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Healthy Nations Initiative

Seattle Indian Health Board

About the Program

The Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB) Healthy Nations Program has implemented a culturally-appropriate substance abuse program addressing public awareness, community-wide prevention, early intervention, treatment and after-care for American Indians and Alaska Natives living in the metropolitan King County region of western Washington state. The Phase 2 programs build directly on the experiences and knowledge acquired from the Phase 1 activities.

The focus of the programs is directed at American Indians and Alaska Natives living in the greater Seattle/King County region of Washington State. Throughout the various activities of this project, we hope to reach 80% of American Indians and Alaska Natives (approximately 14,300 individuals), as well as non-natives who share an interest and desire to participate in this endeavor.

The mission of the Healthy Nations project is to mobilize the Seattle/King County American Indian and Alaska Native community to implement strategies and organize resources to reduce the use of harmful drugs and alcohol within the community.

Within this mission, the specific goals are:

  • Goal 1: Public Awareness Campaign - development and implementation of various organized and culturally-appropriate activities to increase awareness about substance abuse, its effects on individuals and the community, and ways to prevent the destructive effects of the use of harmful substances and alcohol.
  • Goal 2: Community-Wide Prevention - incorporation and implementation of prevention activities into a wide range of community organizations and services.
  • Goal 3: Early Identification and Treatment - development of skills in identifying and implementing strategies that reduce the harmful effects of substance and alcohol use among current users.
  • Goal 4: Treatment Options - modification, or development and implementation of substance abuse and alcohol treatment models which recognize and reinforce social and cultural responsibilities toward reducing individual, family and community harm from substance and alcohol use.

This program sets into motion a series of activities designed to engage and involve various segments of the Indian community with a primary focus of reducing the harm associated with substance abuse and alcoholism. Initial activities are grounded in information acquired from the Phase 1 process. It should be noted, however, that current activities are based on current knowledge, and thus, subject to change as participation increases and activities are assessed for their efficacy. It should also be noted that, while abstinence is a desired outcome, this project attempts to reduce the harm associated with the use of drugs and alcohol addressing the full continuum of substance abuse within the community.

Please visit the Seattle Indian Health Board Web Site

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Host Community/Organization

Seattle and the surrounding urban communities comprise a major industrial center and seaport located on the inland waters of Puget Sound. Metropolitan Seattle is the largest urban area in the northwest, extending throughout several counties. It is the principal manufacturing base of the region, its populations center, its financial, freight, and transportation hub, and its largest international seaport - serving the fishing, timber, and agriculture industries of Alaska and other northwestern states as well as the rest of the United States. Almost half of Washington State’s total industrial employment is within its boundaries.

Throughout the 1980’s, great numbers and varieties of people have continued to relocate in and around Puget Sound, drawn by the expanding economic, social, and educational opportunities that the area offers. The total Puget Sound area population has increased by 20% since 1980, while the local Indian community has grown by approximately one-third. Indians in Washington state have been moving from reservations and outlying rural areas to the urbanized regions in steady numbers, Today, over 50% of Washington’s total Native American population is 81,483 and lives within a 90-minute drive of Seattle and not on a reservation, making the area the largest single Indian community west of Tulsa and north of San Francisco, and the seventh largest in the United States. Members of this community represent well over 70 tribes and bands, including coastal tribes from Puget Sound, inland groups from the northwest and mountain states, Alaskan Native Villages, and dozens of tribes from Canada and the rest of the United States.

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Strategy 1: Public Awareness Campaign

The Healthy Nations Activity Coordinator implemented a late night Friday activity at the American Indian Heritage school. This activity was a Late Teen Night. Healthy Nations organized this activity to give youth another substance free activity to participate in.

The Healthy Nations program has been meeting with collaborating partners, such as American Indian Heritage School, Red Eagle Soaring, Pathfinders School, Seattle Indian Service Commission, Bellevue Culture Club, Huchoosedah Indian Education Program, Kent Indian Education Program, the Community Coordinating Council, and the Native American Chamber of Commerce for volunteer recruitment for activities of the Healthy Nations program. As needed, for each program activities, the Healthy Nations has been sending volunteers for support of activities. Currently over 30 volunteers have been recruited and they have helped facilitate various activities, including 4 dances per year at the American Indian Heritage School, a youth gathering for high school students from Seattle public schools, and a workshop designed to help them prepare for college and higher learning at the Huchoosedah Indian Education Project.

