Working Effectively in Indian Country
for Federal Employees

Don’t let missteps damage your reputation in Indian Country! Develop the essentials skills you’ll need for working successfully with tribal partners. In this class, you’ll learn strategies for effective intercultural communication, with an emphasis on how to build strong relationships. Learn how the history of tribal-federal relations can impact your relationship with tribes today. Gain the perspective that will enable you to better empathize with tribal partners, and identify your own hidden cultural assumptions that can block effective communication.

With 567 different Federally-recognized tribes it’s easy to become overwhelmed, but we’ll help you recognize and respect cultural differences (and similarities) without stereotyping. Best of all, in this exciting, hands-on class, you’ll be invited (not required) to participate in realistic role plays, where you’ll get to practice effective communication techniques.

T O P I C S   I N C L U D E
Federal-Tribal Relationship
  • The federal role
  • What the US Constitution says about Indians
  • Cherokee cases
  • Indian Removal Act
  • Movement to reservations
  • Allotment and assimilation efforts
  • Major Crimes Act
  • Indian Reorganization Act
  • Termination and relocation
  • P.L. 280
  • ICWA
  • The Self-Determination era
  • Self-governance
  • Key Concepts in Federal-Tribal Relations
    • Sovereignty:
      • Inherent
      • Retained
    • Government-to-government relationship
    • Trust responsibility
    Impact of Historical Events Today
    • Dawes Act to Cobell
    • BIA blood quantum enrollment to mass disenrollment
    • Boarding schools to loss of language and culture
    • Case studies:
      • Oneida Nation timeline
      • Klamath termination and restoration
    Indian Country FAQs
    • What’s the difference between treaty tribes and non-treaty tribes?
    • Are all tribal lands reservations?
    • What’s the relationship between tribes and states?
    • How are various tribal governments structured?:
      • Constitution vs. no constitution
      • President vs. Chief vs. Chairperson vs. Governor
      • Tribal councils
      • Clan mothers and other “unofficial” roles
    Following Policy and Protocol
    • Locating your agency/department/bureau’s consultation policy
    • How is consultation defined?
    • What roles and responsibilities are outlined?
    • When and how does consultation occur?
    • How is protocol set with tribes, and what does it include?
    • Documenting consultation
    • Court challenges
    Understanding Cultural Differences
    • Theories of culture
    • Acknowledging cultural differences without stereotyping
    • Self-assessment
    • Identifying your own cultural lens
    Communication in Indian Country
    • Use of humor
    • Appropriate attire
    • Words and phrases that may offend
    • Common-use language
    • Body language
    • The importance of the messenger
    • Indirect communication
    • Use of silence
    • Long speeches
    • Listening
    • Generational, regional, gender and individual differences
    Special Cultural Considerations in Indian Country
    • Youth, veterans and elders
    • Historical trauma
    • Host’s offering
    • Spirituality
    • Time issues
    • Importance of land
    • 7 generations (the long view)
    • Subsistence cultures
    • Feast days and ceremonies
    • Pow wows
    • Family and community
    • Sacred sites and secret sites
    How to Build Trust
    • How to familiarize yourself with tribes you work with
    • Active listening skills
    • Relationship-building techniques
    • Taking the proper time
    • Providing consistent attention
    • Who do you work with?
    • Official and unofficial consultation
    • Official and unofficial protocol
    • Handling conflict productively
    • Being authentic and transparent
    • Taking responsibility
    • Not over-promising
    • Clearing red tape
    • Passing “tests”
    Case Studies, Exercises and Role Plays
    • Conflict at a meeting
    • Find the source of the problem
    • Dressing for the meeting
    • That’s (not) funny!
    • Listening for meaning

    *Topics subject to change.

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