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Tue Jul 24, 2012, 06:02 PM

Studies of Substance Abuse with Interventions for the Youth of Native American Indian Communities #1


For the past 14 months I have lived in a cabin on 40 acres on the largest Native American Indian reservation in California and working as the Director of Behavioral Health. The motivation for this research project grew from the knowledge that there have been 3 murders, 7 shooting victims, 16 stabbings, 38 domestic violence reports, 2 suicides, and countless fights that have been reported since my arrival in this beautiful valley surrounded by mountains, a little over one year ago. The most common contributing factor in all this external-internal directed violence is chemical dependency and substance abuse/misuse. The average age of the victims and perpetrators is 23. All of this has happened in an economically poor rural environment that has a total population of 2285 people and is 7.1 square miles in diameter. The registered population comprises 971 recognized Native American Indians, 1110 white and 166 Hispanic.

“People are just beginning to understand the problems. We can't answer it for ourselves as a tribe. We need outside people to help us. That work is going to bridge our world with yours, our way of thinking with your way of thinking and we need that bridge. It's like a puzzle. And there are many pieces to that puzzle and they all can connect to each other. It's just that you need people with intelligence to say "Hey, let's put the puzzle down on the table and let's connect these pieces together. And let's build a story. And let's let the whole world hear that story. And it's a puzzle—a puzzle about people.” (Quote from a friend of mine named Coyote, a Round Valley Native American Indian Elder, ex-member of AIM, American Indian Movement, a spiritual leader for many tribes in Native America, June 2009)

“For a subject that has been worked and reworked so often in novels, motion pictures and television, American Indians are the least understood and the most misunderstood Americans of us all.” (Quote from a speech by John F. Kennedy, President, April, 1963)

“Perhaps more than anyone else, the Native American community faces huge challenges that have been ignored by Washington for too long. It is time to empower Native Americans in the development of the national policy agenda.” (Quote from a speech given by Barack Obama, President, Sept., 2008)

“We’ve got to make sure we are not just having a Bureau of Indian Affairs that is dealing with the various Native American tribes; we’ve got to have the President of the United States meeting on a regular basis with the Native American leadership and ensuring relationships of dignity and respect.” (Quote from a speech given in Elko, Nevada by Barack Obama, Oct., 2008)

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