Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Theme

Health and Wellness


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 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.

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.

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!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.

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.

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?

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.

Flathead Lake Fish and Methylmercury: Treaty Rights & Human Rights

Author:Lori Lambert, PhD, DS, RN

This case examines the presence of methymercury (MeHg) in Flathead Lake on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana, home of the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreille Peoples. The presence of MeHg is affecting the health of fish, osprey, tribal and community members. It is a particularly devastating problem for pregnant women as the developing fetus is particularly susceptible to the neurotoxic effects of methylmercury. It is time for action to address this environmental problem, but the solution to this issue is complex and raises a host of scientific, educational, and intergovernmental issues.

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?

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?

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. 

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.

Native Gaming in the US

Author:Hai-Jew, Shalin

Native gaming has been a part of the US landscape for decades. This case examines this phenomena through an economic, social-cultural and political lens.

Case 1: "All In? Economic Factors to Consider in Native Gaming"
The economics frame focuses on the context of the need for economic development on Indian reservations. This offers a range of considerations for Native economic development. It also looks at the pros and cons of Indian gaming as an economic choice within a full economic development strategy. This asks learners to consider issues of economic development and empowerment.

Case 2: "Smallpox or the New Buffalo: What's the Right Analogy for Indian Gaming?"
The social and cultural frame surfaces issues of traditional beliefs and Native identity, the projection of authentic tribal culture, and the importance of tribal unity historically. This case asks learners to consider how to maintain these values in an environment of economic globalization, which may force the issue of economic development and Native American self-sufficiency.

Case 3: "Setting the Rules for Native Gaming"
The political frame uses a legal, policy and procedure focus to approach the regulation of Indian gaming. With relevant external laws and internal tribal ones, this political frame asks readers to consider important tribal leadership structures and policies to support effective Indian gaming.

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.