September 2012

The First Nations Behavioral Health Association is now being administered directly by Board of Directors and Jeff J. King, PhD, (Muscogee Creek) President.
Jill Shepard Erickson, MSW, (Dakota/Athabascan), is grateful to have been able to serve the organization as Executive Director from 2008 to 2012, building on the excellent work of Founding Executive Director, Paulette Running Wolf, PhD, (Blackfeet), 2003-2008, and R. Dale Walker, MD, (Cherokee), Founding President, 2003-2007.

September 2011

SAMHSA awards up to $6.4 million in grants for children’s mental health systems in American Indian/Alaska Native communities

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is announcing seven new grants for a total of up to $6.4 million up to three years to provide tribal and urban Indian and Alaskan Native communities resources to plan and design a holistic, community-based system of care to support mental health and wellness for their children, youth and families. 

The Circles of Care Infrastructure Development for Children’s Mental Health Systems in American Indian/Alaska Native Communities grants will help build the capacity of behavioral health systems serving American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. 

As a result, Circles of Care grantees will be equipped to reduce the gap between the need for behavioral health services and the availability and coordination of services for providing this help.

“The grants will help more American Indian and Alaskan Native young people from birth to age 25 receive care needed for behavioral health problems,” said SAMHSA Administrator, Pamela S. Hyde. “When we intervene early in culturally relevant ways the lives of young people are kept on track and years of disability and harm can be prevented.” 

New grantees will receive up to $312,000 each year for up to three years. The actual award amount may vary, depending on the availability of funds and the performance of the grantees.

The grantees and their first year grant amounts are:

The Yellowhawk Tribal Center, Pendleton, Ore.                                                       $311,140

Yurok Tribe, Klamath, Calif.                                                                                    $291,889

Boys & Girls Club of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, Lame Deer, Mont.                 $311,337

Fresno American Indian Health Project, Fresno, Calif.                                              $311,140

Tohono O’odham Community College, Sells, Ariz.                                                   $311,000

Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio, Columbus, Ohio                            $302,340

American Indian Education Center, Parma, Ohio                                                      $302,340

Further information about SAMHSA’s grant programs is available at: http://www.samhsa.gov/Grants/

August 2011

Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Memorandum
Click here to read

January 2010

Research that Benefits Native People: A Guide for Tribal Leaders
The National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center has just released its five-module curriculum, “Research that Benefits Native People: A Guide for Tribal Leaders.” Over the past three years through the financial support of the Administration for Native Americans, the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center and their partners, the First American Land-grant College and Organization Network (FALCON) and the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), have developed a curriculum and in-person training to equip tribal leaders, Native students, and other Native community members to understand and manage research and program evaluation. The curriculum was developed in response to requests from tribal leaders who wanted resources to make better decisions about the proposed research in their communities. It emphasizes the validity of Indigenous knowledge while highlighting the benefits of western research standards. The curriculum consists of five separate modules, which address the most critical research issues in Native communities.

Project Making Medicine Training

December 2009

Forcibly adopted American Indians torn between cultures
Taken from the Denver Post

Even in third grade, Susan Devan Harness knew she didn't belong in the white world. She already was being called "squaw girl" by classmates. Harness drew suspicious stares and was followed by employees every time she entered a store in the Montana town where she was raised. But it wasn't until she was 14 that she realized how estranged she was from the dominant culture she had been pushed into. Harness was among the 395 or so American Indian children forcibly adopted into white families as part of a national social experiment conducted from 1958 through 1967.

Harness, now a Colorado State University cultural anthropologist, has written a book about the experiences of those swept up in the Indian Adoption Project.

She found that like her, many of the adopted children were ostracized and belittled in both white and American Indian communities.

Harness, now 50, recalls being a teenager sitting on her front porch, listening to radio reports of the rising clamor caused by the American Indian Movement in the early 1970s. "I heard my dad say, 'What are those drunken war whoops up to now?' " Harness said.