The Healthy Nations Program Assistant worked with Pam Perez of I WA SIL to solicit school supplies from various segments of the community. The supplies were given out on at the Seattle Aquarium Auditorium in conjunction with the Salmon Homecoming Powwow. Contributors included Four Winds Group & Youth, American Indian Women’s Service League, Body-Mind-Spirit, US West’s Voice of Many Feathers, and King County Community Organizing. Binders, paper, pens and pencils, pencil cases and other school supplies were given away to 172 school-aged children.

The Healthy Nations Youth Activity Specialist has been working with Indian Heritage School in the implementation of a pow-wow club for Native students in the Seattle King County area. Currently the culture teacher at Indian Heritage School has been assisting with this activity. The pow-wow club takes place every Wednesday from 2:45 to 5:00 PM.

The Healthy Nations program activities were listed in the quarterly Huchoosedah newsletter as well as the Native American Chamber of Commerce Newsletter. Flyers, brochures and posters for SpiritWalk were created and distributed to 700 community members. Over 50 social service agencies received SpiritWalk information packets as well as Healthy Nations Youth Activity Brochures.

For the Microsoft Pow-Wow, celebrating the graduation of the Microsoft Computer mentors, over 20,000 flyers were distributed to employees and community members. The Microsoft mentoring program had 3 articles including pictures listed in the Seattle area newspapers. They include the Seattle Times, Seattle PI, and the Microsoft employee newsletter.

Huchoosedah’s newsletter continues to list Healthy Nations activities, with a circulation of 1500. Press releases are also funneled to the community at large through the quarterly “On Indian Land”. Its circulation is 3,000. “Native Connection”, official organ for the Northwest Regional American Indian Chamber of Commerce (NWRAICC), carries news items for Healthy Nations with a distribution of 150 to members, elders and other Chambers and Government agencies. This particular newsletter is going to publish as a quarterly, and will be offering a full page for Healthy Nations news. SIHB’s “The Pulse”, for employees, also carries news items with Healthy Nations involvement. Pathfinder School’s newsletter announces Healthy Nations and SpiritWalk news. Also, Washington State Indian Education Department listings for events; Healthy Nations Director asked to participate in presenting. This monthly bulletin goes to all public schools, and to all tribal agencies in Washington state; circulation, 1,000.

The Sixth Annual SpiritWalk kick-off was held in south Seattle at the Tukwilla Community Center on May 5th. One hundred and fifty walkers and volunteers from SpiritWalk 2000 attended, as well as new volunteers. Awards for participating in Healthy Nations activities were given out at the kick-off. Flyers, posters, sign-up sheets, and pictures from last year were presented for those attending. SpiritWalk started at 6:00 am for setup. Seattle Center program staff volunteered time to prepare stage, seating and dressing room placement. The route replicated last years routes which were a one mile or five mile walk depending on the walkers choices, teams of walkers included: GSA, Congressman McDermott’s office EPA, SSI, DSHS, Muckleshoot Tribe, SIHB, Indian Heritage, Community Members, King County Council Members, TTC patients, Edmonds School District, Bainbridge Island School District, Skykomish School District, and the Bellevue Native American Culture Club. Over 250 people walked this year’s SpiritWalk, and over 2,000 people watched the walk day performers.

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Strategy 2: Community-Wide Prevention

The Seattle Public schools announced that American Indian Heritage School would become a new Middle college program at North Seattle Community College. The focus for Heritage has been recruiting for this new middle college and informing the community of the changes. The youth activity specialist has been working with students at Heritage and Graduate students of the University of Washington for the focus groups input, which include flyers, and posters.

The Summer Options program was implemented in 1996 Summer, and the curriculum includes Job Shadowing, The Washington State Job-O, Arts and Crafts, the Career Inventory Curriculum, resume writing, drum making, field trips trips to Tillicum Village, University of Washington, Lake Washington Vocational School, the GSA to fix computers, and many scheduled speakers. Life skills were stressed throughout the four-week program.

Many field trips were arranged to both two and four-year colleges, as well as Vocational-Technical institutions.

  • Evergreen (four-year) college for a tour of the campus, library, dorms and a special demonstration of the college’s radio station, KAOS. Explanations were given of the facility, its technical amenities and how one could learn to produce a radio show.
  • North Seattle (two-year) Community College: Instructors provided a short seminar on the many avenues of approach to education a student could utilize. This included an explanation of the “Running Start” program. A tour of the campus was given, then the youth were taken to the Computer Lab. Here, they were given a special session on using the Internet to search for Career potentialities using the Washington State WOIS Career Information System; The resident Technology expert gave a talk about the importance of keeping current with the technology, and how it could enhance the quality of living. Afterwards, the groups were treated to a trip to the Woodland Park Zoo.
  • Lake Washington Vocation Tech: a privately owned institution of learning that offers career training and placement for such careers as Computer Technology, Bakery and Culinary Skills, Automotive Mechanics, and Floral Design.

