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Healthy Nations Initiative

Confederated Salish & Kootenai of the Flathead Reservation

About the Program

Through the writing of the Phase 2 proposal, from May, 1995, to January, 1996, much was learned about the need for a continuum of care and coordination of those services both within and without the Tribal structure. Our Phase 2 plan attempts to be inclusive of the need for communication and coordination of the continuum of care among County, State and Federal agencies and communication and coordination among the Tribal programs themselves. The principal components of Phase 2 are as follows:

  1. Implement a highly visible public awareness campaign annually on the Flathead Indian Reservation to raise awareness of the impact of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs across the continuum of care among the Salish &  Kootenai people.
  2. Oversee the Netlink Clearinghouse project for all Flathead reservation and Lake County residents to ensure professional and community members have information about the levels of care offered to reduce the impact of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs.
  3. Sponsor quarterly discussion forums to facilitate discussion among tribal programs, service providers and community members about the issues and philosophies across the continuum of care.

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Host Community/Organization

The Flathead Indian Reservation was established for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Indians in 1855. The Indian people enrolled in the reservation are called Flathead by most non-Indians but actually represent three bands of Salish, Pend d’Oreilles (or Kalispels) and Kootenai’s - People of the Standing Arrow. The Tribal enrollment is approximately 6,550 with half of the membership residing on the reservation. There are numerous Indians on the reservation who are enrolled with other tribes. The total Indian population, as defined by the 1990 Census, is 5,130, with 2,476 being female. The total population for the Flathead Reservation is 21,259. The reservation was opened to settlement by non-Indians in 1910 by President Howard Taft. By the 1990’s, the Indians had become a minority on their own reservation and nearly half of the land is now in non-Indian ownership. The communities, including school boards, city councils, city governments, and the majority of businesses are non-Indian controlled or owned. The reservation population is currently 26.4% Indian. This situation has led to generally poor Indian/White relationships in the 1980’s and 90’s. One result of these tensions is fewer affirmations of Indian people and Indian ways.

The reservation is a beautiful area of fertile plains surrounded by rugged tree covered slopes and high snow-capped peaks. Its exterior borders encompass 1,248,000 acres. The northern border is Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. It is 27 miles long and 26 miles wide, covering 188 square miles. The Blue Bay Healing Center is located on the east shore of the lake on the largest shoreline property owned by the Tribe.
The median age of the Indian population on the reservation is 23.7. According to the 1990 Census there is a 17% unemployment rate. The per capita income in 1989 was $6,428 -- 38% of Native American population have income below poverty level.

There are two major communities near the reservation. The first is Missoula, Montana. Missoula is the largest community in western Montana. It is located approximately 20 miles from the reservation’s southern border. Kalispell, Montana is the second largest community in the area and is located approximately 25 miles from the reservation’s northern border.

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Strategy 1: Public Awareness Campaign

Throughout the time of the grant the Netlink Staff worked with 335 youth and community members developing public awareness campaigns, PSA’s and skits that provided information to the community about substance abuse, it’s effect, and prevention of addictions.

During the four implementation years the Netlink staff worked with a variety of Public Service Agencies, Culture Committees, and Schools in developing and implementing community wide prevention conferences. Approximately 1,500 community members and 210 youth participated in the five conferences that were delivered. These conferences contained specific youth tracks, which were the primary responsibility of the Healthy Nations Staff.

Over the four years the staff worked in the community and in schools delivering presentations about substance misuse; there were approximately 492 youth that were present at these presentations.

The staff worked with a wide variety of other agencies to plan and implement actual events in the community to provide youth with options to substance use these included; “Youth Enrichment” Seminars, dances, language camps, hunting camp, “Teen Day”, “Lock In”, Math and Science Camp, runs, basketball and baseball tournaments, Red Ribbon Week activities and parades.
Six newsletters were developed and distributed. These newsletters contained information about the original task force activities, clearinghouse information, discussion forum activity, training events, and youth media projects aimed at reducing the effects of substance abuse. One thousand five hundred newsletters were delivered and six hundred were mailed.

Throughout the remainder of the project rather than producing our own newsletter we researched what other Tribal organizations were producing newsletters and submitted article to those existing newsletter which included articles to the Tribal Employee Newsletter, the employee newsletter reaches 700 Tribal Employees. Monthly articles were submitted to the Tribal newspaper, the Tribal newspaper is distributed to 4,000 households. Three articles were submitted and ran in the Early Childhood Development Program Newsletter, which is distributed to two hundred families and day cares. One article was submitted and ran in the Tribal Housing Newsletter, which reaches seven hundred families.

Schools and community organizations developed a full educational presentation for students and community members based on articles we had submitted.
Throughout the grant period the staff provided technical assistance to many groups including the Boys and Girls club, Salish Elders Committee, Arlee Parade Committee, Child Abuse Prevention organizers, Tribal Domestic Abuse Program, and the Pilgrimage work group. This networking and assistance allowed us to work with 285 community members and agencies during the provision of technical assistance.

