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NNI staff on site with Tribal Secretary Altrena Santillanes, Tribal Treasurer Tina Jimenez, and Chairman Thomas Tortez
July brought NNI to the Salton Sea, as Outreach Specialist Danielle Hiraldo (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina), Tribal Services Program Coordinator Lindsay Riggs (Diné), and Executive Director Joan Timeche (Hopi) traveled to the homelands of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians (TMDCI) for a Native Nation Building and Strategic Planning Session. The work focused on economic development and strengthening Indigenous governance.
Torres Martinez hopes this will be the first of many Nation Building sessions hosted by the community. Tribal youth joined newly elected leaders and community members to begin the strategic thinking process of revisioning their Nation’s future. Riggs highlighted the importance of having three college-aged participants, as a large percentage of the community’s population are under the age of 30. “A strong youth presence and voice represents the importance of inclusion for the younger generation and ensures their continued place in tribal priority-setting and idea generation.”
NNI facilitated two days of conversations, brainstorms, and priority setting to help the Torres Martinez assess their current strengths, self-governance foundations, effective governing tools, and ways to create and implement change in areas where needed. The TMDCI seek to enhance their sovereignty and they see an establishment of an ongoing relationship with NNI as a proactive way to guide this process. Timeche emphasized that “strengthening Indigenous governments is cyclical and requires constant community engagement.” The Torres Martinez are onboard and spent a day in dialog to identify ways in which Tribal Council can be more consistent and effective. Additionally, TMDCI sees a renewed commitment to education as a foundation for building capital both internally in the form of more engaged citizens and externally, in the form of new economic opportunities.
Learn more about NNI’s Native Nation Building and Strategic Planning Sessions and other tribal services.
Image: Joan Timeche leading a strategic planning session.