Volume 7, Number 1  
January 20, 2006  
Volume7, Number 13
Honoring Roberta Kitka and Honoring the Eagle Spirit Drum PDF Document Only
Volume7, Number 12
The World of the Fifth Hoop! PDF Document Only
Volume7, Number 11
Wellbriety Totem Pole Raised in Sitka, Alaska! PDF Document Only
Volume7, Number 10
Two Learning Articles: Don Coyhis and D.J. Vanas PDF Document Only
Volume7, Number 9
September 2006 is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month!
Volume7, Number 8
The 6th Annual White Bison Wellbriety Movement Conference
Volume7, Number 7
The Kootéeyaa Project Wellbriety Totem Pole in Sitka, Alaska!
Volume7, Number 6
Derry, New Hampshire Friendship Center Offers a Medicine Wheel and the 12 Steps Wellbriety Circles
Volume7, Number 5
Discovery Circles
Volume7, Number 4
Words of Inspiration
Volume7, Number 3
Taking a Stand Against Meth:
Recovery is Possible
Volume7, Number 2
Alcohol Problems in Native America
Volume7, Number 1
The State of the Wellbriety Movement
 Printer Version (pdf) of Wellbriety!  Vol. 7, No. 1

The State of the Wellbriety Movement
January, 2006
The Wellbriety Movement is at a Tipping Point

The Healing Forest Model
The unhealed forest (community, left) transforms itself into a healed forest (right) by participating in and utilizing Wellbriety Movement activities, programs, and learning resources. The destructive roots of anger, guilt, shame and fear of the unhealed forest become the four gifts of the Sacred Hoop: Forgiving the Unforgivable, Healing, Unity and Hope. The wounded trees become healthy trees and the community participates in wellness involvements, such as, sober powwows, tradition, culture and spirituality. These are some of the gifts of the Wellbriety Movement.

The Wellbriety Movement Tipping Point
By Don Coyhis

The Spiritual Powers Behind the Movement.

The Elders told us a long time ago that we need to watch nature and the spiritual laws. They also said we need to use these laws to guide us in our healing. We cannot always trust our minds and our eyes to tell us what is really happening. There is a period of time when the spiritual laws are working, but at first we cannot see it.

When we plant crops or a garden, we prepare the soil, we plant the seeds, we water and nurture them. Our eyes and our mind look at the work we just did, we wait and we wait and we decide that nothing is going on. We wait for a few more days and still nothing is happening. Our minds and eyes might tell us we did not get the results we thought we were going to get. Then, one day, we see a few plants start to appear. Then we start to see the emergence of many new forms of life. Very soon, the little plants start taking shape; and as we watch them grow we start to see the signs of life in our garden.

The Tipping Point
The marble rolls to the other side when the teeter totter goes over the tipping point

Here are some other examples:
Let’s say we have a teeter-totter with one end up and one end down. Across the teeter-totter we have a groove in the middle from the left to the right. Sitting in the groove on the end of the teeter totter that is touching the earth is a marble. We go to the other end of the teeter-totter and push that end down for 12 inches. This causes the end the marble is on to rise 12 inches. Even though there was action pushing down on the teeter-totter, the marble has not moved. This marble could represent the Wellbriety movement. We push it down another 12 inches. It may take months or years to push the end down 24 inches but still nothing happens; the marble still has not moved. If we keep working and keep the faith, there comes a time when just moving the teeter-totter down one inch we will see the marble start to move. We push it down another inch, the marble moves even more.

There is a period of time when the spiritual laws are working and it looks like nothing is happening; but something is happening! Finally, we see the results of pushing down on the teeter-totter. The marble is moving and we start to see healthy changes taking place in our communities.

It’s like when a woman first gets pregnant, for a time it does not look like she is pregnant, no one can tell, but the spiritual forces in the unseen world are causing a new life to be created. Eventually, we can see with our eyes and mind she is having a baby. A new life will come forth. You can count on it.

It has taken almost 16 years of work without seeing much change happening––but now we are seeing change occur. We see action in many communities to create Wellbriety Movements. The marble represents not only White Bison’s work, but that of other Native American wellness organizations over the years. NANACOA, GONA, Billy Rogers’ Wellness conferences, AA-Al-Anon, NARA, NIYLP, UNITY, and hundreds of dedicated grassroots people who work with and without funding have all been pushing down on the teeter totter. We are now seeing that the marble (wellness) is on the move. We have reached the tipping point! Over the coming years, we will see acceleration of the healing and wellness movement.

The State of the Wellbriety Movement
January, 2006

Remarks by Don Coyhis, Founder and President of White Bison, Inc.

Don Coyhis

A Brief History of the Wellbriety Movement
Many Elders have said that the alcohol problem got worse for Native Americans after World War ll. But at the same time, in the late 1940’s and 1950’s Indian people started to attend AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings and many were using the Native American Church for their own spirituality, as well as to recover from alcohol dependence. The Indian sobriety movement was born. The following list highlights the development and reach of the Wellbriety Movement.

