By Michael Logan, Tribal Youth Prevention Specialist
As you probably already know, November is Native American Heritage Month. What you may not have known is that research shows a strong cultural identification makes Native American youth less vulnerable to risk factors such as drug use and alcohol consumption and more able to benefit from protective factors than youth who lack this identification.
Substance abuse impacts young Native people extremely, and threatens the health, vitality and future productivity of the next generation of Native leaders. One of the strengths of Native American culture is a strong belief in family relationships and the extended family. Successful prevention is built on the foundation of the family, and transmits the cultural values held by the family.
Listed below are some cultural activities that families can do together this November to get their Native American youth on the right track. All of the activities assume the participation of elders, and include the spread of tribal history, values, and beliefs. Music, drumming, and singing are also integral parts of most of these activities and they include participating in sweat lodge ceremonies, smudging, attending powwows and other sober community activities, hunting, fishing, and participating in tribal sports just to name a few.
One of life’s most important developmental tasks is discovering one’s own life purpose, and Native American culture has many culturally endorsed practices for achieving this.