"I thought to myself, 'If my dad was saying this to my face, what are other people saying about me?' "

Inspiration for change

Her book — "Mixing Cultural Identities Through Transracial Adoption" — describes how the project started as a handshake agreement between the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Child Welfare League.

The idea was to rescue American Indian children from poverty and challenging social conditions and give them access to the resources of the white middle class.

But in reality, activists say, it was another effort by the white U.S. government to eradicate the American Indian population.

"So many things happened to the Indian people under so many federal policies," said Evelyn Stevenson, a longtime lawyer for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. "First there

was annihilation and extermination, and then a period of assimilation and forced adoption, and then the idea of getting rid of reservations. It's made us all a little wacky."

Stevenson's Salish mother was taken from her family and forced to attend boarding school. After Stevenson earned her law degree, she helped pen the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act in an effort to preserve what was left of American Indian families.

The law gives tribal governments a stronger voice in American Indian child-custody proceedings, including adoptions. The act blocks state courts from having any jurisdiction over the adoption or custody of Indian children residing within their own reservations.

Good intentions gone bad


and others say the Indian Adoption Project may have been well-intentioned. But mostly it allowed non-Indians to pass judgment on reservation families and break them up as they saw fit, said Sandra White Hawk, who was taken from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation when she was 18 months old.

In many cases, missionaries working on reservations would call local authorities to complain about housing conditions. A social worker would then do a home study and, more often than not, build a case recommending a child be taken away, White Hawk said.

Families felt they were powerless to stop the process and allowed white authorities to take over, she said.

Most of the forced adoptions were based on prejudices, White Hawk said. Many

children lived with extended families — including aunts and uncles — and often did not have a room to themselves. Many of the homes also did not have running water or electricity.

"I think it's interesting that the state would be more interested in yanking a child away from his home than in helping to try to get utilities and other services to these homes," White Hawk said.

White Hawk's parents — both missionaries — viewed her biological family as part of a dangerous social and religious subculture.

"My adoptive mother constantly reminded me that no matter what I did, I came from a pagan race whose only hope for redemption was to assimilate to white culture," White Hawk said.

White Hawk helped form the First Nations Orphans Association, which helps forced adoptees get re-acquainted with their biological families.

"Our job is to help these people heal," she said.

The Child Welfare League has acknowledged the damage it inflicted during the forced-adoption period, issuing a public apology in 2001.

In many instances, American Indian children "were deprived of their culture, their language, connections to their families, their tribe, and in many instances it caused such hurt and sorrow and deprived them of so much happiness in their lives," said Shay Bilchik, president and chief executive of the Child Welfare League.

Different opportunities

Like many of the other adoptees, Harness concedes the white household she was raised in gave her better opportunities for traditional success than the one from which she was taken at 18 months old.

"I was given access to voice lessons and music lessons and other things I wouldn't otherwise have a chance at," Harness said. "I'm like the other adoptees who said that even though their households were sometimes abusive, they never would have become the person they've become today" without being adopted.

But there was a cost.

"We were, in many ways, required to be grateful and thankful that we weren't raised with that other family," Harness said.

Also a member of the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes, from the Flathead Reservation in western Montana, Harness was removed from her home by a social worker because of "neglect."

She was adopted at age 2 by a white couple — Eleanor and Jed Devan. While her mother simply wanted a child, her dad, Harness said, bought into the noble idea of "saving" an American Indian girl from her ancestry.

Soon others were adopting American Indian children, including church families across the country, she said.

"At the time it was considered the 'in' adoption," Harness said. "If you could save a poor Indian child, you were a good person."

Identity crises

She talked to 25 adoptees in her research and found that, like her, many of them uncomfortably straddled the cultural fence between American Indian and white societies.

Some said they were considered inferior to their white siblings because of their American Indian DNA. "I think that, for instance, when I would get in trouble, it would be because of my genes, because of the bad genes passed onto you," said one adoptee.

Later, many adoptees ran into resentment from tribal members when they returned to the reservation of their birth. They were called "apples" — red on the outside but white on the inside.

