Partner Q&A: Caring for Elders of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe

For 30 years, PWNA has partnered with hundreds of tribal communities in the Southwest and Northern Plains to support programs and initiatives that address the needs of individual communities.

This month, we’re spotlighting longtime program partner Roberta Bigback, who coordinates the Northern Cheyenne Elderly Program on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Lame Deer, Montana. Roberta shares how working with PWNA has helped her program provide continual care for the Elders in her community.

PWNA: What is the primary focus of your program?

Roberta B:  The Northern Cheyenne Elderly Program strives to ensure that the Elders in our tribe are cared for every day. We do this by feeding them, providing activities that promote well-being and simply spending time with them.

PWNA: How did you first hear about PWNA and how long have you been a partner?

Roberta B: I’ve been with the elderly program since 2002 and PWNA has been a part of our journey since then. Next year will mark 20 years.

PWNA: How has PWNA supported your program over the years?

Roberta B: PWNA has positively contributed to our seniors in many ways. Through our partnership, PWNA delivers supplies to us on a regular basis, such as incentives that keep our Elders engaged during activities and everyday basics that some cannot afford on their own.

We also receive emergency boxes that help prepare our Elders in case of seasonal emergencies. In Montana, we are often at risk for snowstorms and power outages that can lead to frozen pipes, empty pantries and flooding. PWNA’s winter boxes are filled with nonperishable food, water, batteries, blankets, candles and personal hygiene items. We also benefit from PWNA’s standard food service. Our program runs on a limited budget and these monthly food deliveries help us prepare nutritious hot meals for the Elders.

PWNA: Has PWNA supported your community in establishing or enhancing projects that can lead to long-term solutions (e.g., community gardens, nutrition training, emergency preparedness, leadership training, etc.)?

Roberta B: I’ve been a part of PWNA’s efforts to support leaders within Native communities from the very beginning. For example, I had the pleasure of participating in the first Four Directions Development Program (4D) cohort in the Northern Plains. This program taught me so much about myself and how to be a better supervisor. The follow-up meetings are great as well because they show how invested PWNA is in our success.

PWNA: What do you want others to know about your partnership with PWNA?

Roberta B: Our partnership has been an essential part of the elderly program’s success. The ongoing support that is given in terms of food, household and hygiene supplies is much needed and appreciated. It helps us fulfill our mission and provide an atmosphere that ensures a better quality of life for the Northern Cheyenne people. Thank you, PWNA, for all you do and all we do together for our aging Native citizens.

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