of our people. It is essential that more emphasis be place on prevention so the cycle is not repeated.
2. There is increased cooperation between Tribes and urban areas. More people from urban areas are going back to the reservation due to more opportunities being available for employment. More and more Tribes are helping their brothers and sisters in urban areas through funding, providing technical assistance and lending a hand up. The trainings on historical trauma and cultural oppression have helped to provide the healing to help bridge the gap that exists between Tribes and urban areas. We must remember we are all related!
3. Educational opportunities will be made more available. This will include more rigorous curriculums, new school buildings and facilities, better teacher and administrators. Also, more parents will be involved in the education of their children. One of the major aspects of the Cobell settlement is the money that has been set aside for educational scholarships. This is being administered by the American Indian College Fund and it will help many students who are pursuing their post-secondary education.
4. Poverty will continue to be a major issue in Indian country. It is essential that Tribal leadership continue to focus all available resources for those who are in greatest need. Sequestration will most likely ocurr in the fall of 2015 at the federal level which will result in drastic cuts in federal funding for many social programs. Tribes must prepare for this now by pursuing all available resources and increasing their efficiency. We will once again have to do more with less. This is why Tribes need to continue to strive to reach the goal of self determination so they are no longer dependent of federal funding.
5. Tribal sovereignty will continue to be strengthened. More Tribal constitutions will be revised and tribal codes will be written to address everything from child services to natural resources. More and more of our Tribal leadership will obtain graduate degrees in Tribal administration and will come back to work with the Tribes to share their expertise and knowledge.
6. Tribes will continue to be more politically active on a local, state federal and international level. This was evident in the effort to stop the Keystone XL Pipe Line Project and the Idle No More movement. Think globally but act locally. One of my favorite quotes is from the former Secretary General of the United Nations who stated: “It is far more noble to save the soul of one person than to work for the salvation of the masses.”
7. Gaming revenues will decrease in many areas such as New York which is already dealing with increased competition. It is essential that that tribes diversify their economies. A number of years ago the Winnebago Tribe in Nebraska went through this when Iowa legalized gambling and because they had a long term strategic plan in place they were able to sustain these losses and eventually become even more successful.
8. Devolution or the move to transfer more power to the states will continue. States rights will be even more of a foucs with conservatives controlling most of the state legislatures and both houses of Congress. Also, the Supreme Court is still likely to maintain its current move to support this trend as well. More and more Tribes are learning how to develop better relationships with the states and as a result they are in a better position to negotiate and advocate for the best interests of their Tribal members.
9. Indian water rights will continue to be a major issue for many Tribes. Over half of the cases at the Native American Rights Fund are related to water rights. In California the drought has caused major water shortages and Tribal water rights are becoming more and more important. This is playing out throughout the southwest. In the northwest the Lower Elwha Tribe recently had a dam removed which restored their traditional salmon habitat. Other Tribes are cleaning up their lakes and rivers which have been polluted by mining, deforestation and other harmful environmental practices.
10. More of our people who are incarcerated will be coming back home due to changes in the federal sentencing guidelines. This and other efforts for prison reform will mean more people being released from prison and other institutions. It is critical that Tribes have a re-entry program in place which is culturally appropriate so that those who are returning home will receive the supportive services they so desperately need to make a smooth transition back into the community.
Willie Wolf is the president of Red Road Leadership Consulting, a Native American firm, based in Gig Harbor, Washington. Mr. Wolf has consulted with a number of Tribes and urban organizations on community development, wellness, economic development, strategic planning and training on a number of topics. For more information on services offered go to www.redroadleadership.us