Enduring Legacies Native Case Studies

Theme

Human Services


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!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.

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?

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.

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?

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?

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.

Housing in Indian Country

Author:Marchand-Cecil, Cindy

Housing shortages are a critical issue that impact Indian people. Traditional housing loans are difficult, if not impossible, to obtain because Indian reservations because financial institutions, as a rule, cannot secure their loans through deeds to property on federal trust lands. Because of this, most reservations must rely solely upon federal funding for public housing. As a result of this and considerable migration back to tribal communities, most reservations experience an extreme shortage of homes that meet federal housing quality standards. Through this case, students can explore ways that tribes can advocate to revise polices and enhance existing structures that result in developing vibrant, healthy communities for Indian people.

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.