Needs

Spaces Needed:


Community Space

A community space is a place for the community to use. The space could be reserved for events such as birthdays, or for scheduling social activities. The space could also be reserved at times for Native American ceremonial services. Cultural activities, such a place for drum group practice, and a place for storytelling would also work well at a community space.


Gathering Space

Larger space is needed for gatherings, and could include dinners, activities during religious and secular holidays, and smaller community dances (pow-wows).


Elderly Senior Space

Our elderly need opportunities to socialize, companionship, and to be on-hand as a cultural resource. This would also be a good opportunity to provide elderly meals, and a space for activities.


Wakes, Funerals and Memorial Space

For the community in Omaha, a place for wakes, funerals and memorials is needed. Many times, families must have these activities in their homes where there is not enough room for the social nature of a wake.


In many Native American cultures it is customary to have wakes. The wake is commonly done at a gymnasium-size location. During a wake, the body of the deceased is at the location of the wake, for viewing, overnight. In some cases, a meal is prepared at midnight or in the late evening for people who are at the wake. This is an opportunity for family and friends to spend time together in the presence of the deceased, and to have time for remembrance. In many cases, a traditional christian funeral is held at the same location in the late morning or early afternoon. Somewhere around the time of the wake or funeral, Native American spiritual service might be held. A year after the person has passed away, a memorial is held. The memorial is a get-together, many times at the same location, but the location could be anywhere. The memorial is also a time when additional Native American spiritual services might be held.


Transitional Homes

Transitional homes are long-term housing and a supportive environment, and skill training to help people getting onto feet. These homes can help combat issues related to domestic violence and human trafficking.


Field Office Space

In some cases, it would be helpful to have official tribal representation. For tribes who do not yet have a presence in Omaha, a space for field offices could be useful. Tribes in Nebraska, would make sense to have a field office, but also some neighboring tribes. For example, the Lakota have high rates of foster care children in the Nebraska area, and for various topics, one or more Lakota tribes might want to have a field office in the Omaha area.


Virtual Center (Friendly spaces)

Access to friendly spaces. There is a need for space, but until the time when a single center can be established, a center that meets the many needs for the community, a “resource list” can be established including arrangements with the many existing spaces in Omaha, to help meet the space needs for the Native American community in Omaha.


Community Education / Interpretive Center

Community education and also (touristy) mainstream fundraising space. This would appeal to the greater Omaha community, and would be mostly useful for education and fundraising purposes.

Community Get-Togethers

Regardless of whether a space is found, many community members have voiced the need for regular community gatherings.

Help with transitioning to Omaha

For new residents who arrive in Omaha, a center could help as a starting point for someone who needs to orient themselves with the services in Omaha, and also begin to socialize with the others in the community. New tribal members arrive to Omaha, Nebraska, and may also need assistance with basic needs such as housing, food, medical care, and employment. (For example, someone such as Cindy Krafka, a tribal member who works at UNO, can follow-up with new residents and make sure they are on track, participating in programs, and help new people get connected.)

Advocacy and Team-Building

The way we plan to address the many needs is through “advocates” and “teams”. The advocates are volunteer or paid members of our group who are tasked with providing guidance, assistance, and follow-up for anyone who wants to contact our group with a need. The “teams” are leaders in the community (hopefully with expert knowledge) who are taking the initiative to build a local coalition that focuses on an need in the Native American community. Each of the needs addressed here could not be addressed unless someone from the community is willing to form a team.

Advocacy and team-building activities will include:


  • Developing a resource catalog for BENAC & Omaha (of services, facilities, equipment)

  • Training for team members and advocates

  • The ability to get the word out about activities through announcements

  • The ability to coordinate Native American events through a shared calendar

  • News reporting through news releases & website maintenance

  • Operating as a fiscal agent to help teams address the need.

  • Community awards to recognize leaders, and youth for their achievements

Collecting statistics

There is also a need to collect statistics about the Native American community in Omaha, Nebraska, to be able to better serve the community.


Types of statistics we collect will include:


  • General statistics of Native Americans in the Omaha area

  • Membership statistics

  • Ushahidi - Anonymous incident reporting

Native American language

Many Native American languages are disappearing, and it is an important part of Native American culture and traditions. For example, in the Omaha Nation there are only a handful of people who speak their native language. Also, in urban areas are more at a disadvantage in learning their language. Today, many Native American families are spread out across multiple cities and townships, so being creative about teaching and preserving language is a need.

Native American culture and heritage

As a community, we need to seek and understand, learn, promote and demonstrate the Native American values, culture and heritage.

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

ICWA is a federal law that is supposed to make sure that Native American children can stay near their community. Statewide, there is a consortium that meets once a month and every month there are cases that need to be addressed. Every month children need to be properly represented, and there is a critical need for developing Native American foster care homes. Also, local state and federal agencies need to retrained on the laws and updated protocols related to ICWA, and there is a need to recruit more Qualified Expert Witnesses.

Medical care

The Ponca clinic in Omaha purchases health insurance for their members, but for everyone else a lot of Native American families in Omaha, Nebraska do not have the same access to health care that they would if they lived near a Federal PHS hospital. The nearest hospital is 180 miles round trip to the Winnebago Tribe. Many families, with little or no income, might not even qualify to the Affordable Care Act.

Employment

Native Americans are among the highest unemployed in Omaha. There is a need with skill-building. There is the Native American workforce program, but they are overwhelmed. We need to follow-up, and provide some advocacy for people who need to be supported by these types of employment organizations.

Homelessness

For the homelessness in Omaha, there are at least several dozen. There is a need to provide meals to feed individuals, and advocate for the homeless to secure housing and shelter. In past

years there were death of natives freezing to death.

Housing (HUD Section 184)

Property in the United States is the number a major source of capital for individuals. Native Americans living Omaha, whether they want to buy a house or make a renovation, could take advantage of special interest rates by applying for a loan under the HUD Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program. Some banks are also easier to work with than others, so it would be important to have someone on hand who could lend their experience on the best ways to make use of this program.

Promoting Native American history and rights

We need to educate Native American youth and the public about issues like tribal sovereignty and treaty rights, and be an advocate for Native American interests.


For example, according the Article VI of the United States Constitution, “all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land”; and there was a time in the United States history when making treaties with Native American tribes was needed for the United States to prosper as a nation. So, honoring American prosperity also means honoring the treaties that were made with Native American people.

Other Community-Wide Needs

The Native American community has many needs as any population, but the key is that we can support and nurture “teams” of volunteers, those people who are interested in providing support and assistance, in order to address a particular need in our community.


In some cases, we might also choose to take on a need directly, such as:


  • Native American Language

  • Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

  • Homelessness

  • Medical Care


Some additional examples of needs include;


  • Legal

    • Legal advice

    • Legal representation

  • Education

    • Youth programs

    • College support

  • Skill Training

    • Basic computer skills

    • Coding skills (e.g. Interface School)

    • Other modern employable skills training

  • Community

    • Rehabilitation programs (e.g. for ex-prisoners)

    • Family parenting education