“Successful engagement with Native Communities needs to be sincere and robust. This may mean going to the Native agency/Rancheria to gather feedback and build a relationship to facilitate future engagement.   In Alameda county several focus groups were held for the general public to identify mental health needs.   No Native Americans attended the general focus groups but several Native Americans attended the focus group held at Native American Health Center with the targeted outreach to elicit Native feedback.  This feedback eventually influenced the later RFP to spend PEI funds.  This extra mile needs to be taken to get past the distrust barrier that many Native Americans have from past federal/state policies intended to harm Native Americans.  Some counties claimed they did outreach to Native communities but when investigated the outreach was one inquiry with no follow up.    In one county a Native person went to every planning meeting after the MHSA was passed.  The agendas were fixed with no space to learn any particulars from specific populations.  Even though this Native person made comments to advocate for the mental health needs of Native Americans his comments were not reflected in the minutes of the meetings and consequently had no influence in later MHSA spending.  Outreach to Native communities need to be more  than a check off that outreach was made.  The outreach needs to be genuine and robust.” -Janet King, Native American Health Center


This toolkit was developed by the Native American Health Center to advance cultural competence in our systems of care.  In this tool kit focusing on Native American communities you will find:


Engaging Native Wellness Curriculum developed by Dr. Art Martinez from the Chumash tribe that explains historical trauma and it impact on the mental health of Native Americans.  The curriculum details some of the history not commonly known that is crucial to know to have an effective practice that empowers Native communities to recover from this history and to restore wellness.  The curriculum also details how the best practices for this recovery is embedded in the culture that up until 1978 was illegal for Native Americans to practice by federal and state law.  In 1978 the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed so that Native Communities can again practice the culture that produced mentally sound communities and individuals.  The curriculum also explains some phenomena that contribute to the disparities of Native Americans.  For example, Dr. Martinez explained how during the Gold Rush time in CA, a strategy chosen by some Californian tribes to stay alive or to avoid enslavement was to hide  in plain sight letting others think they were another ethnicity.  The legacy continues today and is one of the contributors to the low census count of Native Americans.  
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Training Video conducted by Art Martinez summarizing the curriculum filmed and edited by Steven Benders from Native American Health Center Media and Marketing Department (2hrs).


Resource Guides compiled by Kurt Schweigman from the Lakota tribe that (1) list Native agencies and contact people in various California counties to facilitate partnership with county mental health systems, Native agencies, associations and individuals, and (2) Publications Resource Guide with live links to articles available online.

pdf icon Download PDF of Provider's List
pdf icon Download PDF of the Publication's Resource List

Literature Reviews 

pdf icon Download PDF of Mental Health Standards of Care Literature Review for American Indians

pdf icon Download PDF of Identifying Effective Mental Health Interventions for American Indians and Alaska Natives: A Review of the Literature 

pdf icon Download PDF of Healing the Wakanheja: Evidence Based, Promising, and Culturally Appropriate Practices for American Indian/Alaska Native Children with Mental Health Needs 


AI/AN Mental Health Fact Sheet from the National Alliance on Mental Illness providing information for working within Native American and Alaska Native communities. 

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Suicide Prevention Manual for Native American Communties

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We thank our partners who made the toolkit possible:

California Mental Health Services Administration, Prop 63 California Mental Health Services Act, Mental Health Matters, Art Martinez Phd. (Chumash), Kurt Schweigman MPH (Lakota), Nelson Jim LMFT ( Dine) San Francisco Department of Public Health; Native American Health Center (NAHC) Media Staff: Parke Ballantine , Lina Blanco (Tepehuan del Norte, Mexicana), Steven Benders; NAHC Community Wellness Department staff: Serena Wright MPH, Janet King MSW (Lumbee).