Episode Seven – Engaging Tribal Communities

Episode Seven – Engaging Tribal Communities


[00:00:18] Tee Atwell: Welcome to Stocking the Pantry, a CalFresh Healthy Living Podcast from Leah’s Pantry. We’d like to acknowledge our funder, the CalFresh Healthy Living Program, an equal opportunity employer and provider. On this show, we discuss any and all things community nutrition, food equity, and nutrition security. This is a space for thought leaders to share success stories and strategies for equity-centered and resilience-building initiatives. We hope to foster collaboration and community, as well as leverage strengths among listeners, guests, and hosts as we share ideas and dreams of building a more equitable future where everyone has access to healthful nourishing food.


[00:01:14] Colby D’Onofrio: Hello, and welcome to Stocking the Pantry. Thank you for joining us today for another episode in our special series highlighting sessions at the upcoming CalFresh Healthy Living Forum. This year’s CalFresh Healthy Living Forum will take place at the Hyatt Regency Orange County in Garden Grove, California, on October 23rd through 25th.

[00:01:38] Tee: The forum brings CalFresh Healthy Living professionals together to share updates, successes, and new ideas among colleagues. This year’s theme is Equity in Action: Supporting Healthy Communities Together. For more information and to register for the for please check out the link to the website in the show notes.

[00:01:57] Colby: We are really excited to speak with Noelle DiSano and Cole Morales about their session, Engaging Tribal Communities. You might also hear us referring to the Center for Healthy Communities as CHC throughout the episode, but before we dive into the meat of the episode, we want to introduce Cole and Noelle to y’all a little bit, so we’re going to let them introduce themselves. Take it away, Noelle.

[00:02:23] Noelle DiSano: Thank you, Colby. Thank you for having us. Again, my name is Noelle DiSano. I originally hailed from the Bay Area but found my home here in Chico when I did my undergraduate work at Chico State. I have a Bachelor of Science in Health Science with a focus on health services administration, and my professional journey has been quite diverse, spanning both healthcare and social services.

Before becoming a part of the CHC team, I held the role of a program specialist specializing in eligibility requirements for social services programs such as CalFresh, CalWORKs, Medi-Cal, and General Assistance here in Butte County. This experience has given me insights into the intricacies of social services delivery, which has led me here to CHC, and for the past year, I’ve been working on the Area Agency on Aging team at CHC.

My role as a program manager has been dedicated to serving the Northeastern 10 County region of California, with a particular emphasis on reaching out to Native tribal communities and veterans. It has been truly a rewarding experience as I’ve had the opportunity to connect with and learn from elders, immerse myself in Native culture, and delve into the rich history of our local Native communities.

[00:03:35] Cole Morales: Thank you, Colby and Tee. My name is Cole Morales and I’m a Tribal Liaison and Engagement Specialist for the North State Planning and Development Collective, and also the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve here at Chico State Enterprises. To give some context, Chico State Enterprises is a nonprofit auxiliary of Chico State. I am also Mountain Maidu, so my family comes from Lassen and Plumas County, and I’m also an enrolled member of the Susanville Indian Rancheria.

Throughout my professional career, I’ve gotten to work with different tribes within the Butte County area, within the Chico area, working with some of my tribes back home. In addition to that, I also have had a very long and, well, to me feels long, educational journey. This all started in 2012 when I went right out of high school to community college and received my AA. Right after that, I transferred over to Chico State to pursue an undergraduate degree in Recreation, Hospitality, and Parks Management with an emphasis in Parks and Natural Resource Management, which I completed in 2020.

During that time, I also got a minor in Geospatial Literacy and a certificate in Geographical Information Systems, or GIS for the acronym, through the Geography and Planning Department at Chico State. Right after I completed my undergraduate degree and my certificate minor, I went right into a master’s program which was Interdisciplinary Studies: Wildland Management Program. I was privileged enough to be part of the first cohort and I graduated with my master’s in Wildland Management in 2022.

