Framing the conversation.

By Dr David GreyOwl

We have all witnessed advocacy, or may have taken part in advocacy for things that involve Native peoples. We have all witnessed the types of advocacy for things that involve Native peoples, from marches, lines to block illegal mining, logging, abuse and trespass on Native lands, to outright vocalization against the things that are going on. Let me be clear. These types of actions are needed. In every way, they are needed. If anyone in Indian country ever wonders why some things never seem to receive resolution, there might be a very good reason why that is, beyond the obvious.  

As Native people, we may be unknowingly, partially to blame for the lack of resolution(s). What I am talking about is the way we frame our conversations. I have listened to many other groups present their concerns to entities that needed to hear their concerns, and compared to other groups of people, many Native groups frame their conversation(s) in ways that result in unintended results, no resolution to the concern being presented.  We are not alone in this verbal error.  All too often we frame our concerns as "issues" not as problems. When the receiving party, (non Natives) hears the word "issue", it leads them to believe the concern is not that pressing. Sometimes, an issue and a problem are similar, and require the same attention, or require the same action, but usually, in my opinion they are two different things.

An issue is something that is, as an example, debatable, something that does not necessarily have or need a solution. A problem, on the other hand, is something that requires or needs a solution. When we talk about concerns in Indian country, and call those concerns issues, we unknowingly marginalize our own concerns because of wording, language if you will, (I am not talking about our Native languages.) that we have become accustomed to using. WORDS HAVE POWER! How we frame our conversations determines how the conversation(s) will go. How we frame our conversation(s) will determine whether or not a much needed solution is reached.

The link to the video below will hopefully help us in framing our conversations and empower us to reach resolutions to the problems within Indian country. Thank you for reading our blog.

Copy and paste the link below to watch.