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Tribal prevention and wellness programs

The Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) administers state and federal funding to provide training and support to all 29 Federally Recognized tribes in Washington for implementing evidence-based, innovative, culturally appropriate and relevant programs to prevent adolescent use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs.

Tribes enters into agreements known as the Indian Nation Agreements with HCA’s Office of Tribal Affairs (OTA) to provide prevention programs that honor tribes' inherent right to design and operate culturally-relevant and appropriate programs on behalf of the population served.

Supported by government-to-government agreements, tribal prevention programs and strategies seek to change beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors in order to delay initiation and reduce use of alcohol, tobacco (other than for sacred practices or traditional ceremonies), cannabis, and other drugs. Programs are intended to increase protective factors of community connectedness and positive social bonding through cultural practices with a focus on positive Native American values.

How services are selected

Prevention services are chosen locally to meet each tribe’s needs, culture and traditions.  Tribes develop strategies based on cultural and traditional teachings, available research or select evidence-based programs to best serve their members.  Tribes develop an annual prevention program plan with the assistance of DBHR.

Prevention training with tribal focus

DBHR has supported multiple training opportunities for tribal members and prevention professionals working with Native American populations, such as participation in the National Prevention Network Conference and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) National Youth Leadership Institute. DBHR has also supported multiple culturally specific Native American focused training opportunities, such as:

Tribal best practices

Resources for culturally-informed programs and strategies for American Indian and Alaska Native populations


Through the Tribal Prevention and Wellness Program, tribes have delivered 184 substance abuse prevention and mental health promotion programs and strategies in state fiscal year 2018. These strategies increase protective factors and reduce risk factors within tribal communities, including promoting peer and community bonding, increasing healthy beliefs and clear standards, addressing family management problems, and decreasing academic failure. Community-wide programs are in place to address laws favorable to drug use, low neighborhood attachment, and community disorganization. 


Tribal prevention and wellness program highlights

Squaxin Island Mural

The Squaxin Island Mural represents the four seasons and walking in balance. It hangs outside the youth center. The Squaxin community partnered with their community mobilization program to create this beautiful piece.

Tribal Substance Abuse Prevention Gathering

In partnership with Suquamish Tribe, the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) supported a Tribal Substance Abuse Prevention Gathering in 2017 and 2018. The event invited tribal members and community partners to participate in training and networking opportunities to share successful and culturally appropriate prevention activities.


Washington State Prevention Awards of Excellence

Each year at the Prevention Summit, professionals, community members, youth, and coalitions are recognized for their exemplary contributions to substance abuse prevention, mental health promotion and the health of their communities. Below is a list of awardees who work with tribal communities in Washington. Find out more about the Prevention Awards of Excellence and how to nominate someone on the Prevention Awards page.


Tribal and Urban Indian Prevention Professional

Joe Hipp

All Nations Foundation

Joe takes a unique approach to suicide prevention among Native youth, drawing on his unique experiences and platform as a member of the Blackfeet Tribe.  As a retired professional heavyweight boxer, Mr. Hipp founded the All Nations Foundation in Puyallup. Through All Nations, Mr. Hipp and others use boxing to help American Indian youth find connection and build resilience.


Tribal and Urban Indian Prevention Professional

Larry Jackson, Sr.

Quileute Tribal Member

  • Larry is a member of the Quileute Tribe and is very involved within the Quileute community.  From the Wellness and Healing Court to youth programs, Larry is always willing to help with local and neighboring tribes and communities. Larry is described as going above and beyond his scope of work and always being there for all of the Quileute youth. He is further described as someone who loves his culture, who will be there to give you the support if needed in any way he can.


Community Prevention Coalition

Forks Coalition

Ceciliajean Ashue and Phillip Sifuentes

  • As part of the Forks Community Coalition, Cecilia and Phillip have organized events focusing on prevention, well-being, and trauma-informed care as well as regularly reach out to communities experiencing traumas or tragedies. Together, they have arranged several events to encourage community communication, to educate on the perils of alcohol, and navigating grief including bringing together the Hoh, Forks, Quileute, and Tulalip Tribes.


Implementation of Prevention Program

Cowlitz Indian Tribe Healing of the Canoe Program

The Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s Healing of the Canoe program has been implemented for over three years. It is a program that provides tools for youth in the Cowlitz tribal community to build resiliency and hope through culturally relevant curriculum, prevention tools, and methods.  The program serves youth from middle school to high school. 


Tribal Prevention Professional

Kate Ahvakana
Suquamish Tribal Member

At the time of the award, Kate Ahvakana had contributed to prevention for seven years, managing cultural programs and activities for youth, including cultural camps and youth leadership programs. Kate was involved in the development and implementation of Holding Up our Youth, a life skill and drug and alcohol prevention Curriculum for the Suquamish Tribe. This was as part of the Healing of The Canoe, a collaborative project between the Suquamish Tribe, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe and University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute. Kate was instrumental in hosting and providing leadership on the first Tribal Prevention Gathering that took place in June 2017.


Tribal Prevention Professional

Steven Dorland
Squaxin Island Tribal Member

At the time of the award, Steven engaged youth in culturally relevant activities that promote healthy behavior and positive interaction. He also used art and crafts to engage youth in anti-drug, anti-bullying and anti-alcohol activities. Steven was also key in planning the Chehalis Tribe Suicide Prevention Walk.


Tribal Prevention Professional

Ann “Miss Ann” Penn-Charles

Quileute Nation Tribal Member

Miss Ann has worked in prevention for over 20 years and is a natural community organizer. As an enrolled member of the Quileute Penn-Payne Family (Lummi Humphreys-Paul Family/Muckleshoot of the Ross-Jack Family) of the Quileute Nation, Miss Ann understands the importance of comprehensive prevention planning and how to integrate prevention for her community to be culturally sensitive. At the time of the award, Miss Ann lead a group of youth on an annual substance-free Canoe Journey, connecting with other coastal tribes to build cultural awareness among youth. She organized a weekly Drum Circle to honor Quileute Tribal traditions that draws tribal members from neighboring Hoh and Makah Tribes. Miss Ann coordinated several healing and organizing groups in the community to further community connectedness. 


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