[00:05:13] Tee: Wow. Thank you so much. It is great to have you both here on the show. Can you just start by telling our listeners a bit about what the Center for Healthy Communities does in the Chico community and how that work intersects with the local tribes?

[00:05:31] Noelle: Sure, thank you. The Center for Healthy Communities is part of Chico State Enterprises, which is the nonprofit auxiliary that operates on behalf of Chico State. CHC currently houses more than 30 programs providing services all over California, not just the Chico community, including our 12 surrounding counties’ service area. Our programs promote food security, nutrition education, physical activity, food safety, and provide resources and trainings to thousands of California residents of all ages through programs such as CalFresh Healthy Living, CalFresh Outreach, and 530 Food Rescue, to name a few.

Our mission is to provide equitable support to individuals and partners across diverse communities in California by building sustainable access to nourishing food and active environments. CHC also supports higher education and elevates student success and career readiness skills through programs on college campuses across the state. CHC envisions all Californians with equitable resources to live their healthiest lives.

[00:06:38] Cole: To add on to what Noelle had spoken about with the resource that CHC provides, for me as a tribal liaison and engagement specialist, I’m quite new to the CHC organization and working with them. Coming on, on this position a little over two months ago, I was tasked with auditing a lot of the organizations within Chico State Enterprises and CHC was one of them.

Through this journey, I’ve got to learn a lot about the work that they have done within our tribal communities. One thing that I was really happy to hear and learn about is that CHC had actually been working with one of our tribal partners since early 2000s providing nutritional outreach and education, and with the work that Noelle has been able to do with her program, working with older adults, it’s been really great to be able to be a part of the work that CHC has been doing that Noelle has been doing to provide these resources. For me, being in this position, I know that we’ve been working with some of our local tribes within our service region and also working with the tribes outside of our local area.

Chico State has a service area of about 12-county region. Within those 12 counties, we have about 28 tribes that are within our region. One of my duties, in addition to working with the folks over at CHC, is to make sure that we’re constantly updating our contact list and working with our tribes, and engaging in consultation. To put in perspective, with all of our 28 tribes within our service region, we have about 14% of the tribes within California within our service region alone. It’s been a very great pleasure working with Noelle and being able to meet with all these different tribes and doing more outreach as we expand more.

[00:08:20] Colby: Wow. What a huge reach for an area of California that I think a lot of people don’t even know or think about when they think of California. The Chico area, correct me if I’m wrong, is quite rural. It’s very, very north. It’s also beautiful. If anyone has not been to the Chico area, personally, I would highly recommend it. I hear the fall colors are pretty spectacular too, but that’s not what this episode is about. Anyways, bringing it back, thank you both for laying such a great and strong foundation about the center. It sounds like y’all’s work is very diverse and you have a pretty big reach.

Since your upcoming session is about engaging tribal communities, and Cole, you started to touch on this a little bit, can y’all tell us a bit about the work that the Center for Healthy Communities does with the tribes you serve?

[00:09:14] Noelle: CHC, prior to me coming here over a year ago, had been working with various local Indian Health Service agencies. However, when I came on last year, it was specifically to provide CalFresh Healthy Living services and activities to reach the Native American older adults. One of the first things that we did was we completed an onboarding with Leah’s Pantry, we did that trauma-informed training. I was able to take the time to dive into the TI training and reflect a lot about my own traumatic experiences by identifying and navigating barriers of our perceived conceptions.

We also recognized that being a part of Chico State, we were in a unique position to start internally by reaching out to our Tribal Relations Office. That’s where I first met Cole and Rachel, who’s the director of the Tribal Office at Chico State. Their office was instrumental in guiding us and introducing us to the local tribe in the North State. In our first year, we gained a lot of momentum and support for services.

We’ve provided direct education to Grindstone Indian Rancheria elders. We provide support to the Mechoopda Indian tribal elders, and we are cultivating relationships with the Susanville Indian Rancheria elders. Recognizing that each tribe is its own sovereign nation and essential in cultivating a relationship with that tribe, there is no formula that you can apply and get the same results. When we learn about their needs, the approach is always to listen first. Really take the time to listen and be thoughtful in determining appropriate activities for each tribe.

