The Power of Cultural Teachings for Native American At-Risk Youth

January 24, 2016 Comments Off on The Power of Cultural Teachings for Native American At-Risk Youth

The White Earth Nation is taking a “no more” stand against substance abuse by using Anishinaabe culture as the basis for an integrated rehabilitation program for youth in the juvenile justice system. The White Earth Tribal Council commissioned a video to show that the program has been very effective in turning around the lives of at-risk youth in the White Earth Nation. As the introduction states:

Impacts of drug abuse are being felt in our homes, schools, workplaces, and in our daily lives. The devastation from this drug abuse is fragmenting our families, contributes to the neglect of our children and threatens to destroy our communities. Our culture is a guide and a source of security in good times and in bad. Many of our teachings handed down from our elders are in danger of being lost, but through our cultural teachings we as people gain strength and understanding. Watch how a determined effort by the White Earth Nation is making a positive change in our community and a difference in the lives of at risk youth.

The White Earth Nation’s reservation is in present-day Minnesota, and the tribe is culturally Anishinaabe—also known as Ojibwe or Chippewa. The Anishinaabeg (plural) describes the tribes aboriginal to the Great Lakes area and speaking an Algonquin dialect.

Please note that Minnesota is a Public Law 280 state, which means that the state has criminal and civil jurisdiction over most tribal lands. The video includes interviews with state-court judges, prosecutors, and public defenders because the state has jurisdiction over juvenile justice matters on the White Earth Naton’s reservation, even if the White Earth Nation has its own tribal police.

Although it focuses on a culturally based program within the juvenile justice system, the video also emphasizes the role of schools in educating the tribe’s youth in Anishinaabe culture in developing values and a way of life based on respect and self-esteem.

Link to video here.

James D. Griffith is an Associate Attorney with Mangum, Wall, Stoops & Warden, PLLC. He is licensed as an attorney in Arizona, the Navajo Nation, and the Hopi tribal courts.

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