"How did I cross from being Indian to be white?" wondered another adoptee. "I lived somewhere in the middle, racially blank."

Several struggled with depression and early drug use. Some committed suicide, Harness said.

Some adoptees' stories didn't end so badly, however. Suzie Fedorko was handed over to Minnesota social workers by her grandmother, after Fedorko's mother left for high school one morning.

Fedorko's adoptive parents — strong Catholics — were loving and gave her a good home, and she went on to start her own family.

Fedorko later learned that her mother — Cathee Dahmen — became a supermodel in the 1970s and hung out with the likes of Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol.

"If I had stayed with my mom, I don't know if she would have had the success she did with her life," Fedorko said.

Harness also has reunited with her biological family and is at peace, somewhat.

She is still angry about times when upon learning she was American Indian, people's assessment of her plummeted. A college professor, for instance, told her she would be better suited for vocational education courses.

"I know that the expectations — or lack of expectations perhaps — that were placed on me as I was growing up and trying to find my place in the world really caused me to limit my abilities, for a long time," Harness said. "But I think I've got my footing in this world at last."

September 2009

Project Venture Named Best Practice
Taken from Indian Country Today

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M._Sept. 1, 2009_The National Indian Youth Leadership Project’s substance-abuse prevention program, Project Venture, has been named as one of nine Tribal Best Practices among other nationwide substance-abuse programs for Native American children by the First Nations Behavioral Health Association.

Project Venture was created in 1982 as an alternative to alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse. The project has been recognized by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and the federal Department of Health’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices as the first Native American model program. The New Mexico-based program serves more than 750 students in the Four Corner’s area. The program has expanded to 23 states and now Canada.

“Just on Sunday in a front-page story in The Albuquerque Journal New Mexicans read about a young woman who fell through the cracks because of substance abuse. Project Venture builds a positive peer culture and helps middle-school youth to start thinking about their future and their value to culture and community,” said Project Venture and NLYP founder McClellan Hall (Cherokee). “Students who participate in Project Venture are less likely to go down that road that leads to helplessness, substance-abuse and disengagement from school.”

Studies show that programs aimed at middle-schoolers aid in helping these students become more successful in dealing with peer pressure as they move onto high school and are more likely to graduate. Project Venture incorporates outdoor activities, such as hiking and rappelling, with problem-solving and skills-building classroom work to connect students with the contemporary and natural world. The program is delivered during in school, after school and during vacations and includes community involvement.

According to an assessment of programs in 2003, students who participated in Project Venture were less likely to increase marijuana and alcohol use. Out of 100 students in one school, 63 percent improved their GPAs and 31 percent reduced school absences.

The First Nations Behavioral Health Association, a national organization made up of indigenous clinical psychologists, researchers, doctors and educators, chose NLYP’s Project Venture among 50 programs for its integration of culture, community involvement, potential for replication, effectiveness and sustainability. The Project Venture model will be included in the First Nations Behavioral Health Association’s Compendium of Best Practices for Indigenous American Indian/Alaska Native and Pacific Island Indigenous Populations to be published in December with support from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). According to a 2002 National High-Risk Youth Study of 48 prevention programs funded by SAMHSA, researchers found NIYLP’s Project Venture to be one of the top four programs for all young people.

“Youth who go through our programs stay in school and go on to be positive members of our society,” Hall said. “One PV graduate is working as an engineer at Intel, another is a tribal lawyer. And countless are raising families, serving their communities and living substance-abuse free lives.”

NIYLP began as a national non-profit in Gallup, N.M., and recently has opened a new international office in Albuquerque. NIYLP, which retains program support services in Gallup, operates with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, the Daniels Foundation, Healing Winds Foundation, Shinnyo-en Foundation, New Mexico Department of Health, the New Mexico Community Foundation, Optium Health, SAMHSA, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, among others. For a full listing of supporting organizations and more information about NLYP and Project Venture, go to www.niylp.org.

