Emcee Bob Johnson speaks to elders at the Elder Abuse conference.
By MONTE MCKEAN
Fort Hall- Last Thursday and Friday May 18th, and 19th the sixth annual Elder Abuse conference was held at the Elderly Nutrition Dining Room and the Fort Hall Casino Bingo Hall. The two-day event was to bring awareness to elder abuse and inform the dangers to elders in other areas. This year’s Keynote Speaker was Wilson Wewa Jr. with Bob Johnson as the MC. Marcia Hall ran the event.
The event spanned across two days and even a trip to Lava Hot Springs. The elders who attended Thursday evening in the Elderly Nutrition Dining Room got a paid trip to Lava Hot Springs. There, they could relax in the hot pools and wash away any troubles. The pools are to be sacred and hold spiritual powers.
Friday the event was held in the Fort Hall Casino Bingo Hall at 8 am. It had started with Spring Creek Singers doing three songs while the flags went around the room with the royalty. The opening prayer then followed it.
First on the Friday agenda was Chad Phillips, a criminal investigator, from the Fort Hall Police Department to speak about drugs on the reservation. In his presentation he gave some background on the some of the drugs. During his talk he brought along some drugs found on the reservation that were vacuumed sealed in a bag to have all the elders take a close look at what is terrorizing the reservation and those who use it. Chad explained where the elders are affected as well. “That’s where we see a lot of our elders get taken advantage of, because these people (addicts) are trying to feed there addiction, so they come to you guys for money, or taking your things to feed their addiction.” After his presentation Chad had took questions from the crowd.
With time not being very cooperative, there was a need to skip over the elder abuse panel. One of the reasons for it being skipped is because they already spoke the night before explained Marcia Hall.
Next was Jamey Windt who talked about scams in all sorts of forms. The way that they target elders is part of the abuse. “The reason the elders are more targeted than other people can be is because they are more likely to have money in the bank, more likely to own a home, and more likely to have property” Windt explains. She informed the audience how to prevent or at least be much safer when it comes to these interactions. She even had flyers to contact certain officials or to get telephone numbers off of the telemarketing lists. Making it very easy and convenient for elders to use.
Lunch was next, and provided by the Camas Grill. After the prayer for the food, elders got in line to eat.
Later at 1:30 p.m. the Keynote Speaker was the last to talk about elder abuse. Wilson Wewa Jr. spoke about how children and their part in elder abuse. “They keep on taking, until we start shriveling up as elders and disappearing,” Wilson said. One of his points were that the elders need to take a stand and say no to their children and grandchildren. He says elders should not fuel the younger generations bad habits. One of his proclaimed solutions is to teach the children right. Have them come to meetings to learn about these issues. Wilson had connected it all saying, “It doesn’t just affect that family, or the perpetrator, or the abused elder, it affects the whole community. And it affects all the resources in the community.”
For the conclusion of the conference everyone was lined up in a straight line and from there the end would shake each person’s hand, with the next person to follow behind doing the same. Everyone got to greet everyone with a smile and thanks.
Marcia Hall, who ran the event, said the reason for the Friday session to be held at the bingo hall was just convenience for the elders. Also she had said that she thought the speakers were great, because educating the elders about some drugs they can identify it and protect themselves from it. “It’s about educating them,” Hall said. She had an abundance of donations from the sponsors, and “without them, I don’t think any of this is possible” Marcia stated.
Those two days were to raise the awareness to everyone about the abuse elders are susceptible to. With that said, treat your elders with respect and love, as they are important to our culture.