• The sobriety movement kept growing behind the scenes. By the late 1970’s, Indian people began bringing their traditions into recovery meetings.

• By the late 1980’s, NANACOA (National Association of Native American Children of Alcoholics) was founded to tend to the needs of the children of those who used alcohol.

• Based on the Four Laws of Change, White Bison, Inc. was founded in 1988 to begin to see what could be done to help Native Americans recover from alcohol dependence.

• The actual naming of the Wellbriety Movement took place in the mid 1990’s when a Passamaquoddy Elder talked about Wellbriety, meaning, to be both sober and well.

• White Bison began its first 16-year growth cycle of survival, choice, influence and mastery in 1988. Now, in 2006, White Bison and the Wellbriety Movement are into the beginning of the second 16-year cycle. A continuing focus or vision of White Bison, Inc., is to facilitate 100 communities into healing by the year 2010.

• During the early years of the Movement, the first 8 years were involved with the building of infrastructure to get the Movement going. This included: receiving the Four Laws of Change from an Elder; the receiving of 100 eagle feathers which were used to build the Sacred Hoop; the creation of the Healing Forest Model for community change; and the development of a variety of training resources for individuals, families and communities. Together, these would become the foundation of the Wellbriety Movement.

• The Medicine Wheel and the 12 Steps, a cultural approach to the 12 Steps, and the Natural Path to Growth development programs for Native Americans also came into being during these early years. They are still guiding forces today.

• A vision of The 100 Eagle Feather Hoop of the Nations was received in 1994 and the Hoop was built in a sweat lodge in 1995. The Sacred Hoop became the spiritual symbol of the Wellbriety Movement—a recognition of the fulfillment of the prophecy describing the seventh generation as the “Coming Together Time.”

• The Hoop was blessed at a Gathering of Multicultural Elders in the summer of 1995 and was presented at a Gathering of Native Women in Leadership in the fall of 1995.

• A Gathering of Native American Men committed to Wellbriety took place in 1996. The Elders at this gathering provided the Seven Philosophies for a Native American Man, which are an important prevention and recovery resource. All these early events helped the Wellbriety Movement take shape.

• The Sacred Hoop Journeys were used to inaugurate the Wellbriety Movement in 1999. The four Hoop Journeys circled and crisscrossed America, including a stop in southern Canada. The Hoop Journeys took place in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003. Fifteen thousand people participated in the celebrations of the Sacred Hoop.

• The Firestarters training begun in 1999 provided a way for grassroots people in recovery to implement the Medicine Wheel and 12 Step program in their communities. The first Firestarters Circles were implemented in 2000. Now we estimate that there are 800 Circles and 1500 Firestarters around the country who have trained in the Medicine Wheel and the 12 Steps program and other cultural ways for Wellbriety.

• In 2004, the Native American Children of Alcoholic’s Program Kit was introduced. The community training for youth was developed in partnership with the National Association of Children of Alcoholics (NACoA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

• The Medicine Wheel and 12 Steps program was expanded to include versions for spouses and other family members as well as for adult children of alcoholics.

• The 7 Trainings program answered the call from the grassroots to implement a simultaneous prevention, treatment and recovery effort for individuals in recovery, their families and children. Grassroots people were trained to facilitate one of seven different community programs which were then implemented in schools, community centers, social services centers and in safe houses and half-way houses.

• Local community organizations asked for training to help them develop community visions for wellness. In response, the Coalitions as Clans training was implemented.

• Publication of The Red Road to Wellbriety: In the Native American Way in 2002 provided a comprehensive culturally appropriate resource for Native Americans in recovery, written by Native Americans in recovery.

• The acceptance and growth of the Wellbriety Movement was made possible by three Recovery Community Support Program grants. These grants were awarded to White Bison by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 1998, 2001, and 2004. We are grateful for these RCSP grants, which made grassroots success of the early Wellbriety Movement possible.

The Medicine Wheel teaches that change takes place in cycles of 16 years. Each 16 year cycle is made up of 4-year cycles of Survival, Choice, Influence and Mastery.

The Next 16-Year Cycle
Bringing this all into 2006, where do we go from here?
During years 15 and 16 of our existence, we discussed with our Board of Directors and our Council of Elders what our direction should be for the next cycle. They expressed confidence in our ability to provide the appropriate responses to the needs of the grassroots in Indian Country and urged us to create goals to meet the needs told to us.

Our goals for the future began to take shape:

- Native American men and especially fathers, needed culturally relevant training materials;

- Native American men at every age need to take a more visible role in the Wellbriety Movement;

- Our brothers and sisters re-entering the community from Prison need specific assistance for their recovery journey;

- Native American children of alcoholics need more assistance in overcoming the traumas of parental alcoholism and addiction;

- Meth is spreading through our Native communities at an alarming rate. We needed to find solutions to help our communities stop the spread of meth addiction, and solutions to help individuals, families, and communities recover from the effects of the manufacture, distribution and use of methamphetamines.


