For Professionals Working In Tribal Communities

In many cultures, elders preserve traditions and share wisdom to help ensure community permanency and balance. Indigenous communities often hold elders in a unique and important social position. The dramatic increase in the number of older individuals has led to concern over the well-being of older adults in these communities. Despite strong traditions, tribal communities have not been immune to abuse in later life. Education about its existence, and the design of culturally meaningful interventions, is in its early stage.

In 2015, NCALL conducted a listening session on abuse in later life in tribal communities with representatives from tribal governments, service providers, and individuals working closely with tribes, tribal domestic violence coalitions, and federal responders. Based on the input gathered at the listening session, NCALL, in collaboration with Victoria Ybanez of Red Wind Consulting and Lauren Litton of ISP Consulting, worked together to write the paper, Reclaiming What is Sacred: Addressing Harm to Indigenous Elders and Developing a Tribal Response to Abuse in Later Life. This paper, a resource for tribes and villages on how to create meaningful responses to abuse in later life, identifies specific guiding philosophies, cultural considerations, and potential action steps tribes and villages might wish to do when addressing abuse in later life in their communities. The paper also includes a number of tools that can be used to enhance conversation and planning such as: sample stories; tips for holding a listening session; scenarios for community and system consideration; scenarios for thinking about elder abuse and elder protection; areas of inquiry; a questionnaire for collecting input; and the Abuse in Later Life Power and Control Wheel.

To access the guide and tools, use the links below:

To explore additional ways professionals working in tribal communities can make a difference in the lives of older survivors, please visit our Take Action page.


Selected Resources:

Abuse in Later Life and Elder Abuse page 

This resource offers an overview of abuse in later life and abuse dynamics, discuss the importance of providing a survivor-centered response, and assert the critical role collaboration can play in abuse in later life cases.

Confidentiality and Mandatory Reporting page

Some professionals working with older survivors in tribal communities may be mandatory reporters. This series of information sheets provides an overview of mandatory reporting obligations:



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