Iowa State University

Les Whitbeck, Center for Family Research, (515) 294-9795
Jerry Stubben, Extension to Communities, (515) 294-4329
Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706
Steve Jones, News Service, (515) 294-4778


AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University researchers have received a $3.2 million grant to develop and implement an alcohol and drug prevention program for rural Ojibwe Indian families in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The four-year project, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will involve 300 Ojibwe families on the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota and the Lac du Flambeau reservation in Wisconsin. Another group of Mille Lacs families living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area also will be included in the study.

The project is an extension of years of substance abuse prevention research conducted by ISU's Center for Family Research in Rural Mental Health among rural Iowa families and American Indian families in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

"The goal is to develop and scientifically evaluate a family- oriented alcohol and drug prevention program that makes sense in the Ojibwe culture," said Les Whitbeck, an Iowa State associate professor of sociology and the center's lead researcher on the project.

"The Ojibwes will be involved in every aspect of the project, from development to evaluation and implementation," said Jerry Stubben, an Iowa State extension communities state specialist. "This partnership will ensure the program is relevant to Ojibwe culture and something they can call their own."

Stubben has been studying factors that determine success or failure of prevention and intervention programs among rural and urban American Indians living in the Midwest. With those families, he has tested model prevention programs developed by the center.

Previous research has shown that a strong cultural component is needed for effective prevention programs. Stubben said the success rate is less than 10 percent for American Indians enrolled in non- American Indian substance abuse treatment programs. But if American Indians develop and run the program, the success rate climbs to more than 50 percent.

The Mille Lacs originally approached Larry Martin, another member of the center's research team and an Ojibwe who has consulted regularly with the tribe on social services planning, about creating their own family-oriented prevention program. "Their tribal council passed a resolution approving the collaboration, allowing us to come into their community and work with them," Whitbeck said.

The researchers will begin by assembling focus groups of family members, tribal elders and other community leaders to gather information and ideas to be used in developing a prevention program that fits Ojibwe culture.

"What we develop for the Ojibwe may not work with other tribes," Whitbeck said. "But we may be able to develop a process that can be repeated by other tribes or cultures."