Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Nation Constitution

Year

Location: North and South Dakota

Population: 13,177

Date of Constitution: as revised and approved in 2006

Native Nations
Topics
Citation

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Nation. 2006. "Revised Constitution and By-Laws of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Nation." Agency Village, SD. 

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate: Elections Excerpt

Year

ARTICLE V - NOMINATIONS AND ELECTIONS 

SECTION 1. The first election of the Council under this Revised Constitution shall be called, held and supervised by the present Council within one hundred twenty (120) days after its approval. Successful candidates at this first election shall assume office when duly seated at the regular January 1967 meeting of the Council. Where more than two (2) members have filed for an office, a Primary Election shall be held at least thirty (30) days prior to the General Election. Only the two (2) candidates for each office receiving the most votes at such Primary Election or convention shall be eligible to run for office in the General Election. Where no more than two (2) members have filed for an office, a Primary Election will be unnecessary. 

Native Nations
Topics
Citation

Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Nation. 2006. "Revised Constitution and By-Laws of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Nation." Agency Village, SD. 

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Professional Empowerment Program

Year

Across Indian Country, programs and businesses depend on skilled, committed, and responsible workers. However, some Indian citizens on reservations have limited experience in the workplace; little education; and face problems finding day care, adequate transportation, and other necessities. Representatives of various programs of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate got together to discuss the challenges of equipping their workforce with adequate skills. The result of these conversations was the Professional Empowerment Program (PEP). Offered six times a year to every employee of the Nation, PEP’s therapeutic model focuses on interpersonal problems and conflicts and provides participants with the necessary tools for maintaining successful employment. It has led to significantly less employee turnover in the tribe’s programs and businesses and a dramatic drop in recidivism in the tribal TANF program. But PEP does even more: it helps people live healthier lives and become more productive citizens of the Nation.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Topics
Citation

"Professional Empowerment Program". Honoring Nations: 2005 Honoree. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2006. Report. 

Permissions

This Honoring Nations report is featured on the Indigenous Governance Database with the permission of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. 

Honoring Nations: Dr. Dorry Larson and Joyce Country: Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Professional Empowerment Program (2005)

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

Representatives for the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Professional Empowerment Program Dr. Dorry Larson and Joyce Country present an overview of the program's work to the Honoring Nations Board of Governors in conjunction with the 2005 Honoring Nations Awards.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Country, Joyce and Dorry Larson. "Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Professional Empowerment Program." Honoring Nations Awards event. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Tulsa, Oklahoma. November 1, 2005. Presentation.

Dr. Dorry Larson:

"Good morning. Good noon. I'm Dorry Larson and I represent the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, the Professional Empowerment Program. I would be referred to today as the Vanna White of the operation and in five minutes you'll hear from Pat Sajak. I want to acknowledge a couple people from our reservation. J.C. Crawford is our tribal Chairman. J.C. is running for office, so thank you for taking time out of your busy campaign, J.C., to be here. Scott German is our tribal Vice Chair. Scott, thank you for being here. Verlyn Beaudreau from our gaming commission and we have a tribal council person Barb Jens and tribal elder Gilbert Robertson. Thank you for being here. This represents...it means a lot to us cause it gives us support.

In the summer of 2001, I was driving with our corporate HR person from our casinos and I turned to her and I said, 'What we're doing is not working.' We had people coming in and out of jobs. We had one instance where we had a person who had 17 different jobs with our casinos. And to backtrack a little bit, we're from the northeast corner of the State of South Dakota and just across the border in North Dakota. We have a lot of gifts from the Creator. We have a lot of jobs. We have three casinos, we have other tribal entities. We have close to 2,000 jobs. So our problem is not for tribal members getting jobs, our problem was for tribal members keeping jobs. And I shared this with our corporate HR person at the time and said, 'We need to try to do something different.' And so what we did is we got together as a group of people. We had our TERO director -- we have a very strong TERO program, Tribal Employment Rights Organization -- Adele Ray German. We had our TANF director, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Richard Keeble. We had our college represented. We had Dr. Eldon Lawrence. We had our DNGE, Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprise, represented. And we put our heads together and tried to determine what we could do to try to solve this problem, this revolving-door problem. And we came up with a program called Developing a Productive Employee Program. And now, five years later, that program has evolved into the Professional Empowerment Program.

