Utilization of the native American talking circle to teach incident command system to tribal community health representatives

Brenda Granillo, Ralph Renger, Jessica Wakelee, Jefferey L. Burgess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The public health workforce is diverse and encompasses a wide range of professions. For tribal communities, the Community Health Representative (CHR) is a public health paraprofessional whose role as a community health educator and health advocate has expanded to become an integral part of the health delivery system of most tribes. CHRs possess a unique set of skills and cultural awareness that make them an essential first responder on tribal land. As a result of their distinctive qualities they have the capability of effectively mobilizing communities during times of crisis and can have a significant impact on the communities' response to a local incident. Although public health emergency preparedness training is a priority of federal, state, local and tribal public health agencies, much of the training currently available is not tailored to meet the unique traits of CHRs. Much of the emergency preparedness training is standardized, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Training Programs, and does not take into account the inherent cultural traditions of some of the intended target audience. This paper reports on the use of the Native American Talking Circle format as a culturally appropriate method to teach the Incident Command System (ICS). The results of the evaluation suggest the talking format circle is well received and can significantly improve the understanding of ICS roles. The limitations of the assessment instrument and the cultural adaptations at producing changes in the understanding of ICS history and concepts are discussed. Possible solutions to these limitations are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-634
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • CHR
  • Community health representative
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Incident command system
  • Native American talking circle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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