Healing of the Canoe: Community Pulling Together
The Suquamish are a Lushootseed (Puget Salish) speaking people that traditionally lived along the Kitsap Peninsula, including Bainbridge and Blake Islands, across Puget Sound from present Seattle. Many of the present Suquamish live on the Port Madison Indian Reservation in the reservation towns of Suquamish and Indianola. The Suquamish Tribe has 950 enrolled members of which half live on the reservation. The Suquamish presently are experiencing a cultural resurgence and recently built a new community house and is building a new Suquamish museum. The Tribe currently has 240 employees in a variety of government programs.
During Phase I of the Healing of the Canoe Project, the Suquamish Tribe identified 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 youth intervention to address these related concerns. A prevention program 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. This process resulted in a cognitive-behavioral life skills curriculum, Holding Up Our Youth, based on the metaphor of the canoe journey, and that includes Suquamish beliefs, stories and history.
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. During Phase II the Suquamish Tribal Education Department has implemented the Holding Up Our Youth intervention as part of their regular school curriculum – first with the summer school program for middle school aged students, and later with high school students during the entire 2010-2011 school year. A series of shorter weekend workshops with two new groups of high school students was implemented beginning of 2012. Click here to view an article in the North Kitsap Herald about the Healing of the Canoe project in Suquamish.
The Suquamish Cultural Co-operative Committee served as the advisory board for the Suquamish HOC project.