[Skip to Content]
Visit us on YouTube Visit us on YouTubeVisit our RSS Feed View our RSS Feed
Region 4 News June 18th, 2024
CategoriesCategoriesCategories Contact UsContact Us ArchivesArchives Region/OfficeNNLM Region 4 SearchSearch



Date prong graphic

Professional Development Award Update from Sandi Bates

Posted in: #CC/Academic List, #Health Interest List, #Health Sciences List, #Public/K-12 List

Sandi Bates, SW Clinical Campus Librarian of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of North Dakota, shares her experience attending the Tribal Leaders Summit supported by a Professional Development Award from Region 4.

The Tribal Leaders Summit three-day conference sponsored by the United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) “We’re Still Here!” was a glimpse into the programs, initiatives and concerns North Dakota’s tribal communities face on a daily basis. The summit is held annually in Bismarck, ND during the week prior to the annual PowWow. Following the cancelling of 2020’s event due to COVID and last year, holding a virtual event, many people were happy to gather again with friends and relatives. With five concurrent presentations twice daily focusing on themes of health, food sovereignty, culture, economic development, governance, criminal justice and education, there were times it was difficult to choose which session to attend.

One of the most interesting presentations covered The Champion Pathway, created by Dr. Scott Simpson, Sharla Steever and North Dakota Department of Public Instruction’s Lucy Fredericks. In response to North Dakota Senate Bill 2304, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction created this resource for the Native American Essential Understandings to be taught in K-12 schools.

The program is a several-months long process used for a school system to develop educator (superintendents through bus drivers and cooks) intercultural agility through the use of the Intercultural Development Inventory which then drives discussions, reflections, and small group work along with reading “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies” by Resmaa Menakem.

Simpson and Steever’s Technology and Innovation in Education (TIE) facilitates the discussions and moderates the program. They have completed the full spectrum in three schools.

The group has collated more than 400 tribal elders speaking on topics such as food, water, and cultural practices. There are also lesson plans and classroom activities which can be freely used. As the work was tax-funded, the lesson plans and recordings are available for public use. You can view North Dakota’s program here: teachingsofourelders.org. A pdf explaining the full program can be downloaded: https://teachingsofourelders.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/NDEssentialUnderstandingslg.pdf. South Dakota’s program is similar and available here: https://www.wolakotaproject.org/.

The full day of Thursday was focused on food sovereignty, especially in light of supply chain issues following the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the drive to find solutions to the high rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Following is a synopsis of a few highlights with implications for NNLM programming.

The US Department of Agriculture Office of Tribal Relations director Heather Dawn Thompson announced Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak recently sponsored the Indigenous Food Sovereignty Initiative.  (https://www.usda.gov/tribalrelations/usda-programs-and-services/usda-indigenous-food-sovereignty-initiative)

Thomson explained the program will “change the way we grow food and the way we eat food” through these five points:

  • Restoring foodways
  • Growing and processing our own food
  • Foraging indigenous plants
  • Supporting indigenous agriculture practices
  • Eating indigenous foods

Through former congressional actions, Native American food practices were impacted through destruction of indigenous foodways (war); forced adoption of Western farming (assimilation); lack of land and resources to implement (allotment); and control and punishment (assimilation and allotment.)

Referring to the Black Hills Treaty Of 1877, the United States “does agree to provide all necessary aid to assist the said Indians in the work of civilization ….and instruction in mechanical and agricultural arts.

The Indigenous Food Sovereignty Initiative currently has five functioning programs:

  • Indigenous Foods Foraging Videos produced by Linda Black Elk, UTTC’s Food Sovereignty Coordinator
  • Indigenous Foods Recipes and Cooking Videos produced by Sioux Chef’s Sean Sherman
  • Domestic Marketing for Native American Producers through the Intertribal Agriculture Council
  • How to Manual produced by ITBC: Transitioning from Cattle to Bison Ranching.

Linda Black Elk later did a session on Medicine Soup where she described the parts to build bone broth along with descriptions of many plants considered culinary also having medicinal healing properties described through oral histories from ancestors.

She was opposed to the words “food desert*” because deserts have for centuries been life sustaining and producing ecosystems to many indigenous peoples. Instead, Black Elk said the term should be “food junk yard.”

Another positive movement is the pending approval of portable meat processing plants. Needing to move animals to a processing plant puts large amounts of undue stress, causing injury and stress hormones to be released into the meat. Being able to process in any location will reduce barriers including preserving and transportation issues.

*The USDA definition of food desert: “in rural areas, low-income tracts with a significant number or share of residents more than 10 miles from a supermarket or large grocery store are food deserts.”

Several sessions covered providing survey services for tribal nations.

The National Resource Center on Native American Aging (NRCNAA.org) discussed the “Identifying Our Needs: A Survey of Elders needs assessment which assists tribes, villages and homesteads in creating a record of the health and social needs of their Elders.” The NRCNAA is housed at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND. You can view the full program here: https://www.nrcnaa.org/needs-assessment.

This particular survey delivers statistical and anecdotal information for tribes to meet requirements for the Title VI Grant Application (https://acl.gov/programs/services-native-americans-oaa-title-vi).

The tribal governments are able to decide parameters of who is considered an elder and service area. The data is available for others to use if tribal authorization is granted. The completed data is owned by the tribes. The service is culturally relevant and there is no cost to participate.

In addition, the NRCNAA has developed a Native Elder Caregiver Curriculum to provide family caregivers with information on how give assistance so elders can “age in place.” (https://www.nrcnaa.org/native-elder-caregiver-curriculum)

A second group through the American Indian Public Health Resource Center at North Dakota State University (https://www.ndsu.edu/centers/american_indian_health/) provides Community Health Assessment services. This particular assessment includes engaging with the community in a discussion process, plan development, identification of community health indicators, collection and analyzation of data, identification of health priorities, and the communication of results. The benefit of working with a group such as this is having a plan consistent with optimal data collection and disbursement of the results. The survey used has been validated with the ability to compare data across the nation.

The 18-month process allows for solutions to be found within a community and can used by tribal governance to assess services with the possibility of reallocating funds to different priorities based on collected data.

“The AIPHRC’s goal is to build capacity and support community driving projects by providing culturally responsive technical assistance utilizing a four-pronged approach to public health that includes public health services, research, education, and policy.”

With multiple groups focusing on surveying tribal nations, survey fatigue could become an issue. There were some side conversations about how best to track and know which agency is collecting data and working to not overburden the tribal populations by being able to cross reference surveys and work collaboratively to collect one set of data.

Throughout all the sessions, a true sense of community was presented. Many times presenters extolled optimizing self determination to reach true sovereignty (Dr. Leander McDonald, president United Tribes Technical College) and have knowledge and solutions within the community.

I would like to thank NNLM’s Region 4 for the professional grant to attend this summit.


Author Information:

Sandi L. Bates, MLIS


SW Clinical Campus Librarian

School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Bismarck Campus

University of North Dakota





Contact us at:
Network of the National Library of Medicine/NNLM Region 4
University of Utah
Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library
10 North 1900 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-5890
Phone: 801-587-3650
This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012344 with the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library.

NNLM and NETWORK OF THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE are service marks of the US Department of Health and Human Services | Copyright | HHS Vulnerability Disclosure | Download PDF Reader