Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $150,000)
The Trinidad Rancheria has made great strides in addressing the safety needs of the community by establishing programs and services for the Tribal membership. However, the efforts have not resulted in cohesive, coordinated service delivery, that integrates the cultural practices of the Tribe.
Many crimes and issues on the rancheria are not even reported due to the historic lack of response from the county sheriff. This, in turn, furthers trauma already present on historic, intergenerational, and personal levels, with the associated substance and alcohol abuse, violence and abuse, neglect, and mental health issues. The Tribe has identified a two pronged approach that would best serve the needs of the Tribe in the short term – integration of cultural practices throughout the justice system with collaborative processes preventing siloing, and a wellness court to help individuals address the underlying issues that lead to the maladaptive behavior. However, this does not address the long term strategy to resolve other ongoing issues like the lack of law enforcement on the Rancheria.
As a result of prior community needs assessment in 2013, a victim services needs assessment in 2018, and Tribal Court assessments in 2017 and 2021, the Tribe established and expanded the Tribal Court and expanded its social services program. Additionally, a Public Safety Office has been established that currently includes animal control and emergency services. But this is without a comprehensive plan for the entire justice system, to help guide the development in an intentional process.
Some Tribal ordinances include the use of the Peacemaking Panel and traditional dispute resolution as an alternative to an adversarial court hearing. One hope is to have the Peacemaking Panel fully integrated into the Tribal Court processes, and to have a collaboration with the Youth Council to help pass on the cultural knowledge and processes from the Peacemaking Panel. But there is a need for a roadmap of how to accomplish further integration of cultural components in to the justice system.
A planning process that includes all the departments and stakeholders is necessary to achieve a cohesive vision for the justice system and Tribal programs, and integrate the culture and traditions of the Tribe into all aspects of the justice system. The planning process will identify potential ways to stabilize regular funding so that programs can continue beyond their initial grant cycle.