TITLE>NAR - Minnesota
CODI: Cornucopia of Disability Information

Native American Rehabilitation - Minnesota



Red Lake Indian Reservation
Red Lake Tribal Social Services
P.O. Box 427
Red Lake, Minnesota 56671

Section One - Descriptive Information

1. Describe the reservation in terms of geography, people, language and government.

Geography: Geographically, we are located in north central Minnesota. Topographically, our most identifiable feature is our lake; it is the largest body of fresh water located entirely within the boundaries of the continental United States. The natural beauty is difficult to define in written words.

People: The Red Lake Nation is an Ojibwa Tribe; we are the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. We are a very proud Nation. We are one of two reservations in the entire United States that has remained &&closed," meaning that we did not allot our land to individuals who could in turn &&selltt their land to non-tribal entities. In terms of census data, based upon our figures, the population on the Red Lake Indian Reservation is approximately 5,500. We have a total tribal membership enrollment of 8,008 (as of 3/8/94, prior to the last enrollment meeting).

Language: The true language of our people is Ojibwa. The English language is the predominant language now written and spoken.

Government: We have our own Government; we are a sovereign Nation. Our government officials are selected to serve on our Tribal Council by majority of vote (via election). The term/tenure is four years with no set limits as to the number of terms one can serve. Our Tribal Council officials consist of our Tribal Chairman, Tribal Secretary and Tribal Treasurer. We also have two District Representatives from each of the four Reservation Districts: the communities of Red Lake, Little Rock, Redby and Ponemah. The Tribal Council was organized on April 18, 1918. The revised Constitution and Bylaws was effected on January 6, 1959.

The Chief Council of 1889 consisted of seven Chiefs, each Chief representing an individual clan of the Red Lake Tribe and each clan having a specific purpose in tribal duty. For many generations, the chieftainship has been inherited by the eldest son. We now have the Advisory Council of Hereditary Chiefs. Our Nations flag portrays the silhouettes of the seven clans. Our reservation literature names the Chief Council of 1889 to honor the work they have done for our Tribe.

2. Describe the major health issues addressed by the rehabilitation and medical services on the reservation?

As a program, we may begin addressing issues as they pertain to the individual clients that we work with, strengthening identified services as needed. At present, the medical services on the reservation are fundamental. The initial groups that we see now consist of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), Down Syndrome, physical impairments, and diabetes. We may have a potentially higher rate of mental disorders (emotional/behavioral) including learning disabilities, mild to moderate mental retardation (suspected to be fetal alcohol effects), alcoholism, and also physical impairments resulting from automobile accidents.

3. Describe the employment/economy, education system and the culturel consumers hmily and social structure?

Employment/economy: Reservation economy remains an issue of dire concern. The unemployment rates on our reservation are estimated as ranging from 30 to 35% for the labor force above the age of 21.

Education system: The special education provided to our disabled population is marginal at best. Our program has initiated meetings with the special education staff to address methods in strengthening this network.

Cultural kinship system: The clan system was mentioned in an earlier section of this monograph response. The familial system of our tribe is best described as matriarchal in which the dominant authority of family is the woman. There is also an important role that uncles serve. The uncle serves as the father figure for families during the absence of the father. We also have a strong extended family network that plays a very important role in our tribal familial system.

Section Two - Program and Services

4. How iS rehabilitation viewed by the community culture, consumers, family and social structure?

Community: The rehabilitation concept is well received and individuals are very supportive. There is a popular belief that this has been needed for a very long time.

Culture: Culturally, the belief is that each and every individual member should have every opportunity to feel they are making contributions towards the well-being of our tribe. We want to provide recognition to our disabled population so they can realize that their contributions are extremely significant.

Consumers: A conversation with one of our clients summarizes the great importance of our work. "I question. finally found somebody that really wants to help me out... I'll work really hard... You know what? one day, I want to tell my little girl, I got a job now."

Family: The actual presence of available services has provided needed encouragement to family members of the disabled. The incorporation of family involvement needs to be emphasized when working with the individual client. The communica tion from family shows a great deal of concern and desire to provide the required support to assist in the individual planning. Without family support, the factors of essential encouragement may be eliminated and success jeopardized. Persuasive communication of a positive nature needs to be heard to instill a beneficial attitude.

Social structure: We have seen a great deal of (over) protection. Although well-intended, the family has unintentionally created a social isolation issue. The rehabilitation process allows for (re) introduction of the client into the social structure while working towards improvement in life. As our program progresses, we are able to provide more socially interactive environments for the clients that we work with. Our client incentive planning during the evaluation and testing regiment also allows for the immediate community integration for the individual.

5. How iS rehabilitation different today from the practices five years ago? Twenty years ago?

It is our Nation's "rehabilitation beginning" as far as contemporary vocational aspects are concerned. Although we are relatively new to the entire process, we have already achieved accomplish ments. The "vocational rehabilitation process" was non-existent twenty years ago.

6. What makes rehabilitation unique or exemplary on your reservation?

Our close-knit community allows for the rehabilitation introduction to be accepted without When our community members are working within the rehabilitation program, the staff is already known personally by client family and client. We have already established the "level of trust" needed to effectively initiate and operate an individualized program. The preliminary acceptance of rehabilitation must be immediate and at the recognized level of understanding; in our program it is. The only prior option was to work not only with "strangers" but also "strangers of another race" The history of negativity towards our Indian people cannot be immediately abandoned when working with non-Indian staff.

7. What are the characteristics of persons with disabilities on your reservation?

I believe characteristics of persons with disabilities are as varied as the characteristics of persons without disabilities and I cannot easily categorize either segment. We are a unique band. There is a continuing strength and patience of our people ...perseverance. I think there is also a greater sense of humor found individually and multiplied when in a group.

8. What do you see as the needs and wants of individuals with disabilities on the reservations? what are the immediate concerns of persons with disabilities on your reservation

The provision of services found off the reservation would be the dream of our people if the same services were found on the reservation. Our disabled population mostly fear the possibility of having to move away from home to receive needed care

9. What is the future of rehabilitation on your reservation and, from your perspective, for the Native American Nations?

We have only just begun. The need for independent living skills funding would prove as an indicator that the future goals of our program encompasses the entire scope of the rehabilitation process. Our program realizes the necessary expansion must be made in precise measures to enable gradual introduction and acceptance in order to be successfully accomplished.

Although Native American Nations are new to the contemporary concept of rehabilitation, great accomplishment has been already realized....our Nation would like to replicate the same success.

10. What role does technology play in the lives of individuals with disabilities on your reservation.

From my point of view, technological advances have not played a significant role due to the lack of resources to purchase and lack of knowledge to effectively understand the benefits or availability of this technology. Perhaps with the necessary technical assistance, we can begin to provide information concerning this availability.

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