In January of 2002 we hired Joyce Country, Pat Sajak, and we started to develop the curriculum for the program. The curriculum that we developed became very therapeutic in nature. I'm a psychologist, Joyce is a social worker. We deal with people and we deal with people and their problems and what we were finding is that many people were not able to retain employment because of the personal problems they were running into in their lives. And so we wanted to develop a program that could help them with that whole process and we developed the Professional Empowerment Program, and today it's a 57-hour, a two-week program that is very therapeutic in nature and is very intense in nature. We want them to be successful and we want to be able to give them the tools to help the people be successful. And one of the things that we talk about in our program is giving them a toolbox. We have a useful toolbox, we have a useless toolbox. We also have a good spirit and a bad spirit. We try to build our curriculum around culturally significant things. We represent the four virtues of Dakota culture of bravery. To be in our program requires bravery. We ask people to talk, we ask people to share, we ask people to become intimate, and that requires bravery. We also ask them to practice the virtue of fortitude, because in order to successfully complete our program you have to be there every day, you have to be there on time. We're sticklers on time because many of our people lose jobs because they don't adhere to time. We also ask them to be very generous as a third virtue. We ask them to help one another, to practice empathy toward their other people. And finally we ask them to be wise. We want to give them the wisdom to be able to not only get a job, but to hang onto their job, so we want to practice those virtues.

We think we're making a difference in peoples' lives. We're not just about filling out application blanks or whatever. We want to make an influence and an impact on peoples' lives. Before I turn it over to Joyce, I just want to remind everyone or tell everyone we just completed our class. We do classes six times a year. And it really had an impact on me when a 19-year-old pregnant single parent got up and said, 'This is the first program that I've ever successfully completed in my life.' And I was driving down the road the other day and it brought tears to my eyes to think of the impact that we had on her life. So I'm going to turn it over to Pat Sajak and she'll tell you some very interesting things."

Joyce Country:

"I like statistics and I'll tell you why. It helps us to know whether or not we're doing something for somebody. I don't believe that we can no longer go through life with blinders on our eyes and not pay attention to the result or the impacts that we're doing to people. And as an old social worker, I like to know where you've been, what happened, and where are you at today because that helps us to guide people into things that they need to do to be successful, whatever they determine success to be. Not what Dr. Dorry and I determine success, but what they determine success. And we built our curriculum on the value of going to sweat. When we developed this curriculum, we took it to the sweat, we prayed. We asked for direction because for many years in our life, and you all know this as Indian people, we have been researched and studied to death and we didn't want to do that anymore. What we wanted to bring to our people was something that was going to be helpful, to help them in their family, to help them at work, to help them in their community, to have that sense of urgency to give back something positive to people that they're involved with on a daily basis. And so that's why I like statistics. I want to know how many we've served, what are they doing today and we try to maintain close contact with all of them.

Thus far, we have served 248 adults since May of 2002 to just since October of '05. We have served 62 Youth Build participants. Those are youth from the ages of 16 to 24. Out of that amount for the adults, the 248, 88 have returned to our gaming casinos for employment. 50 of those people have returned to the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate for work. Two have gone into private practice, two have gone into the federal government and 35 have entered the non-tribal business. We have six that are presently attending our Sisseton Wahpeton College. We have 48 people who are completing their GED. We have 27 that we don't know what happened to. The majority of them have gone back to school elsewhere within the surrounding states and some have taken up employment in Minneapolis and Fargo and those types of things.

