Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Discipline

Health

New!Should Tribes Legalize Marijuana?

Author:Amber Seachord and Barbara Leigh Smith

Marijuana legalization has been gaining momentum in the United States in recent years, yet heated controversies continue to surround the issue. The central focus of this case is on the question of whether tribes should legalize marijuana.  The case begins by briefly describing the history of marijuana, what is known about its impact, and the changing policies at the state and federal level. It then discusses the various ways tribes are exploring the “opportunity,” the ways they might become involved in the marijuana business, and the pros and cons of various forms of tribal involvement.  

New!Does Smudging Belong in the Workplace?

Author:Toby Sawyer

This short case describes a conflict among the staff at an urban Indian center about the use of smudging in the workplace. An employee used a smudging ritual to cleanse the office after a hostile client stormed into the center and threatened his ex-wife and the staff. He was subsequently arrested. The center staff is divided about the appropriateness of using smudging in the workplace. The director must make a decision about how to handle the situation.

New!The Yakama Nation and the Cleanup of Hanford: Contested Meanings of Environmental Remediation

Author:Daniel A. Bush

In 1988 the former Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington was designated a Superfund site, and the federal government assumed the responsibility to clean the area of contaminants and toxic waste and make it safe for human use. This case investigates the complex relationship of Native Americans to that cleanup effort. More specifically it looks at the role of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation in the cleanup process, and while doing so raises questions about environmental security, justice and ethics, contested concepts of the cleanup and its aftermath, and severe challenges regarding treaty rights and obligations.

New!Wet, Dry, or Damp

Author:Mary T. Weiss

Since before statehood Alaskan communities have been plagued with widespread alcohol related crime, violence, health issues, and death. The “local option” approach to addressing access to alcohol in Alaska became law through Title 4 of the Alaska Statues in 1981. “Local option” communities may exercise a local option to modify the State laws regarding alcohol importation, sales, and possession for their own community. Becoming a “local option” community is voluntary but an overwhelming majority of “local option” communities are rural and have a predominately Native population. In 2009, one of the “local option” communities voted to end its “local option” status. This case study provides a framework to examine the cultural, political, commercial, social, and health issues related to alcohol use in rural Alaska.

New!Is diversity a mask or a bridge? The Indian mascot debate

Author:By Gary Arthur

For decades the Indian Mascot issue has fostered controversy across the land. Middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities and professional athletic organizations have wrestled with the issue. Port Townsend High School in Washington State is one of the schools coming to grips with its mascot name “the Redskins.” The community is in conflict about retaining or retiring the mascot name. Newly appointed Superintendent David Engle is no stranger to the conflict, having seen the same issue in the Edmonds School District where his children attended school. The Port Townsend School Board is determined to create “a fair, mature and respectful process for dealing with the sensitive issue.” This three part case explores the process of attempting to move the discussion of this issue from black and white, toward a deeper understanding of all sides. The case can be used as an interrupted case where each part is read and discussed separately or as a single session case.

New!Water Quality, Environment and Ethics Under Conditions of Climate Change: Who Speaks for the San Francisco Peaks?

Author:Linda Moon Stumpff

This case explores a place where religion, culture, politics and science intersected in the San Francisco Peaks controversy. The controversy began in 1908 when the Peaks first became part of the Forest Service system. When the Arizona Snowbowl, a private resort concession, came to the mountain, pressures grew: corporate owners saw limitations of profit-making proposals as an unfair limitation. Expansionary developments threatened the religion and cultural practices of 13 Arizona Tribes. Concern for pristine natural values associated with the Peaks deepened after designation of the Kachina Wilderness Area in 1984. Drought and climate change strained the mountain’s role in recharging the Inner Basin, and the ski resort’s existence. This case deals with the conflict of values around religion, water, scientific interpretation and land use under conditions of climate change.

Culturally Appropriate, Rigorous Evaluation of Tribal Services: Mount Sanford Tribal Consortium Healthy Relationships Project Evaluation

Author:Terry Cross

This study describes an evaluation of the Mount Sanford Tribal Consortium (MSTC) Healthy Relationships Project undertaken by the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA). MSTC approached NICWA to provide evaluation services for the Healthy Relationships Project when their initial evaluator proved a poor fit and the need for a culturally competent evaluator became evident. When NICWA stepped in to provide MSTC evaluation services, they proposed a new, culturally-appropriate methodology for the process evaluation (providing evidence of completion) and outcome evaluation (examining evidence of worth). The outcome evaluation relied on a mixed method design which included group discussions, surveys, individual interviews, and individual case studies. The process evaluation relied on mixed quantitative and qualitative methods, including: systematic document review, staff and management interviews, on-site observations and participant reaction, and satisfaction surveys and participant and staff interviews. The process evaluation outcomes for the project are described in detail.