Just for example, like the Grindstone elders requested nutrition education, and to support that request, we provided a series of nutrition education at their weekly elders’ luncheons. In contrast, Susanville is a food desert, so the elders have expressed concerns with the rising food costs and inability to grow food in the high desert. We’re working with the Susanville Rancheria’s Natural Resources Department to explore policy system environmental activities to include maybe an edible garden.

[00:11:19] Cole: Noelle provided a really great overview of how we’ve been able to connect with our tribal communities. One thing that I do want to touch on that Noelle had brought up was the importance of having our Office of Tribal Relations here at Chico State. The Office of Tribal Relations here was created around 2018 to really work with tribes on that government-to-government level and to really engage with tribes and really see what their priorities are. Throughout the years, we’ve been able to work with tribes and to hear their priorities and work with them, and having this office, I know in the beginning, no one had reached out about working with Grindstone Rancheria and seeing how we can better connect our resources.

Looking back on the work that the office has done for the Office of Tribal Relations, it’s really helped build that relationship with our local tribes to be able to provide more resources, and to give some context to how I got brought into this conversation when it came to Susanville Indian Rancheria is that, like I mentioned before, I am a tribal member and I am enrolled in Susanville Indian Rancheria. When I was doing work in another organization, which was the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve working with Native Youth, it was brought up that I was from that tribe and I was able to work with my supervisor and Noelle’s supervisor to be a tribal consultant to connect them with the tribe.

Through that partnership between working with the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve and then CHC, we’ve been able to go up to the tribe itself, meet with our elders’ coordinator, meet with the elders, and really have those conversations, and like Noelle said, having the elders guide those conversations on what resources, what workshops, and what kind of support that we can provide for CHC. One of those ended up being that the elders were interested in doing a garden because, just like Noelle said, that area definitely doesn’t have the type of resources that we have in some of our more urban areas.

My mom still lives up there and I’m still part of the community, and I know that there’s a big difference between going up there and having farmer’s markets and coming down to Chico where you have farmer’s markets going on year-round where you can get fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, but up there in Susanville, those resources are a little bit harder to find. I think that’s one way that we really got to be able to hear the priorities of the elders and really connect and see how we can work together and support the programs that they’re doing.

[00:13:42] Tee: Wow. Thank you so much for sharing and I’m really hearing resiliency through connection. I want to revisit a little bit both of you talked about sovereign nations and building relationships. Indigenous and Indian tribes are unique populations in that they are sovereign communities within local jurisdictions. What barriers or challenges with program implementation or service delivery did you foresee or saw come up during the work with the tribes?

[00:14:20] Cole: This is Cole and this is a question that we have faced when we had worked with some of our tribal communities within the work that I do in addition to CHC. I remember back when I was finishing my master’s program last year, and this was a question that had gotten brought up. Because my project really looked to provide manuals and support with some of the natural resource work that some tribes are doing. One of the questions that was brought up by one of my committee members is, all this information is great and it really helps tribes, but what happens when you bring this information to a tribe and they are not in the position or not in the area to be able to use this information? How are you going to respond to that?

That’s always been in the back of my mind when providing these resources in that some tribes might not be at that area to be able to use these resources, but that doesn’t mean that we stop providing them and that we start providing outreach. We still want to make sure that we engage with tribes, provide those resources when we can, but also understand and acknowledge that it might not be the right time for a tribe to receive those resources but it might be a great time maybe later down the line.

I think one of the biggest barriers when working with tribes is understanding that our resources sound great. We can provide all of these, but if the tribe’s priorities or if the tribe is not in an area to be able to take these resources just yet, then we provide them later down the line when they are ready for those. I think that was one thing that I took when I first ended my master’s program here at Chico State and I’ve kept with me, and these are conversations that I’ve been able to have with my supervisor who really supports me in some of the tribal engagements that I’ve had with tribes.