August 2009

Native American doctor focuses on problems of addiction

by Paige Parker, The Oregonian Wednesday August 12, 2009, 5:41 AM
(Taken from: http://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2009/08/native_american_doctor_focuses.html)

For the second time in 20 years, a national organization of Native American doctors has honored Oregon Health & Science University's Dr. R. Dale Walker as its physician of the year.

Walker, a Cherokee and a psychiatrist, is the director of OHSU's One Sky Center and a professor at the medical school. He received the recognition from the Association of American Indian Physicians.

Walker specializes in treating addictions, an area of tremendous need on reservations and among urban Native Americans. High rates of alcoholism among Native Americans are well-documented; less known are the high rates of suicide and methamphetamine addiction, both of which are special targets of the efforts of One Sky (www.oneskycenter.org).

About one in five Native Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 reported having used methamphetamine in the previous 30 days, compared to about 13 percent of white adolescents. And the suicide rate for Native Americans is more than double the national average for other minority groups.

Walker is one of just two Native American psychiatrists in the country certified in addictions treatment. He's devoted a significant chunk of his career to recruiting and mentoring other Native Americans pursuing health care or research careers.

"The Native American population, they need someone who is completely sensitive and compassionate about their cultural differences," says Clyde B. McCoy, an epidemiologist and a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. "Dale is incredible in terms of his energy. Last year he visited something like 50 tribes. Most of us haven't visited that many in our lifetimes."

Walker spoke to The Oregonian about his work and hopes for reforms in health care for Native Americans. His comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Q: Why did you become a psychiatrist?

A: I grew up in rural Oklahoma. I decided I wanted to be doctor in seventh grade. My family emphasized the need to do something about the problems, to try to make a difference in Indian country. First I saw myself as a family medicine doctor somewhere in Indian country in a rural area and doing some research.

The more that I worked on it, I found that what I liked working on was chronic illnesses and difficult-to-solve problems. I kind of had a patience for that. Psychiatry was a perfect fit.

Q: Why do you specialize in addiction?

A: Once again, I like to focus on chronic illness. Addiction is far and away a visible problem in Indian country, and if you ask most anyone, they'd like to see it disappear.

Q: Tell me about the work of One Sky.

A: American Indian communities struggle because they get resources to do things, but they're time-limited. Once the grant ends, what happens to the information learned? It goes into a file cabinet.

I wanted to develop a national resource center that did something with all that information. We work with 50 tribes a year on issues of mental health and addictions. In the process, we look for programs of excellence that we promote. We also look for programs of opportunity in which we provide training and technical assistance.

What Indian country needs is a Marshall Plan. We're on the verge now of health care reform, which I'm a big advocate for. What will it look like in Indian country? Do we need to keep what we've got or do we need to radically change it?

I think we need to radically change it. That notion makes the federal government more nervous than the tribes. We need an elevated agency, at the level of the Department of Health and Human Services, with the Indian Health Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs together, in a Cabinet-level post. I think the days of psychiatrists sitting in the office waiting for patients to come in are over. We need to be much more proactive and involved in community issues.

Q: Give me examples of programs that have been shared among tribes through the center.

A: (On One Sky's Web site) you can do a search of 134 projects that might match up with your interests, find out how long they've been funded and if they're successful.

Project HOPE addresses the frustration, depression and drug problems of Indian youths. It's a two-day-long workshop.

We trained a group of 80 American Indian counselors to be qualified and certified to do cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a recognized, evidence-based practice. Indian folks do it incredibly well.

Another is called Project Venture. It's a challenge course for very young people, 7 to 12 years old.

These are the kinds of interventions that would have died out or stayed unknown.

Q: Why are addiction rates high for Native Americans?

A: Poverty, access to care, some other vulnerabilities, genetic vulnerabilities. It really is a multidimensional problem. If there was just one reason we'd have this pretty well cleared up. If it was like an infectious disease that had one germ that caused it we could have solved it.

Q: Are there any difference in the rates of recovery for Native Americans with addictions?

A: If the resources are there, the answer is no, not if the quality of the intervention is up to the level of need in the Indian community.

