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"Understanding American Indian/Alaska Native
Issues and Communities"

Native Communities
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  • Respect for Culture
  • Respect for Family
  • Respect for Community Values
  • Respect for the Land
  • Demonstrate that you want to learn!

Tribal Sovereignty
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  • Tribes/Villages have a Nation to Nation relationship with the US. Government
  • Tribes/Villages are Sovereign
  • Movement towards Tribal Self-Governance
  • Tribes can make and enforce your their Laws

Demographics, 1990 Census
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Natives U.S. All Races
Median Age 24 yrs. 33 yrs.
Median Income $19,900 $30,000
Below Poverty 32% 13%
High School 66% 75%

Common Values Among Natives
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  • Sharing and generosity
  • Allegiance to family, community and tribe
  • Respect for elders
  • Non-Interference
  • Orientation to present time
  • Harmony with Nature
  • Respect for status of the Woman and the Child

Common beliefs related to Spirituality
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  • A belief in an unseen power, Great Mystery or Creator
  • All things in the universe are related
  • Worship reinforces bonds between the individual, family and community (our relatedness)
  • Spirituality is intimately connected to our health

Respective Core Values
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Traditional Native Main Stream Society, U.S.
Cooperative Competitive
Group/Tribal Emphasis Freedom, Progress, Efficiency
Extended Family Important Individualism
Modesty Sexy
Patience/Passive (SW) "Getting Ahead in Life"
Generous/Non-Materialistic Material Comfort
Respect for Age Youth
Spirituality External Conformity
Indirect Criticism Direct Criticism
Harmony with Nature Conquest of Nature

Environmental Issues
"Land is life"
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  • Threat to Subsistence Lifestyles; fish consumption, plants (medical purposes) and animals
  • Threat to Cultural Practices; sweat lodges, basket weaving, pottery making
  • Polluted Land and Waterways; environmental compensation

Environmental Health Issues
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  • Emotional Trauma
  • Physiological Trauma
  • Physical Trauma
  • Spiritual Trauma

Tribal Communication Outreach Strategy
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  • Meet Tribal Groups on their own Turf
  • Have Food Available
  • Have Door prizes and Raffles
  • Contact the Community Health Aids, Public Health Nurses, not just the Physicians
  • Time is not a critical Element

Tribal Communication Outreach Participants
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  • Elected Tribal Officials
  • Traditionalist,
  • Business Community
  • Elders
  • Youth
  • Women
  • Trusted Source
  • Community Activist

Tribal Communications Strategies
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  • Tribes have a severe distrust of federal government and government employees
  • Don't make promises you cannot keep
  • Always ask what is the respectful approach to implementing the sharing of critical or important information
  • Listen for Direction from interpreters and community members
  • Develop Health Education Message with the Tribe/village

Tribal Communications Strategies
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  • Watch for body style and facial expressions of your audience
  • Remember you are working with the tribes and not for the tribes
  • Be honest in building relationships (federal Shuffle)
  • Find an interpreter who is respected and recognized member of the community, not a stranger!

Tribal Communications Strategies
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  • Very circular thinking patterns
  • Tribal symbols, be Tribal Specific, Caution
  • Build your message with the tribal community
  • Be as graphic, picturesque and as visual as possible
  • Utilize the gossip community
  • Most of all Commitment Earns Respect

This page last updated on December 15, 2003

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