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Healthy Nations Initiative

Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

About the Program

Phase 1 of the Colville Tribes’ Healthy Nations Program focused on gathering input and commitments from persons in all parts of the community and establishing collaborative action plans with other programs and projects that shared the same concerns as Healthy Nations. Phase 2 of this program takes input developed from community visioning sessions and engages community members to translate those visions into actions.

The overall purpose of this grant is to foster and encourage community-based development of healthy practices and lifestyles free from the abusive use of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances and to demonstrate to the community that they have a voice that can be translated into action. Trust building and healing have proven to be essential elements of this process. These elements have to be in place before awareness, prevention, and early identification efforts can find fertile ground in which to take root. Central to building this trust is a way of seeing that recognizes community as the continuous source of creativity, guidance, direction, and action in a movement toward healing. Healthy Nations does not direct this movement, but rather collaborates, encourages, nurtures, cultivates, and assists it.

The Colville Tribes’ Healthy Nations Program seeks to fulfill the following objectives:

  1. Continue and expand the public awareness campaign.
  2. Continue and expand community-wide prevention efforts.
  3. Develop and implement systems for early identification of substance abusing persons.
  4. Expand available options for community based intervention in the treatment of substance abuse.
  5. Heal the relationship between the people and their representatives (elected, appointed, and employed).

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Host Community

The Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) is a federally recognized tribe established by Executive Order of President Grant on April 9, 1872, for the use and occupancy of the Methow, Okanogan, San Poil, Lake, Colville, Kalispel, Spokane, Couer D’Alene Tribes and others that the Department of the Interior chose to locate. More executive orders and many other changes have brought the Reservation to what it is today.

The 1.3 million acre (2,100 square miles) Colville Indian Reservation is located in the North Central section of Washington state. Total Tribal enrollment is 7,802 (CCT Enrollment); 58% of the membership lives on the Reservation. There are approximately 144 enrolled members of other Tribes residing on the Colville Indian Reservation.

The Reservation is bounded on the east and south by the Columbia River and on the west by the Okanogan River. The land area stretches approximately 70 miles from East to West and 35 miles from North to South. The Colville Indian Reservation has four districts: Omak, Nespelem, Keller, and Inchelium. The Nespelem District, the administrative heart of the Reservation, is approximately 110 miles from Spokane and 118 miles from Wentachee. Spokane is the major metropolitan area and trade center of eastern Washington. The elevation on the Reservation ranges from 790 feet at the mouth of the Okanogan River to 6,774 at the summit of Moses Mountain. The land contains lakes, two major river valleys, commercial forests of which 80% are coniferous, rich farm lands, vast orchards, livestock ranges, recreational sites and numerous mineral resources. The diverse types of land and resources serve to offer substantial tourism and economic development opportunities. Wildlife is plentiful and conducive to traditional activities.

The Colville Indian Reservation is governed by a 14 member Colville Business Council elected by a majority of Tribal members. The Tribal government is one of the largest employers on the Reservation and provides a multitude of support services encouraging economic growth and development activities. The administrative department of the Colville Indian Reservation is overseen by an Executive Director and has four branches: Human Services, Management and Budget, Natural Resources, and Tribal Government. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Nations Program (A Way of Life) is located in the Human Services branch of the Tribal Community Counseling Services Division. The Nespelem Agency Campus is 2 miles south of Nespelem and is the administrative/governmental seat for the CCT and is where the majority of all services for Tribal members are located.

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Strategy 1: Public Awareness Campaign

From the first radio public service announcement Healthy Nations (HN) started influencing attitudes. HN was the first tribal program to create public service announcements, using local information, and air them on local radio stations. HN presented information relevant to the Colville reservation, using local people, including youth, as the voices behind the messages, as a strategy to catch people’s attention. Substance abuse is still acceptable with a segment of the community but they are a minority. Community members working proactively toward a healthier future is happening in small, yet noticeable ways. Alcohol and drug free powwows, family and youth stick game tournaments and karaoke dances are being organized in the community. Many activities target youth and families. There were many other activities that contributed to public awareness, including newspaper articles, newsletters, community presentations, a visual memorial project that involved placement of wooden staffs at roadside sites where people died in alcohol related accidents, t-shirts, posters and calendars, mural projects, ribbon campaigns, Alcohol Awareness Conference, Reservation Relay Run, partnerships with other programs, the HN Flag and Coyote Mascot, which are presented at community events to symbolize HN and the vision for a healthier future. Collaboration to sponsor an Alcohol Awareness Conference, for example, was not a required activity under the grant. HN was invited to be involved and we felt a responsibility to respond. Whenever, we had an opportunity to be involved in something that could influence the community in a positive way we accepted the invitation. By doing so we built a good reputation that also increased public awareness.