[00:15:59] Noelle: This is Noelle. I just want to share that I’ve learned a lot from Cole in delivering activities and being respectful and saying, okay, this isn’t the time. Can we still keep in contact? Can we still keep them on our forefront of maybe delivering activities down the line? I also just want to add that it’s hard to predict any challenges that are due to any unique tribe. I don’t like to generalize, but there is one barrier that seems to be more common and I think it’s a common barrier amongst the older population in general, not just unique to the tribes.

We live in Chico, which is considered a rural-urban area. However, the tribes that we work with are in rural areas. Knowing this, we strive to meet our elders where they are. For example, our tribal elders that meet regularly, like at elders luncheons or their monthly or their weekly socials, we go to them. This is very important because, during COVID, our elders were vulnerable and feeling a loss of connection to their community. When there’s infrastructure already in place to support transportation. We meet them where they are and we try not to create more activities or another activity at a site where they would need to get transportation.

I’ll just give you, for example, an elder’s luncheon that already provides transportation to the luncheon, it’s a lot easier for them to get there if we know that they’re going to be there every Thursday, instead of inviting them to a separate activity, maybe in the evening time or a time that doesn’t necessarily work for them. If they know that they’re meeting with their elders every week at twelve o’clock, meeting them at their services has been truly successful for us.

[00:17:47] Colby: Both of y’all spoke to meeting people where they’re at, both physically and more figuratively. Whether it’s the literal luncheon that, okay, we’re going to meet you there because we know you are going to be there. Or figuratively, if this programming isn’t appropriate or you’re not ready to adopt it right now, we’ll meet you where you’re at and hold onto it for you but we’re still available. I think with the tribes being so unique, as you mentioned, Noelle, this is important for any population, but with such a diverse and unique population that you’re working with, I think this is especially important, and in a rural area where Wi-Fi and transportation and all sorts of things that are readily available in more urban areas might be a bit harder to come by.

In researching for this episode, we learned that Chico State is built on tribal land that was home to the local Mechoopda tribe, including burial grounds and historic villages. In 2018, Chico State signed an agreement with the tribe that lays the foundation for future work and collaboration between the school and the tribe. Can you tell us a bit about why this agreement was/is needed and how it impacts collaboration with the local tribe?

[00:19:06] Cole: Thank you for that question, Colby. I can answer that. As my role as a tribal engagement specialist and being a part of the Office of Tribal Relations as a student assistant, all the way to my professional career here currently, I’ve got to learn more about the memorandum of understanding that was signed between the Mechoopda Tribe and also between Chico State. It’s interesting that this question came up because yesterday was actually the anniversary of that signing and that was something that me and my supervisor had talked about.

The MOU is so important because it allows both of the parties, both on that government-to-government level to be able to acknowledge that, when we work with Mechoopda, they’re a sovereign nation, they’re a government that is autonomous and that they are able to govern their tribal members, and that us as Chico State, being a state entity, we can work on those government-to-government levels, but also be able to acknowledge our roles when it comes to working on the land that is Mechoopda’s land. This is their traditional homeland.

For instance, if we end up constructing a building on campus, which we recently did, we make sure that we follow that memorandum of understanding to make sure that Mechoopda is at the table, that they have a voice, and that they can be able to work with us on that government-to-government relationship, but also to be able to protect resources that they might have. It’s really a way that’s building upon the relationship that we want to create with our local communities, with Mechoopda, and that also was one of the reasons why the Office of Tribal Relations was created and why it’s so important to mention that.

Our Office of Tribal Relations here on campus is located underneath the Office of the President. That is significant because that allows our office and our director to be able to work with tribes on that government-to-government relationship, whether it’s Mechoopda, whether it’s some of our old local tribe here in Butte County. When we go out and we have the Center for Healthy Communities come in and ask, we want to be able to work with tribes, it gives us a one-stop shop and it also gives us a united voice.

