This proposal is submitted on behalf of the partnership betAveen the Tate Topa Middle School, Spirit Lake Youth Healing and Wellness, Sunka Wakan Ah-ku, and the University of North Dakota Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research. The project is a pilot evaluation of an innovative culturally based substance use prevention program for Northern Plains American Indian adolescents. The community based participatory research approach focuses on developing a culturally appropriate, community owned model, the feasibility of the approach, and laying the groundwork for a future multi-site controlled trial. The intervention utilizes the traditional Dakota horse culture and equine assisted learning sessions to develop participants'cultural protective factors that take into account the historical context of the Dakota people (enculturation, identity strength, familiy and community integration, traditional health practices, spiritual coping), as well as teaching empirically supported protective behavioral skills (refusal skills, assertiveness, helpseeking). Specifically the three specific aims of the study are (l)to advance prevention science by documenting the process of developing a community based cultural response to substance use among American Indian adolescents. (2) to pilot the prevention program with two cohorts of 12 (N=24) high risk adolescents to demonstrate the feasibility o the school-based equine assisted program. (3) to pilot measures, estimate effect sizes, and demonstrate feasibility that lays the foundation for a randomized controlled trial of the intervention. Participants will complete a series of 16 sessions (12 core and 4 maintenance) which combine Equine Assisted Psychotherapy sessions and traditional horsemanship sessions. Pre- and post- intervention data as well as six-month follow up data will include culturally translated measures of established instruments, as well as community developed measures of cultural protective factors. Results will provide data to inform a controlled mutli-site trial, and will provide a dissemination-ready substance use prevention program for other Northern Plains American Indian tribes.Substance use and consequent social and health problems are disparately prevalent among Northern Plains American Indian communities. Prevention interventions must integrate prevention science with with an understanding of the historical context of these tribes. Because this intervention targets protective factors in a manner that is inherently appealing to American Indian youth, it has great potential for effectiveness

Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine
Zip Code