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Healthy Nations Initiative

Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation

About the Program

The purpose of the Warm Springs Healthy Nations Program is to conduct a four-year, community wide, public awareness/community development process which will result in community-based substance use and abuse programs, the establishment of a comprehensive approach to prevention, intervention and treatment, and the integration of community and program services which will result in reductions in substance use and the improvement in the public health of the Warm Springs community.

Alcohol and drug abuse has been recognized as the major health and social problem in the community since 1982. The Tribal Council has continuously been committed to providing quality service to assist residents in managing this problem and improving the quality of their lives. It has been well documented that individuals, families and the community experience many adverse effects due to substance use and abuse including increased mortality, morbidity and health costs; significant disruption in family life; and multiple social problems.

The program focuses on three tasks during Phase: 1) to develop and expand the public awareness/community involvement process; 2) to develop and expand multifaceted, community-wide prevention programs involving youth, parents, adults and elders; and 3) to develop and expand a multifaceted social support system involving youth, parents, adults and elders who are recovering from substance abuse problems.

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Host Community/Organization

Reserved by treaty in 1855, the land base of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs encompasses 655,000 acres of forest and dry land between the Deschutes River and the Cascade Mountain range in Central Oregon. Originally the home of the Wasco and Warm Springs Tribes, it was not until 1882 that the Northern Paiutes came to the reservation and were invited to live there by the other two tribes. The 1938 Constitution and charter established the political confederacy between the three tribes and formed the sovereign government which today oversees management of tribal land and resources. Politically, the Constitution establishes a Tribal Council of 11 members and a non-voting Secretary/Treasurer.

The Chief of each tribe is appointed by their respective tribe to the Council, for their lifetime, to assure continuity on the Council. The other eight members are elected every three years. The Wasco and Warm Springs Tribes elect three members each and the Paiute’s elect two members to the Council. The Secretary/Treasurer is appointed by the Council to carry out the business of the Council. Over time this position has evolved to include the management of Government activities and is referred to as the CEO - Secretary/Treasurer.

In 1957, the tribes received a cash payment of four million dollars from the Federal Government for the destruction of territorial fishing grounds along the Columbia River due to the construction of the Bonneville Power network of hydro-electric dams. At that time, the Council decided to invest the payment in developing the reservation. Today, that investment in hydro-electric power, forest products and tourism has provided an economic base which has contributed to the long term social and political stability of the tribes.

The 1855 Treaty also reserved certain hunting, fishing and gathering rights for tribes in their original homeland which ranged over one sixth of the land area in the present State of Oregon. With the growth of the non-Indian population and the political subdivision of the State into counties, the Confederated Tribes finds itself in the position that both the Treaty Territory and the reservation overlay many of these counties and presents a significant challenge in maintaining the Council’s sovereignty. Today, the Treaty Territory and the reservation remain the home to both enrolled members of the tribes, other Native Americans and descendants who look to the Confederated Tribes to provide a sense of cultural and social identity.
Recognizing its obligation beyond the boundaries of the reservation, the Confederated Tribes has historically extended its service community to include persons residing on the reservation; all persons enrolled for service with the Warm Springs Indian Health Service Unit living within the boundaries of the Treaty Territory; and non-Indian employees of the Confederated Tribes, the Indian Health Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Estimating the population of the community becomes difficult because of the overlapping geographical and social boundaries which define the community. According to the Warm Springs Indian Health Service Unit’s active patient enrollment, there are 4,771 Native Americans, and their descendants, residing within the service unit catchment are, which includes the reservation and the Treaty Territory. The Confederated Tribes, through its health insurance program, reports another 409 non-Indians who are eligible for health, mental health and substance abuse treatment services paid for by the tribes and provided by tribal programs. It is estimated there are another 125 non-Indian employees and their families of the IHS and the BIA who can receive services from tribal programs. In addition to this total of 5305 persons in the community, there are a substantial number of transients from other Tribes and reservations who come to live in the community for extended periods of time and utilize the health and social services provided by the tribes.

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Strategy 1: Public Awareness Campaign

Public awareness was achieved by using multiple communication channels to the community, including regular community meetings, radio and print media and word of mouth. Youth and adult community members developed multiple radio spot messages, conducted radio interview and information programs with Tribal elders about substance use and broadcast these over the Tribal Radio station throughout the duration of the project. In addition systematic print material covering healthy nations events as well as general educational information concerning substance use was used effectively to maintain community interest in the project. Complementing the print and radio awareness efforts the project staff conducted multiple community focus groups, needs assessment groups and community longhouse meetings in which community members ran the meeting and established the agenda in an effort to develop ownership in grant activities. These meetings were designed to identify risk and protective factors in the community, solicit ideas for interventions and develop and maintain community involvement in the grant activities.

