North Star AISES will support the creation and implementation of a Women's Elder Nibi/Mini Council to uphold the cultural authority of women elders to participate in tribal decisions that impact water on and near reservations in collaboration with scientific experts.
What has been most instrumental to your progress?:
X 2. We have not yet been able to reach out to reservations in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. However, the Women Elder’s Nibi / Mni Council has been invited out to North Dakota in March 2015 (Fort Berthold and Turtle Mountain) to participate in ceremonies and to be witnesses of how fracking is impacting water resources on the reservations.
Reflections on inclusive, collaborative or resourceful problem-solving:
I think that resourcefulness has been most important – women have been struggling to figure out how they can influence decisions on their reservations or even knowing what small things they can do to help. We have had two council meeting that focused on helping or empowering women to take action. The inclusion and collaboration have increase with each meeting.
Other key elements of Community Innovation:
Although reservations have not necessarily embraced or supported (financial) women elders on their reservations, we have seen adequate support for our council meetings. White Earth, Mille Lacs, Fort Berthold, and Turtle Mountain reservations have or are offering in-kind support through free or reduced lodging, meals, and meeting rooms.
Understanding the problem:
I think that our ability to provide qualified individuals who have experience working with Native communities to facilitate the council meetings have enabled us to build trust with our members and tribal communities. Council members leave meetings with clear expectations and next steps.
If you could do it all over again...:
I would suggest we should have been more aware of our own limitations, as an all-volunteer organization, to plan and implement components of the grants. Although everyone is excited and want to help, we do have significant limitations (business owners, professionals, lots of work travel, and families) from our membership.