Adapting to meet emerging needs
Disaster Recovery in Native Communities impact story
In a July 2021 impact story, we wrote about our partnership with the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board (GPTLHB). GPTLHB set up the We Are Warriors Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during the height of COVID-19 to assist the 18 tribes in the four states they serve. Their initial work focused on assisting reservation-based centers and tribal emergency managers with communication, resource, and coordination support and training. These relationships helped deliver life-saving resources to those in need.
In the second half of the project period, GPTLHB and the EOC continued to provide training and other technical support. They also assisted with community efforts, hosted community sobriety and safety events, and partnered on multiple efforts, including:
- Co-hosted a healing and recovery virtual conference with CDP.
- Provided technical assistance to the Flandreau tribe seeking funding for a women’s health project.
- Assisted Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate with a late surge of COVID-19 cases to activate an isolation center.
- Helped tribes and tribal entities with analyzing their finances and how to best utilize CARES Act funds.
- Provided Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and QPR (Question, persuade, and respond) suicide prevention training to the Journey On street outreach team.
- Built relationships with the Pennington County fire department and mobile medics.
- Led efforts to stand up a Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) in the Black Hills, South Dakota area.
Within three weeks of CERT training, Journey On members were first on the scene of a stabbing incident in North Rapid. While they could not save the individual’s life, it was powerful and meaningful to have Native Americans as the first responders.
Adapting activities to meet emerging needs
The impact of COVID-19 on the staff of GPTLHB and We are Warriors became evident during this project. Not only did the staff experience the illness and other stressors from the pandemic in their own families, but they also worked in the throes of it every day. There was much to grieve and there was care needed for the caregivers, so the grant focus shifted to providing some support and activities for staff members.
To effectively help with healing and building resilience, the EOC gathered the staff and asked how to best support them. With that input, they decided to host talking circles and facilitate a grief group. The grief group meets once weekly and works through grief recovery books and a 365-day grief meditation guide.
The organization and leadership of GPTLHB and We are Warriors EOC were imperative during the height of the pandemic and beyond. The leadership provided during these challenging times will help communities prepare for and respond to future disasters. Building partnerships and working with other organizations and responders is crucial for creating a community response to the needs of residents. CDP is honored and proud to have partnered in coalition-building to help meet the needs of those served by Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board.
Hecel Oyate Kin Nip Kte
“So that the people may live”