PHASE I SUMMARY (Sept 2005- June 2008)
The following is a summary of the work that the Healing of the Canoe Project completed during Phase I of the project, which was a collaborative project between ADAI and the Suquamish Tribe only.
Strengthening the Research Partnership
During Phase I of our grant, the Healing of the Canoe project worked diligently to strengthen the partnership between the Suquamish Tribe and the UW Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute through a number of ways:
• HOC hired research teams located both in Suquamish and at ADAI. HOC staff have an office in the community with an “open door policy.”
• Each team met weekly, with joint meetings held monthly; the location of joint research meetings rotated between the reservation and ADAI.
• The Tribe’s Cultural Cooperative (CC), which assures that all programs introduced into the community are culturally appropriate, served as the project’s Community Advisory Board. It reviewed all project materials and procedures, with final review and approval by the Tribal Council (TC) and also by the University’s Human Subjects Division.
• Research team members made regular presentations about the project and its progress to both the CC and TC, as well as to the Tribe’s Elders. They also met with a number of other agencies within the community, including the Tribal Youth Council and the Education Department.
• The tribal community was kept informed through quarterly Community Meetings. A project update article was regularly included in the monthly tribal newsletter, including responses to questions about the project collected at Community Meetings.
• One member of the ADAI team spent a significant amount of time in the community, attending and volunteering at community events, attending Elders lunch on a weekly basis, participating in Canoe Journey, etc.
• Members of both the ADAI and Suquamish research teams helped prepare and distribute food as part of the community’s summer hosting of traditional tribal canoes at the annual Tribal Canoe Journey.
• Cross training was an important piece of the partnership. The ADAI team held monthly cultural education sessions, consisting primarily of Suquamish recommended reading assignments and films followed by group discussions. In return, training on research methods was provided to the Suquamish team and interested community members.
HOC also regularly assessed the perceived nature and quality of the working relationship from the TC, CC, and the Suquamish and ADAI research teams’ perspectives. This was done using three surveys: 1) the Wilder Collaboration Factors Inventory; 2) the Meeting Effectiveness Inventory; and 3) the Individual Perceptions of the Collaborative Process. Results showed that partners generally felt comfortable participating and felt valued; that there was good communication, flexibility, and adaptability; that there were well established relationships; that the timing for collaboration was right; that both organizations would mutually benefit; that an appropriate cross section of community members were involved; and that individuals were willing to compromise. They also felt that trust among collaborators grew considerably over time.
Community Needs Assessment
The Suquamish CC nominated individuals thought to be Key Stakeholders in the community. A total of 16 individual interviews were conducted using an adaptation of the Community Readiness Model developed by the Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research at Colorado State University. Key stakeholders were asked to identify and rank order what they perceived as the three areas of greatest concern for the community. The interview assessed the community’s efforts to address identified issues (programs, activities, policies, etc.), community knowledge of these efforts, leadership, community climate, community knowledge about the issues, and resources related to the issue.
Focus groups were also conducted with four important community groups – Elders, service providers, youth and community members – to follow up and expand on information gained in the key stakeholder interviews. While these focus groups responded to a number of common questions, they also had slightly different sets of questions based upon their unique perspectives on the community and the identified issues. The key stakeholder interviews and focus groups led to the development of a community Needs and Resources Report that was presented to the Tribal Council for the Tribe’s use. A summary brochure based on this report was also sent to all tribal members.
Based on the identification of substance abuse and need for cultural identity among youth as the top priorities in the community, a focus was placed on developing a culturally relevant intervention to address these related concerns. HOC reviewed a number of American Indian/Alaska Native programs and “best practices.” A prevention program (Canoe Journey/Life’s Journey: Life Skills Manual for At-Risk Native Youth) developed by members of the UW research team and the Seattle Indian Health Board, and based on the traditional Coastal Salish canoe journey, was identified as the backbone of the intervention.
Members of the ADAI and Suquamish research teams met weekly over 5 months with a curriculum development team composed of Suquamish Elders and community members. These meetings were open to all community members and were held immediately after the Elder’s Lunch to allow Elders to participate. This process resulted in a community based, culturally grounded cognitive-behavioral life skills curriculum based on the metaphor of the canoe journey, and that includes Suquamish beliefs, stories and history.
The Suquamish HOC curriculum, now titled “Holding up Our Youth,” consists of 11 sessions. Each of the sessions includes training important cognitive-behavioral skills and weaves in information about alcohol and drugs. Traditional stories were collected from Elders and other community members and are included as a way to convey and reinforce session information through the messages and values found in the stories. Elders and tribal leaders volunteered to come into the sessions to share their experiences and perspective, and to talk to the youth about various topics such as drug and alcohol use, Suquamish spirituality and cultural values, and Suquamish teachings and stories. These guest speakers provided an opportunity for youth participants to meet with community members who can serve as mentors and resources. This allowed for the inclusion of sacred Suquamish knowledge and teachings that could not be provided in written form, as this knowledge belongs to the community. The youth also participated in culturally-related activities such as food gathering and preparation, traditional introductions, traditional storytelling, and gift preparation (including beading, weaving, cedar collection, carving, etc.). Participants were also involved in a number of other activities such as breakfast with the tribal police chief, visiting tribal chambers, and helping with the annual Canoe Journey hosting.
The intervention program ends with an Honoring Ceremony where facilitators acknowledge youth for the completion of the program and honor their unique attributes. The ceremony also incorporates the work participants have done on identifying mentors. Mentors are invited by the youth to attend the ceremony. The youth prepare a short speech about why this person is their mentor and honor them with a handmade gift (necklace, weaving, etc). Tribal Elders, leaders and the youth’s families are also invited to witness this ceremony and share a meal.
Two intervention sessions with youth were held during Phase I. The first was during the summer of 2007, during the regular Suquamish summer school session. The second ran from March – June 2008, as a bi-weekly after school program. Participating youth attended Kingston Middle School and were in 6th– 8th grade. Over 20 participants completed the HOC intervention program during Phase I.
The work conducted in Phase I of the project was selected as one of twelve examples/models of appropriate and respectful community engagement by federal agency representatives and was included in the book, Principles of Community Engagement (2nd edition).