When communication is poor, hurt feelings and hostilities can arise, but Sioux Valley Dakota Nation communication staff is hard at work to keep an open flow of information throughout the membership of their large reserve.
During a tour of SVDN’s governance building, Oyate’ Omnic’iya Tipi, we visited the communications office.
Elton Taylor heads up communication and along with his co-worker, Daniza, they keep members of the reserve informed on everything from social events, to education and government decisions.
In his office, Taylor was in the process of compiling a report for chief and council following the Grand Opening of governance building.
Out of that office, the staff prepare material, photos, videos and information pieces for the SVDN governance website. This includes posts to 21 Facebook pages, two Instagram accounts and Twitter. They prepare information for SVDN KODA 93.5 FM Radio Station, as well as a monthly newsletter.
How news gets around
The newsletter is posted on social media as well as printed and mailed. Physical copies are dropped off at the different departments within the community. They are available at the Petro Can convenience store on the (Trans Canada) highway, at the gaming centre in the valley and at the diner.
Taylor says the communications office prepares and coordinates the newsletter distribution. “In addition to dropping this off, through our youth program, we have youth workers who do the door-to-door deliveries for the newsletters and the mailouts.”
Daniza is the design artist, creating graphics for posters and other items. Her role includes videography. “I do video updates on our YouTube channel as well.” The council was working to pass two laws last year. “So, with those committees that were working on those laws, when there are updates, I film those updates so everyone else can see.”
Elton explains that the goal is transparency, openness about council’s decisions. His venture into communication work began in 2016 when he was a councillor.
“I started building up our Facebook pages. I reclaimed all of our domain names (domain names that were floating around from previous councils). I brought them back under Sioux Valley’s ownership.”
Now there’s a system to disseminate information for the nearly 1,500 people on the reserve and about 1,200 off-reserve SVDN members.
Bill (Taylor), the radio station DJ, was emcee for the Oyate’ Omnic’iya Tipi Grand Opening ceremony, as he is for most events.
KODA 93.5 runs with a 25-watt transmitter. “It’s currently down,” says Taylor, “But generally, depending what kind of radio you’re using… we can hit first street in Brandon and about the edge of Virden.
“We have a lot of elderly people who aren’t on social media, but they listen all the time to the radio. We’ve had our climate change and environment crew go on (radio) every Tuesday and every Thursday and they do their green talk.”
The radio also carries school and health centre news.
“Every once in a while, we have a rotation of our leadership popping in and telling what’s going on in the community. The whole thing with communications, is we want to cover every base,” says Elton Taylor.