The Cedar Bough Native American Program, which closed in 2016, was a private, independent residential treatment facility for tribal youth. For nine years, Cedar Bough provided high-risk/high-need youth, many who had been involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, with culturally-competent mental and behavioral healthcare services. Using traditional practices like equine therapy, drumming circles, and smudging, the Cedar Bough program sought to strengthen participants’ tribal identity and connection to Native culture. Program staff worked in partnership with a variety of supportive adults, such as therapists, case workers, child welfare workers, tribal representatives, and family members, to support, empower, and meet the needs of each participant.
Substance abuse, including the abuse of alcohol, remains one of the most pressing challenges in many tribal communities. Addiction destroys lives, tears apart families, and impacts future generations through childhood trauma, fetal alcohol syndrome, and other lasting effects. In response to this ongoing crisis, tribes across the country are experimenting with a wide array of prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies. Healing to Wellness Courts use judicial monitoring and coordinated treatment to break the cycle of addiction. Youth prevention programs offer young people positive, pro-social activities as an alternative to drugs. And cultural programs teach ceremonies, language, and other traditions to empower tribal members to stay away from destructive influences.