VNF Live - Addressing Historical Trauma in Indian Country: Stories of Healing and Success from the Implementation of Trauma-Informed Programming

February 24, 2021

Virtual - 3:30 PM Eastern

In this second webinar in our series on historical trauma, we bring together Tribal community leaders who are at the forefront of implementing Trauma-Informed programming: Lisa X‘unyéil Worl (Tlingit), STEPS Partnership Coordinator from the Association of Alaska School Boards, Jerry Waukau (Menominee), Menominee Tribal Health Administrator, and Wendell Waukau (Menominee), Superintendent for the Menominee Indian School District, will share the benefits and hurdles of implementing trauma-informed programs in their communities.

Through these stories of success and healing, we explore how Federal, State, and Tribal partners can support and implement trauma-informed programming throughout Indian Country.

More About our Distinguished Guest Panelists:

Lisa X‘unyéil Worl, STEPS Partnership Coordinator, Association of Alaska School Boards. Lisa is Tlingit, Kaagwaantann from the Koot hít and a child of the T’akdeintaan from Xuna Kaawu. Lisa supports work around Family Engagement, Cultural Integration and Trauma Engaged Schools practices in schools and communities. She has worked as an Alaska State legislative staffer and spent 16 years in public education including four years serving on the Juneau School Board. As a member of the School Board, Lisa initially focused on student retention and graduation but then recognized how equity policies and programs inherently impact all areas from student learning to graduation. Lisa attended school in Juneau and graduated from Juneau Douglas Kalé High School and received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Oregon. Her two adult children also attended and graduated from the Juneau School District before attending college. Lisa currently volunteers in the community as a board member of True North FCU and the KTOO Community Advisory Board.

Jerry Waukau, Sr., Menominee Tribal Health Administrator. Jerry Waukau, Sr. was born and raised on the Menominee Reservation. He worked for a short period of time for the banking industry, but he always wanted to be home to help his people. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Ripon College. He was a basketball coach, a foster parent for three foster children and is the proud grandfather of nine grandchildren. He has served as the Menominee Tribal Health Administrator for 35 years. He is proud of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize Award the Menominee Nation received in 2015, working on cross-sector collaboration in the area of trauma-informed care with the school and other tribal partners, in building a Culture of Health.

Wendell Waukau, MA, ES, Superintendent for Menominee Indian School District. The Menominee Indian School District (MISD) is located on the Menominee Indian Reservation in Northeast Wisconsin and serves approximately 1000 students in grades 4K-12. Wendell is an enrolled member of the Menominee Indian Tribe in Wisconsin and considers it both a privilege and an honor to work and serve in the community he grew up in. For 31 years Wendell has served MISD and his community as a teacher, coach, athletic director, dean of students, principal and now superintendent. Once labeled a “drop out factory” (2008) for graduating less than 60% of its students on time, MISD has successfully implemented various reforms/initiatives in the areas of: community and family engagement, mentoring, early childhood, social emotional learning, nutrition and wellness, trauma informed care and resiliency and restorative practices, which have led to a present day graduation rate of rate of 90%. In 2012, Wendell was honored at the White House by President Obama’s administration as a School Turnaround Champion of Change. Wendell and his wife Lori have three children: Joan, Antonette, and Wendell, Jr.

The discussion will be moderated by members of Van Ness Feldman’s Native Affairs practice group:

Maranda Compton serves as Co-Chair of the Native Affairs practice group at Van Ness Feldman where she counsels Tribal and non-Tribal clients on a wide range of issues related to economic development and social equity in Indian Country and is frequently called on to provide training and strategic advice on the financing, permitting, and development of large-scale energy and technology projects located on or impacting Tribal lands and resources.  Maranda is a citizen of the Delaware Tribe of Indians. 

Laura Jones is an Associate with Van Ness Feldman's Native Affairs practice. She focuses her practice on American Indian law, including economic development work, federal regulatory issues, environmental compliance, and federal-tribal consultation, as well as a broad range of civil litigation.  Laura has represented tribal and non-tribal businesses with regulatory and compliance matters, land use issues, and commercial lending transactions.  Laura is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

Dan Press is Senior Counsel with Van Ness Feldman's Native Affairs practice. For over 40 years, Dan Press has provided legal and Washington representation assistance to Indian tribes, Indian organizations, and companies doing business with tribes. Dan serves as pro bono general counsel for two national organizations that assist communities to apply the science on the causes and effects of historical and childhood trauma to address social and health problems in their communities. For six years until retiring in 2017, Dan was an adjunct professor at Columbia University where he taught undergraduate courses on current issues facing Indian tribes to include Issues in Tribal Government and Native American Economic Development. He also co-taught an original course called The Holocaust and Genocide in America in which the students examined these two genocidal events and the way the United States government and the public have treated each in recent years. In November 2018, Dan received the Public Advocacy award from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies for "Outstanding and Fundamental Contributions to Advancing the Social Understanding of Trauma," and is the author of "A How-To Handbook on Creating Comprehensive, Integrated Trauma-Informed Initiatives in Native American Communities."  

Background on Historical Trauma:

Over the past 20 years, neuroscientists have proven that severe childhood trauma, such as neglect, emotional or physical abuse, having an incarcerated parent, or when a community has its world turned upside down, such as the Holocaust, slavery, and the near-destruction of Native Americans’ way of life, cause physiological changes to the brain that lead those suffering from such trauma to live under constant stress. Studies have shown the major problems facing society today – substance abuse, obesity, domestic violence, poor work performance, and in extreme cases, suicide – are in many cases related to trauma suffered as a child. Preventing trauma in future generations, and helping those who have already suffered trauma heal, offers a significant opportunity to address these problems.

In case you missed Part I of our Historical Trauma Webinar Series, click here to view: VNF Live - Addressing Historical Trauma in Indian Country: Funding and Implementing Trauma-Informed Programming in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic

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