November Native American Heritage Month
National Native American Heritage Month
Respecting Populations’ Heritages in Prevention
November is National Native American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the culture, history, and traditions of American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) peoples. And part of celebrating culture and heritage is to understand and respect the importance and value it has in people’s lives. When serving AIAN people, or any other population, it is vital that substance use prevention professionals understand the ways heritage influences lives and social determinants of health. Beyond just understanding, prevention professionals should also incorporate this knowledge into their planning, implementation, and evaluation of services. Adapting prevention services to better fit cultural needs can lead to improved outcomes for people.1
Furthermore, substance use prevention professionals should understand the specific substance use problems facing populations, and the risk and protective factors influencing those problems. By doing so, they may be able to more effectively incorporate culture and heritage into their services. However, obtaining this data can be challenging and also requires knowledge of heritage and culture. Public data sources such as national surveys can be less reliable when reporting on smaller demographic sizes, such as AIANs, because the sample numbers are lower and subject to greater margin of error. As such, prevention professionals who are serving such populations may need to rely on their own data collection. This requires understanding and addressing any cultural apprehension about discussing personal matters with a data collector and potentially adapting data collection techniques.
Prevention training and technical assistance on these and other topics is available through the Central East Prevention Technology Transfer Center and the National American Indian and Alaska Native Prevention Technology Transfer Center. Information on National Native American Heritage Month is available here.
1. Tilley, Jr., S. J. H., J. L., Jones, E. O., & Smith, C. A. (2014). The Contribution of Cultural Competence to Evidence Based Care for Ethnically Diverse Populations Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 10(1), 305–338 doi:101146/annurevclinpsy-032813-153729