Panhandle Regional SPF SIG by lifemate


									                             Panhandle Regional SPF SIG
                            Native American Focus Groups

Native American community focus groups were held in three of the four counties
(Dawes, Scotts Bluff and Box Butte) with Native American populations over 5% of the
total population. The culturally relevant format for the focus group was developed by
Roberto Dansie PhD. The format and questions included broad discussion areas which
provided information on community issues in general, and the inter-relationship of causal
and resiliency factors. Specific questions regarding alcohol misuse were also asked.

Eugene Simmons, Director of Chadron Native American Center was contracted to work
with Native American people in each community to establish meeting times and locations
and support contacting potential participants. Mr. Simmons also facilitated each focus
group. A meal was served before the start of each meeting.

Six to ten participants were hoped for in each focus group. A total of twenty-five people
participated including Elders, grandparents, parents, and young adults. Children were
welcome. None of the participants were employed in health and human services areas.

During the assessment process there was an additional meeting that was not organized
through the contracted resources. The meeting included a majority of Native American
members and a few non Native community leaders. This group gathered from several
counties in Western Nebraska. Many portions of the dialogue for this meeting paralleled
the SPF SIG assessment. These themes substantiated focus group dialogue and were
relevant are therefore included. Fifteen people attended this meeting.

Summary Themes
The information and stories gathered at the meetings is summarized in one document.
Participants were open in sharing many stories but asked that these be presented in a way
that could not identify the speaker or the town. There were concerns of response from
community members, schools (directed at children), law enforcement and court systems
which would further affect the lives of children and adults. This theme was common in
all communities.

The challenges presented in summarizing these meetings and in identifying themes are
that to those who participated all of the dialogue was interrelated and not categorized.
Therefore, while themes have been identified, it is important to view all of the
information as a whole. Any further interpretation or clarity should be gathered from
further dialogue with the Native American community.

                                                    Native American Focus Groups Summary    1
                                                               Panhandle Regional SPF SIG
Dialogue on Alcohol Misuse and Norms
Each group went around the circle to introduce themselves and was asked to share their
journey that had brought them to this place in their lives. As noted above this open
ended question provided a large amount of information which has been summarized in
the following themes. In addition it is important to note that these comments included
open sharing about the impact of alcohol in the family and individual lives of
participants. This public openness and sharing of personal behavior and/or impact
involving alcohol was only evidenced in one of the non Native community meetings

Alcohol Related Issues
The alcohol related problems people raised in the introductions centered on the impact on
themselves and their families (extended) and included:
     Growing up in alcoholic homes/Adult Child of Alcoholic
     Family violence (cause of and result from alcohol misuse)
     Alcohol use commencing with joining military
     Alcohol misuse as self-medicating PTSD suffered in military
     Traffic accidents and deaths
     Moving from family and reservation to get away from alcohol
     Starting drinking at a young age to be like “other” teen agers
     Suicides related to alcohol use
     Violence being done to people who are drunk
     Violence as a result of being drunk
     Arrests and time in jail of some participants
     Health issues (heart and diabetes)

Alcohol Use Youth and Young Adults
Participants noted the following alcohol related problems for youth and young adults.

Underage Access Themes
Ease of access to alcohol was mentioned in all communities.
    Parents and persons over 21 provide alcohol for all teens (not just Native
    Older teenagers and young adults can purchase alcohol in bars

   When the law enforcement is not around these places don’t card
   There is one place in Chadron nicknamed the Hide-a-Minor
   Parents across all class groups buying or giving youth alcohol
   Those over 21 procure
   Kids can get booze anywhere in town
   I watch my kids all of the time and I still don’t know where they get it
   Kids won’t tell where they get it

                                                  Native American Focus Groups Summary    2
                                                             Panhandle Regional SPF SIG
Underage Drinking Causes/Factors Themes
When asked what challenges Native American youth and young adults face that relate to
alcohol misuse, the following common themes were noted:
     Poverty
     Hopelessness
     Peer Pressure
     Gangs and Personal Violence
     Prejudice and Discrimination
     Schools
     Family History
     Affordable Activities
     Cultural Understanding and Support

