Conflict Resolution Promoted Through D-Q University

May 15th, 1993 | By | Category: 5-1: Art, Tribal College News
By Paul Boyer

Indian communities see plenty of conflict. But few American Indians are trained to solve disagreements that develop within families, tribes or government agencies.

However, a recent agreement between D-Q University in Davis, California and Indian Dispute Resolution Services, Inc. of Sacramento is expected to increase the number of Indians trained in the art of conflict resolution.

People who complete training courses offered by Indian Dispute Resolution Services will earn upper division col­lege credits through D-Q. The college is also offer­ing a certificate program in dispute management and resolution after com­pletion of at least 12 credits earned through IDRS courses.

Students who com­plete the program will be qualified to work on their own or within tribal or government agencies.

According to Eric Enriquez, training coordi­nator for IDRS, there is an urgent need for American Indians who are trained in conflict resolution. Poverty, lack of education and lim­ited tribal resources all con­spire to promote tension and disagreement. The nineteenth century policy of placing different tribal groups onto one reserva­tion by the federal govern­ment also results in a continuing struggle for power between different factions.

“It’s really fertile ground for any conflict that comes up,” says Enriquez.

However, few American Indians have been trained to defuse tension. Enriquez says there is an especially great need for Indians trained as mediators. A person acting as a neutral third party is a new idea to many students, he says. Instead, most assume that everyone takes sides in a disagreement. Non-Indians, meanwhile, may not be sensitive to impor­tant cultural issues.

D-Q University President Carlos Cordero believes conflict resolu­tion is part of American Indian culture. It is “con­summate with Indian val­ues because it is inherent in the native American tradition to strive for bal­ance which can be gained when different groups learn to work together,” he said at the signing of the agreement.

The first group under D-Q University sponsor­ship completed course work in August. IDRS has been working since 1988, when it was found­ed by five Indian organi­zations.

In the past, IDRS has worked with groups rang­ing from tribal housing authorities to the Owen Valley Indian Water Commission, which has been fighting for years to get retribution for water taken by the City of Los Angeles. But other par­ticipants have been indi­vidual tribal members who wish to end conflict within their own family of among families.

“We’re putting togeth­er the first cadre of native American sensitive medi­ators,” says Enriquez. “It’s been a long time coming.”

For more information about Indian Dispute Resolution Services and its affiliation with D-Q University, contact IDRS at 1029 K Street, Suite 38, Sacramento, CA 95814. Phone: (916) 447-4800.

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