HN also contributed many articles to the tribal and local community newspapers and newsletters and completed several radio public services announcements. We were offered an opportunity to utilize a one page advertising spot in a special magazine edition printed by the Omak Chronicle. The magazine came out four times a year and was distributed to some 19,000 households in Okanogan County. The ad page was paid for by Okanogan Bingo Casino. We incorporated the HN logo and the caption from the HN posters with photographs of HN sponsored community activities into the design of the ad page.

Other activities included Alcohol Awareness Week and Run, Peacemaker Circle, United Pow Wow, Parent Committee Meeting, Healthy Community Alliance; Winter Challenge Experience, UNITY Training, Family Night Out, Sports and Health Camp Meeting, Physical Fitness Day, Harlem Crowns, Community Activity Center (formerly the War Bonnet Tavern), Coyote Speaks, Pride Ride, Career Day, Community Youth Council, Project Red Talon Youth Leadership Conference, Wounded Warriors Gathering, Leader Summit on Youth Violence and Gang Activity, Girl’s Club, and the Northwest Indian Youth Conference.

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Strategy 2: Community-Wide Prevention

The most successful HN prevention activities have been the PRIDE Ride and Native Youth Gathering (NYG). Both activities have grown and evolved. The PRIDE Ride has been solidly established in Omak and Inchelium. The 2000 Omak PRIDE Ride has been the most successful, so far, in terms of the activities schedule, target age group, camp size and number of volunteers. Collaboration with 4-H Challenge added rock climbing and canoeing to the horse program. All activities are designed to provide challenges for the youth in a supportive setting. As they face the challenges, with support from peers, they learn about their own strengths and limitations. Their self-esteem is raised and they develop or strengthen their self-confidence.

The Native Youth Group (NYG) started out as a three-day camp targeting high school youths. It blended cultural, educational and recreational activities to provide opportunities for learning and development. In the second year, the NYG was requested by the youth to become a weeklong camp. In 2000 NYG was expanded to include a camp for Middle School students. The NYG High School students would be the facilitators at the Middle School Camp. Another development has been the organizing of NYG overnighters. The overnighters are held bi-monthly, for each age group. They provide an opportunity for the young people to meet, between the annual camps, and include both structured and fun activities. Like the NYG camp we try to hold the overnighters in a different community each time.

The Children’s Gathering is also still held in the Inchelium community. The target age group is three to seven years old. The Children’s Gathering provides an environment of cultural, recreational, family and age appropriate activities for very young children. The Inchelium Community has been organizing this activity since the third year on their own with minimal support from Healthy Nations.

There also has been development of prevention activities outside of HN. Examples include Camp Duke, Owhi Lake Kids Day, youth stickgame tournaments, alcohol and drug free family stickgames and community powwows, Family Night Out and the revival of the Youth Culture Camp at Twin Lakes. HN has participated in these activities that have been organized by other programs or community leaders.
HN established partnerships with some organizations that have been ongoing. Examples include WSU Cooperative Extension, Colville Tribal Health, Social Services and Colville Indian Housing Authority. Okanogan County Cooperative Extension and 4-H Program were supporters of the PRIDE Ride at the beginning and for the first few years. The Colville Tribes Extension and 4-H Challenge program became involved with the PRIDE Ride in the second year of Phase one. Both programs have maintained a consistent involvement. The partnership has grown to include other activities like Camp Duke, a three day sports and fitness camp, Owhi Lake Kids Day, Native Youth Gatherings, Family Night Out, 4-H Challenge training for HN staff, co-facilitation of 4-H Challenge activities for the CBC, CTEC and Tribal Administration, and a three day Consensus Building workshop, incorporating 4-H Challenge activities, for the entire Colville Tribal Health staff. HN also sits on the advisory board for the Cooperative Extension Indian Reservation Program (CEIRP), a national program supporting Indian communities.

