Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians

Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
Garrett Lee Smith Tribal
North Dakota

The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians live on a 6 by 12 mile reservation in Rolette County, extreme north-central North Dakota.  Tribal members have long suffered from severe poverty and accompanying social stresses which threaten the social fabric of our community.  Median household income is less than two-thirds of national levels; 65% of adults on the reservation are unemployed.  Between 2003 to 2009, 144 of our youth, ages 5-24 years, exhibited suicide behaviors—42% involving substance use.  There were 7 completions during this period.  Our program targets our youth between the ages of 10 and 24, struggling with historic and present-day multi-generational trauma and chronic sever poverty, and afflicted by multiple risk factors including:  suicide attempts, depression, hopelessness, despair; recent loss of family or friends by death or suicide; alcohol, meth or other substance abuse; family dysfunction; increased anger, conflicts, aggression, violence; isolating behaviors; doing poorly in school.
Our Goal is to strengthen the health and wellness of our children and youth—their physical, mental, social, cultural and spiritual awareness, balance and well-being—so that they may resist destructive factors, and help heal their families and community.  We have five Objectives:

  1. Facilitate and expand communication and collaboration among all local agencies and individuals that provide services and support our children, youth and families;
  2. Engage our entire community in an intensive public education and awareness campaign;
  3. Train staff of participating agencies to conduct and evaluate evidence-, practice- and culture-based prevention and early intervention activities;
  4. Coordinate and evaluate the implementation of evidence-,practice-and culture-based prevention and early intervention activities; and
  5. Establish and operate a community-wide Crisis and Survivor Intervention process.

We will implement two Evidence-based programs—TeenScreen and the American Indian Life Skills Development Curriculum (AILSDC)—and two practice- and culture-based programs:  QPR (Gatekeeper Training) and Sources of Strength.  We will serve at least 1,750 youth and additional family members each year of our program – some 5,250 youth over three years. In this way, we will strengthen our children’s self-esteem, positive bonding, and resilience:  by end of the project the majority of our youth will no longer be at risk of suicide.