We believe that we need to know where people are at prior to beginning our class so we do a lot of assessments. We use a TABE [Tests of Adult Basic Education] assessment and that's basic assessment. And what we find out of that is for our adults is that they average between 5.8 to 9.3. Our youth assessments begin at 4.6 grade point and they end at 7.6. In our alcohol and drug assessments we find that 80 percent of the adults that enter our system need to have further intensive assessment. Sixty-six percent of our youth need further assessment. And in our mental health assessment, we find that our people are carrying a serious amount of garbage. And so that's our job is to try to help them to leave some of that stuff that has become a stumbling block for them to be successful in their life. Now we'll talk a little bit about our goals and objectives."

Dr. Dorry Larson:

"I have 20 seconds to talk to you about the rest of my life. What we want to do is go deeper. We realize that we're just scratching the surface and we don't have all the answers. We want to go deeper and we're in the process of developing a program that will help people go deeper. One of the guiding principles for our curriculum was given to us by a Lakota medicine man, Felix Green, who gave us two directions: 'Use your mind and go deep and always be ambitious.' So we need to go deeper and deeper to help people get rid of the garbage that they're carrying and we want to develop a human service agency, which can become a one-stop center. And I also want to thank the governing board for sending Amy [Besaw] and Dr. [Dennis] Norman out to us. We only had one day to get them straightened out but we think we did a good job. Thank you."

Amy Besaw:

"Questions from the board?"

Elsie Meeks:

"Yeah. I have a number of questions actually. I'm from the Pine Ridge Reservation and I've worked in helping people start businesses for a long time and I have a business of my own and this is such a critical issue. We have and we always talk about the 75 percent unemployment rate that we have, and yet we don't have a workforce and there's many reasons for that as you all talked about. But I haven't seen any workforce development programs that really work and I just...I think you've tried to sum up what makes yours different, but I am so interested in this as a model for other areas."

Joyce Country:

"Well, I think what makes ours different is number one we try to reach to the root of what's causing people to be unsuccessful in their life and we take our time. We do a lot of group work; we do a lot of individual work. We're a part of the community. We have an office there. People know they can call us, they can come see us. We make sure we have other people available for them. And I think what we're really trying to do is we're trying to give them ownership, ownership back to the Sisseton Wahpeton people, because I think for many years, and we're all aware, that we have lost a lot of stuff. We have lost our pride, we thought we couldn't do anything, we thought we weren't successful, and so that's one thing we start our group out with is that number one is we're all successful, we're all good people. And so we always say that what we're trying to do is we're trying to really pump them up within these 10 days because we're going to end up putting them back into an anti-social environment. But while they're there we want them to feel good, we want them to learn about themselves and basically not to be afraid because we all know it is fearful to look at yourself in the face at 43 years old. It's awesome. And so we really try to be kind, generous, knowledgeable about what we're doing and we always tell our participants, 'We're not going to teach you anything that didn't work for us.' Whatever we're using worked for us in our lives because none of us came from Ozzie and Harriet family. Does that help you?"

Elsie Meeks:

"Yes. One other question I had was how do you get people to participate? What's the hook?"

Dr. Dorry Larson:

"We beat them with a stick."

Joyce Country:

"No, we don't. We get a lot of referrals. Number one is from the TANF program, the tribe has its own TANF program and they require their participants in TANF and general assistance to attend the PEP class. We have a lot of self-referrals, people that just want to come through the program, and through the three properties, our three casinos, if somebody has been terminated from their position two times on a negative basis, then they are required to come to the program before they can even apply for the job."

Dr. Dorry Larson:

"The other thing I'd like to share with the board, when we started our TANF program at a 34 percent recidivism rate, since the inception of our program it's down to seven percent. We're very proud of that statistic."

