The Sault Tribe Alive Youth (STAY) Project works directly with tribal students and their families to recognize and prevent suicide risk factors, including substance abuse and bullying. The STAY Project’s Seven Feathers Partnership Board, operating in the eastern and central Upper Peninsula of Michigan, customized the state’s suicide prevention plan to address the unique substance abuse and related behavioural health needs of rural Native youth. The Board comprises tribal and non-tribal representatives from seven groups: (1) elected leaders and policy makers, (2) schools, (3) healthcare providers, (4) community agencies and organizations, (5) juvenile justice system, (6) foster care system, and (7) spiritual and faith-based helpers.
Since its inception in 2008 (when the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians received a Garret Lee Smith grant), the Board has pursued a range of activities, including a two-day conference “Empowering Lives—Empowering Communities” for tribal professionals, community members, and youth (350 participants in Sault Ste. Marie and another 150 when the conference was repeated in Marquette); and the creation and dissemination of the “Building Circles of Support” curriculum for tribal youth, which incorporates Native American teachings with a range of group dynamics processes.
Using funds from SAMHSA’s Service to Science Subcontract to Build Evaluation Capacity of Evidence-Based Interventions, program staff will use a case-study approach to evaluate the contributions of the Seven Feathers Partnership Board to the development and implementation of the STAY Project’s prevention activities. Through extensive interviews and focus groups with Board members and other stakeholders, the STAY Project will examine how the Board transformed into advocates for, and implementers of, substance abuse and suicide prevention programming. Data collected will inform the development of a model or typology for integrating tribal traditions, practices, and traditions into future prevention programming.
Assistant Executive Director
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
523 Ashmun Street
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan 49783