The youth Activities coordinator assisted in the planning of the Cultural component. Applications were mailed and faxed to all Seattle Public School counselors for applicants. Students were notified and the Schedule was set. Students received Bus Tickets only until the first pay day and SIHB supplied the use of a van for transportation to field trips. Pizza was served on each Friday and students were expected to provide their own lunch the rest of the week. Students were penalized for non-approved absences and three in a row was grounds for termination. All Students received a case management interview for social service needs and Healthy Nations staff provided referral assistance as needed. The Seattle Indian Service Commission is continuing this activity beyond RWJ funding and is seeking funding from the Microsoft Corporation for continuation funds.

The Red Eagle Soaring Theatre Training Intensive was implemented to assist youths who were interested in theater and who wanted to assist with the play Story Circles, a substance abuse prevention play. This activity included over 50 Native youths over the life of the program. Healthy Nations arranged for lunches, juice drinks and snacks, as well as a Pizza dinner for the evening of performance. Supplies, food, props, and transportation for youth were provided by both of the Activities Coordinators and the Program Assistant. Healthy Nations assisted with flyers, transportation of students, negotiations of rental space for the performance and, the coordination of the lunch pick-up and drop-off. The workshop included art training, scenery design, play writing, directing, theater skills, music performance, and head shot photography. The youths also learned exercises to increase confidence, projection of voice, how to take stage directions, create props and backdrops, Theatre etiquette and more. They also wrote, produced and performed the skits, dances and plays. The youngest members of the group performed the play “Slumber Party”. Four girls, aged 4 to 11 made up the main cast, with Ms. Salvador playing the mother. A short skit performed by two young people had Gothic air to a Shakespearean Romeo and Juliet scene. Another play, set in a Beatnik Cafe, feature original poetry by several young people. An original play about stardom and dreams of stardom was performed. A large segment of the group performed a dance set in the very best “Hip-Hop” tradition. Stuart Grant, a working Native American actor provided a presentation on the “Words of Crazy Horse”. It was well received by the youth. Mr. Grant also attended the Grand Finale on the 28th. The Youth Activities Coordinator was able to procure 31 tickets to the Sherman Alexi movie “Smoke Signals”. The Youth and Adult Activities Coordinators went along as chaperones. The youth also attended Seattle Children’s Theatre, behind the scenes, a Sherman Alexi reading and a play at the Annex Theatre. A few of the parents participated in the Annex Theatre play. Red Eagle Soaring has received over 8,000 dollars in grants to continue their activities beyond RWJ funding for the coming year 2002.

The Healthy Nations program has been assisting the Pathfinder Elementary School culture night each Thursday, with the Young Native Leaders of Seattle attending and assisting. Healthy Nations assists with transportation and art materials for this activity. Volunteers assist younger participants with arts and crafts (beading), sports, homework tutoring and socializing with younger Native Children. The Healthy Nations Adult Activity Coordinator has been transporting the Thunderbird Recovery patients to this activity. The Young Native Leaders of Seattle passed out 60 helmets for bike riding safety that had been donated by the Harborview Hospital. Children of the Pathfinders program were given a question about helmet safety and if they answered correctly they were then given a helmet and a Healthy Nations Safety Award. The Healthy Nations program also assisted with the Huchoosedah Holiday Dinner with the Director of Healthy Nations cooking salmon and the Activities Coordinator dressing up as Santa Claus and handing out gifts to Native children and their parents who attended.

Healthy Nations Program gave assistance to the Huchoosedah Indian Education’s Youth Basketball Tournament. Over twenty (20) Native Youth Teams participated in the tournament. Healthy Nations awarded all participants with T-shirts and Certificates of Award. Mike Tulee, Director of Huchoosedah has asked Healthy Nations for assistance with the annual honoring of AIHS graduating high school Seniors. Pathfinders will be continuing this activity.

