Fourth Annual AIHEC Behavioral Health Research Institute


Historical Trauma and Community Based Participatory Research

The AIHEC NARCH Project is designed to build the research capacity in behavioral health at the Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs). An important component of this effort is the provision of an annual Behavioral Health Research Institute to provide professional development in behavioral health research theory, practice, and technical assistance. The fourth institute was held on June 19-21, 2017, and the content was driven primarily by those eleven TCUs who were successful in competing for support to establish research initiatives in behavioral health.

In developing the NARCH Project, AIHEC recognized two important factors with regard to behavioral health research. The first was the impact of historical trauma that American Indian communities have experienced and continue to experience. This is an important concept to recognize in doing research in this field. In addition, AIHEC recognized that American Indians are traditionally collective societies whose decisions are made by the group or by elders, and not on an individual basis. This dynamic is an important cultural process to consider in designing research and found that the use of Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), when operationalized in American Indian communities facilitated tribes as equal partners with regard to research resulting in tribal communities participating in the identification of the problem, the research design, the selection of measures, subjects and findings.

Purpose and Structure of the Behavioral Health Research Institute

The Behavioral Health Research Institute met for three days with the goal of furthering the development of research capacity in behavioral health for TCUs through presentations, research experience of Cohort II TCUs, small group breakouts, interactive activities, reflections on readings, and reflection on one’s own research experience. It was intended for participants to gain an appreciation of the impact of historical trauma and CBPR strengths and challenges, as well as learn hands-on skills necessary for participating effectively in CBPR projects. Both academic discussions and experiential exercises reflected a commitment to co-teaching and co-learning.


  1. American Indian Historical Experience with Research by Deborah His Horse is Thunder. This presentation provides an overview of the American Indian experience with research in the past and its contribution to mistrust.
    1. HINU NARCH Project: Generation Indigenous Liberation by Melissa Holder. HINU is one of six TCUs in NARCH Cohort II. This presentation describes the purpose of their research which is to gather information on participants' sources of strength so the researchers and university can build on the positive aspects of students that Haskell retains and graduates.
    2. CPBR on the Alaskan Frontier by Lauren Kelly. IỊisaġvik College describes the challenges of conducting a behavioral health needs assessment with regard to the geographical challenges in Alaska.
    3. KBOCC’s Behavioral Health Research Project: Year 1 by Terry Lerma. KBOCC describes its efforts to insure acceptability and buy-in to conduct research in their community.
    4. Campus Community Engagement in Support of Student Led Behavioral Health Research by Rebecca Drummond. TOCC describes its efforts to assess behavioral health factors that may impede or support its student success and wellness. Strategies used in this effort include a student leadership approach, building campus community interest and support for research, building institutional capacity for research, and reaching out to tribal leaders regarding College role in CBPR.
  3. CBPR Best Practice—The intersection of tribal culture and research: Culturally sensitive approaches for undertaking sensitive research by Teresa Brockie. Suicide has been a leading cause of death for Native American youth. Limited investigations of suicide risk in a high-risk setting limits our ability to adequately address suicide in this context. This presentation describes a collaborative partnership to understand risk factors in a Native reservation community.
    2. Community-Based Participatory Research Tribal Data Dissemination by Larry Wetsit. Illustrating a "best practice" with CBPR, this presentation is a community member’s response to Dr. Brockie’s research. It describes the CBPR practice from a community member’s perspective.
    3. CBPR: The Role of the Community Members by Adriann Ricker. Illustrating a "best practice" with CBPR, this presentation is a community member’s response to Dr. Brockie’s research. It describes the CBPR practice from a community member’s perspective.
  4. Culturally-based Mindfulness Intervention by Loy Sprague. Research is presented on a small tribal college that is examining the impact of culturally-based mindfulness intervention on students’ stress and persistence in college.
  5. Engaging Native American Communities in the Development and Analysis of Culturally-relevant Substance Use Intervention by Daniel Dickerson. This presentation provides instruction on developing working partnerships with Native American communities as a new substance abuse researcher.
  6. Protect & Benefit: Ethical Considerations at the National and Tribal Levels for Research Involving Tribal People by Deana Around Him. With a growing amount of research both facilitated by and in partnership with tribal communities, it is imperative that research policies at the national and tribal levels account for the ethical needs of American Indian and Alaska Native communities. This session provided an overview of the recent effort to revise the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects or the "Common Rule" and potential implications for tribal research, presented Indigenous considerations for ethical research practice and partnership, and highlighted tips for engaging in ethical research involving American Indian and Alaska Native youth.
  7. Resources for Research Application and Implementation by Mirtha Beadle. SAMHSA provides competitive grant funds through the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and the Center for Mental Health Services. These funding opportunities that support programs for substance use disorders and mental illness are described as well as the grant application, review, and management processes. Summary of SAMHSA’s Tribal Portfolio Programs
  8. Office of Tribal Research at NIH by David Wilson. The Office of Tribal Health Research was established in 2015 in the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the Director at NIH. A description of how this office interfaces with research in Indian country will be described.
  9. The Role of Culturally-Related Anxiety in Fulfilling a Tribal College's Mission by Kerri Patrick Wertz. A small tribal college examined students' culturally-related anxiety regarding their engagement in both Native and Non-Native culture in order to assess students' existing cultural knowledge and barriers to that knowledge so that the college can design interventions to fulfill its mission of revitalizing indigenous lifeways.
  10. Historical Trauma and Behavioral Wellness Among American Indians and Alaska Natives by Myra Parker. A broad overview of historical trauma in the context of American Indian/Alaska Native communities comparing and differentiating historical trauma from multi-generational trauma.
  11. Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities by Myra Parker. This presentation provides an understanding of theories, principles, and strategies of advantages and limitations of community-based participatory research approaches and skills necessary for participating effectively in CBPR projects.