• Reaching Out to Tribal Communities: Lessons Learned and Approaches to Consider

      Awwad-Rafferty, Rula; Chang, Kevin; Brown, Helen (2019-12-31)
      When transportation safety decision-making is desired, the involvement and engagement with a community is essential. A streamlined delivery of a project or program is more likely to occur when active dialogue and an exchange of ideas occurs in advance and occurs frequently. This is particularly important in tribal communities, who value sustained relationships and represent the focus population of this study. The research team, on six separate occasions, met with local and regional tribal leaders to explore and discuss transportation safety needs within and outside tribal communities, as well as discern the recommended approaches to foster ongoing dialogue about these needs. In all cases these discussions closely correlated with existing research studies or activities; transportation safety and equity is not seen as separate from other tribal foci and community needs. Specific recommendations to consider, in no particular order, included the following: invest respectfully enough time for people to talk; tribes think long-term and consider the impact of any decision from a long-term viewpoint so an iterative process and re-sharing of ideas is critical; the power of decision is in the hands of the tribe and its members; do not lump tribes together as each tribe is sovereign and unique and every community should be expected to think differently; all tribes are unique as is the environmental and social context; to disseminate information widely and iteratively, do so when there is a large group or event; be sure to understand the Tribal governance, decision making, and organizational structure; know who is the tribal Chairman or Chairwoman; and develop an emic and etic understanding of the community.