Snow Honored at MHA After Stellar Career
By Logan J. Davis,
The MHA Nation has attracted many people to their homelands because of the beauty of the land and the people who have lived here for millennia. One of those individuals who came to live here and plant roots from afar is Paula (Wisdom) Snow. She is a descendant of the Chickasaw/Choctaw and Hopi tribes. Her husband is Gary Snow, who works in tourism and is the son of Charles Jr. and Iris Snow.
The couple met in California, where Snow earned her master’s degree from University California at Berkley. However, her father would not allow for Paula to marry until she attained a masters degree.
Council Woman Monica Mayer MD, presenting Paula Snow with Star Quilt
Left to Right – Bobbie Johnson, Council Woman Monica Mayer MD, Nicole Poitra, Paula Snow
“Gary and I got engaged after my last final. We got married in 1996, we had our first child in 1997, and we moved out here in 1998. I got my job right away because I had my degree in social work. The MHA Nation has treated us so well over the years and you bought a house and we also became foster parents,” recalled Snow. “We were foster parents and so was (Councilwoman) Judy (Brugh) and her husband Bob. We used to visit each other at our homes and she is just an amazing person.”
Snow worked for the Casey Family Program when the organization had it one of its branch offices in Newtown. The buildings that house MHA Social Services were built by the Casey Family Program and the organization is still active and funds several programs and projects at MHA Nation and other reservations. The honoring at her retirement luncheon was memorable for Snow and it was noted that April was Social Workers Month.
Snow worked for the Three Affiliated Tribes for a total of over 15 years. In the other 9 years since the Snows moved to Fort Berthold in 1998, Snow worked for the Indian Health Service in New Town, along with the Scottsdale Unified School District, and the Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe. The only reason Snow moved from North Dakota for several years initially was for her son Wesley’s early education and Scottsdale, Arizona had the resources there that was needed for her son.
At her recent honoring in the tribal chambers at MHA Nation, Snow was gifted with star quilts from Councilwoman Monica Mayer, Councilwoman V. Judy Brugh, Councilman Fred Fox, Chairman Mark Fox and the MHA Nation Social Services Department. Her co-workers all said a few words of praise for Snow’s service to the MHA Nation and Nicole Poitra, the MHA Nation Social Services Director recalled how Snow was her supervisor at the dialysis clinic when Poitra began her career.
North Segment Tribal Representative Monica Mayer is also a medical family physician and has interacted with social workers throughout her medical career. The tribal leader has immense respect for the work that all social workers do on a daily basis. She has seen firsthand the many difficult challenges that face professionals like Snow and meet continuously.
“Doctors have to work really close with social workers,” stated Councilwoman Mayer. “I worked in an emergency rooms for 18 years, but that’s still not as hard as what the social workers have to do. That is in both my personal and professional opinion. We have to see children that are abused, beaten, abandoned and neglected. Some of them are born with meth in them. Social workers provide service to some cases that are just heart-wrenching – but yet they do their job. Then they have to go home and that’s why they need good employees around them. I firmly believe as a tribal government leader, I feel we need to support social services so that they can take care of the people who need services. That is what I think (social workers) do. You take care of the people.”
When Snow decided that the MHA Nation would be her new home, she soon found that she had made the right decision. At first, she was a bit worried about the cold weather, but she quickly acclimated herself to the environment and bloomed where she was planted.
“I’m a survivor and good at change,” stated Snow. “But MHA is very generous and they take care of their people. During the pandemic, the tribe took care of its people so well. As a social worker, I have a skill to help people and I’m happy to have done it here at MHA. I retired but my new job is to make sure my 78-year-old father is okay and right now, I am on my way to Arizona to help him move to his new home in Oklahoma. He was recently widowed, so he needs help with his new life.”
Snow is carrying on her mission in life and what she was born to do and that new venture will be to begin helping her father through a tough time in his life. Her journey as a person who is there to help will never end and Snow would not have it any other way.
”Every day is a new day and my work has always been interesting and as long as you do your work, people on MHA will respect you. In my retirement parties, there were so many kind words. So you may not realize it, but people here are watching what you do and of your work ethic,” summarized Snow.