Dilemmas and Solutions in Tribal Child Welfare: A Case for Customary Adoption

Author:Terry Cross, Sarah Kastelic, and Kathleen Fox

: This two part case study opens with a fictional example of what life is like for grandparents who are struggling to balance the love of their daughter and the long term safety and wellbeing of their grandchild. Part one examines the challenges that family members might face when they step forward to help and the very real and emotional decisions that have to be made regarding permanency for the long term well being of the child. Part two examines the cultural underpinnings of legal and cultural concepts that underlie permanency. Tribal culture has traditionally placed children whose parents are unable to care for them with relatives and extended family members without severing the bonds of kinship and love between parent and child. However, in modern times, in order for adoptive homes to be recognized by state and federal funding and child welfare authorities, termination of parental rights (TPR) has been required. Most tribes reject termination of parental rights culturally, and many have had solely negative histories with foster care and adoption such that they shun the concept. Some have taken the initiative to create their own versions of adoption based in their traditions.

Systems of Care in Tribal Communities

Author:Amanda Cross-Hemmer

This case explores the complexity of serving Native American children with severe emotional disturbances (SED). Part I examines the prevalence of mental health problems in Native American children and adolescents and the availability of appropriate mental health services in American Indian communities. The movement toward a system of care model for treatment of SED, where fractured services are weaved together to more effectively serve children with serious mental health needs in resource-challenged environments, is also described. Part I tells the story of the development and implementation of the Circles of Care program, which allowed tribes and tribal organizations to create plans for culturally appropriate systems of care. In Part II, the case concludes with two fictional examples of what life is like for a family with a child experiencing a SED.

Whose Rights Count? Confronting Violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act

Author:Terry Cross and Sarah Kastelic

This case explores the historical and ongoing need to keep American Indian/Alaska Native children protected in their families and communities whenever possible. Part I is a real life child custody scenario that involved the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. It illustrates the need for and provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA). Part II provides a policy context for the scenario, summarizing the impetus for ICWA and key provisions, including: eligibility (when ICWA applies), tribal notification, tribal jurisdiction, and placement preferences. The case closes with steps to take if ICWA is not being properly followed in an eligible child custody case.

Alberta’s Oil Sands and the Rights of First Nations Peoples to Environmental Health

Author:Lori Lambert, PhD, DS

This case examines health and environmental issues of Alberta’s Cree First Nations and the rights of the Province of Alberta and lease-holders to develop the oil sands to extract petroleum. Although there are many environmental issues associated with the process of extracting the bitumen from the oil tar sands such as climate change, destruction of the boreal forest, and contamination of wetlands and muskegs, this case focuses on the tailings ponds and the environmental health issues that they are causing.

Environmentalism Across Cultural Borders

Author:Sarah S Works, J.D.

This case examines competing views about environmental protection strategy among predominantly white, mainstream environmental advocacy groups and two major Indian tribes in the American Southwest. This case illustrates the complexities associated with nation building that relies on funds generated by natural resources development, and the dangers that exist when strategies for environmental protection collide between cultures. Specifically, this case presents the controversial decision of the Hopi Tribe to ban the Sierra Club and other mainstream environmental groups from its Reservation in 2009 and describes economic factors related to a coal economy that contributed to that decision.

The Indian health paradox: Honoring a treaty right or raising real dollars?

Author:Mark N. Trahant

The United States has a legal and moral obligation to provide health care for American Indian and Alaska Natives. This is a responsibility that has been expressed through treaties, executive orders and federal law. The Indian health system began when the government sent doctors to reservations to inoculate against small pox. Over nearly two centuries, however, the system has evolved into a complex example of government-run health care. Make that two alternative systems: There are direct services delivered by the Indian Health Service. Many tribes say that even though that system is underfunded, it represents the United States fulfillment of treaty obligations. A second system is tribally or tribally-sponsored community health clinics that receive money from a variety of sources, including the Indian Health Service. Is the second system the wave of the future?

Hantavirus and the Navajo Nation: A Double Jeopardy Disease

Author:Linda Moon Stumpff

This case discusses the outbreak of hantavirus in 1993, focusing on the impacts to the Navajo Nation in terms of the loss of life and health from the disease, followed by events that were sometimes linked to negative external and internal events. The investigation and media coverage following the disease itself created a double-jeopardy situation for the Navajo people who were already suffering from the impacts of the disease. The case unfolds around the differing, but sometimes parallel approaches of Western medicine and Navajo traditional medical knowledge in the areas of understanding, diagnosing, and caring for patients who came down with what came to be known as Sin Nombre Virus. This particular variety of the global disease hantavirus appeared in the United States in 1993. The case offers the opportunity to compare perceptions about the scientific investigations into the disease from the perspectives of Western science and from the unique perspectives of Navajo culture and healing methodologies.

