Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Theme

Community Development


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!Alaska Native and American Indian Policy: A Comparative Case

Author:Linda Moon Stumpff

Federal policy directed to settle Alaska Native land claims was shaped in a later time period and in a much different demographic, ecological, and economic context than earlier federal Indian Policy. This study begs the question why, despite these major differences, the two policy streams resulted in similar outcomes when analyzed at the macro level with national statistics. At the same time, significant cases of successful outcomes for Alaska Natives and for American Indian Tribes of the Lower Forty-Eight challenge the hypothesis of similar outcomes. Alaska Natives and American Indian Tribes created unique and innovative programs in response to these policies. By changing the scope of policy analysis from broad aggregated statistical outcomes to a kaleidoscope of detailed cases we shift the analysis to ask questions about what kinds of indigenous responses to the general federal policy streams might be most effective. Many new questions arise. Would similar responses work for both Alaska Natives and the Tribes of the Lower 48? Do distinctive differences in effective policy responses exist depend on specific factors? What kinds of indigenous policy initiatives break the mold and open the way to success and sustainability?

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.

The Twilight Saga and the Quileute Indian Tribe: Opportunity or Cultural Exploitation?

Author:Barbara Leigh Smith

This case explores the impact of a blockbuster series of books and films, “The Twilight Saga,” on the Quileute Indian Tribe and the small town of Forks, Washington. The Quileute Indian Reservation and the town of Forks are the setting for the “Twilight” series. Twilight is a story of teenage love between Bella Swan, and a vampire, Edward Cullen. The character, Jacob Black, portrayed as a member of the Quileute Tribe and a werewolf, is also vying for Bella’s affection. Numerous fan clubs have organized around Club Jacob and Club Edward. The case raises questions about the impact of popular culture and the dynamics of community economic development. The case also raises the question about whether this is a story of opportunity or cultural exploitation?

New!Two Cultures, One School

Author:Ray Barnhardt

For the past 40 years, the St. Mary's School District has pursued the goal of bringing the educational experiences provided by the school in line with the social, cultural and economic aspirations of the Yup'ik Eskimo community it serves. With strong and sustained leadership from the school board and with continuity provided by a stable and dedicated local staff, the district has sought to bring the communities wishes to bear on the school through a culturally articulated curriculum that seeks to balance the learning of Yup'ik ways with the learning needed to survive in the world beyond St. Mary's. This continues to be a delicate balancing act, but the board is committed to pushing ahead, and the higher-than-average presence of St. Mary's graduates in institutions of higher education and in leadership roles in the state, indicates that its perseverance is paying off. Drawing from the St. Mary's experience, we can extract some valuable lessons to guide other schools and communities in their efforts to establish "culturally responsive" educational programs for their students.

New!Sustaining Oomingmak, Sustain Us: Alaska Natives and the Muskox Adapt to Social and Ecological Change

Author:Linda Moon Stumpff

This case explores evolutionary adaptation from biological and social-cultural perspectives. Evolutionary forces, including climate change, cultural, and economic change accelerate adaptation and underline the need for adjusting interactions between people and their environment. New relationships between the muskox (Obivos mochatus) and Alaska Natives are evolving. This case leads to questions about what science, economic institutions and traditional knowledge can do to support useful adaptations that contribute to healthy futures for the muskoxen and Alaska Natives. It raises further questions about the domestication of wild species and the impacts of climate change.

New!Pebbles of Gold or Salmon of Time: Pebble Mine and the Cultural and Environmental Economics of Alaska Natives

Author:Brian Footen

Alaska’s Bristol Bay is home to the most productive salmon runs in the world. For over 9,000 years, the indigenous people of the region have survived because of the salmon. In 2005 the Pebble Mine Project was proposed by the Pebble Partnership (PLP). The project proposal is to extract massive deposits of copper, gold and other minerals from the mountains making up the headwaters of Bristol Bay. The proposal has polarized people within the Native communities of the region. This case explores the trade off that is often made when jobs and profit are pitted against environmental protection.