   Kids have hopelessness because they have no connection to who they are.
   Racism is passed down from parents to children- so the violence is passed down.
     A lot of times when our kids get beaten up that is what it is.
   The way it is here the teams are chosen before our kids have a chance to even
     know this is happening. We have some good ball players but they don’t get to
   Our children are not part of this community.
   It is dangerous here. There are wild ones out there. Gangs and wannabees.
   How can we keep our children safe when there are people shooting guns out there
     (in the neighborhood)?
   Our children watch their role models on TV and because they have no hope their
     only goal is to end up in prison.
   Lakota kids need to know they are not dumb. They need to know that they can
     learn. We just learn in different ways.
   Peer pressure at school.
   There are teachers who do not like Native kids and they know it- can feel it when
     they are in these classes.
   The school system is set up for failure of Native children. They need to be
     recognized as "Who are we and where did we come from?”
   Family dysfunction- generational problems. We need to remember that for us this
     is a sociological pathology.
   We cannot afford to take our kids to the movies, or pay for dance lessons.
   Even Boy and Girl Scouts is too expensive for us.
   Our kids will not go to places like the Y even if we could afford it.
   The pain our own children feel. There are a lot of emotional things that they go
   There is a lack of education of professionals, teachers, and law enforcement
     about Native American.

                                                 Native American Focus Groups Summary    3
                                                            Panhandle Regional SPF SIG
Binge Drinking 18-25 Year Olds
    Respondents in Chadron felt that binge drinking 18-25 year olds (house parties)
       was the biggest concern in their community.

   These young people have too much money to waste and not enough direction.
   They have no shame. Young men and young women publicly urinating and hot
     tubs in front yards with people with not many clothes.
   Supposedly this is a dry campus. Maybe right on the campus but not on my block.
     There are three party houses in a row. The cars fill the field and all of the side
   It is hard to tell our grandkids that we want them to go to college to have a better
     life when this is what they see.

Community Norms Themes
   Underage drinking was seen as a problem that cut across all sectors of the
     population, not just a Native American problem.
   It is not just underage drinking.
   Alcohol use and misuse is accepted among adults throughout the community.

   Acceptance of teen alcohol use by community as a whole.
   It almost seems to be an expectation that teens will drink.
   It is not just youth that drink. The whole community has a lot of alcohol use.
     Native Americans are just more visible but there are many sober people too. And
     many people from other cultures have alcohol problems. It is easier for them to
     hide it.

Law Enforcement Themes
    There is a disproportionate arrest rate of Native Americans that does not reflect
      the depth of the problem throughout the community.
    There is not adequate legal representation available to Native Americans.
    Sentences and fines are steeper for Native Americans.

   When our youth get arrested we cannot afford the fancy lawyers. The public
     defender just tells us to plead guilty and pay the fine. There is no legal aide; we
     have to take the public defender. But that is not much good because this is a small
     town and he knows everyone and wants to keep his other business- so he is not
     going to say too much for our kids. Even when everything about it is wrong. So
     then our kids get really stiff penalties and fines.
   What happens depends on who you are.
   It is not the same for kids whose parents have money and everyone knows it.
   We need alternative sentencing. It does no good to lock up an alcoholic.

                                                  Native American Focus Groups Summary    4
                                                             Panhandle Regional SPF SIG
      Sending our youth east does no good either. They just come back as gang
      And they will even say to you “Felons can’t vote” That is why they do it- all of it-
       to keep us from having a say. It happens to Hispanic people too.
      All you have to do is look in the newspaper to see the problem. As long as people
       are not treated equally we will not solve this problem.

Native American Community Challenges Themes
When asked what challenges people face in their community the following were noted:
    Poverty
    Lack of employment opportunities
    Access to health services at HIS (travel time, costs, and loss of wages)
    Transportation
    Affordable Recreational Opportunities
    Community Disarray (Between Native Americans and within the non Native
    Prejudice and Discrimination
    Access to Counseling and Cultural Alcohol Treatment

   Scottsbluff is not really a community. It is lots of little groups based on who you
     are or what you do. That is why it has so many problems. Because all of these
     groups are always fighting between each other. Rich people fighting just to see
     who is best. So there is no community- no one comes together.
   We Lakota don’t all get along either. We are kind of like that too.
   We have communication problem. We have NA and AA but we also have GA
     (Gossips Anonymous). We need better communication than that.
   Even those of us with jobs can no longer afford to take time off work to go to HIS.
   Most of our people do not have vehicles so they cannot get where they need to go
     or get their kids to activities or school.
   Those who did not grow up like we did (poverty, family, culture) don’t know our
     emotions. When others comment about us (Native Americans) this is violence.
     When violence happens like this then our response is that same kind of violence.
     This separates us as a community. So now we must work to educate the
     community about us. This helps to beat the problem of public abuse.
   The stipulations that state(Magellan) put on payment has taken away many
     provisional counselors. There are a couple of counselors who are culturally
     competent and you must wait 3 months to get in. What if you are suicidal? And
     when kids have to wait, if they have another problem, then they begin to self-
     medicate. That is what it is called when you need a medication and cannot get it
     so you use alcohol or drugs instead.
   Culturally based treatment is needed. Run by Lakota people, Native American
     people. And this should be more than 30 days. Thirty days is not treatment. This
     needs to include opportunities for work for the people there. We need to change
     lives. We need some good long range programs.

