Being Prepared Anytime, Anywhere, for Anything on the Reservation
“Nake Nula Waun – I am always prepared, anytime, anywhere, for anything.” – Albert White Hat (Sicangu Lakota)
Albert White Hat brought back this Lakota expression about 25 years ago while teaching at Sinte Gleska University on the Rosebud Reservation. From time to time, I hear people use the expression but have never before thought about it in relation to emergency preparedness. Yet, in the context of our partnership with the American Red Cross North Central Division, Nake Nula Waun makes sense.
Living freely on the Northern Plains, the Lakota practiced preparedness as a means of survival. Resource rich summers inevitably led into resource scarce winters. Preparing things like pápa (dried meat), braided and dried timpsila (prairie turnip), and wastunkala (dried corn) in the summer and fall equated to survival during the harsh months of winter encampment.
With the rise of the reservation system in the 1800s, inconsistent federal policy has somewhat diminished Native Americans of their natural process and ability to plan and prepare. Yet, Native Americans survive to this day — out of resiliency, a key trait of Native peoples that is often overlooked and underestimated.
Building on this inherent resiliency, our community investment project funded by the Red Cross is aspiring to re-strengthen the preparedness of reservation communities inevitably faced with modern day disasters and emergencies. We are collaborating directly with local teams on the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Reservations and working together to identify community assets that can be employed or activated during a time of disaster.
By coming from this asset-based community development perspective, and working with communities wanting to adopt this level of planning, our community partners are forming new relationships between tribal programs and private organizations and working closely to identify resources and determine how best to address emergency needs.
As this networking and sourcing continues, our partner communities are organizing themselves to function more efficiently during a disaster event – drawing on ready emergency operations plans, emergency kits and training. The end result of these efforts will be a community-wide readiness to respond to a disaster event, until outside disaster aid and PWNA’s emergency services arrive.