The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation (PBPN) is a federally recognized sovereign Indian Tribe in Northeast Kansas, with more than 5,000 enrolled members. The vision of the PBPN as a sovereign tribe is to (1) ensure self-sufficiency that respects diversity and equality while working within a spirit of cooperation and fairness for a high standard of living and quality of life, (2) strive to provide and environment of improved well-being for our people including education, health, safety, and welfare while valuing our culture, traditions, and all resources, and (3) accomplish these things for all generations with a system of value-based management to respect all views. Together, we can build a healthy, safe community that celebrates our culture, traditions, and values. As we work to address the hard issues our community faces, we honor our tribe's future and continuation of culture, making youth mental health, substance misuse, and overall well-being in the community major concerns to our leadership and members.
We know that tribal communities - and particularly Native youth - experience a higher risk of substance misuse and depression due to the damaging legacy of historical trauma and its continuing impacts on Native families. Thus, the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation proposes the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Native Connections Project, a social services-based initiative that will implement evidence-based and culturally responsive approaches to build resiliency, promote positive youth development, and to mitigate risk factors for suicide and substance misuse. The project's goals are to: (1) foster the creation of a collaborative, comprehensive system for youth and young adult mental wellness in the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation community; (2) raise youth's awareness on mental health, reduce stigma associated with mental illness, promote help seeking behaviors and culturally appropriate emotional well-being practices and prevent suicide/substance misuse through individual education and outreach events; and (3) create a continuum of care that employs a resilience, strengths-based framework that responds to multifaceted trauma faced by youth. Our youth are our future; they are tomorrow's elders and leaders. It is critical that we build a strong system of support around them to ensure the overall health and longevity of our people.