                                                    Native American Focus Groups Summary    5
                                                               Panhandle Regional SPF SIG
Generational Impact of History
In all meetings the impact of Native and non Native contact was discussed in relation to
alcohol use. Comments included:
     Pine Ridge was created as POW Camp and was run under federal regulation and
        control. That is our history and is still our problem here.
     In 1922 they told us “Okay, now you can be an American.” Well we were here
        first, and to us this did not mean we would belong to the land, it meant we would
        have to be like the white people. That is not like Lakota- it is very different.
     When I was growing here in the Panhandle it was illegal to sell alcohol to us. So
        the stores could not see any other thing we would want to buy. So they put signs
        on the stores that said, “No Indians Allowed”, not just for alcohol but to buy
        anything. Those were the first English words I learned to read.
     Over the years many of our relatives have died in jails from many things. Some
        were health problems, some were intoxicated people who were not watched,
        maybe some were suicide, and some we just don’t know. As a young person when
        I was arrested I was very afraid and very quiet. You don’t know what is going to
        happen to you.

This is a history of generational trauma though violence, assimilation and discrimination.
The importance to the SPF SIG assessment is that within the Lakota community the
impact of generational trauma cannot be separated from prevention and treatment of
alcohol misuse.

Youth and Young Adult Resiliency
When asked what youth and young adults need to help them live a good life (be resilient)
there was strong consensus in the following areas and common discussion in all
     Place/Space for Native Americans (Intergenerational)
     Jobs and Job Training
     Recreational/Sports Opportunities
     Cultural Events and Activities
     Education on Alcohol and Drugs
     Recognition
     Parent Support, Involvement and Community Dialogue

   In the past, up to this point, Lakota children have not been helped in this
     community. Everyone has a program but our children are still in the same boat.
     Our children need first to understand what it means to be a good Lakota- to
     understand Lakota ways. Some people talk about traditions. There are no
     traditional people anymore. The circle was broken and they died when the circle
     was broken. Since the circle was broken we must learn a new road- but it must be
     a Lakota road. We are the role models. We must be there with our children. We
     must teach our children to listen first. Listen to nature – listen to what it means to
     be Lakota. Then they can learn in the schools and become good Americans.

                                                    Native American Focus Groups Summary    6
                                                               Panhandle Regional SPF SIG
   If the schools had a place for us that would help. Not a study hall, not a period,
    not a program- a place. A room that is just ours. Where we can go and the youth
    can go and we can just be safe, and listen, and talk and help them with their
    problems. Not a club- there are too many problems with clubs. They are violent.
    When you form club then you have to be against somebody. That is no good. It
    treats people differently.
   Somewhere for the kids to go, with computers and tutors. A place where there are
    Native people only where it is safe. Yes they need a place that is safe. It is not
    good to go to places where people want to fight you.
   Our kids need belonging – a place where we can come together as Native people.
    A place to have our own group, our own community.
   Sort of a “safe haven”- a place where kids can go if they are having problems at
    school, in the community or at home.
   A home based environment where kids are not restricted and yelled at like they
    are at the places in town.
   We have some resources too. We have many talented people (artists, history, and
    culture). If we use these people we won’t lose. Need a place where we can all be.
    Our kids do better when they see things.
    We have a recreation program on one night a week just for our kids. Where they
    feel safe. The Armory isn’t the best place but it is all we can afford. Every where
    else, wanted a $1M insurance each night.
   We need activities for our young people- starting when they are much younger.
   Teams of our own. We need basketball and baseball teams for just our kids. That
    way they can be on a team or play.
   In the old days everyone just used to help. We need to volunteer and people will if
    they know there is a need. We do need money for crafts and supplies though.
   We need more conversations like this- as a community
   And conversations with the law
   We, the ones who are involved need to keep going- we need to keep helping kids.
   Information about the effects of alcohol. There was a time when there was an
    accident that killed some people and parents took their kids to see that- just to get
    the point across.
   We need outside programs that teach about alcohol.
   I have six children and seven grand children and I can tell you that it does know
    no good to preach. You can preach and preach and still they won’t listen. We
    need to have an impact.
   There used to be videos in schools that were graphic. Some kids could not watch
    them. Kids need to see the graphic things. I would rather my grandchild get the
    very realistic picture. I would rather have my grandchild alive.

                                                 Native American Focus Groups Summary    7
                                                            Panhandle Regional SPF SIG

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