HN has worked closely with Tribal Health over the years to co-sponsor Alcohol Awareness Week and the Reservation Relay Run. Our greatest accomplishment was a three day Alcohol Awareness Conference in 1999. Conference planning expanded the collaboration to include Social Services, Tribal Alcohol, Children Family Services, Tribal Police and Early Childhood Education. Other tribal and non-tribal program representatives and CBC leaders participated as speakers and workshop presenters. The conference was well organized and well attended. An Early Childhood staff member even told us, that a parent had confided being motivated to quit drinking as a result of their experience at the conference.
We joined efforts with Social Services and Children and Family Services to bring Jane Middelton-Moz to the reservation to conduct community workshops on Native American Adult Children Of Alcoholics (NAACOA), Sexual Abuse workshops, domestic violence and generational trauma issues. Colville Indian Housing Authority (CIHA) has provided in-kind services for the PRIDE Ride and together with HN developed a successful proposal for a drug elimination grant. CIHA provides the staff to complete these activities.

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Strategy 3: Early Identification, Intervention and Referral

Community attitudes were influenced, especially in the Inchelium community. HN solicited input and participation from others and did secure a MOA with Colville Tribal Housing Authority to administer and provide staffing for drug elimination grant. HN did several presentations for tribal programs, including Tribal Alcohol staff and their Program Manager. We presented information about the visioning sessions, the HN vision statement and goals and objectives. We left information packets for review and asked specifically for written input about how their program could support HN efforts, however small.

HN provided a two-day training that focused on teaching specific techniques for using the ropes challenge course to work with substance abuse issues. The primary recruits for this training were counselors and staff from the Tribal Alcohol Program and local youth shelters.

HN/School Forums: HN has participated on a monthly basis with school in staffing of high risk students and organizing activities that deal with alcohol, drugs, tobacco and violence within the school. Healthy Nations has participated in Native American Day and works with individual classes on alcohol, drugs, tobacco, violence and the value of their educational endeavors.

Youth Violence & Gang Activity Proclamation: HN has been the primary support for the Youth Violence and Gang Activity proclamation dissemination of correspondences and receiving correspondences to mayors, county commissioners, superintendents, board directors and principals of schools districts on and/or adjacent to the Colville Reservation. PES/HN organized the signing of the proclamation for the Chairman of the Tribe.

Promoting Healthy Lifestyles: Within the Keller, Inchelium and Nespelem Community the HN set up an informational booth for the community to learn additional information on Healthy Nations. During the Sobriety/Healing Pow Wow eight (8) youth and eight (8) adults were honored for their promoting of healthy lifestyles within their community.

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Strategy 4: Substance Abuse Treatment
and Relapse Prevention

HN created a sweatlodge resource list, which included individuals from all four-reservation communities, and provided this list to counselors at the Tribal Alcohol Program, County Alcohol Program and four Community Centers. The sweatlodge resource list utilized individuals, who were using sweats in their own recovery, and made them a resource for others interested in a more traditional approach to recovery from substance abuse.

HN promoted the visioning sessions document as the most current and valid input representing the concerns, values and desires of all segments of the tribal membership and other reservation residents. When the document was compiled full copies were distributed to all fourteen tribal council members. We made copies available to any tribal program that wanted one.

Another Healthy Nations pilot project that has grown and evolved over the years has been the Celebration of Sobriety Powwow. It has come to be referred to simply as the Sobriety Powwow since its inception on Thanksgiving weekend in 1994. Since its beginning, one of the highlights of the powwow has been the public recognition and acknowledgement of positive community role models. This is achieved in a respectful way that is appropriate within our own culture. A nomination form is sent to the entire community through the Tribal Tribune, which is mailed out to the entire tribal membership on a monthly basis. Through this approach the community determines who deserves recognition, and recognizing one another for their positive achievements as observed by the community. We have had several instances where children have nominated their father or mother because they have made a commitment to live sober or have returned to their cultural ways. We have had individuals that were nominated by several members of their family or peers in the community. We have even had spontaneous recognition of some tribal members by friends and family that did not nominate them for the recognition ceremony, but felt compelled to stand up and honor them for their courage to live a life of sobriety. Events like this are making a positive impression in the tribal communities and creating a model for community gatherings that are fun and do not involve using alcohol or drugs.

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Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation


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