Training Solutions: Enhancing Tribal Nations’ Readiness and Resilience

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December 19, 2023

Illustration: FEMA Tribal Affairs

U.S. Tribal Nations have historically been disproportionately affected by disasters but without access to vital resources before, during, and after calamitous events. The risks to Tribal Nations only increase in the face of climate change, which will further exacerbate inequities and pose new challenges for Tribal communities.

The National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) of the Climate School, Columbia University, has been awarded a $1.5 million three-year grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Training and Education Division (NTED) entitled “Training Solutions: Enhancing Tribal Nations’ Readiness and Resilience“. NCDP will partner with the National Tribal Emergency Management Council on the creation and delivery of new trainings.

“Tribal Nations work proactively with a variety of partners to integrate new training programs. However, institutional barriers often limit many communities’ adaptive capacities. Additionally, many non-Tribal training providers have not had full access to resources and programs to integrate doctrine, and approaches for building Tribal capabilities that are so essential for making a lasting community impact. To address these challenges, this new FEMA-funded training program will be geared for the 574 federally recognized Tribes across the U.S., with courses available in-person and online. We’ll be developing a robust curriculum for the next year that will then be disseminated widely, with a lasting impact,” said Thomas Chandler, Director of the FEMA Training Program at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

“There has never been another group of people that have had a greater desire to protect our nation’s lands than that of our Native Americans and Alaska Natives, and yet, have been denied the same opportunities to access the training and resources to do so. However, times are changing, and we applaud FEMA for taking meaningful steps to reduce these disparities. The National Tribal Emergency Management Council is an organization that is comprised of some of the Nation’s most well-respected and experienced Tribal Emergency Managers, Homeland Security Directors, Public Safety and Public Health personnel. Having access to this great wealth and depth of knowledge from Tribal members working in the field will help to break down institutional barriers and build up stronger, more culturally relevant training and exercise opportunities for Tribal nations. The partnership between the FEMA Training Program at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness and the National Tribal Emergency Management Council will change the face of the way these training programs have been delivered in the past, ultimately strengthening our country’s overall resilience. Together, we will protect our lands and save more lives,” said Lynda Zambrano, Executive Director and Founder of the National Tribal Emergency Management Council.

This new training program will include courses such as “Climate Literacy in Tribal Nations; Identifying Disaster Risk Reduction Resources for Tribal Nations; Risk Communication Techniques within Tribal Nations; Using Community Engagement to Enhance Emergency Preparedness; and Developing Emergency Management Programs within Tribal Nations Trainings” will address preparedness gaps consistent with cultures, values, governance structures, and doctrine to improve readiness and resilience. These trainings will help close the gap in preparedness in Tribal Nations and deliver on the priorities of FEMA’s National Tribal Strategy to foster innovative training capabilities.


About NCDP

The National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP), Columbia Climate School, Columbia University works to understand and improve the nation’s capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. NCDP studies the readiness of governmental and non-governmental systems, the complexities of population recovery, the power of community engagement, and the risks of human vulnerability. NCDP is committed to understanding the prevention and most effective response strategies for large-scale disasters. These are the most complex and challenging, whether caused by climate change, biological hazards, critical infrastructure failure, cyber-attacks, or nuclear threats.

About the National Tribal Emergency Management Council

The National Tribal Emergency Management Council (NTEMC) is a National Tribal organization formed for the purpose of sharing information and promoting best practices in emergency management and homeland security in Indian Country. The NTEMC was created as a parent organization to the pilot project The NWTEMC, the Northwest Tribal Emergency Management Council, is housed in Washington State and is a consortium of Tribes throughout Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. The National organization will become the parent organization to the pilot and allow the great work of the NWTEMC to be shared throughout the Nation.