Blowing in the Wind: The Navajo Nation and Uranium

Author:Jovana J. Brown, PhD and Lori Lambert, PhD, DS, RN

The Navajo Nation was the site of extensive uranium mining and milling in the 1950’s through the 1980’s.  This mining and milling has left a terrible legacy for the people and the land.  Mine and mill workers were left with illness caused by radiation exposure.  Many of these workers have since died.  Abandoned mine and mill sites on the Navajo Nation continue to expose residents to harmful radiation.  Water supplies have been contaminated.  The Navajo Nation banned uranium mining in 2005.  Yet the menace of new uranium mines in and immediately adjacent to Navajo communities continues to threaten the Navajos. This case examines the history of uranium on the Navajo Nation and looks at the question of how new mining in and immediately adjacent to the Nation could occur. An appendix to the case briefly examines uranium mining on other American Indian lands.

Natural Restoration and Cultural Knowledge of the Yakama Nation

Author:Emily Washines and Gerald Peltier

After a 70 year absence, the wapato (potato) returned to the reservation of The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation (Yakama Nation).  As a result of agricultural diversion, the water table was lowered and an imbalance in nature occurred.  A shift in nature also contributed to a shift in the cultural foods and plants available.  As students work through Part I of this case they will learn about the Yakama Nation and evaluate eating lifestyles.  Student groups will be assigned one of the key roles of land restoration. Each group will create a storyboard to visually tell the actions of their respective role.  In Part II of the case, students will explore the cultural knowledge of natural restoration and cultural foods.  A video “The Return of the Wapato,” accompanies this case.  This case provides an opportunity to learn how the Yakama Nation restores tribal land areas to historical use and ultimately protects the resources for those not yet born.

When Our Water Returns: The Gila River Indian Community and Diabetes

Author:Jovana J. Brown

The Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) of Arizona has the highest rate of diabetes in the world. Before white settlement of their homeland in central Arizona, their ancestors had an abundant water supply and a flourishing agricultural lifestyle. In the late 19th and early 20th century, non-Indian water use completely cut off their water supply. This depletion led to many years of starvation and then to a diet of highly processed foods that some say is responsible for the obesity and diabetes in the GRIC. After many years of negotiation, a water-rights settlement has been reached to return water to the ownership of the Gila River Indian Community. Research has shown that a diet that resembles the one that their ancestors ate when they were an agricultural people combined with increased physical activity can reduce the rate of obesity and diabetes. Will the return of their water enable the GRIC to return to their past agricultural practices? Can the members of this southern Arizona tribe again raise the kinds of crops as they did in the past? Can their previous healthy lifestyle of generations ago be restored?

Evil Water: The Problem of Alcoholism in Indian Country

Author:Singh, Subodh, Sinte Gleska University

This case tells the story of a small group of students studying chemistry at a tribal college on an Indian reservation. The students are concerned about the problem of alcoholism on their reservation and the pending discussion in the tribal council about lifting the ban on the sale of alcohol on the reservation. In class their professor explains the effects of alcoholic beverages on the human body. The students then brainstorm and research additional questions that are important in taking an informed position on lifting the ban on alcohol sales.

Salmon and Contamination in the Columbia River

Author:Lambert, Lori

Thousands of years ago the lands and rivers around Celilo Falls were huge trading areas where as many as 5000 people would come to trade for Salmon. It was a time for abundance and socialization. In the later part of the 1950s, after the development of hydroelectric dams on the Columbia, the tribal people lost the sacred falls, their Salmon, and their way of life. Today, the Columbia River is used as a major transportation artery as well as a source of hydroelectric power. The waters of the Columbia River are contaminated, dams have slowed the flow of the river, and in some cases the migration of the Salmon is impeded. The Salmon are contaminated with hundreds of toxins and the people who eat them are suffering from cancer and other ailments.

Meth in Indian Country: A Call to Action

Author:Marchand-Cecil, Cindy

Those who provide social services in the homes of community members are oftentimes overwhelmed at the dysfunction in family systems. Personal experiences become a call to action both to bring attention to the issues, but also to find ways to address and resolve them. The impact of methamphetamine use and the way it harms children and families is one such social problem. While dealers have permeated the country with illicit drugs, the situation has become an epidemic in Indian Country. Looking at this problem through the eyes of a social service provider who works a local nonprofit social service organization in rural Thurston County, Washington, this case explores the roots of the methamphetamine problem in Indian Country, and shares various strategies at the federal and local level to deal with it.

Reclaiming Native Women's Health Through Community

Author:Ackley, Kristina

Getting communities healthy is a major challenge facing Indian Country. Tribes and organizations that serve Indian people have struggled to alleviate disproportionate rates of health-related problems, both on the reservation and in urban areas. This case study introduces students to the ways health concerns of Native women are inextricably tied to colonialism, particularly in the area of prenatal and well-child care. Tribal health clinics working closely with community organizations can provide a promising way to improve Native women's health and empower tribes. Students will analyze a fictional meeting in which several characters identify health disparities and envision ways to work more closely together. They then critically evaluate possible outcomes of the meeting including challenges and successes, and suggest areas for further research.