One thing that isn’t really covered too much within the work that we do and it’s more behind the scenes is that the Office of Tribal Relations is located on the state side of Chico State, so more of like the higher education side. As Noelle had mentioned before that me and Noelle are working as employees under organizations on the nonprofit auxiliary side. The reason why this position that I’m in right now was created was to go out to tribes and go as a united voice. Because although we’re an auxiliary and a non-profit side of Chico State, we’re still Chico State itself, and we still want to be able to work with tribes so that if they have any questions, then they know that there’s one location on campus where they can ask those questions.

We also want to make sure that we are engaging tribes through consultation, through engagement such as these resources with CHC on that government-to-government relationship.

[00:22:01] Noelle: I just wanted to add. We get asked a lot of questions of, what is Chico State Enterprises, how does that work? Really up here in the rural area of Chico, when you say Chico State, it doesn’t matter if you’re CSE or if you’re CHC or if you’re Chico State Enterprises, the association is with the university, and it’s really important that all of our departments, Chico State Enterprises, Center for Healthy Communities, with the Office of Tribal Relations, we are all on the same page and that we all have the common goal of serving the Native community up here.

[00:22:36] Colby: That is such a great point to make Noelle, that even though there are so many branches of Chico State, people have the one idea and that importance of people understanding that Chico State does care and does put importance on the relations with the local tribes, I think is very important, for lack of a better word. Is this agreement, this MOU, have you seen anything else like it adopted in other areas that are operating on tribal land? If so, or if not, do you think that this could be laying the groundwork for other agreements like this MOU?

[00:23:15] Cole: I will say that I don’t know exactly of other CSUs or UCs that have done MOUs. I imagine that there might be some out there. I just personally don’t know of them, but I will say talking about the MOU and the work that we’ve done here at Chico State is that when I talk about the Office of Tribal Relations, and being one of the ones that interacts with these tribes, we were the first in the CSU system to have Office of Tribal Relations that was underneath the Office of the President. Through these MOUs, we’ve been able to work with our local tribe here at Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria to not only create this MOU but also to work within Chico State and Chico Enterprises to actually give land back to Mechoopda. That is one thing that we’ve done, and it’s also additional MOUs that we’ve signed with them.

One thing that the Office of Tribe Relations has done recently in work with the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve that is underneath Chico State Enterprises, is give back about 93 acres of land that is traditional homelands of the Mechoopda tribe. Through that, we are now working with them and we have actually signed an MOU with them so that when we go and we want to work on the Butte Creek Ecological Reserve, which was the 93 acres that was given back, that we now have MOU with Mechoopda. For us at Chico State, we have an MOU with Mechoopda that says, this is how our partnership will work when it comes to Chico State, but it’s cool to see now that we now we have an MOU with Mechoopda to say if we want to work on your land, this is the partnership that we’ll have.

That’s been something that’s been really interesting to see, and it’s really great to see that the Mechoopda tribe was able to get their traditional land that Chico State had, and it’s going to be really great to see how we can further build our relationships when it comes to Chico State and our tribes and how we can continue to do that through the tribes within our service region.

[00:25:05] Tee: Wow. Very proud moment and forward movement, I would say. You know what, kudos. Snaps to you. Keep up the amazing work. I know why it’s important to me, but I would love to hear why you think this is so important that we discuss how to engage with tribal communities at the forum, and what you hope will come out of the session.

[00:25:32] Noelle: I think it’s important to recognize and address the unique challenges and contributions of our Native American communities, acknowledging their historical injustices, celebrating their cultural heritage, respecting their sovereignty, while addressing their health disparities. I think increasing their visibility and representation can help combat stereotypes and promote a more accurate understanding of their contributions to society. Letting the tribes take the lead and working with them is essential to building strong relationships and gaining their trust, and just remembering that trust is earned and it’s not given.

[00:26:12] Cole: I believe that Noelle hit the nail on the head with that answer. When we look at working with our tribal communities, and just echoing what Noelle said, it’s really important to acknowledge the historical history and historical traumas that our tribes have been through, and understanding that there might be some mistrust that has occurred between different organizations.

