Building Community in a Post-Pandemic World – Wisdom From Our Elders

Jan 15, 2024 | Elder Interviews, Wichita Tribal News

In August of 2023, we began an initiative on videoing and interviewing tribal elders. The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes went 4 years without our cultural activities, dancing and just being engaged in person with our tribal people and community. This year our Annual Dance brought a lot of good feelings just by being in the presence of those we don’t see often. Once a year isn’t enough. I set out on a journey to interview some of our elders. Since we lost four years, I wanted to find out three things our elders thought were truly Wichita and important to preserve. We interviewed Stuart Owings first. Second was James Ross, Derek Ross and Cannon Ross. The 3rd video was Shirley Davilla, Betty Kauley and Sandra Wilson. The one thing that was mentioned over and over in the videos was the need and longing for community which prompted an new initiative on building community.

In FY-2024, the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes will be focused on Building Community in a Post Pandemic World as a President’s Initiative based on the feedback from our tribal elders. This began in October of 2023. Coming out of the Pandemic, we need to focus on building community and relationships and leaving this term with Community at the forefront.

We use these 2 definitions of why we are “Building Community”.

What is the best way to describe a community?
A community is a group of people who share something in common. You can define a community by the shared attributes of the people in it and/or by the strength of the connections among them. You need a bunch of people who are alike in some way, who feel some sense of belonging or interpersonal connection.

What is community and why is it important?
A community is a familiar thread used to bring people together to advocate and support each other in the fight to overcome those threats. As human beings, we need a sense of belonging, and that sense of belonging is what connects us to the many relationships we develop.

We had our Halloween Event in October, Veterans Event in November and Elder Christmas Day in December. We were trying to have an “All Things Wichita” event in November but we decided to move it to January and it will lead to series of events over the rest of this fiscal year for us to come together to learn and celebrate “All Things Wichita”.

We are excited today to release the first video with Shirley Davilla, Betty Kauley and Sandra Wilson. Shirley Davilla was interviewed on August 26, 2023 and she passed away on October 13, 2023. We were very fortunate to be able to record her wisdom and knowledge of what it means to be Wichita and the things she wanted us know of that to her were truly Wichita. Thank you to Betty and Sandra for spending the time that day with your mother.

We will release the other 2 videos over the next few weeks. We hope you enjoy the videos and take the opportunity to join us in upcoming events like the “All Things Wichita” and some meetings over “Strategic Planning for Sustainable Food Sovereignty for Our Wichita People” where we will look to our Tribal members to help build a sustainable Food Sovereignty strategic plan. We will do what we an to plan other events.

If you are an enrolled tribal elder and would like to be interviewed and videoed, please email me at

– Terri Parton, President of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes