This morning, we published an article which focuses on the four principles that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Oceti Sakowin leaders asked those who joined them at their camp to observe. It occurred to us that the four points could be useful to our readers in two ways:

  1. They have everything to do with controlling for privileged behavior in diverse environments, particularly when one is supporting the self-determination and voices of people that may have trouble “getting heard” by the larger system.
  2. They remind us once again that these kinds of simple covenants are important to help us manage the spaces in which we come together to make things happen, and that includes our organizations.

Don’t get us wrong; some conflict is necessary for our work, but the way we handle the conflict can influence whether people feel respected. Covenants like this, which was used for orientation are incredibly useful for laying groundwork so that some forms of conflict can be avoided, but how and where such guidelines are formed and supported can mean everything to their use. We have all been in spaces whose walls are covered in signs cautioning people to behave with respect, signs that people regularly ignore, but then there are other institutions where you do not have to see the signs to understand the commonly accepted standards of care and respect.

I want to take this opportunity to ask each of you – have you run into a tough environment full of conflict lately? Do you want advice on how to turn it around? Write to us here and we will send your question to NPQ’s own Dr. Conflict.

Meanwhile, take another look at the principles from Standing Rock – there is a lot to think about there!