One thing that my supervisor really– that’s really ingrained in my brain whenever I think about working with tribes is moving at the speed of trust and building that trust and building those relationships and providing the resources when we can and say, how can we help? How can we really build these relationships to go into the future so that if there’s anything that we can assist with, then we can, but Noelle hit it right on the head. Our tribes are unique and there’s not one certain solution or one certain avenue that you should take in working with a tribe. That each tribe is special, that each tribe is unique in that not one size fits all, and that all of our experiences with tribes might be different.

With this forum coming up, it’s just a way to show how we have done working with tribes and really showing our experiences, but knowing that another organization or other folks might have different experiences working with tribes. I think looking at tribes and seeing how we can support and really build those trust and relationships is huge.

I think that when I work with different tribes, I’ll think of that. How can I build this trust? How can I move at the speed of trust to be able to say, hey, we want to make sure that you are all consulted and that if you need anything from us, then please reach out? I feel like I have that conversation all the time. It’s always great to hear when tribes do reach out, like, “Hey, I know you mentioned this thing about broadband,” because we’re really heavy in broadband for the North State Planning, and I’m like, yes, let me connect you with one of our project managers, and let’s ask these questions and see like, is there a way that we can tie in or even with restoration projects?

I think that that’s something that I keep in my mind a lot and sometimes I have to take that step back and be, okay, let’s go a little bit slower, and let’s see how we can help out more. I always like that.

[00:28:19] Tee: Love that.

[00:28:20] Cole: I always like that line that my boss, her name’s Rachel, and she’s great. She definitely has a lot of great wisdom and guidance that I’m always looking towards, so. That was one of her many great quotes.

[00:28:34] Noelle: She’s awesome. I just wanted to add that this is at the center of CHC’s values, compassion, recognizing the unique challenges that the Native community has faced, serving them with respect, empathy, and caring when we’re needed and where we can help. It just ties back in that if we can help, we want to, and if we can’t, we can take a step back and say, okay, this might not be the time. We always want the Native community to know that we are here, that we want to help bridge whatever services and activities they need, and that’s what we’re here for.

[00:29:11] Colby: Yes. I want to just highlight something that Cole said, which was the importance of moving at the speed of trust. I think this really ties in with what you said, Noelle, too, that trust is earned, it’s not just given. I think especially when working with populations that have deep historical traumas, it’s important that we, again, meet them where they’re at.

Again, like tying it all full circle, we can’t just be rushing in and talking about changes we’re going to make to someone else’s community if they don’t have a strong and deep understanding and deep trust of our intentions. Because I think it’s safe to say that there’s a long history of tribes and Native communities accepting people who have seemingly good intentions and then their voices not being listened to, their desires not being heard, and not being taken at that speed of trust. I think that is so well said. Really, that’s very much so at the core of a trauma-informed approach, is that meeting people where they’re at, cultivating trust, and moving at that speed of trust. What are y’all most excited about in presenting this topic at the forum this year?

[00:30:26] Noelle: Well, I’m excited to share our journey and I hope that participants walk away with a better understanding of engaging with our tribal communities, that our journey may not be the same experience that they’ve encountered. Our goal has always been to cultivate an authentic relationship with the Native community. I think that is a big part of why I’m presenting today because, as I’ve told you before, I’ve only been with the Center for Healthy Communities for a little bit over a year. In that past year, the speed of trust, I’ve been very fortunate in meeting Cole and developing and cultivating our relationship with the Office of Tribal Relations, which has been so instrumental in reaching our elder Native community here.

[00:31:13] Cole: To echo what Noelle said, I would definitely say sharing our experiences, all of the things that we’ve done, and I’ve also been only with the Center for Healthy Communities as a tribal consultant since the end of December. I’ve only been with them for a short amount of time, but in that short amount of time, I’ve got to learn so much about the great work that Noelle has done and the CHC folks. I’ve got to learn a lot about how they’ve been able to work with some of the other tribes that Noelle had mentioned earlier, and really how I’ve got to come in and experience all that, but also get to work with my own community.

