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The Red Cross Route to Stronger Oklahoma Tribal Nation Relationships

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The assistance from the Red Cross has been an essential component to our handling of disasters

Oklahoma is a state recognized and defined by its great variety in Native American Tribal Nations and cultures. With American Red Cross and Native American relationships strengthening in various communities across the U.S., including ones in Oklahoma, a development to further stabilize these long-term relationships is being utilized and established with success.
Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) are agreements used to improve and clarify relationships between two organizations, a sort of “handshake” of understanding.  Basically, the push to establish these agreements is rooted in the desire for the Red Cross to be both an essential component in effective disaster preparation and as quick a responder as possible to any disasters Tribal Nations might face. 

This recent push to establish these memorandums is proving to be successful, and potential for future growth is very promising.  To date, the Red Cross has established three existing MOUs with the following tribes: the Standing rock Sioux Tribe beginning on March 28, 2013; the Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada beginning on Jan. 1, 2014; and the Pueblo of Pojoaque in New Mexico beginning on Jan. 4, 2014.

With great Red Cross and tribal relationships spanning across the U.S., the Red Cross is hopeful that more MOUs will soon be established on a wider scale. Oklahoma, in addition to states such as Mississippi and Nevada, is currently seeing greater growth in this step towards better response and preparation.

“Since I’ve been the emergency manager here at the tribe beginning in 2009, we have had several weather related emergencies and disasters where the Tribe has had the opportunity to work with the Red Cross,” says Linda Day, Emergency Manager for the Absentee Shawnee Nation. “The assistance from the Red Cross has been an essential component to our handling of disasters, and it is because of these events that the Tribe’s relationship with the Red Cross has progressed and improved during these past few years.  We are now in the process of entering into an MOU.  Chele (Division Disaster State Relations Director with the Red Cross in Oklahoma and Arkansas) and I have been working together for the past year on this and we are hoping to have an official signing event in the near future.”

While MOUs are not always a necessity in a good relationship, they can potentially solve challenges in the way of effective disaster prevention and preparation.  For example, Tribal Nation Emergency Managers play a crucial role in communicating with the Red Cross for both preparation purposes and disaster help in the case of an emergency; however, with this profession facing high turnover and shortage rates everywhere, the importance of establishing long term managers is vital.  With MOUs established with the Red Cross, tribal nations lacking more long-term solutions to disaster prevention will have the fix they need.
“With an MOU established, the Red Cross is better able to ‘cement’ its relationships with the various Tribal Nations we work with, says Chele Rider, Division Disaster State Relations Director with the Red Cross.”  “When this agreement is set in place, Emergency Managers, especially those who are emerging in their positions, have the ability to refer to this agreement to understand the workings of our relationship.  MOUs help to clear confusion, and they allow for smooth transitions providing for better disaster preparation and preparedness in the future.”
The American Red Cross values its relationship with the tribal nations in Oklahoma, and it looks forward to further developing a future of successful disaster preparation, prevention, and recovery efforts.  For more information about the Red Cross please visit Join the Red Cross as a volunteer today at