Collaborating with Tribes and Tribal Councils
Talking Circle – April 27, 2005
San Diego, CA
Brian Yazzi, Director of Native Programs, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, AZ and John Oates, Chief Professional Office, Boys & Girls Clubs of Southcentral Alaska, facilitated the Talking Circle focused on working with Tribes and Tribal Councils. Brian presented information on three main topics as the framework for the Talking Circle. The information provided below offers excellent ideas for establishing and/or enhancing your relationship with your Tribe and Tribal Council:
Know your Tribal Council
- What issues are your Council’s hot topics? What are your Councilman’s personal agendas?
- What are the voting tendencies?
- What are the issues in the community, and how does the Club address these issues.
- Read the Council’s weekly minutes.
- Have your Council give a yearly assessment of their view of the Clubs.
Keep the Council aware of the Club’s activities and programs
- Send information in the form of weekly packets to the Council.
- Each month, send newspaper articles or other written news to the Council (always include photographs!).
- Promote your Club’s website.
- Place Council members on your Advisory Committee so that you have a Club advocate on the Council. This person can also guide the actions of the Club to make it easier for the Council to support the Club.
- Twice a year, make a presentation to the Council about the Club and all that you are doing.
- Get the Council active in your Club events.
Keep the Club active in the Community
- Allow other community programs to participate in the Club activities and programs. With guidance, let them use your facility.
- Host Community events – such as National Kids Day.
- Network with Tribal Departments on a regular basis.
- Collaborative actions help the Council see that the Club is a part of the community, and is worthy of support from the Council.
John Oates presented three key points that serve as the basis for what his organization looks for when starting a new Club in Indian Country. Under John’s leadership, they have established more than 30 Clubs throughout Alaska – many only accessible by airplane!
I. Does the community leadership have a desire for the Club to be there?
- Make sure that the locals want the Club. Don’t try and impose a Club on people that do not want it.
II. The leadership must provide a space for the club.
- Do not go into an area where there is no physical structure or facility to establish a Club.
III. The tribe must give some tangible support.
- The support must be something more than just lipservice.
Following the presentations, the audience shared ideas and posed the following primary questions during the Talking Circles.
I. What can you do when there is friction between the Club and the Council?
- Emphasize the positive things happening at the Club
- Make it impossible for the Council to be against the Club by marketing all of the great things the Club is doing in the community.
- Create a relationship with all of the voting Council members, so that one or two votes against the Club have less impact.
- Use the parents to vote/influence negative Council members out of office.
II. What can you do if the Council members are not giving you the support you desire?
- Create a clear understanding of what you want from the Council, and continue to nurture the relationship with the members of the Council.
III. What can you do if you are an outsider serving the Tribe?
- Create as many contacts as possible to nurture support.
- Create a network of advocates.
- Use the outsider status to your advantage when necessary or possible.
- Use humor in your dialogues with others.