Because that was one of the things that was really great to see the first time going up to Susanville with the Center for Healthy Communities, just seeing all the elders in that room and being able to chat with them and them asking, “How’s school going?” I get to be able to say, I finished and here I am in my professional career saying I’m back, and how can we assist with some of these resources? I think that’s what makes it really worthwhile, is giving back to the community and that’s the reason why I went to school is to see how I can help my community or if it’s another community.

I think sharing our story and sharing the things that work, the things that didn’t, and having that conversation to show that our Native communities are important and the work that we do with them is important, especially our elders. Working within Native American communities with our elders, they are our most valued members, they’re our knowledge holders, they’re the ones that pass down knowledge to our younger generations to help guide us.

I think working with this community has been so rewarding and I think it really emphasizes the point that it’s so rewarding, but we also need to take that time to work with our elders and to provide them with the resources that they need because they spend their whole lives caring for our community and putting in the work. When someone becomes an elder, that’s such a privilege and it’s such a big thing within our community. Going back and working with Noelle and the folks at CHC and being able to talk about doing a garden or even talk about doing some workshops and them being interested, it makes it all worth it.

[00:33:14] Noelle: I also just want to add how neat it has been to see this journey with Cole as a member of the Susanville Indian Rancheria. Like to go back to his hometown and see the elders that have known him since he was a little boy and get to meet his parents, his family, it’s been such an experience and a journey and I’m so glad that he shared that with me. I feel very privileged that he shared those experiences with me.

[00:33:44] Cole: Anytime. [chuckles]

[00:33:46] Tee: Oh, how beautiful and what wise words and intentions that have been shared and spoken here and full circle and it’s just beautiful to be able to recognize that. Thinking about everything that was shared and what you’re going to be bringing to the forum because I know you’re– I’m getting chills. I’ve gotten chills this whole interview, so I know you’re bringing some power-packed experience. If there was one thing you could tell people before attending your session, what would it be?

[00:34:25] Noelle: Well, I hope that it’s interactive and engaging and thought-provoking. I hope that by sharing our journey, that this can translate to some tangible suggestions on how to implement activities with local tribal communities. I think first and foremost, I’m hoping that participants don’t just come to listen. I hope that there are participants that can share some of their experiences and make this a little more interactive during the forum.

[00:34:51] Cole: For me, the biggest one is the thought-provoking side of it. During this time with Tee and Colby, with you all today, we got to talk a lot about Chico State, how we have been able to implement tribal engagement, tribal consultation through the work that the Office of Tribal Relations has done. This is something that I was thinking about when it comes to different programs that all of us implement and that when you’re working with the tribal community, maybe for the folks coming into this session and not knowing, think about the tribes that are in your service area.

We talked about Chico State having a large county service area and working with so many tribes and the ones that we have to know. I would think coming in, if there is anything that I would tell anybody is, think about the tribes in your program service region. Is your region three or four counties? How many tribes are in that county? Are the tribes rural? Are they urban? What kind of resources do you think they would need? Getting your mind going and those questions is something that I would probably– that I would definitely say think about coming into the session

[00:35:56] Colby: With engagement, with thought-provoking discussions. I think this is going to be a really really good session. Personally, I’m very excited for it, and I will definitely be maybe at a table if there’s room, but happy to stand in a corner and just observe if it’s that popular which I think it might be.


[00:36:25] Colby: Before we let you both go, we have to ask, what do you stock your pantries with literally and or figuratively?

[00:36:34] Cole: I can go first. Yes, it’s funny that this question was brought up because I was actually thinking about going shopping this week, so I was like, what do I need in my pantry? In my pantry, I think if you were to go into my apartment and be looking through everything, you’d definitely find a lot of tea. I like drinking tea. That’s a big one. Pasta, got to have some pasta just in case you have to do a really quick dinner. Pasta’s always good. I think you would find some beans. I really like having beans in there too just for a quick dinner. I think those are the real essential ones. Or just I like tea. I love tea. I feel like I could drink it a lot.