Today the public awareness / community development model developed through the Healthy Nations grant continues to be utilized. Within the past 18 months the Tribal Council established a governmental priority to address youth development and building upon the history and success of the Healthy Nations project we have broadened the community development model, developed and included more small groups to address four primary areas effecting youth in the community. These are substance use and abuse, adolescent health issues including sexuality, diabetes, and HIV prevention, violence prevention that includes child abuse, juvenile crime and suicide prevention and an initiative designed to promote children and adolescents completing theireducation.

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Strategy 2: Community-Wide Prevention

The major thrust of the Warm Springs Healthy Nations Project was the initiation of a community development process that focused on building consensus among provider agencies, representative civic groups, long house and medicine societies. This model focused on the development of small community groups to not only design appropriate activities and services but to also conduct them in order to build a community network to carry out prevention, intervention and aftercare activities as well as raise community awareness about substance use and abuse. By investing program resources in the community, rather than developing government service programs, it was anticipated that the project would develop solid commitment from community members leading to social and behavioral change throughout the community.

A predominant theme in implementing this model for social change was to reinforce the development of culturally synchronic activities directed at youth. This was in response to one of the most significant risk factors in the community, the disintegration of Tribal socialization and cultural practices. When small community groups were formed and brought forward ideas for prevention, intervention and aftercare activities a requirement from the grant project was that they address youth and families and reflect some aspect of the traditional culture. This in turn led to the development of many successful prevention activities and events that were sustained throughout the project and are continuing today. Camp Sapsikwat is a culture camp occurring each summer. Utilizing both project funding, cash donations from community businesses, and volunteers this week- long camp targeted at youth and their families provided educational intervention regarding substance abuse mixed with cultural socialization activities, such as the preparation and care of native foods; and craft making activities such as bead working and drum making.

Over time this project expanded into a once a week evening activity occurring at the Simnasho longhouse during the winter. Other projects such as this included Salmon Camp, which brought volunteers and agencies together in an encampment to study and focus on the Pacific Salmon and its lifestyle and cultural meaning within both the Warm Springs culture as well as the Pacific Northwest. The Honor Elders day and Veterans Group Pow-wow where focused on strengthening the bonds between adults and children, promoting healthy lifestyle within the context of the project and honoring respects adults and elders in the community. Coupled with these were a variety of youth oriented socialization and recreation interventions that included sports clinics, summer recreation activities, Jamboree day, Little Miss Warm Springs pageants and a variety of family oriented activities throughout the year including a Halloween Carnival.

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Strategy 3: Early Identification, Intervention and Referral

The overall project strategy was designed to capitalize on the small group development and multiple community events in order to facilitate both intervention and aftercare services in the community. As a result of developing multiple community events we were also able to create a community network to identify and refer persons for treatment services and enhance our aftercare services by providing sober, socialization activities to incorporate into client’s aftercare treatment. An example of these types of activities is the Men’s Wellness gathering, which was designed as a cultural healing experience for young adults. Facilitated by traditional elders the gathering occurs for three days every year and focuses on a variety of topics including HIV prevention, substance abuse, and trauma resolution. Not only did this intervention help identify and refer persons for treatment, it also provided support for those clients who were in recovery from substance abuse and in need of developing a sober social support network in the community apart from the local treatment program.

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Strategy 4: Substance Abuse Treatment and Relapse Prevention

The Warm Springs Counseling Center provides all treatment related services for persons in the community, including contracting for residential treatment for youth and adults. Assigned counselors coordinated the residential referral as well as the person's referral to aftercare services provided by the Counseling Center. These generally include support group meeting, coordination with AA groups, and recreational or social activities. Incorporated into the aftercare plan are referrals to the variety of cultural, social and recreational activities developed as part of the Healthy Nations initiative. By providing these opportunities in the community to participate and or volunteer it allows persons who are in the process of recovery the opportunity to develop an alternative lifestyle and receive positive reinforcement in the community setting for this substance free lifestyle. Currently the Council on Alcohol and Drugs is continuing to pursue the development of more social and cultural activities directed at maintaining and enhancing sobriety at the family-level . Current ideas under consideration are the development of a community sweathouse and the recruitment of elders to develop some aftercare support activities for both adults and youth.

Radio Program: This particular project has experienced both success and difficulty over the past three years, primarily as a function of the interest and guidance of the sponsoring agency. This past year was a mix of both and it was only within the past 5 months that they were able to recruit and develop one youth who has continued with the program in a successful way. She has acquired the basic skills of working in radio and has begun developing public service announcement and learning other media awareness techniques to assist with the Healthy Nations project. It is anticipated that she will be involved with this project throughout next year as well.
KWSO youth leadership program: The Council on Alcohol and Drugs reevaluated this project last year and at that time this activity was put on hold until such time as a more workable program of services could be developed with the radio station. At this time the Council has reestablished this project because the issues of providing guidance and accountability to the youth involved have been addressed by the sponsoring agency.

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Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation

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Colorado School of Public Health

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