Q: What are the common traits of effective treatment programs?

A: Good leadership, from the tribal council all the way through the treatment team. A mobilized community. Access. Good proximity to care. Some tribes' mental health services for adolescents might be 60 miles away from the school, so the likelihood of keeping appointments is low.

If you have people who understand the culture, on a spiritual level, who have an understanding of why that tribe exists, and if they can put that understanding into their care so the people can see the value of who they are, that improves the outcomes. Behavioral health programs with an Indian philosophical orientation are very, very effective.

And the elders -- do they share the values they've learned and stories they've learned and put those into the treatment programs?

Q: Tell me about your work mentoring up-and-coming Native American nurses, scientists, doctors and researchers.

A: My spouse (Patricia Silk Walker) and I have worked together 34 years. She's a nurse epidemiologist. We think we have helped 50 Natives get masters or doctorates through our projects.

Now, through a National Institute of Mental Health-funded project, we have set up a national mentorship program. It's hard to develop mentoring programs for Indians because it's hard to have a critical mass of American Indian faculty at one site. There's usually only two or three every place you go.

While this is a pilot project with 10 students (matched with mentors across the country), we hope to make it a national model of training. We hope to focus on research methods. We want them to be effective researchers for Native communities. If people knew how to work in these communities, we might be able to advance the work on Indians' addiction disorders.

It's just exciting as all get-out.

Paige Parker: 503-221-8305; paigeparker@news.oregonian.com

June 2009

Proceedings Report: NAMI American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Listening Session

May 2009

IHS Director Confirmed

Last night, the Senate confirmed Dr. Yvette Roubideaux as Director of the Indian Health Service. Dr. Yvette Roubideaux has devoted her life to improving health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives. She is both a physician who has spent years working in tribal communities and a scholar with deep knowledge of American Indian and Alaska Native health issues. A member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe, Dr. Roubideaux is the first woman to lead the Indian Health Service. Dr. Yvette Roubideaux most recently served as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at The University of Arizona College of Medicine. She has conducted extensive research on American Indian health issues, with a focus on diabetes in American Indians/Alaska Natives and Indian health policy. Roubideaux previously worked in the Indian Health Service as a Medical Officer and Clinical Director on the San Carlos Indian Reservation and in the Gila River Indian Community. Roubideaux, 46, is a member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe. She received her MD from Harvard Medical School and her MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health.

April 2009

SAMHSA Accepting Applications for Project LAUNCH

February 2009

George Warren Brown School of Social Work

Recovery And Reinvestment Package Includes Major Push to Create Jobs, Economic Opportunity In Indian Country

January 2009

27th Annual "Protecting Our Children" National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect

Click on image for link

December 2008

Visit the Help Starts Here website
Remember, Celebrate, Act

November 2008

Native Youth Leadership Academ

December 3 - 6, 2008

Sycuan Resort
3007 Dehesa Rd.
El Cajon, CA  92019

“Everyone has a story to tell….”

Everyone has a story to tell and our stories can be powerful tools to help inspire and motivate others as well as opportunities for personal growth and development by the storyteller and the listener.  We know that peer education is a proven way for young people to learn from each other and impact behavior in a positive way.

This year’s Academy will teach about leadership, Native wellness, culture and self esteem.  In addition, youth participants will put their leadership skills to use and develop a short video to take back home and use for family, school and/or community education.  The videos will be an innovative way to bring awareness about a particular topic the youth feel strongly about in order to bring about positive change.  The youth will also learn how to put these messages on the internet such as You Tube or My Space.

The Native Wellness Institute is a leader in bringing creative, fun and cutting-edge programs to our young people.  Please join us in sunny San Diego, California at the home of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation as we come together to learn, laugh and meet new friends!

Limited to 100 students!  Please register early! 
1 Chaperone per 5 Students!

This year’s Academy will include a Cultural Sharing Night where groups will be asked to bring a song, dance, story or other form of cultural expression to share with the group.

