Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies


Family and Youth

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!Enhancing Native Student Achievement: What Works?

Author:Tanya Altstatt Menchaca

Shortly after the Federal “No Child Left Behind Act” (NCLB) was enacted, the Neah Bay High School on the Makah Indian Reservation was in the lowest fifth percentile of achievement for Washington State Schools. It was categorized as a “Priority School...in need of substantial improvement in whole school proficiency and growth...” by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Intensive support was requested of the school district and OSPI. Neah Bay High School’s low achieving status prompted the official label of a School Improvement Grant 1 school.  With this label Cape Flattery School District (CFSD) and Neah Bay High School were required to file School Improvement plans each year.  This case explores the steps taken to turn a failing school system into a success.

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 Aftermath of Redskins Indian Mascot Decisions: What’s Next?

Author:Gary Arthur

For decades Indian mascot names have been generally regarded as stereotypical and racist. Because of the divisive nature of Native American mascots, school systems from middle school through college level have in the past and are now coming to terms with changing these names. The “Redskins” mascot name is particularly offensive. A number of high schools have dropped the Redskin mascot name, but the decisions, procedures, judgments, and residual effects of change within these school systems and communities differ. What happens after a mascot change and how this impacts communities who for many decades used these names in their school systems is an area that can be as critical as the decision to change itself.

Honoring Our Children: Acceptance within the Indian Community

Author:Arviso, Vivian

This case study is about the creation of safe school environments that promote tolerance and diversity in Indian communities. Native students who have a sexual orientation or gender expression which their classmates perceive as different are often subjected to bullying and harassment and many do not complete their educational goals. Sadly, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) students are 30% more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers. The Story Problem is situated at a high school where a recent suicide has led an Indian student to take action to create a safe and welcoming place in the school for Indian and non-Indian LGBT students by having a support group. Student organizers hope to eliminate bullying and harassment of all students, affirm traditions and identities as Native peoples, and express acceptance to protect the lives of all students.

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!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!Learning to Hunt: Mini Case

Author:Barnhardt and Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley

This mini case study seeks to extend our understanding of the processes of learning that occur within and at the intersection of diverse world views and knowledge systems, drawing on experiences derived from across Fourth World contexts, with an emphasis on the Alaska context in particular. The case outlines the rationale behind a comprehensive program of educational initiatives that are closely articulated with the emergence of a new generation of indigenous scholars who are seeking to move the role of indigenous knowledge and learning from the margins to the center of the educational research arena and thus take on some of the most intractable and salient issues of our times.

Back to the Cradle: Love and Other Relationships

Author:Mary Big Bow, MSW

Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Not those silly seven minutes in heaven games in childhood, but the “tingle in your toes, can't stop smiling, can't eat, can't sleep” kind of falling in love? What an utterly pleasant feeling that makes people smile even decades after the fact. Adolescence is a time of firsts; first hand holding, first kiss, first job, first car, indeed a time of crisis and identity formation. Coupled with the fact that adolescents are at the peak OF(in) their physical fitness, they can eat endlessly, or go without eating for days, can stand extreme heat and cold, and most believe they are immortal contributing to risky behavior. An exciting time in any case.

Adults close to these youths' lives are often perplexed, frustrated, and angry by some of the behaviors exhibited during this transition into adulthood. Parents and caregivers can and do have a positive impact in helping their teen regulate emotions, enter healthy relationships, learn work ethics, experience trust, and develop respect.

A Place to Live, A Place to Heal

Author:Ane Berrett

This case examines out of home placement for Native American Children. It tells the story of a Native American girl and her extended family who are caught in family dynamics resulting from intergenerational trauma. In their attempts to resolve this situation they access the “systems of care” approach and the Indian Child Welfare Act to provide stable after care placement. “Systems of care,” sometimes referred to as “wrap around services,” is a philosophy promoted by the US Department of Health to provide individualized, community based and integrative service. The Indian Child Welfare Act is a federal law that Congress passed in response to the alarmingly high number of Indian children being removed from their homes by both public and private agencies. This case explores how these mental health systems and the Indian Child Welfare Act are challenged and applied in the best interest of a young Native American girl.

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.

So You Want to Buy a Pony? A Case for Financial Literacy

Author:Michelle Aguilar-Wells

This case is about the financial considerations made in everyday life such as buying a car, house, or any large purchase on credit.  This case is introductory and intended to start participants on the path of financial literacy.  Many students have not had the opportunity to learn the basic principles for financial stability and success.  Too many people learn these lessons the hard way; through bankruptcy, loss of property, avoidable poverty, and poor credit management.  This case is best taught as an interrupted case with discussion, written work, or research required at the end of each section.

Who But the Smallest: Our Future in the Hands of Children

Author:Mary Big Bow, MSW

This case study reflects the cycle of historical and generational trauma and how it is particularly devastating to oppressed ethnic groups. It also demonstrates the potential role for helping professions such as social workers to implement cultural identity and traditions to interrupt the cycle. The sessions are created to identify, explain, analyze historical and generational trauma, and discuss how knowledge gained can help develop new perspectives and approaches to dealing with the manifestations of historical trauma.

Indian Interrupted: The Story of an Indigenous Man

Author:Ane Berrett

The development of a “self” is an on-going and lifetime process. This case study examines the story of a Native American man, cut off from his land, his culture and his people of origin. It explores the negotiation of his native identity through the lens of Erikson’s developmental stages and the impacts of “Indian identity interrupted.” It explores the bio-psycho-social impacts of trauma as they relate to the fracture of identity and strategies for healing.

On Being a Man: The Private Matter of Domestic Violence Against Men

Author:Mary Big Bow

Domestic violence against women is estimated at 1.3 million incidents annually,[Tjaden & Thoennes, 200] It is clear this is a great problem on many levels. However, another problem that is greatly underestimated is violence against men by their partners. One study says an estimated 835,000 men report violence against them by their partners. Research is hugely lacking in determining the true numbers of males battered by their partners. This case explores the social problem of family violence and the experience of violence against men. Is domestic violence a gender issue? What are the underlying causes and what are the consequences of domestic violence?

The Boy Who Wasn't There

Author:Lisa Queen

This case involves a Native student with poor attendance in a first grade classroom and the series of interventions made by the classroom teacher and the school system to alleviate the problem. Issues including extended family systems, home/school cross-cultural communication, and Federal and State school reform regulations are a part of the discussion.

The Will of the People: Citizenship in the Osage Nation

Author:Dennison, Jean, University of Florida

This teaching case tells the story of Tony, one of nine Osage government reform commissioners placed in charge of determining the "will of the people" in reforming the government of the Osage Nation. Because of Congressional law the Osage Nation had been forced into an alien form of government for a hundred years. Recent legislation has reversed this and has recognized the Osage Nation's sovereign right to determine its own citizenship and form of government. As part of this case, students will analyze the highly charged debates over citizenship that took place during Osage community meetings. From these perspectives students will be asked to write referendum questions covering the central issues at stake with Osage citizenship. This case provides an opportunity for students to explore a range of issues including American Indian citizenship and sovereignty, the power and danger inherent in racial identity, and the process of community-based reform.