Introduction: The U.S. and Native Americans have a government-to-government relationship. The result of 375 treaties, established laws and instituted policies promote Tribal sovereignty and are intended to support the general wellbeing Indigenous persons and protect their lands and resources. The Tribal sovereignty includes law enforcement. This resource is intended to provide a broad understanding of the challenges both Tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) law enforcement officers face; many struggle dealing with the traumatic events they have experienced. We acknowledge that there is a scarcity of current information related to Tribal and BIA police officers’ mental health. This document is in response to that concern. In this product we present statistics on tribal and BIA law enforcement officers when and where data are available. We provide resources and strategies that focus on knowledge and skills development to build resilience and wellness among our protectors. Most importantly, this resource provides a review of stress through the narrative of the author Leo Belgarde, Sr. Leo was forced to retire from law enforcement due to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This resource shares Leo’s story and provides suggestions for treatment and prevention using culturally responsive practices for providers of behavioral health treatment. The authors and contributors suggest using this content in training programs to underscore the realities and impact of stress with suggestions for both organizational and individual response. PTSD and historical, intergenerational, and transgenerational trauma will be reviewed.
Audience: This resource is intended to assist behavioral health providers in gaining a greater understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among law enforcement officers, especially those working in and with tribal communities. It provides suggestions for a culturally responsive approach to treatment using the medicine wheel, and offers concrete exercises. It is also a tool for law enforcement supervisors and administrators who wish to gain a greater understanding of the unique needs of Indigenous law enforcement officers who are dealing with a host of job related challenges and stressors.
Fox, L., Belgarde, L. & Heitkamp, T. (May 2021). Ed. Schroeder, S. Healing our protectors: Building resilience among tribal law enforcement officers through cultural interventions. [Toolkit]. Funded and peer-reviewed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center. Available at: mhttcnetwork.org/centers/mountain-plains-mhttc/product/healing-our-protectors-building-resilience-among-tribal-law