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.

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?

Addressing Climate Change at a Tribal Level

Author:Steve Robinson and Michael T. Alesko

A global issue poses particular challenges to indigenous peoples everywhere. How can tribes respond locally?

Global climate change arguably is an overwhelming and unavoidable environmental, social, political and economic issue which is already at a crisis stage and only becoming more so. Indigenous peoples are the first affected and in many cases among the most affected. They also have been among the most vocal proponents of solutions but their advocacies, as these peoples themselves, often are marginalized. This case study begins by examining the macro realities of the global climate change crisis as it pertains to indigenous peoples then segues into a more micro examination of why and how it can be addressed -- and is being addressed -- by Native American tribes, in particular in this case the Swinomish Tribe of Washington State. The Tribe is in the midst of the Swinomish Climate Change Initiative, a two-year project which in its own words is to "assess local impacts, identify vulnerabilities, and prioritize planning areas and actions to address the possible effects of climate change." An action plan and other long-range solution products are to emerge from the effort.

The Peoples’ Forest: Emerging Strategies on the Mescalero Apache Forest Reserves

Author:Linda Moon Stumpff

This case raises questions about how American Indian Tribes reshape the care of forests on Indian lands by coordinating science-based forestry methodology and traditional ecological knowledge to meet their goals. Working the case, students are challenged to look for ways that the Mescalero Apache Indian Tribe, its membership, and its partners can reach beyond seemingly conflicting economic and restoration goals to apply forestry science and traditional ecological knowledge in restoration efforts. Can forestry science’s existing predictive formulae be used to achieve tribal goals, or will new scientific research need to coordinate with traditional ecological knowledge to achieve these goals? Prescribed fire and thinning are important tools for meeting today’s challenging conditions, intensified by drought and climate change. Within the context of the case, natural resource activities are connected to legal, scientific, cultural, economic, and policy considerations. Currently decisions are made to achieve cultural and ecological restoration in a perfect storm of high fire danger, climate change, global economics and lowered timber harvests.

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?

Should the Navajo Nation Build a Coal-Fired Power Plant?

Author:Jovana Brown and Nora Trahant

This two part case examines the proposal of the Navajo Nation to build a coal-fired power plant to generate electricity on its land. Part A explores the reasons why the Navajo Nation wishes to build the plant.  Part B describes the opposition which questions whether it should be built. The Navajo Nation says that this plant will have the lowest emissions of any coal-fired plant in the United States and will bring important economic benefits to the Navajo Nation by providing jobs and a steady source of revenue.  President Joe Shirley of the Navajo Nation states that the Nation chose to pursue this project as an exercise of its sovereignty. Opponents of the plant, many of whom are Navajo tribal members, say that this plant should not be built.  They say it will add considerably to air pollution already in the area and constitute a serious health hazard.  In addition to Navajo tribal members, the Governor of New Mexico, the Ute Mountain Tribe, and local environmental groups oppose the project. 

Is Your Tribal Land Secure?

Author:Ralston, Larry, The Evergreen State College

This case tells the story of a longstanding land dispute between the Quileute Tribe and the Olympic National Park. The Tribe's search for a just solution is examined in the context of changing political and environmental circumstances. Emergency preparedness is an important dimension of this case which also highlights the ways in which disputes are negotiated and the various considerations at play.

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.

Sacred Sites Sustaining Tribal Economies: The Mescalero Apache

Author:Henderson, Martha L.

The Mescalero Apache traditional homelands were what is now known as central New Mexico. Sierra Blanca, along with three other mountains surrounding the White Sands area, was the territorial markers of their area. These mountains were a source of cultural identity, geographic navigation, and subsistence. Today, the Mescalero Apache Tribe occupies a reservation in central New Mexico. The reservation boundaries include Sierra Blanca. Sierra Blanca is a significant sacred site in Mescalero Apache culture. This case study investigates the intersection between sacred sites, traditional native identity, boundaries, and contemporary tribal economic development.