Heather Kendall-Miller:

"You've just hit the nail on the head in terms of the question I wanted to ask. I think it's incredible that your program is only 10 days long and yet the recidivism rate is so low. Quite frankly I have a hard time understanding how that is, especially without any ongoing continuing support structures in place to...that follows through on the kind of training that you've been offering. What really...what do you think accounts for that?"

Dr. Dorry Larson:

"We spend a lot of time initially in our curriculum on emotional intelligence and we really are very candid with the participants. If you're not emotionally intelligent, none of this will matter. We also create an environment of caring. In the last group that we just completed, they've developed their own support system, they share telephone numbers so they can talk to one another. Joyce and I are also available on an ongoing basis to provide them with the support and the advocacy that many of them need and desire and will seek us out. We have a passion for what we're doing and we care about people and we really hope that that comes through and I believe it does. The last group that we had, they said number one, they wanted to come down here, so we were thinking about renting a bus but we couldn't come up with the funds for that and secondly they wanted to keep going. I wanted to say something rather sarcastic, that the reason they don't come back is cause they don't want to have to go through the program again, but the last group said, 'We wish we could keep going with this because it feels so good. It feels good to feel good.'"

Heather Kendall-Miller:

"One more follow up question. I've never heard of the term emotional intelligence before. Can you tell us a little bit more what exactly that means?"

Dr. Dorry Larson:

"This is the work of Daniel Goleman out of Harvard. It's something that when we started looking at building the curriculum were just absolutely convinced is what it's all about. About 85 percent of our success, according to Dr. Goleman, is determined by our emotional intelligence and the five competencies of emotional intelligence...I want everybody to write this down. Self-awareness: you have to know who you are, you have to know where you're at emotionally, you have to know your values, you have to know your triggers; self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy, and effective relationships. So many of our jobs are in the service industry, for instance, and if you're not emotionally intelligent and if you're a slot attendant and it's Saturday night and you're getting jerked around by irate customers, you're not going to be very successful if you're not emotionally intelligent. So we spend at least a day and a half on that. And the other thing that I want to add to what Joyce said is we also have very high expectations. We require people to be on time. It's a stickler for us. If you're not on time, you have to sit in a chair and explain to the group why you're late and whether the group will allow you to re-enter or not. Now, some people say, 'Well, that's rather cruel,' but people lose their jobs because they're not on time, and so one of the expectations we get from every group is, 'I want to learn to be on time,' and it's amazing how that happens very quickly."

David Gipp:

"A couple of quick questions here. One deals with transferability and the other deals with tracking or keeping a longer-term record of what's happening with your graduates from the program. The first part is, it looks like you're building some kind of a database that can track what's happening with students say beyond a year or so. Are you able to look at those long-term issues that relate to your success?"

Joyce Country:

"Yes. That's the reason that we do a lot of statistical stuff. We try to do regular contacts at the various employment agencies that people have and also with various people. 'Where are you at, what's going on?' We did try to have once a year get together with all the PEP graduates and for some people it worked and for some it didn't. So what we've incorporated now is that most generally once a group quits, it's usually, they determine how often they're going to get together. Like this last group said they're going to get together every two months. We've offered them a classroom. They're just going to get together to touch base. At Dakota Magic, we have one of our PEP graduates that once every four months gets together with those PEP graduates at Dakota Magic and we're still an active part of providing EAP to the three properties. So we have the ability to keep in contact with people on a weekly basis."

David Gipp:

"Then it gets to the next part of my question and that's the issue of transferability. How transferable do you think your program is to other tribal communities and how transferable are you making it within your community so that others can carry on your work?"

Joyce Country:

"We believe...we believe that you can transfer this to anybody, to any agency. We have done workshops, one at Dakota Magic, one within the State of Washington to their five tribes and we believe you can use it. It's transferable. The thing that we would really encourage people is number one, is the people that you hire, make sure they have the credentials, make sure that they have passion for doing this, because I think that's the kicker."

Brian C. McK. Henderson:

"Last question if I may. How do you handle substance abuse when it's detected?"

