The Blackfeet Agriculture Resources Management Plan (ARMP) recently received the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant to help combat suicide and substance abuse on the Blackfeet Reservation.
The grant is for $1.25 million over five years, or $250,000 per year.
Blackfeet ARMP Technical Writer Kimberly Paul said they applied for the grant because suicide rates are higher on the reservation than in surrounding communities.
“We were hoping that by accessing funding we could create or learn how to create a system that would help us reduce suicide in our communities,” Paul said.
Paul said they will structure the program around cultural reclamation and language recovery.
Their first year will focus on planning and Paul said they will hold culture camps this summer.
“Currently we are doing a community needs assessment and building the strategy. We are trying to talk with people within their community to see what they believe will be most important to add to our culture camps,” Paul said.
They are not the only ones to receive the grant as the Blackfeet Tribal Health received the grant too. They will focus more on methodology and Western medicine, however.
Paul said it is important to have two aspects because the two cultures intersect.
One of the biggest issues residents in Montana face is the isolation people have from support services.
“In receiving this grant by both Tribal Health and ourselves, we hope to build a bridge to services and we hope to be able to provide more culturally relevant services within our community. That will create that framework and that foundation of hope with the ability to reach out and to receive the help that people need,” Paul said.
She added they hope to create a suicide hotline and equine therapy program.
If you would like more information about the Blackfeet Agriculture Resources Management Plan, please contact Loren BirdRattler at 338-7521.
-Reported by Margaret DeMarco/MTN News