Tribal Elders Overlooked in Suicide Response
Tribal leaders are being overlooked while some lawmakers wonder if a private contractor hired in response to the high rate of suicides among Montana’s American Indian children is the best way to fix the problem. Kauffman & Associates is the contractor the state hired to develop a plan. Kauffman asked people to submit the names of elected leaders, health directors and community members with experience to form a coalition on youth suicide.
They encouraged diverse nominations including women, veterans, young people and LGBT tribal members. What they left out was Tribal elders, according to state Rep. George Kipp III, a Democrat from Heart Butte. A member of the State-Tribal Relations Interim Committee, Kipp questioned why the company left elders out of the process. The same group of lawmakers urged the state Department of Health and Human Services to send money to the tribes instead of hiring an independent contractor.