CHEER CHAMPION OF THE WEEK: ELSIE J. JOE!
Elsie J. Joe, MPA is a Health System Specialist and Area Project Officer for the Methamphetamine/Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI) and the Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative (DVPI) through the Indian Health Service (IHS) Department of Behavioral Health for the Navajo Area. She recently moved to New Mexico from Montana, where she held the same position for the IHS Billings Area Office. During her 1.5 years in Montana, she did a great job working with the tribes on these initiatives and administering these projects.
Elsie is of Native American descent, affiliated with the Dine’ Tribe from Shiprock, New Mexico. Her clans are Bit’ahnii (Folded Arms or Within the Folds) Clan, born for the Na nesh t’ezhi Ashi, ii (Zuni Salt) Clan. Her maternal grandfather’s clan is Oze’e’ T’aah chiinii (Red Forehead of Polacca/Second Mesa Hopi). Her paternal grandfather’s clan is Kin ya a’hnii (Towering House) Clan.
During her time in Billings, Elsie provided programmatic technical assistance to all the Montana/Wyoming tribes with MSPI, Generation Indigenous (GEN-I) and DVPI federally funded projects. Elsie and CHEER worked closely to integrate the tribal and federal aspects of the MSPI/DVPI programs. CHEER works on contract with the Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center to provide technical assistance to Billings Area tribes with MSPI/DVPI programs, especially around evaluation and local data collection.
“The tribal MSPI/DVPI and GEN-I project staff, including the tribal health staff and community members express they are very concerned about the prominent and, in some cases, epidemic proportion of disengagement with their respective cultural values, and thus many of their tribal members have turned to drug abuse and domestic violence or self-harm,” comments Elsie.
Together with IHS, these staff members are striving to bring education, prevention, intervention, and postvention to these afflictions. The tribes are also promoting a healthier lifestyle by developing tribal appropriate community activities with the aim of “realigning cultural values and elders’ teachings back to the generations and to those that have lost contact with their identities,” Elsie says. “Due to the elders’ concerted efforts and seeing the younger generations working together is a joy and gives me hope for the future of the tribes, not just in Montana or Wyoming but across all Nations.”
Elsie recently moved back to her home community of Bit’ahnii Acres, in Shiprock, New Mexico to continue her work as a MSPI/GEN-I and DVPI Area Project Officer for the Navajo Area. She will miss Montana and Wyoming’s tribal MSPI/GEN-I and DVPI project staff, community members, Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders, Rocky Mountain Epidemiology Center and the Billings Area Office staff and their many partners.
Elsie shares, “I have developed a kinship with the Montana/Wyoming Tribes and will miss them dearly but I know they will continue the process of healing…I look forward to my continued work and new horizons with the Navajo Area MSPI/GEN-I and DVPI projects and IHS Headquarters. I am excited to be close to my three children, five grandchildren, siblings, my mom and numerous relatives.”
Thank you for all your dedicated work, Elsie! We will miss you and wish you the best!