Community Development

Voices Upon the Water (PDF)

Voices Upon the Water

A Report

Submitted To: The Southeast Alaska Regional Training Program

September 1985

Prepared By: Pam Colorado Ph. D.

Colorado Consultants

136 Davis Avenue

Juneau, Alaska 99801


Since its inception, the Southeast Regional Training Program has committed itself to responding to identified needs of substance abuse workers within this region. Traditionally, the prograrm has concentrated on the provision of counselor certification training in the eight courses contained in Level I and Level II. Additionally the program has seen the need for and offered non-certification related training courses in such areas as Advanced Counseling Skills, Working With Youth, and Supervision.

It has been the philosophy of the program that village-based counselors have unique training needs above and beyond the certification areas and within the realm of limited resources, the Regional Trainer has attempted to respond to those needs.

The unique setting of village-based training, viewed in contrast to residential, centrally located 3-5 training workshops implies special strategies that, in this writer’s experience, require above all else, a respect and recognition of the village milieu in which the training is offered. In terms of participation and methodology, village-based training becomes literally that — training of the community.

The extensive time in preparation, recruitment, course design, materials development, and evaluation methodology that is part of any successful manpower development activity takes on new meaning when applied to village settings, where such activities as appropriate resource development of local resources, attention to local customs, trainer credibility, and community involvement are of at least equal importance as the aforementioned activities.

In recognition of these special circumstances, the Southeast Regional Training Program embarked in FY 85 on a specialized research project which would begin to identify in more specific terms, the special needs of village-based counselors. This document was intended to provide direction and focus for further activities in the areas of training development and delivery.

We have been most fortunate in securing the services of Dr. Pam Colorado Morrison of Juneau as the principal investigator. Pam’s sensitive professionalism and her dedication to the creation of a useful and appropriate document has succeeded in giving to u a place to start. As in recognition of the unanimity of concern in all of the respondents to the study, it becomes clear that the commitment to assisting the village worker is present throughout the system.

It remains now for us to collectively continue this effort and to expand our resources in a manner that is the most helpful in the creation of training strategies that respect the integrity of the community, assist the workers in their exceptionally difficult task, and relieve the suffering created by substance abuse.

John M. Sullivan

Regional Trainer



Section I, Introduction………………………….2

Section II, Selecting the Design …………..3

SectionIII, The Biculture Research Design…10

Section IV, Findings………………………………….14

Section V, Recommendations……………….24

Section VI, A Talking Circle…………………..27

(The Triangulation Of Data)

Section VII, Bibliography……………………….40


Thank you, Matt Felix and the SOADA staff, for sharing your thoughts, time, offices and for your encouragement.

David Bond, Arlene Dangell and James Jack of SEARHC, thank you for the many hours of discussion, for the wealth of information, direction and guidance to this effort.

A special thanks to you, the traditional People, Austin Hammond, Cyrus Peck, Richard Dalton, George Jim and Deborah Dalton, who gave so much of your time and energy to this project. To you I would say, that I have tried to “get it right”, to hear, interpret and reflect your words in a way that will be helpful to the People and to the professionals who work in Native alcoholism. If I have left anything out, or said too much, I hope that you will call the error to my attention.

To Richard Dalton and Austin Hammond, who were there at all hours to take my calls, clarify a point or instruct me in some matter of this report, I thank you.

To the staff at the Southeast Regional Training Program, I am reminded of the many long phone calls, and complicated arrangements that this project necessarily involved. For your persistence, patience and hard work in meeting very tight deadlines with you, thank you.

Finally, I give thanks to the traditional Indian Elders and Medicine People who have given so much to my own training and education.

Pam Colorado Morrison, Ph. D.

September 1985, Juneau, Alaska

Section I


Southeast Alaska Regional Training Program Study on the Training Needs of Village-Based Counselors.


The field of alcoholism is undergoing a fundamental shift from the present medical based counselor model to a more holistic approach. This shift is marked by great stress in the system. Nowhere is the stress more evident than in the question of village-based versus urban-based counselor training needs.

While nearly everyone agrees that the role of the village-based counselor differs from its urban counterpart, few have been able to specify what the differences are or more important what these differences mean in terms of practice and training.

Based on this issue, the Southeast Alaska Regional Training Program initiated a research project to provide a functional analysis of village-based counselors. The purpose of the research was to answer the following questions:

1. What are the functions of village-based counselors?

2. What do counselors think of certification?

3. What are the community specific historic elements used to address substance abuse?

4. What important activities are not occuring? Why?

5. What healing elements are available to communities that may be useful to counselors?

6. What is “community development”?

7. What is the distinction, if any, between village-based and urban-based counselors?

Selecting an appropriate research design was a great challenge. The Southeast Alaska Regional Training Program needed information that was reliable and valid in two cultures, Native and non-Native, and it wanted the research to be helpful to the communities involved in the effort. Finally, the data needed to produce directions, postures and positions that would really work in both cultures as well as in the interface of the cultures. These needs were confounded by the fact that social science is undergoing a shift in paradigms, at least in so far as multi-cultural inquiry is concerned. Until the last two or three years, cross-cultural research has merely been an extension of western domination; that is, the stretching and pulling of western science across to other cultures, especially Native.

The results have not been fruitful for anyone. Western scientists became frustrated with the degrading of science which necessarily occurs when it is stretched beyond its capacity to make meaningful interpretations or predictions, and Native people have generally resented intrusion of yet another form of ideological control. Furthermore, except as informants, Native people have had very little say in matters of alcohol research within the village or community.

Therefore, the need to find a design that would work became paramount. Reviewing the literature became an essential but in the end, rewarding task, which led to the selection of the new “Bicultural Research Design.”