- Elizabeth Rink, PhD, MSW
- Monica Skewes, PhD
- Adriann Ricker, MPH
Research Project Description
Wichoabdeza: Trauma-informed policy change to improve health in a tribal community will establish a model for trauma informed health policy in tribal communities in the U.S. As sovereign nations, Tribal Nations in the United States have the legal right to enact policies to govern their lands and their peoples. As such, tribal governance systems and policies impact the health of tribal members. Wichoabdeza will take place on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Northeastern Montana, home to the Assiniboine and Sioux Nations. The Fort Peck Tribes are governed by the Fort Peck Tribal Executive Board (FPTEB), which is responsible for the oversight of the Fort Peck Tribes’ Comprehensive Code of Justice (CCOJ). The Tribes have identified historical trauma, intergenerational trauma, and individual--level trauma as the primary underlying contributors to poor health outcomes, and key drivers of health-risk behaviors such as substance use (SU) and sexual and reproductive health (SRH). However, rather than taking a trauma-informed approach, the Fort Peck CCOJ criminalizes SU and SRH. The criminalization of health behaviors in the Fort Peck CCOJ demonstrates the need to develop trauma—informed tribal policies to promote a culture of health within communities that supports medical treatment and social services instead of punishment. Wichoabdeza’s culture of health impact is:
- to establish a framework for how tribal communities can implement trauma informed policy;
- to fill a gap in American Indian scholarship related to the development and implementation of trauma informed policies for tribal communities;
- to serve as a national model for how American Indian communities can adapt, apply and integrate existing sources of data and traditional knowledge to design and implement trauma—informed policies; and
- to utilize Wichoabdeza's findings and recommendations to shape health-promoting policies that can reframe the national discourse related to American Indian health disparities.
Elizabeth Rink, PhD, MSW
Dr. Rink is a Professor of Community Health at Montana State University. Her research examines the individual, psychological, social, cultural, and environmental determinants of sexual and reproductive health among Indigenous populations in Montana and the Arctic.
Monica Skewes, PhD
Dr. Skewes is a Professor of Psychology and investigator with the Center for American Indian and Rural Health Equity at Montana State University. Her program of research is focused on developing culturally relevant interventions for substance use disorders with rural Indigenous communities.
Adriann Ricker, MPH
Adriann is an enrolled member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes and is a CBPR research consultant, Media Development Small Business owner, active community volunteer and Adjunct faculty at Fort Peck Community College. She is passionate about reducing systemic barriers to health in Indian Country and utilizing language and culture as a restorative pathway to a balanced life.
Op-Ed Article: Fort Peck, MT
Tribal Councils Should Pass Policies that Reflect Indigenous Cultural Values and Traditions