By MELANIE MOORE
BLACKFOOT — Officials from Bingham, Bannock and Power counties and the City of Pocatello again met with officials from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Friday.
The purpose of the meetings is to continue breaking down barriers between the entities so they can begin to work together toward common goals. The entities began meeting in June.
At their previous meeting, a facilitator provided training on how to work together by viewing each other as human beings and how to work out of negative behaviors and perceptions.
"It really can be a basis for how this group works together," facilitator BryanParker said. "You're learning a new way of looking at things."
Historically, there has been tension between the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and the surrounding jurisdictions, highlighted this year by various jurisdictional issues regarding land use and public safety.
Bannock County Commissioner Larry Gahn characterized the group's efforts as a shift from conflict to cooperation.
"We all have differences that ought to be recognized and celebrated," Ghan said.
Fort Hall Business Chairman Nathan Small said the eventual goal of the meetings is to enter into consensual relations with surrounding governments for the betterment of all citizens.
"There's a lot of issues here," Parker said. "We just haven't been able to sit down and cooperate."
Parker said each jurisdiction needs to get past the perceptions they have about each other and move forward through understanding and trust.
"We've got to do something fundamentally different to get out of this collusion," Parker said.
The group plans to begin discussing various public safety issues at their next meeting Nov. 12. Each entity agreed that public safety is a common concern.
"It's really about your communities and getting healthy communities," Parker said.