The Healthy Nations Program has been coordinating a mentoring program in partnership with the Microsoft Corporation. This program evolved out of the Summer Options Program. Healthy Nations provides transportation to youth who are not able to get to the Redmond Campus were Microsoft is located. The Microsoft employee coordinator and the Healthy Nations Director have been meeting to work out an attendance plan for students and mentors. However, one student will toke part in a summer internship that was the direct result from his mentor involvement. The Microsoft Mentoring Program Graduation PowWow took place at the Microsoft Redmond Campus grounds. Healthy Nations handled the transportation and coordination of appointments for Mentors and Mentees. Healthy Nations also recruited Drummers and Dancers for the PowWow. Thirteen (13) youth graduated from this year’s Mentoring Program. The Youth Activities Coordinator worked with Microsoft Mentors, making gifts for participants at the PowWow. Three (3) Craft classes were held on the Microsoft premises, producing leather pouches for Dancers and Drummers. The PowWow was held on May 1st. Over five hundred (500) people attended this year’s PowWow. Healthy Nations also provided foodstuffs and transportation of Elders. The Healthy Nations Activity Coordinator has met with Seattle Police Officer, Linda Hill, to pursue mentor opportunities for youth who are interested in law enforcement as a career. Currently one youth in the Healthy Nations Program is interested in mentorship with Linda Hill.

The Huchoosedah Indian Education Program is sponsoring a Youth Basketball Tournament and the Healthy Nations Program will assist them with T-shirts and certificates for this activity. Twenty teams from the Puget Sound have already committed to attend. The Healthy Nations Program assists this activity with refreshments and transportation of youth and adult volunteers. Linda Hill, a Seattle Police Officer, held a gang training for Seattle Police Officers, and the Healthy Nations Program recruited 5 Native Youth to speak about their experiences with gangs and their involvement with the Healthy Nations Program, and how it has assisted their lives. Youth Basketball Night at Seattle High School Basketball, and Open Gym Night, continues at Chief Seattle High School.

The Healthy Nations Director met with the Principal of American Indian Heritage School for the coordination of a computer literacy class at the SIHB’s new Computer Technology Center. The American Indian Heritage School will integrate this activity as a class with students receiving Seattle Public School credit. After each quarter a new batch of students will be selected. Currently attendance for this class has been in the 80 percentile, compared to 50 percent attendance for American Indian Heritage School classes. Student grades and project quality for other classes have also increased for those students attending. Healthy Nations, which assisted American Indian Heritage School with the development of a 25-station computer lab at the school, using donated equipment from the GSA and software from Microsoft continues. Students now attend computer classes twice a day every Monday through Friday and some Saturday classes. The Principal has been using volunteers from the University of Washington to instruct the classes. Youth Patients form the Thunderbird Treatment Center have been attending a once a week computer class on Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This class is year round. Adult patients from the Thunderbird Treatment Center have been participating in computer classes every Weds day night from 5:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. SIHB is seeking funding to continue its computer training classes for 2002.

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Strategy 3: Early Identification, Intervention and Referral

The Young Native Leaders of Seattle have meetings once a week, every Thursday from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm. They have set up rules for involvement in leadership activities such as community services, assisting younger Native children in homework and no use of alcohol and drugs, and violence. They continue to recruit new members from area Seattle Public Schools and plan to recruit next year for more youth to join this youth group. Four youths assisted with the Hands of Creation Gallery Grand opening, in which they assisted with food preparation and clean-up. Healthy Nations assisted with transportation and coordination of this activity.

The Healthy Nations staff, along with the University of Washington staff, continue to hold focus groups with youth to develop and implement intervention strategies for High Risk Native Youth. This new project, which was funded by NIH, will continue for an additional three years after the Healthy Nations project has ended.

The Healthy Nations youth activity specialist continues to assist the American Indian Heritage School culture club with activities such as field trips and presentations to local schools in King County. The Culture Teacher has been working with the students to develop incentives for the youth who are participating in this activity. Currently 30 youth participate in this activity.

The Healthy Nations Director coordinated a meeting with the Principal of American Indian Heritage School and the Associate Director of the Seattle Indian Health Board resulting in the SIHB’s youth outreach worker assisting students with social service needs and resources in the Seattle area. She will be at American Indian Heritage School three times a week. The SIHB’s North End Outreach Specialist has been working with the Principal of AIHS to obtain a schedule of time-slots to speak with students of the school for risk-assessment and education purposes. >An office has been set up to accommodate this activity. The meetings also included plans for involving AIHS students in the Computer Technology Center and in job placements. The SIHB’s youth outreach worker continues to assist students with social service needs and resources in the Seattle area. The Healthy Nations program along with the University of Washington’s Addictive Behavior Research Center will be working with David Paul at American Indian Heritage School to assist teachers with intervention strategies for students there.