Agenda Topics:

Native Pride, Culture and Spirituality
Finding Your Voice
Self Esteem
Native Wellness
Living Healthy Lifestyles


Robert Johnston, Jeri Brunoe, Charles TailFeathers and Amanda Old Crow

Academy Schedule:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008
            6pm                 Welcome Ice-cream Social
Thursday, December 4, 2008
8:00am            Breakfast (provided)
            8:30am             Training Begins
            Noon                        Lunch (provided)
            1:00pm            Training Continues
            5pm                        Adjourn
            7pm                        Cultural Sharing Night
Friday, December 5, 2008
            8:00am            Breakfast (provided)
            8:30am            Training Begins
            Noon                        Lunch (provided)
            1:00pm            Training Continues
            5:00pm            Adjourn/Free night
Saturday, December 6, 2008
            8:00am            Breakfast (provided)
            8:00am            Training Begins
            Noon                        Lunch (provided)
            1:00pm            Training Continues
            5pm                        Training Adjourns
            6:30pm            Banquet Dinner (provided)
            8:30pm            Dance
            Midnight            Academy Ends


  • Training
  • T-Shirt
  • Materials
  • Welcome Ice-Cream Reception
  • Breaks
  • Breakfast Each Morning
  • Lunch Each Day
  • Banquet
  • Dance and Copy of Video


Dates and Locations
December 3 - 6, 2008

Sycuan Resort
3007 Dehesa Rd
El Cajon, CA  92019
(20 minutes from the San Diego airport)

Call 800-457-5568 for reservations; mention Native youth training for rate.

Video support provided by the Seventh Generation Fund.

Job Announcement - Public Health Advisor (Link)

Vacancy Number: IHS-08-125
Open Dates: October 31, 2008 - November 21, 2008
Plan/Series/Grades:  GS-0685-13/14
Salary Range(s): GS-13: $82,961-$107,854
GS-14: $98,033-$127,442
Positions: 1
Contact: Mary Drapeaux
Phone: 301-443-6520
Fax: 301-594-3146
Email: HQDHR@ihs.gov
Brief Statement of Duties: The incumbent serves as a key advisor to the Indian Health Service Director and other IHS senior staff on behavioral health policies. As a critical member of the IHS professional staff the incumbent evaluates and analyzes complex policies, provides advice on national policies and strategies to address the behavioral health service needs of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people. Incumbent formulates national policies and strategies to meet the behavioral health service challenges. Participates with the Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) Director to formulate and revise behavioral health policy. Incumbent stays abreast and is aware of the impact of legislation and policy on the Indian Health Service, Tribal and Urban (I/T/U) programs, as they relate to Behavioral Health Services. Incumbent remains current on behavioral health research, clinical best practices and service programs, provides expert guidance and assistance, and serves as a liaison between the IHS and other programs. Plans for and conducts consultation to ensure appropriate programs and individuals are informed, involved in the implementation, evaluation and follow-up of plans to achieve the desired outcomes. Incumbent communicates and reports on behavioral health policy, performs critical staff functions, and prepares written documents and correspondence. Incumbent handles internal and external scheduled reporting requirements, responds to internal and external inquiries or requests for information. Incumbent assists with the formulation of the annual budget, and participates with the Director, DBH in finalizing the DBH budget. Incumbent works within DHHS, federal, state, tribal, urban, local and private programs on policy, regulatory, and operational issues. Incumbent develops collaborative networks and strategic partnerships. Incumbent acts as an international liaison regarding behavioral health issues on behalf of the IHS and DHHS with other countries. Formulates international policy and procedures for implementing the memorandum of understanding, facilitates work group meetings, and also administers innovative national behavioral health projects. Incumbent performs other special assignments and duties as assigned.
Indian Preference Policy: The Indian Health Service (IHS) is committed to affording employment preference to American Indian and Alaska Native candidates who meet the Secretary of the Interior’s definition of Indian for appointment to vacancies within the IHS in accordance with established IHS policy as outlined in Indian Health Manual, Part 7, Chapter 3. The IHS is also committed to achieving full and equal opportunity without discrimination because of race, religion, color, gender, national origin, age, physical or mental disability and sexual orientation. The IHS has a zero tolerance for sexual harassment or reprisal.