Results Coming from the Wellbriety Movement
As we take stock of our grassroots communities in 2006, the results we are seeing from the Wellbriety Movement are these:

- In response to the approval of a resolution by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), White Bison is calling together a National Native Task Force, which will develop a National Native American Vision for Wellness and Sobriety. The goal of this document is to provide a resource for Native American communities to use in the implementation of their own community development, grant proposals, and local policy initiatives;

- There are thousands of Native people who are sober and into wellness;

- We are seeing a strong presence of Native AA conferences, sobriety pow wows, recovery gatherings, wellness organizations, sobriety campouts and other wellness activities in our communities;

- We are seeing a “coming together” of intertribal healing;

- A Wellbriety Movement of the Ojibwa was launched in and among the tribes of northern Minnesota after a Coalition as Clans training took place in the fall of 2004;

- There was a Coalition as Clans training of the 5 Tribes in Idaho;

- There is a strong Wellbriety Movement in Juneau, Alaska;

- The 7 Trainings conducted in Portland, Oregon has resulted in a strong Wellbriety Movement, along with a great partnership with Native American Rehabilitation Association of the Northwest (NARA) in Portland;

- Much activity is taking place in Portland, as well as among the nine tribes in Oregon. During the next three years, a suicide prevention program called No More Fallen Feathers will start in Oregon. The goal is to have no more suicides among the 9 tribes;

- The 7 Trainings program was conducted in Macy, Nebraska on the Omaha Reservation. Plans have been implemented to hold a Coalitions as Clans training there in 2006. This should launch a Wellbriety Movement among the tribes in Nebraska;

- In Boise, a program called Warrior Down is taking place. During the last 6 months, 36 men and women have come out of prison and taken part in Warrior Down. Not one of these individuals has returned to prison, nor have any relapsed by using alcohol or drugs. We expect this program will be implemented in communities and tribes across the nations. This allows our men and women to be at home with their families instead of going back to prison;

- A strong Wellbriety Movement is developing in Cherokee, North Carolina. A recent AA conference had over 900 participants. The Wellbriety Movement is not only getting stronger, but it is accelerating;

- September is National Native American Wellbriety Month. In September of 2005, more than 50 communities celebrated recovery by holding public events;

- This use of our culture is proving to really, REALLY work for us. There are many 7 Trainings scheduled in many communities this next year. We have one 7 Trainings team to do this training. We are developing the 2nd training team because of the request from communities. The Wellbriety Movement must keep up with the rapid expansion;

- White Bison pays attention to the grassroots when it speaks. We are developing a Fathers of Tradition program, a Tots for Tradition program, as well as a training called “Talking our Communities Back”;

- We will hold two annual National Wellbriety conferences per year––one in April and another in October;

- We will be developing online training courses for some or our products. This will be done as a give-away so more of our communities can start their healing process;

- We will be working with a few Tribal Colleges to develop a two-year curriculum to assist in the development of using culture for our Native counselors;

- A new book called Alcohol Problems in Native America: The Untold Story of Resistance and Recovery—The Truth About the Lie is ready for publication.

- This will be followed by a Native Leadership book to help our Native leaders lead our tribes and urban communities to wellness;

- We will be starting various efforts all around “Taking a Stand.” This means we will no longer sit and watch injustices but will do something about them. For example, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian is selling alcohol inside the museum. We will launch a national media campaign asking them to stop selling alcohol and to take a stand on alcohol;

- We want to change the way we talk about our people and our communities. Instead of only looking at what is wrong with us, we will start seeing and measuring what is right with us. We will start by identifying, evaluating and measuring our strengths:

> We will survey how many of us are sober and begin to implement wellness practices;

> By the year 2010, we will see tribes and urban centers actually measuring how many of us are into wellness and sobriety. We expect to see tribes that are about 50% sober;

> We will see many tribes and communities having visions of wellness and sobriety;

> We will hear common talk about how we have sober leadership;

> We will see leadership institutes and the involvement of our Tribal Colleges to offer training on various topics of culturally-based wellness methodologies.

We Are in Healing!
We must mobilize all our resources, culture knowledge, programs, skills, insights, ceremony and prayers, working together across tribes and across urban and rural communities in ways we have never done before. We must use the technology and all resources at our disposal. We must create our own cultural logic models, describe cultural competencies, and certify culturally based promising practices to keep the movement rolling. We must talk to our children and make them feel part of this change. We are at a point where the Wellbriety Movement is spreading and we will now notice with our eyes and our minds that we are in Healing.


 Printer Version (pdf) of Wellbriety!  Vol. 7, No. 1


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White Bison, inc.
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Colorado Springs, CO

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