Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day.  No matter how a state may reference the day, whether it is recognized as Native American Day, First Peoples’ Day, or American Indian Day, in Indian Country, it is a day to celebrate people and communities who have responded with resiliency to European explorers' atrocities and the colonization that followed.

In “Resiliency” is a word you will hear a lot when working with Native communities.  In fact, sometimes, the word resilience is seen as negative: It refers to survival from the generations of trauma and suffering caused by forced relocation and removal from homelands, massacres, and the forced assimilation of Native children in boarding schools.  The struggle from marginalization, underrepresentation and disenfranchisement continues today.

In a recent conversation, Maretta Champagne, who is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and coordinator of the Pine Ridge Long-Term Recovery Group, shared:

Resiliency is the key to disaster recovery. We have to teach resiliency and basic skills, like how to fix a window or install a glass pane, instead of just hammering some wood or cardboard over it. We are doing resiliency training starting with the elders and youth in the nine districts of Pine Ridge.

We use the word “resilient” often at Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP). At the core of our disaster recovery work is helping communities toward resilience following a disaster. As we explained, disaster recovery is “the process of improving individual, family and community resiliency after the occurrence of a disaster. Recovery is not only about the restoration of structures, systems and services — a successful recovery is also about individuals and families being able to rebound from their losses and sustain their physical, social, economic, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

CDP is working with tribal communities in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota to build local capacity to recover from natural disasters. We are learning from community leaders like Maretta in Pine Ridge and Shelly from Yankton Sioux, residents, and elders. We are asking what is needed and helping those communities to get the necessary resources. We are helping the people get organized, hiring staff if needed, making connections with other organizations and funders who may be able to help, and helping them to also learn right along with us.

Read the full article about funders helping Indigenous peoples by Heidi Schultz at Charity Navigator.