Several years ago, the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute teamed up with the Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes in Washington State to develop a program to help tribal youth. They believed that if Indian children knew their tribal identity, were strong in the knowledge of their cultural practices, and learned life skills through the prevention curriculum, it would serve to keep them from engaging in harmful activities and help them stand strong against addictions such as drugs and alcohol.
The result of this joint venture was a curriculum using the metaphor of the Canoe Journey, an annual event that tribes in the Pacific Northwest participate in to celebrate their native heritage and reclaim the water highways of the past, to teach tribal youth about the journey of life and how to effectively navigate its obstacles. The curriculum was called, the Healing of the Canoe (HOC) Program.
As a result of a 3-year grant, the CTCLUSI tribe has been able to utilize this curriculum and start a HOC Program for the youth in our community. In the inaugural year, CTCLUSI and youth from our neighboring tribe, the Coquille Indians, participated in 3 three-day workshops where they teamed up with CTCLUSI and Coquille staff and elders and engaged in cultural activities, most especially paddling in the canoe, and learning life skills from the HOC curriculum. These life-changing workshops were followed by the Canoe Journey paddle to Nisqually in the waters of the Puget Sound within Washington State.
The goal of the HOC Program is to continue to engage youth annually through various workshops, youth groups, camps, cultural activities, and canoe journeys, and to encourage our kids to take leadership roles in their own tribal community and youth programming. The Mission and Vision statements for the HOC Program are as follows:
Mission Statement: Engaging Youth Culturally for Healthy Futures
Vision Statement: We see strong tribal youth-restoring the wisdom of the elders to their community.