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Native American Heritage Month

To commemorate this special month, STAR has compiled some interesting facts about Native American Heritage Month as well as a list of web resources for American Indian/Alaska Native consumers, family members, and supporters who might be in need of culturally specific support.  Native American cultural competency is a priority for STAR Center especially now that the state of New Mexico (NM) has been designated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/Center for Mental Health Services (SAMHSA/CMHSA) as a STAR Center technical assistance focus state.  Consistent with our grant objectives based on SAMHSA's eight strategic initiatives , STAR provides direct support to consumer operated services and advocates in NM to enhance cultural competency and self-empowerment in communities to ensure inclusion of underserved populations in all levels of recovery, access to resources, and a voice in mental health policy.  NM has a fascinating Native American history and culture dating back many centuries.  The tribes in the state consist of mostly Navajo and Pueblo peoples. Although NM has the second-highest Native American population in the United States, Native communities in NM and throughout the US continue to be severely underserved and rank low in almost every socio-economic indicator[1].  Racism, poverty, unemployment, homelessness, alcohol and substance abuse, and violence along with a lack of resources and a unified or united community have had a disastrous impact on this community[2].
We hope you find the information listed below useful.  Please feel free to distribute widely! More importantly, we hope our non-Native peers will use this month as the perfect opportunity to reach out to any Natives in their own community who might be suffering in silence in right as you read this email. 

The Origin of Native American Heritage Month
What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S. has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.  One of the very first proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the "Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the "First Americans" and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.  In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 "National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994[3].

[1] Wikipedia. (November 17, 2011). New Mexico. November 17, 2011.
[2] Gwendolyn Packard, "Rain Cloud: Off Reservation Local Collaborative 17", (First Nations Community HealthSource, January 2009).
[3] U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs. (2007). The Creation of American Indian Heritage Month. November 17, 2011


American Indian and Alaska Native Suicide Prevention Website (with direct contact details as well)

Minority Women's Health: information and resources for American Indian/Alaskan Native women

The American Indian/Alaska Native National Resource Center for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

COMPREHENSIVE NATIVE RESOURCE LISTINGS eHealth Information Resources: An American Indian/Alaska Native Community Health and Information Resource on the Internet (mental health)
NAMI Multicultural Action Center: American Indian Resources
SAMHSA: Comprehensive List of Resources for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Meeting the Mental Health Needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives
The Preventable Epidemic: Youth and the Urgent Need for Mental Health Care Resources in Indian Country 
American Indian Mental Health & American Indian Family Center
Linking "White Oppression" and HIV/AIDS in American Indian Etiology: Conspiracy Beliefs Among American Indian "Men Who Have Sex with Men" (MSMs) and their Peers  

Find resources by community:


African American

Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders

Native Americans Alaskan Natives


Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning & Intersex

Youth and Students


Older Americans

Justice Involved

Links to resources in languages other than English.

What is Cultural Competence?

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