Joyce Country:

"Well, how we handle substance abuse is the very first day we do the assessments and that's a part of this. And then we utilize Dakota Pride Treatment Center, which is a part of our tribe and they do the assessment and within that first week we have the results back and then we give those confidentially to the people that it's applicable to. We encourage them, we encourage them to please go to treatment after it's over with or some kind of outpatient and we have these all listed for them. Our goal has always been and continues to be is that when we have the PEP participants for 10 working days that we would like that when our class is over at 3:00 that from 3:00 to 5:30 that Dakota Pride would come down and do some alcohol information sharing with these individuals that are within our class. I think that's the only way we're going to get a handle on it. Did that answer you?"

Dr. Dorry Larson:

"We also in our curriculum have a day devoted to alcohol and drug abuse awareness so they get a lot of information in the curriculum."

Honoring Nations: Joyce Country and Dorry Larson: The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Professional Empowerment Program (2007)

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

Joyce Country and Dr. Dorry Larson discuss what prompted the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate to establish its award-winning Professional Empowerment Program, and the positive impacts it is having on the lives of its citizens.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Country, Joyce and Dorry Larson. "The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Professional Empowerment Program." Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. September 27-28, 2007. Presentation. 

Duane Champagne:

"The next presentation we have is the Professional Empowerment Program, and we're going to have I think a dual team here. We have Joyce Country and Dorry Larson will share the podium."

Joyce Country:

"Number one is, we really want to thank Amy [Besaw Medford] and the board for inviting us and having us. We were really excited to come, and we want you to know we really appreciate this time. We really have a lot of passion for what we do. We give it our all and somebody said this morning that we're all over-achievers. I believe we are. It's nothing for me to go to bed at night with a tablet beside me because I'll wake up at two o'clock and say, ‘Hey, that's a good idea! Write that down.' And then Dr. Dorry called me up, he's hunting, ‘Hey, I thought about something.' So we want things to really be exciting and passionate for our people because we learned, we learned that beating up people doesn't work. So we want them to have fun when they're starting to change their life. And I wanted Dr. Dorry to be up here today because he was the gentleman with the vision. He was the gentleman with the vision for this program. I kind of helped him after I got hired and implemented it, made some changes. And this past weekend on Sunday we had a [Dakota language], a thanksgiving, because Dorry's adopted brother had vision quest. And he made a real nice statement. He said, ‘For my brother who's a sun dancer, goes to ceremony, goes to sweats; he's the man that kind of forgot he's not an Indian.'"

Dr. Dorry Larson:

"Good afternoon. I wasn't expecting to be up here. This is really Joyce's time. I want everybody to write these things down because I've learned a lot and I'm going to share with all of you 'cause this is what you want to take away from this conference. From Joe [Kalt] I learned I'm not a yuppie, I'm a muppie. And from Alfreda [Mitre], where are you Alfreda? Before you, I thought I was healthy, but now I'm an over-functioning member of a dysfunctional family. And all of you are, too. From Al [Pemberton], I learned don't land a good plane on Red Lake. A poor plane you're going to be safe, but don't land a good plane. From Carl [Artman], the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Interior, we all need to make more wind. I'm sorry, Carl, I couldn't resist that one. That's right out of Washington, D.C. From Theresa [Pouley], get ready for the cup. And you know, I talked about being an over-functioning member of a dysfunctional family, but now, thanks to you, we know we're one of Amy's [Besaw Medford] favorites. We still haven't gotten a new bike, though.

I want to echo Chief [Oren] Lyons, what you were talking about, because that's what our program is about. Our program -- just to understand where we're at, we're in the far northeast corner of South Dakota. We're here with our brothers and sisters from Flandreau and from Winnebago and Macy. And we have opportunity. We have opportunity. It wasn't that many years ago when there wasn't opportunity. We have lots of jobs. We are now the ninth-largest employer in the state of South Dakota. Now, to put that into perspective for people that live here, that doesn't -- I mean, we have about two people per mile, so -- but we're the ninth-largest employer. If you're a tribal member and if you want to work, there's a job for you. And so when you spoke this morning, Chief Lyons, I thought a lot about what you said. Now it's about learning how to deal with that, how to deal with money, how to deal with opportunity, and that's what our program is all about. We're helping people get healthy to deal with opportunity.

