Using "Cluster" Groups to Seek Solutions to Tribal Drinking

The White Mountain Apache Tribe organized "cluster" groups of people with similar interests as a way to find solutions to community problems, especially in the area of substance abuse.

Despite income from a tribally owned sawmill and ski resort, unemployment has been high and drinking a community norm, and an estimated 40 percent of adults had a serious problem related to alcohol abuse.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program, Healthy Nations®: Reducing Substance Abuse Among Native Americans.

Key Results

Project staff developed:

  • A women's group, which included an eight-week support group to help participants learn to live healthy lives.
  • A men's group, which focused on men's strength. Group members made more than 150 presentations to area schools on the importance of being drug-free and the importance of being Apache.
  • A parenting group, which conducted several 10-week parenting sessions for young parents, parents of adolescents and parents who had been referred by the court for neglect, child abuse or battery.
  • Outdoor adventure courses for youth that included white water rafting and a rope-based obstacle course, which were designed to give participants a fun, challenging experience and provide staff an opportunity to talk with them about substance abuse issues.
  • Staff coordinated weekly adult radio talk shows and teen talk shows and developed videos on substance abuse that ran on televisions that were displayed at prominent locations on the reservation.