In the first year of the project the staff gathered information from 9th graders on the reservation about their beliefs regarding the use of tobacco. The results indicated that across the reservation 9th graders perceived approximately 70% of their peers used tobacco on a weekly basis. This survey led to the presentation of the “Tobacco Awareness Program” being delivered to 465 students throughout the remaining three years. Another focus for educational presentations was DUI’s, which were delivered to 57 youth. A presentation was delivered to 68 schoolteachers about how to communicate to children who are abusing substances. 100 families who were identified as “high risk” for child abuse were the beneficiaries of a Christmas dinner and educational presentation about how to communicate with youth about substance abuse issues. 14 couples participated in a Valentine’s dinner, which included a presentation about communication and how to celebrate without the use of substances. At a Tribal Youth Job fair 70 youth learned about how alcohol impairs abilities. Healthy Nations Staff worked with a large group of agencies to deliver the GONA (Gathering Of Native Americans) training for 72 community members.

During the four years the staff distributed 1400 suckers, 30,800 pamphlets, 1100 multiplication tables, 400 posters, 9 different ads, 380 tee shirts, 3 PSA’s, 1,017 water bottles, 100’s of pens, 168 basketballs, 435 crayons and color books, 95 Safety Net books, 95 BAC charts, 150 bookmarkers, and 95 DUI place mats. Initially all of the items contained information about the clearinghouse. During the last two years we made a change to providing substance abuse prevention materials and messages.

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Strategy 2: Community-Wide Prevention

During the first two years five Task Force meetings were held with 76 individuals/agencies participating. In October of the second year, there was reorganization within the Tribal Health and Human Services Department, which led to the moving of the Netlink Project to the Tribal Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Program. Additionally at this time, the department reorganization created in each Tribal community a Health Team. Finally due to the decreasing participation in the task force the decision was made to eliminate the task force and work with Health Teams, Tribal Elder groups, and identified Tribal Service agencies.

These groups were worked with on a weekly basis for the purpose of educating, gathering information, and trying to build a team of community based people who would actively work to reduce substance abuse on the Flathead Reservation. These groups included Salish Elders, Diversion Team Project, Tribal Fish and Game, Tribal Police, Reservation Schools, Boys and Girls Club, Drug Elimination Project, Department of Human Resources, Tribal Juvenile Probation, Tribal Education, Kicking Horse Job Corps, Salish Kootenai College, Tribal Foster Care, Tribal Addiction Counselors, Tribal Cultural Leaders, Native Path to Wellness Project, Tribal Health Community Teams, Early Childhood Development program, Tribal Council, and Talent Search Program. All of this contact has included the development of media campaigns, presentation of specific substance abuse prevention information, planning and delivering educational events, and the promotion of healthy choices within the framework of Tribal values and beliefs.

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Strategy 3: Early Identification, Intervention and Referral

Throughout the project we have identified 9 unmet needs in the continuum of care. They included the need to develop a Tribal Specific Minor in Possession curriculum, transportation, child care, lack of a Tribal Code regarding minor use of tobacco, a Tribal Specific hunting and recreating course, resources for families in early recovery, and specific training to community and agencies about personal responsibility. Because of this identification we developed a MIP curriculum and implemented it during the third year, 123 youth participated in this course. We were successful in helping the Tribal Council adopt a resolution making it illegal for minors to possess or use tobacco. We hosted the two-day training on “The Corrective Thinking Process”. Twenty-eight community members and agency staff participated in the training. We developed and implemented the Tribal specific Hunters education course, in collaboration with Tribal Elders and the Tribal Fish and Game Department. Eighteen Tribal Adults and twenty Tribal Youth participated in this project. Throughout the project, time 28 families received support for aftercare activities.

The Community Liaison provided information and referral services to 754 individuals or agencies. This includes doing research for current information related to substance abuse, loaning materials and updating individuals/agencies about resources available to them.

During the first two years the Community Liaison updated the database on an ongoing, weekly basis. She accomplished this by contacting agencies in the database and requesting them to update their information and by reviewing all of the local papers and adding resources that are identified in the papers. Additionally the Liaison would add a service to the database when notified by the groups of people/agencies she worked with that a new service existed. When we moved the database to the DHRD there were six hundred and eight services identified in the database. During the last two years we put less of a focus on the updating of the database and more of an emphasis on letting the service providers know we were available to provide them with resource materials.

Agencies and community members have requested Internet searches and disbursement of actual prevention materials and after care resources. Throughout the entire project, the Liaison provided information to 274 schools, Employees, elders and cultural leaders, children and families who are in treatment with the Addiction Treatment Program. 28 families received assistance in aftercare activities as a result of this being identified as an unmet need. Staff provided and then collaborated with Juvenile Probation to provide MIP course to 299 youth over two program years.

Staff worked with Boys and Girls Club twice to provide substance free dances and parties. The program provided the Corrective Thinking Process training to community and agencies; sixty individuals participated in the training.

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Strategy 4: Substance Abuse Treatment and Relapse Prevention

For the lifetime of the grant 22 discussion forums were held. In the final two years of the project, the forums were used as a way to explore what topics the community and other agency staff were most interested in. Often the forums were used as springboards for activities.

During the four years we provided substance abuse library material and videos to Tribal Probation and Parole, three reservation schools, community members at the Health Fair, readers of the Tribal News Paper, Employee News Letter, Housing Newsletter, Early Childhood Development Newsletter, Lake County Sheriff Office, Community members, Lake County Home Health, Kicking Horse Job Corps, Tribal Probation and Parole, Addiction Counselors, Tribal Health staff, Healthy Fair, and youth and staff from Second Circle Lodge.

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Confederated Salish and Kootenai of the Flathead Reservation


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