ND TRIBAL CHILD WELFARE COMMUNITY & CULTURAL RESOURCE GUIDE
The ND Community & Cultural Resource Guide was the result of many conversations and questions that non-native custodians, resource and foster parents and social workers had regarding Native American culture and how they can help assist native children and their foster families strengthen and retain their connections to their home communities and cultural identity.
While this guide is just one of many resources available, it is not meant to be all inclusive or exhaustive of cultural issues.
In fact, learning and living within the culture requires family members, community members, elders and others who can mentor youth throughout their journey. Generally, culture is transmitted from one family member to another; attending and participating in community and cultural events; and being part of the social fabric of the community. Since many Native children in foster care are living outside of their home communities and away from their families, these vulnerable children who are most in need do not have these kinds of opportunities. Therefore, it’s a challenge for all who are concerned about the welfare of our children and strengthening our tribal nations to find a way to lessen that gap.
We ask that you forgive us for any omissions, oversights or inadvertent misrepresentations. This small resource guide is not meant to replace all of the people, events and ways that help us to discover who we are as members of the Tribal Nations, communities and families. But it is a small and humble attempt, and for some, a first step in a lifelong journey of learning what it means to be an Arikara, Hidatsa, Mandan, Chippewa/Ojibwa, Lakota or Dakota. Throughout the resource guide, we continually urge readers to find family and community members for whom a more direct and personal relationship can be developed so that a child in care can continue to be connected to their people and community. There will be those who may think some of this information is culturally-sensitive and not appropriate for access through the internet. So we have taken great care and caution in trying to provide enough meaningful but basic information for non-native custodians and the native children in their care to become aware of, but yet be respectful of our cultural ways.
During this process, we also discovered there are many perceptions of what culture means and many diverse opinions. In light of this, we chose to refer to this guide as a community and cultural resource guide, so that it is broader in scope than just what most native people would think of as culture, which they generally associate with native traditional culture only. According to the World English Dictionary, the definition of culture is the total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values and knowledge which constitute the shared bases of social actions or the total range of activities and ideas of a group of people with shared traditions, which are transmitted and reinforced by members of the group. That being said, we wanted not only traditional knowledge specific to that tribal group but also general community knowledge, traditions, life ways, foods, events and beliefs that are unique to that community or group of people. And are things that every child in that community would be aware of or would have an opportunity to participate in, should that activity or event be a part of that family’s culture. In that regard, we wish to present a variety of information, and different aspects of the various cultures found in each of the North Dakota reservation communities. Again, apologies to those if we overlooked important cultural nuances; we really hoped and attempted to get a wide range of input from community members. On the flip side, there may be some information that is deeply steeped in cultural nuances that we may not have given justice to in our modest attempt to explain, for that we apologize.
A special thank you and acknowledgement to the people who provided information, knowledge, recipes and reviewed the content of the materials. Without your assistance we could not have completed this project. To those unfamiliar with many of our cultural ways of doing, alot of our cultural and community people were and are reluctant to publicly share what they know of our culture for fear of breaching cultural protocols, community censorship, cautiousness and respect for others who have other ways or teachings. So out of respect for our cultural consultants, who wished to remain anonymous, we honor your wishes for anonymity. We have also taken measures to ensure appropriate tribal officials and staff have had an opportunity to review and approve the content of this guide before we posted this information.
Lastly, knowing that this guide may be a growing and evolving section of our website, we also respectfully request your input, comments, or constructive feedback. I’d also like to thank the NATI staff who worked on the directory and guide, and to the NDDHS Children & Family Services in their wisdom to strengthen family, community and cultural connections for Native children in care by supporting this project.
koossteeRIt, maacigiraac, megwitch,
Washirahe’sh, wopila, wopida!
The Native American Training Institute (NATI) in partnership with the North Dakota Department of Human Services (ND DHS) Children and Family Services (CFS) have created the “North Dakota Community and Cultural Resource Guide” to promote improved outcomes for Native American children and families experiencing substitute care in North Dakota.
This Guide provides essential information to foster cultural well being, strengthen Native American identity, and improve the connections of Native American children to their families, communities, and Tribal affiliations.
- To provide increased support to Native American children who are in substitute care by strengthening their community and cultural connections.
- To enhance increase awareness, sensitivity, and cultural competency of Human Services personnel serving Native American families.
- To provide a reference tool for child welfare professionals, and custodians that assist them to understand and nurture healthy social, mental, physical, emotional, cultural and spiritual development of Native American children in their care.
- To improve planning and increase support systems for child welfare involving Native American children and families in North Dakota.
As the State of ND moves toward building a culturally-competent system of care which builds upon the practice of individualizing services and supports to children and families from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, it is important that we have a shared understanding of what cultural competence entails. In “Building Systems of Care, A Primer” (2002), it states that, “Achieving cultural competence in systems of care is developmental, that is, it does not simply happen overnight. It requires concerted attention over time and clear designation by systems leaders that it is a priority.” Therefore, an underlying goal of the community and cultural resource guide is to lend itself to promoting cultural competency by drawing attention to and facilitating connections to community resources and natural helpers. So these natural and informal supports can be used to enhance culturally competent services to native children and families who are involved with the ND system of care.
At the center of the Native American world view is the belief that we are all related to all things in nature including people. It is necessary to develop a relationship with others to build the necessary trust through interaction demonstrating care and concern for each other. One important strategy to use to connect a Native American child “in care” to their Native community is to engage in activities the child did with their own families. If the child is too young when they come “into care” contact the social worker to identify an extended family member to visit with. Building such personal relationships on behalf of the child requires time and contact with relatives. It is important to keep the child connected to his/her family, community and Tribal affiliation in the nurturing process.
For further information on cultural competence:
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