Join the National Indian Council on Aging for an introductory session covering our latest resource, “Understanding Disabilities in American Indian & Alaska Native Communities.” The toolkit is dedicated to increasing awareness and knowledge of the needs of Native persons living with disabilities. During our webinar you’ll hear directly from those who helped put this wonderful resource together.
The National Indian Council on Aging’s Desiree Lapahie (Navajo Nation) interviews Dr. Crystal Hernandez about her relationship to the American Indian disability community.
Crystal (Cherokee Nation) has been working in the field of mental health for more than 20 years and is also an advocate for her son who has autism. Hear her experience navigating the services and complexities of the intellectual and developmental disabilities world, and well as the challenges of working with a broken system.
“People think we’re a culture that needs rescuing, and we’re not,” says Dr. Crystal Hernandez. “We’re a people who are very resilient, very strong, and we want to be partners in creating systems that are effective and matter. We don’t want to be served; we want to be part of building service structures.”
The National Indian Council on Aging’s Desiree Lapahie (Navajo Nation) interviews tribal member Joseph Ray about the various barriers people with disabilities encounter on the Laguna Pueblo, as well as the services and supports offered on the reservation. He recommends infrastructure improvements and details the changes he would like made to assist those with disabilities.
“We need more inclusion of people with disabilities in the decision-making process in all the programs that affect our lives, housing, health care, vocational rehabilitation,” says Joseph Ray. “Nothing for us, without us.”
“Each tribe should have their own disability task force where they could identify for their own community what’s needed to really support people with disabilities within the community, so they don’t have to go off the community to get what they need to grow and develop to their full potential,” says Tona TreeTop.
The National Indian Council on Aging’s Desiree Lapahie (Navajo Nation) and Consultant Robin Troup interview Mateo TreeTop, 24, and his mother, Tona, about their relationship to the American Indian disability community. Tona speaks about advocating for her son and her professional work in special education advocacy services.
Together they talk about shaken baby syndrome, Mateo’s school life, his involvement with disability organizations, and the different support services for persons with disabilities and their families. They discuss the barrier of transportation, the lack of technology, the bureaucracy and judgement, as well as the importance receiving culturally competent healthcare.
The National Indian Council on Aging’s Desiree Lapahie (Navajo Nation) and Consultant Robin Troup interview Dr. Kimberly Yellow Robe (Rosebud Sioux), public affairs specialist for the Social Security Administration, who shares both her personal and professional experiences with the American Indian disability community. She speaks about growing up around Shiprock, New Mexico, her advocacy work, the lack of services available on reservations and the importance of representation.
“One of my efforts is to address the stigma associated with disability and not to be afraid, not to be ashamed, but to be free, and to be vocal about what is impacting us, and how do we see a remedy being provided, with our voice being included,” says Dr. Kimberly Yellow Robe.