The Santee Sioux Nation is located in northeast Nebraska bordering the Missouri River (Great
Plains IHS Region). The total number of enrolled Santee tribal members is 2,918 with members
living throughout the United States (Penn, 2017). Over one-third (36.9%) of the total population
who reside on the Reservation are youth 19 years of age and younger (ACS, 2019. n = 367;
population of focus). The Native American community faces socioeconomic and behavioral
health (substance abuse, suicide) disparities that are not only the highest in Nebraska but several
times higher when compared to other races/ethnicities. This area is considered a “professional
desert”, in its lack of mental health and substance abuse providers (HRSA, 2022).
The Santee Sioux Society of Care SPIP Program will be headquartered at the Health & Wellness
Center which is a primary care clinic providing a broad range of healthcare and wellness
services. Through our Program, it is expected that the population of focus will take advantage of
these services to increase their overall quality of life. The Santee Sioux Nation developed the
outline for a culturally-centered substance abuse, mental health, and trauma strategic plan called
“Cinka Wakan” (Sacred Child). This Program will implement elements of the “Cinka Wakan”
plan, assisting our partners in enhancing a collaborative infrastructure capable of building our
capacity to meet a more comprehensive integrated-care range of needs for young people
involved with behavioral health, trauma, and other systems (child welfare, juvenile court, and
our schools) while keeping culture in the forefront of service delivery.
By adding three new behavioral health professionals to the team (Clinical Director and two
behavioral health specialists), our program will significantly increase the workforce capacity to
provide culturally based behavioral health services and prevention programs to the community.
In hiring new team members for these positions, we will prioritize efforts to identify Native
Americans who have worked on reservations, are culturally competent, and will use
evidence-based practices to reduce risk factors among the population of focus and their families.
The Project Coordinator will be responsible to build trust between the population of focus and
the services that will be in place to increase behavioral health wellness, promote suicide
prevention, and increase referrals. The Project Coordinator will be the liaison between
community members, partner organizations, Tribal Council, and direct services provided by the
Clinical Director and health care professionals. The following evidence-based curriculum and
tools will be used to address suicide prevention:
The American Indian Life Skills is an evidence-based curricula designed for suicide prevention
that has already been used at the 9th to 12th grade level students, in schools on the reservation.
The Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) for Native American
Indian Youth is an evidence-based behavioral health model for traumatic events that has been
adapted in some Native American public schools in Nebraska by the clinical team of this project
and will be used for behavioral health prevention. The Dakota Cultural Identity Scale (Penn,
1990) will be conducted to identify and support cultural strengths and needs specific to Dakota
youth. Historical Trauma Scales (Whitbeck, 2004 and 2016) will be used to assess how historical
events have impacted the wellbeing of youth and community members and which results will
inform clinical therapy.