Giving Compass' Take:

• The Annie E. Casey Foundation supports a project called Little Holy One, which utilizes a research-based approach to reduce youth suicide at Montana’s Fort Peck Reservation. 

• Evidence-based research includes resources from community visits, interviews, and meetings to understand which practices can make a significant impact in Native American communities.  How is your philanthropy promoting this type of targeted research methods and implementation? 

• Learn more about suicide within Native American communities. 

For children and families of historically underrepresented communities, evidence-based programs that draw on cultural roots offer the greatest opportunities for success.

This realization informs the work of Wa’Kan Ye’Zah or “Little Holy One.” With support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the project is applying an innovative culturally oriented approach to curtail youth substance abuse and suicide at Montana’s Fort Peck Reservation.

Little Holy One uses research to adapt evidence-based practices to the unique experiences of Native Americans at Fort Peck. Information collected from community visits, meetings and interviews ultimately enabled the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing to receive a National Institute of Health research grant and secure the multi-year funding it needs for a full program launch of Little Holy One later in 2020.

By promoting positive aspects of Native American tradition, identity and culture, Little Holy One seeks to improve the mental health and parenting capacities of young adult caregivers while decreasing the risk of substance use, suicide attempts and other harmful outcomes in their children.

“We know that intergenerational approaches are an effective way to address risk factors that have been passed down from generation to generation,” says Teresa Brockie, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Nursing and the project’s principal investigator. “Children spend the majority of their time at home, so when it comes to building strength among Native American youth, the best way to reach them is through engaging with their caregivers.”

Across the nation, 46% of kids have had at least one negative childhood experience, which can include incidents of abuse and neglect as well as exposure to violence. On the Fort Peck Reservation, 78% of the 15-to-18-year-olds surveyed by Brockie fell into this same category.

Read the full article about preventing youth suicide on reservations at The Annie E. Casey Foundation.