The Talking Circle continues and has grown to 16 to 23 participants. One extremely important discovery was made during this on going activity. Youth clients, from Thunderbird Treatment Center have continued even after graduation. Relapse from A/D issues has been high. This resulted in discussions with the Healthy Nations Director and the Administrator of Thunderbird for an alternative plan with youth who relapse. This has resulted in a two-week emergency re-admittance to Thunderbird to reassess and plan for additional recovery time for youth. This additional two-week treatment will incorporate relapse and harm reductions techniques as well as a more concentrated effort to assist with outside stresses, which impact their recovery. Two youth have been re-admitted to Thunderbird. Before the Talking Circle, it was difficult to evaluate the success of in-patient treatment with youth because of continuity of contact with ex-residents; however because of participation in the Talking Circle, the tracking of youth with relapse issues has resulted in an on-going contact with graduates of treatment. The talking circles have become part of the treatment plan for Thunderbird youth residents.

The youth activity specialist has been recruiting traditional people to assist with Healthy Nations activities, using the American Indian Elders program. Healthy Nations has been requested to assist the American Indian Elders with crafts supplies and in return Healthy Nations has requested that youth be allowed to participate when needed in the Elders group. So far 1 elder has agreed to assist with Healthy Nations activities, Bill Bear. The youth activity specialist continues to take youth on field trips to meet Native cultural specialist for lessons in dancing and regalia design.

The New NIH project, which will focus on traditional AA and Harm Reduction Skills training, is recruiting community members, and agencies who want more information on Harm reduction. The NIH team is scheduled to present to the Youth Treatment Providers group, which is comprised of over 35 treatment providers around Washington State. Four graduate students from the University of Washington have assisted in this effort.

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Strategy 4: Substance Abuse Treatment and Relapse Prevention

The Healthy Nations Director has met with the Director of the Iwasil Youth Outpatient program to discuss better coordination of youth leaving In-patient Treatment. Current plans have included an additional outpatient treatment cycle to better assist youth with a rotating in-patient graduation rate.

The Native American Substance Abuse Coalition continues to meet. Healthy Nations assists with providing space in the Pearl Warren Building’s large conference room. Meetings tend to have 15-30 participants, depending on each person’s schedule. Healthy Nations continues to assist NWRAICC with meeting logistics and the publishing and distribution of their newsletter, “Native Connection”. Ten (10) Board Members, including Healthy Nations Program Assistant as Secretary, meet monthly at the Healthy Nations offices. General Membership meetings are held on a quarterly basis, with 30-50 persons attending. Bank of America’s Carolyn Crowson sponsors many of the projects and meetings for NWRAICC, supplying food and resources. Chamber members remain open to helping persons in recovery find jobs with the various member businesses. Kumugwi House has established an Apprenticeship Carver’s Program. The two Activities Coordinators have been working with them to provide persons who would benefit from this training.

The Healthy Nations project is developing a community advisory group for the new NIH project. This will focus on youth aftercare, intervention, resources, prevention, and communication of the new project for members of the community and to assist with recruitment for new members.

The Traditional Health Liaison has been providing cultural arts and crafts classes at Thunderbird by SIHB. An elder spends time with the youth residents at Thunderbird Treatment Center and assists with cultural crafts and lunchtime every Friday.

The Hands of Creation Art Classes began with 7 Native people in recovery recruited to participate in this project. Healthy Nations has assisted with transportation for participants as well as coordination of this activity. The Adult Activity coordinator has been coordinating an Art and Crafts class for the Native homeless drop in Center, Chief Seattle Club. Currently 8 people have been attending. This includes recruiting 2 volunteers to assist with instructions and donation of supplies.

The Native Chamber of Commerce members have been recruited to provide community activities and job mentoring opportunities for adult residents. Activities include furniture making, Native artist class and a computer class assisted by the Healthy Nations Program. Currently, a volunteer from Native furniture making, two Native Computer trainers and Native artists have been selected for this program.

The Adult Activities coordinator has also been coordinating meetings with education and employment programs and recovery patients at the Thunderbird Treatment Center and the SIHB’s Alcohol and Drug outpatient program. A weekly Computer Literacy project for recovery patients at SIHB’s Technology Center has also been coordinated.

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Seattle Indian Health Board


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Colorado School of Public Health

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Mail Stop B119
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