October 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law the "Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act" (P.L. 101-351). This new law, formerly H.R. 6893, allows tribes to be eligible to apply directly to the federal government to operate the federal government's largest source of child welfare funding--Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance for the first time. 
This landmark, bipartisan legislation was passed by the House on September 17, thanks to the leadership of Representatives Jim McDermott (D-WA), and Jerry Weller (R-IL) and by the Senate on September 22, due to the efforts of Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).
The new law represents the most significant reform of the nation's foster care system in more than a decade. As a result of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, new services and supports for American Indian and Alaska Native children who have been abused and neglected will become available.

Under the new law, any federally recognized tribe or tribal consortium may apply directly to the federal government to operate the Title IV-E program. The law also provides for tribes to develop agreements with states to operate the program. In addition, the tribal provisions provide for new funding to support technical assistance to tribes and one-time start-up grants for tribes seeking to operate the IV-E program. While the non-tribal provisions start taking effect immediately in most cases, the tribal provisions do not take effect until October 1, 2009.  

You can obtain the text of the new law, detailed description of the law, including the tribal provisions in Sections 301 and 302, at NICWA's website. Additional information regarding other policy impacting American Indian and Alaska Native children, families, and tribes can also be found on NICWA's website. 

The NICWA website has detailed information on the tribal provisions contained in P.L. 110-351 and other sections of the law. For more information, contact NICWA Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy David Simmons at 503.222.4044, ext. 119, or e-mail

September 2008

SAMHSA Awards $1.5 Million to the Choctaw Nation for Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women

Click here for details

SAMHSA Awards More Than $6 Million to Support Children’s Mental Health Systems in American Indian/Alaska Native Communities

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) today announced the award of eight grants totaling more than $6 million over three years to fund infrastructure development for children’s mental health systems in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities.  Known as the Circles of Care, the program’s purpose is to provide tribal and urban Indian communities with tools and resources to plan and design a holistic, community-based system of care to support mental health and wellness for their children, youth and families. 

“These grants will increase the capacity and effectiveness of behavioral health systems serving American Indian/Alaska Native communities,” said Eric Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H., acting administrator of SAMHSA.  “As a result, Circles of Care grantees will be equipped to reduce the gap between the need for behavioral health services and the availability and coordination of services for children and families.”

The eight awards are funded up to $305,875 per year in total costs for up to three years.  Just over $2.1 million is available for the first year of funding.  Continuation awards are subject to the availability of funds and progress achieved by awardees. 

The grant program supports the goals and mission of the Indian Health Service (IHS), another agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  "We are pleased that these grants emphasize the coordination of children's mental health services with primary care,” said IHS Director Robert G. McSwain.  “The Indian Health Service is proud to support its partnership with SAMHSA by providing technical assistance to the grantees in order to increase their capacity to improve mental health services for American Indian/Alaska Native children and families."

The grants announced today will be administered by SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services and will be awarded to the following organizations:

American Indian Center Circle of Care
American Indian Center of Chicago, Chicago -- $257,326 for the first year to enable the Center to develop an infrastructure for a collaborative, community-driven mental health system of care for Chicago's American Indian/Alaska Native youth at-risk for, or suffering from, serious mental illness.

Crow Creek Sioux Tribe Circles of Care
Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Fort Thompson, S.D. -- $285,860 for the first year to design a holistic mental health service delivery system in which service will be provided to youth and their families in a coordinated manner.

Pueblo of San Felipe Children's Mental Health Systems of Care Development Project
San Felipe Pueblo, N.M. -- $292,440 for the first year to build on the progress already made toward improving health care programs by assessing, designing and implementing a system of care for children with serious emotional and mental health problems.