And we've developed this program. It's very therapeutic in nature. I do all the work; Joyce just takes all the credit. No. Actually this woman does all the work, she does all the work, and I just want to honor that. I also want to share with you, and Chief Lyons, I'm going to pick up on what you're talking about, if you're not aware of the resource, this is a resource I'd really encourage you to look at because this is what we're dealing with and that is Ruby Payne's material on multi-generational poverty. And I suspect many of you are familiar with that. It's dealing with people -- and Joyce and I grew up in poverty, we know what it's like -- it's dealing with people that are not used to having these things that they now have. And poverty, as she defines it, is doing without resources, not just money, but support systems, and physical resources, and skill resources, and spiritual resources, and on, and on, and on, and on. And that's something that I'm really interested in.

The other thing that I heard last night for a resource that I'll share with you that really is exciting to me and that is the whole concept of resiliency. Resiliency. Emily Werner's work on resiliency. What I like about this program, Amy, is we're talking about resiliency. We're talking about what works rather than continuing to struggle and focus on what doesn't work. I always tell people it doesn't take a real master rocket scientist to say it's not working. It's like, 'Okay, what are your suggestions and what are your solutions?' And I listen to all of your programs and I've got to tell you, I'm in awe of the solutions. I want to say that I'm in awe of the solutions. When we were down in Tulsa, we got our award in 2005, once again as I joined this dysfunctional family, I still feel guilty about this, because [at] the dinner and they're making the awards and some of you know this, you remember this -- you're sitting there and they're starting to talk about different -- and then the honorees, the honors, and I turned to Joyce and I said, ‘Joyce, this is not where you want to hear your name.' And then, I started to feel really guilty, Amy. Like oh, I shouldn't be thinking this way. But we wanted high honors and we were very fortunate and very appreciative of getting this.

In closing, before I turn it back to Joyce, I told Jackie, and I told Amy, it is a gift to be here. It is an incredible gift to be here. I grew up in western Minnesota and northeastern South Dakota, and what a gift. This morning I was walking around in the Harvard Yard and I thought, ‘Wow, who would have thunk it? Huh? Who would have thunk it? Here I am.' Here we are, Joyce. So I thank you, Amy and Jackie and staff, and I hope you remember what you learned everybody. But get ready for the cup."

Joyce Country:

"We started our program in March of 2002. And it began because, we had the casinos on our reservation, but we were having a lot of turnover. We even had one individual who was rehired through Dakota Magic 17 times. And Dr. Dorry mentioned to the HR director, and I wasn't a part of it yet, and he mentioned to her that, ‘You know what, this isn't working. This is not working. You've got to do something different.' So a group of people got together, the TERO [Tribal Employments Rights Office], the college, the TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families], the Tribe and Dr. Dorry, and they decided that they needed something that would work that would help people to be successful in whatever that term is to them; not to us, but to them.

And so at that point in time, they developed what we called the 'Developing the Productive Employee.' I changed that name to the Professional Empowerment Program. Thus far, we just finished our 39th class in August. And thus far, we've had 373 [employees] who have successfully completed the program. You notice I said ‘successfully.' It doesn't mean cause you come through the program you're going to be successfully completing that program. There's some declaration of expectations that we have for people that we identify, and they identify for us, that they expect out of us, and we also have identifications too. So out of that amount we had 373 [employees] that graduated. Of that amount 85 percent went back to work; 85 [percent] went back to work. Six percent went on to higher education and we're all for that. Six percent decided that they needed to work on their GED and we're for that, too. And four percent decided that it was an important job for them to stay home and be a good parent and we're for that. Because I believe that we are the key, we're the key to change. And that's what we want for people, is to be a key for change. Something's not working, something's not working for our people. And so we want to be a tool that they can put in their toolbox and use every day of their life, every day.

