Building culturally relevant Indigenous caregiver education together with Minnesota & Tribal Partners

Building culturally relevant Indigenous caregiver education together with Minnesota & Tribal Partners

When the Covid-19 pandemic first began, our partners at the Minnesota Board on Aging (MBA) immediately saw the need for at-home, on-demand caregiver education. Specifically, after witnessing Minnesota’s Tribal Nations be significantly impacted by the isolation that the pandemic caused, MBA realized the need for culturally responsive caregiver education that addresses the unique experience of Indigenous caregivers. As we are always looking to meet the needs of our clients and find ways to better serve diverse caregiver populations, Trualta enthusiastically partnered with MBA to make this happen. 

Understanding that any cultural content must be made in collaboration with members of that community, we began by holding working sessions with local project champions to understand the needs of Indigenous caregivers. From there, we leveraged our combined networks to find Indigenous Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to collaborate with so that we could create educational content with, by, and for the Indigenous community in Minnesota. As Kristi Kane, Director of Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging says, “Without them, there would be no product to share, which makes their contributions not only beautiful and relevant but also of the utmost importance.” We worked closely with Indigenous social workers, researchers, artists, and caregivers to create three culturally relevant caregiver courses: 

Taking the first steps towards accessing supports 

The SME we collaborated with for this course highlighted that in order to access supports and services, an official diagnosis is often required. However, it can be difficult for Indigenous caregivers and their loved ones to receive a diagnosis for many reasons. Together, we created a course that focuses on the actions that Indigenous caregivers need to take in order to access those support and services, such as identifying when something is not right, getting an assessment from a healthcare provider, and normalizing the experience.

Using reminiscing & storytelling to meaningfully engage an Elder

The SME we collaborated with for this course has extensive experience using reminiscence therapy with Indigenous communities. Together, we created a course that focuses on the actions that Indigenous caregivers need to take in order to use reminiscing to meaningfully engage an Elder, such as picking a good reminiscing topic, using meaningful prompts, and using active listening techniques.

Caregiving & The Seven Grandfather Teachings

The SME we collaborated with recommended the inclusion of the 7 Grandfather Teachings in any Indigenous curriculum as a reminder for readers. The SME also advised that this topic would benefit from an approach that used storytelling and artwork instead of Trualta’s traditional modules. This course includes caregiver stories relating to the Grandfather Teachings collected by our SME in the community, and 7 printable adult coloring sheets featuring the animals associated with each of the Grandfather Teachings, illustrated by an Indigenous artist. 

Illustrations by Lucie Skjefte – Citizen of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa.

Trualta prides itself on offering its educational content in different modalities to suit individual caregiver preferences for learning. The materials in these courses were no exception, and every piece of content had an accompanying voice over audio file produced and narrated by Melissa Olson, Tribal Citizen of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Radio Producer, who reflected on the importance of this work:

I very much enjoyed working on this project adding my skills in voice work to the wonderful work you are doing with our elders around issues of memory, emotional safety, family, and cultural preservation. As a person who has an elderly parent, I know that my brother and I, along with many of our relatives, rely on support in providing love and care for our parents. I hope my work on this project has contributed to the overall goals of supporting all of our elders across many tribal communities. It’s been an honor to work on this project.

These culturally relevant, multi-modal caregiver courses are now available free of charge to Indigenous caregivers in Minnesota in partnership with Tribal Nations, local Area Agencies on Aging, and Aging Network Service Providers.

Knowledge Translation & Future Collaborations

This past month, we were joined by our partners at MBA to present at the annual Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) conference. During our presentation, we discussed how the partnership was formed, shared more about the local Indigenous community members we collaborated with, and gave a preview of the finished product. Leonard Geshick, Indian Elders Coordinator for the Minnesota Board on Aging shared his appreciation for Trualta’s commitment to creating a genuine product for Tribal Elders, “Not having any internal SMEs on staff, Trualta extended invitations to some of Indian Country’s established SMEs. This made for a more authentic product and I feel that it will be an important tool for Indigenous caregivers!” We look forward to replicating this process of working closely with community members to create custom culturally relevant content to better serve additional populations and groups. 

To learn more about our commitment to providing culturally relevant content for Indigenous communities, contact Leda Rosenthal, Director of Growth, at or 1-800-214-5085 ext 1.