Yav pa anav (The medicine is good)
Karuk Tribe, Happy Camp, Calif. -- $116,157 for the first year to strengthen communities by increasing the access to and availability of culturally appropriate behavioral health, wellness offerings, and primary care services.

Standing Rock Circles of Care Grant
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Fort Yates, N.D. -- $305,875 for the first year to develop a project that will assist the Tribe, the communities, and the tribal members in the transformation of the mental health systems for children.

Nebraska Urban Indian Centers System of Care Program
Indian Center, Inc., Lincoln, Neb. -- $305,875 for the first year to provide the urban Indian communities with tools and resources to plan and design a holistic, community-based system of care to support mental health and wellness for youth and their families.

Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
Mashantucket, Conn. -- $305,875 for the first year to collaborate with the Clifford Beers Clinic to to plan, design, and assess the feasibility of implementing a culturally appropriate mental health service model for youth and their families

American Indian Health and Family Services
Gda'shkitoomi (We are able)
Detroit, Mich. -- $270,421 for the first year to create an integrative culturally appropriate system of wellness by conducting an in-depth gap analysis of the systems of care impacting the mental health and wellness of American Indian children and their families.

For additional information about this grant and other SAMHSA programs, please visit http://www.samhsa.gov/Grants/2008/sm_08_012.aspx and  www.samhsa.gov

August 2008

Click here for full press release.

List of available grants:

Gila River Behavioral Health Authority Youth Suicide Prevention Project, The Gila River Indian Community, Sacaton, Ariz. -- $496,889 for the first year to provide suicide prevention and intervention services through Saving Lives for Tomorrow.

Omaha Nation Community Response Team - Project Hope, Walthill, Neb. --  $500,000 for the first year  to build on prior suicide prevention efforts in order to develop and implement a tribal youth suicide prevention initiative, grounded in strong partnerships and collaborations. 

Mescalero Apache School Youth Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention Initiative, Mescalero, N.M. -- $432,282 for the first year to implement and evaluate a comprehensive early intervention and suicide prevention model.

Wiconi Wakan Health & Healing Center, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Rosebud, S.D. -- $477,570 for the first year to establish the Wiconi Wakan  Health & Healing Center, a place to implement the Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention and Early Intervention Project Plan. 

Circle of Trust Youth Suicide Prevention Program, The Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Nation, Pablo, Mont. -- $166,667 for the first year to implement a prevention project that will include both CSKT members and nonmembers.

Preserving Life: Nevada Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative, Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada, Sparks, Nev. -- $500,000 for the first year to support, expand, and enhance suicide prevention efforts within the communities of the Nevada Tribes by implementing goals in the three areas of interest of the Indian Health Service Suicide Prevention Plan--Awareness, Interventions, and Methodology. 

Youth Suicide Prevention, The Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Ft. Thompson, S.D. -- $450,390 for the first year to enhance the Tribe’s suicide prevention strategies and meet the objectives of its suicide prevention plan. 

Tribal Youth Suicide Prevention Program, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Pine Ridge, S.D. -- $500,000 for the first year to develop and implement a comprehensive and sustainable program to prevent suicide.

Wiconi Ohitika Project, Cankdeska Cikana Community College, Fort Totten, N.D. -- $485,857 for the first year to provide suicide prevention for the Spirit Lake Nation. 

Sault Tribe Alive Youth (STAY) Project, Sault Ste Marie Tribe Chippewa Indians,  Sault Ste Marie, Mich. -- $500,000 for the first year to work with tribal and non-tribal stakeholders to develop and implement a broad-based, culturally competent suicide prevention and early intervention program. 

Bering Strait Suicide Prevention Program, Kawerak, Inc., Nome, Alaska -- $500,000 for the first year to assist villages in developing prevention strategies through capacity building, education, training, and strong interdisciplinary collaboration and elder guidance. 

Native Youth Suicide Prevention Project, Native American Rehabilitation Association, Portland, Ore. -- $500,000 for the first year to expand and strengthen youth suicide prevention networks.

Additional grants will be awarded this year for suicide prevention efforts under the Garrett Lee Smith program.