by Glenn Zaring in Native Condition. Discussion »
It has been said that the Tribal Nations have a unique opportunity in current times. A prime example of that came up at the recent Tribal Assistance Coordination - Group (TAC-G) meetings held at the Oneida Radisson in Green Bay, Wisconsin when representatives of 15 Federal agencies and numerous tribal groups gathered for three days of talks.
Glenn Zaring-Kituwah Cherokee
While grants and funding were discussed, the message that many took away was that now is the time for the tribes to more fully organize and take responsibility for their lands and people. Given the somewhat dismal prospects for continued, generous amounts of money flowing out of DC to the nations, many of the tribal people present talked about what we can do for ourselves.
For years now, the grants and support (read 'dollars') have bought many tribes radios, emergency supplies, training and all of the 'stuff' that is at the heart of the discipline. The tools are necessary but the willingness and attitude needed to successfully use them are now front and center.
This question is at the heart of the challenge to our tribes. Many of our governments have ignored Emergency Management or just paid lip service to it as they answer the more immediate cries for basic services for their citizens.
While this is understandable, especially to leaders who need to be re-elected, the bigger picture is a cultural one. Many, many of our nations are small and with little or no sustainable economic system. However, they and our more affluent nations still need to be concerned with surviving disasters, incidents and all the other events which can shake a nation to its very core. These 'disasters' have the potential of decimating a tribal nation to the point that they become nothing more than a footnote in history books.
In the face of this, there are moves among the tribes to honestly face the challenges. An example of that at TAC-G came from our sister tribes in the Pacific Northwest. They have formed a tribal emergency management coalition where tribes can share information, training and tactics which specifically address our tribal needs. This 'tribal' organization has been formed by tribal people, for tribal people and nations. Using the basis of their own regional organization, a greater National Tribal Emergency Management Council (NTEMC) has been rolled out and we have all been invited to join in.
The tribal nations are survivors, just look at our history. Now is the time to think about surviving and prospering when serious threats are before us once again. Accepting and 'buying-into' our responsibilities in Emergency Management as tribal nations, is no longer an option.
Glenn Zaring (Kituwah Cherokee) is a passionate Public Information Officer with a background in both the media (Radio and TV announcer) and emergency management (former MP and Civil Defense Police) who sees the need for emergency planning at the grass roots level.
Zaring is the Director, Office of Public Affairs and Chair, Tribal Emergency Management for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians located in Manistee, Michigan.
posted May 24, 2011 1:09 pm et
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