We do a lot of psychodrama; we do a lot of experiential therapy in our group, which runs for ten days, 58 hours for two weeks. And we want our people to have fun. And when we first started, we used to have to go and meet with the supervisors and the referral sources because they would say, ‘If you don't behave, you're going to PEP.' So we got, I got wind of that. And so Dr. Dorry and I went and we met with the managers and we met with the court, we met with different people and we said, ‘You know what? This is not a beat-up session. This is a session to help people to get to know themselves, to find out what it is that's in their way that's causing them to have difficulty in their life and causing them not to be successful for themselves, their families, their employer and most of all for us, as a Sisseton-Wahpeton member.' So now that's sort of changed. Now people come to us and they say, ‘Hey, when's your next PEP class?' They might have just been there six months ago but, ‘I want to come back. Can I come back?' And so we get a lot of self-referrals today. Our TANF rate went from, I believe it was, 47 percent -- 37 percent to 7 percent. Everybody that -- TANF and GA [General Assistance] are a requirement to come through our program to maintain your eligibility status, and what we ended up doing is, we had success. People that finished from TANF and GA got a job. They got a job and they never re-entered the system. And we've been here since 2002 and I think that's success, that's success. We did this for the YouthBuild program. And out of that amount, we had just about 63 kids from ages of 16 to 21 that came through our program, and most of them finished their GED, they went on to college, we have some working at Dakota Magic, some at Dakota Connection; so we think that that's good for them.

The sad part of this, all of this, is that we do an assessment at the very beginning of our program; we do an alcohol and drug assessment, we do a tape assessment that figures out your educational standard, and then we do a mental health assessment. The sad part of this all is that 85 percent of our people had an alcohol and drug problem. Does it mean that they're addicted? No. It means that sometimes they're abusive. And I think that that's where people in our community and in our agencies get confused, because we hear a lot about addiction on reservation, but the people that we see, it's been abuse. It's been a lot of abuse. And so when we were developing this program, I'll be honest with you, we took it to sweat. We had a ceremony for it, because we wanted this curriculum to be helpful to people, not hurtful. Because I think the people that we're dealing with come from a lot of hurtful situations. I know we did. Dr. Dorry did, I did -- come from a lot of hurtful situations. And so we wanted this to be helpful and we wanted people to enjoy coming to class, to enjoy being a part of this and being able to share some of the things that went on in their life that's been a stumbling block for them.

And we do a deal called Significant Events and in that process people, we ask people to leave those issues there on the floor. We ask them to leave them there and not carry them out with them. For those of you that go to church, it's just like confession or -- what else is there? Confession. So we want them to be able to identify where they've been, where they've been, what happened and where are you at today? We ask them to identify that. And I always tell people we're like a tree. Our roots are in the ground, we're the stem and we're the branches. And I've got to stop, okay. And so we ask them to take a look at that because those roots and stuff are our values and our ethics that guide us through our life and guide our families. But this is adaptable to anybody, any group of people. Thank you."

South Dakota, tribe finalize plan to serve parole

Author
Producer
The Washington Times
Year

South Dakota and Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribal officials finalized an agreement on a pilot program for tribal members to serve parole at home on the reservation.

Sisseton-Wahpeton Chairman Robert Shepherd and Department of Corrections Secretary Denny Kaemingk signed the intergovernmental agreement. Tribal officials have already begun to put the plan into effect.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Hertel, Nora. "South Dakota, tribe finalize plan to serve parole." Rapid City Journal. May 9, 2014. Article. (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/9/sd-tribe-state-officials-advance-parolee-project/, accessed November 13, 2023)