The Native American and Alaska Native populations today face a number of significant barriers to successful treatment engagement and retention, including differing sociocultural belief systems between the client and the counselor.
Often Native Americans and Alaska Natives do not make a sharp distinction between physical and mental illnesses. Illness is often perceived by Native populations as a disharmony and therapy involves restoring a balance. Native people with substance abuse disorders often are interested in traditional healing methods, and these methods are often successfully incorporated with standard practices. Traditional healing practices may include nativistic movements, sacred dances, sweat lodges, talking circle, four circles, and sings.
Census data indicates that American Indians make up 1-2% of the US population, with over 500 American Indian tribes and 250 Alaska Native villages. Increasingly, Native Americans have been moving away from reservations and into urban centers. Current data indicates the median age for Native Americans is 20.4 years; the Alaska Native median age is even lower, at 17.9. This is significantly lower than the median age of the general population—30.0 years. Over 50% of the Native American population is under 25. The mortality and morbidity rates related to substance abuse problems in the Native American population are particularly significant.
Prairielands has developed a number of programs related to Native American substance abuse issues, including:
On June 29, 2012, the SAMHSA Region (V) Office, in collaboration with other Region V/Bemidji Area Department Health and Human Services operating divisions, held the Tribal Prescription Drug Abuse Summit in Bloomington, MN. Over 90 participants, representing 16 Tribes, 7 Federal agencies, 6 resource support agencies, and 3 States, attended the Summit. Participants included tribal chairs and council members, healthcare administrators, clinical providers, law enforcement personnel and others. The Summit provided a forum for information dissemination, action plan development, and peer-to-peer support.
Information that was presented at the Summit was based upon the four pillars of the ONDCP 2011 “Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan”: Education, Tracking/Monitoring, Disposal, and Enforcement. Following a brief presentation on each of the above topics, participants engaged in table discussion to identify challenges and resources while drafting an action plan to implement in their respective Tribes. Following the action plan development, each table was able to “report out” a summary of their ideas to share with other participants.
The Summit concluded with a presentation on team building since no one agency, system, or profession is solely responsible for combating prescription drug abuse. This issue must be addressed as partners in public health and public safety to ensure a coordinated implementation of each Tribe's prescription drug abuse prevention plan.
Presentations from the Tribal Prescription Drug Abuse Summit are available to you below. They include:
Goals of Summit presented by David Bingaman, HRSA Deputy Regional Administrator, Region V
Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drug Abuse Strategic Plan presented by Larry Scott, Michigan Department of Community Health, Bureau of Substance Abuse Services
American Indian Substance Abuse Prevention Activity in Minnesota presented by Denise Lindquist, Minnesota Department of Human Services, Chemical and Mental Health Services, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division, American Indian Section
Prescription Drug Abuse: Recognition, Intervention, and Prevention presented by Nicholas Reuter, Division of Pharmacologic Therapy, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services,
Safe Disposal of Unused Medicine presented by Brian D. Garthwaite, PhD, Compliance Officer, Food and Drug Administration, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Minneapolis District
Prescription Drug Abuse: A Law Enforcement Collaborative Perspective presented by Sgt. Matthew St. George, Minneapolis Police Department, DEA/TFO
“The purpose of the Dr. Duane Mackey “Waktaya Naji” Award is to acknowledge individuals who, in their addiction study careers, have made significant contributions in education, research, mentoring, and service among Native American peoples. The award signifies the promise of continued success of an individual and serves to inspire others to make contributions to the addiction treatment field for American Indian people. The award is also designed to recognize individuals who, through their concerted efforts, have untiringly promoted and espoused the ideals of equality and justice for all peoples.”
In 2011, Dr. Cecil White Hat was recognized as the 1st recipient of the Dr. Duane Mackey "Waktaya Naji" Award. Dr. White Hat is a Rosebud Sioux Tribal member and the Principal Planner/Program Consultant with the American Indian Program, in the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division, Department of Health and Human Services, St. Paul, Minnesota. Dr. White Hat has had a distinguished career as an educator, substance abuse treatment and prevention specialist, evaluator, and advocate for American Indian Human Rights regionally, nationally and internationally. His depth and breadth of knowledge have been appreciated both nationally and internationally. He has worked on making his scientific knowledge available to the public through co-producing radio and TV programs in the Twin Cities in Minnesota, as well as unbridled willingness to collaborate in educational endeavors to advance the understanding of addictive disorder among American Indian people. Dr. White Hat was instrumental in adapting the Native American Curriculum for State Licensed Substance Abuse Programs in South Dakota to the tribal communities in Minnesota. Dr. White Hat was also deeply involved in the training-of-trainer (TOT) process in Minnesota. Finally, Dr. White Hat’s commitment to American Indian Human Rights has clearly been consistent and effective.
Dr. Duane Mackey, a Santee Sioux tribal member and a faculty member in the Alcohol and Drug Studies Program at the University of South Dakota, worked with the Prairielands Addiction Technology Transfer Center from 1998 until he passed away on March 11, 2010. He initiated many very important projects during these 12 years, almost all of which have received national attention. To mention a few: 1) Alcohol and Drug Exam Prep courses for American Indian Counselors, to prepare them for certification and licensure exams, which raised the pass rate substantially; 2) American Indian Curriculum for State Accredited, Non-Tribal Substance Abuse Programs, which received the Annapolis Award for Innovative strategies in workforce development; 3)Two videos which Dr. Mackey helped produce, both of which received national awards, Nagi Kacopi, and Sucker Punched; 4) The development of culturally sensitive assessment instruments for use with American Indian clients with substance use disorders, largely the work of Dr. Mackey; and 5) Dr. Mackey’s facilitation of the development of outpatient programs for American Indian clients with substance use disorders in community correctional settings. Prairielands ATTC wanted to acknowledge Dr. Mackey’s contributions to the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders in American Indian people by establishing an award/lectureship in his memory. Dr. Skinstad initiated the development of the award in 2010 and the first nomination process started in the spring 2011.
In addition to the plank emblematic of the Dr. Duane Mackey “Waktaya Naji” Award, award recipients receive support from Prairielands ATTC to attend a national conference on issues of substance abuse of their own choosing.
The Awards Committee includes: 1) Representatives of Dr. Duane Mackey’s family, Terrell Mackey and granddaughter Kenan Mackey; 2) Representatives of the Prairielands ATTC SD Advisory Board and the Prairielands ATTC SD Curriculum Committee; and 3) Prairielands ATTC staff, with Dr. Skinstad chairing the Awards Committee.