Then I guess for my literal or my figurative pantry, that’s a good question. I’d have to think about that one. I think just having patience is one that would be in my figurative pantry. Just being able to take a step back and know that everything’s going to be fine, whatever I’m doing, and having the patience and I don’t know if that’s a good answer but that’s the one that came to mind. Yes, definitely the pasta, tea. Oh, popcorn’s a really big one. Got to have the popcorn for those movie nights, we can’t miss out on that. Those are some things you’d find in my pantry.

[00:37:48] Tee: I just want to say real quick if we had this episode with just you Cole, I think our title would be Pasta and Patience.

[00:37:55] Cole: Pasta and Patience.


[00:37:57] Tee: Which I am all here for. [chuckles] Take it away Noelle.

[00:38:01] Noelle: Okay. Well, I stock my pantry with the standard staples, rice, pasta, beans, soup, stock, seasonings, baking supplies, because I could bake cookies in a hot minute. Figuratively, I’m always learning and open to opportunities. Constantly growing personally as a mother and professionally, being open to change because that is the one thing that is always constant is change. It’s our ability to adapt to change that makes us resilient. I think the ideal is both to be well-prepared and well-rounded to meet our needs, whether it’s related to food or in life in general.

[00:38:39] Tee: I so appreciate first, that both of you shared literally and figuratively what you stock in your pantry, which I think is a podcast first, so thank you so much for that. That actually really filled my soul to hear that, and it has been a true honor. Thank you so much for being here with us and speaking with us today. Just like Colby said, we are so excited for your session.

Noelle and Cole with their colleague Michelle Harris will be facilitating Session 2D, as in Delta, Engaging Tribal Communities, on October 24th. In the meantime, you can find out some more information on some of their social media and websites and I’m going to let them go ahead and give us all of that great information. Go ahead Noelle, take it away.

[00:39:35] Noelle: Okay. Center for Healthy Communities. Our website is We are also on LinkedIn, Center for Healthy Communities. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook under Center for Healthy Communities, and then our Instagram handle is chcchicostate.

[00:40:02] Cole: Yes. Thank you Tee and Colby. Our handles for the Office of Tribal Relations where I am housed at Chico State, our website is We also have an Instagram that has a lot of our events and student events going on. That Instagram handle is chicostatetribalrelations on Instagram, so feel free to check out our website and our Instagram. We have a lot of great information on some of the events we have on our website, and also some of our government documents that we have talked about today, such as the MOU with Mechoopda. That’s also located on our website.

[00:40:42] Colby: Thank you both so much for joining us today and sharing your knowledge and your perspectives with us. This has been a really interesting and an insightful conversation. Listeners, we want to hear from you. What are you most excited about for this year’s forum? Join us on our Leah’s Pantry Peer Learning Community and tell us. The link for that can be found in our show notes.

[00:41:08] Tee: Colby and I are very excited to attend the forum this year, and we’d love to see and/or hear from you there. If you have feedback and ideas for the show or just want to say hey, drop by our Leah’s Pantry table, but until then, ciao.

[00:41:28] Colby: See you there.

[00:41:30] Tee: This podcast is a product of Leah’s Pantry made possible by the funding from the United States Department of Agriculture, the USDA, and their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, an equal opportunity provider and employer. Visit for healthy living tips. Thank you so much for hanging with us. I want to ask you this question. Do you know of any thought leaders or someone doing great work in your community? Well, we would love to interview them and we’d love to hear from you. Find us online at leah’ or on Instagram handle @Leah’sPantry or email us at stockingthepantry@leah’

This podcast is a product of Leah’s Pantry made possible by the funding from the United States Department of Agriculture and their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, an equal opportunity provider and employer. Visit for healthy living tips.

[00:42:49] [END OF AUDIO]