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New Parenting Curriculum Supports Native Families with FASD

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The Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center (MIWRC) has released a new parenting curriculum focused on supporting American Indian families where fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is suspected. Gifts from the Sacred Circle: A Native Traditional Parenting Curriculum for Families Affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is now available through Hazelden Publishing.

Authored by Rosemary White Shield, Ph.D., Gifts from the Sacred Circle is the result of seven years of collaborative work with tribes, elders, researchers, and organizations dedicated to addressing the role of FASD in Native communities. The goals of the curriculum are:

  • To promote cultural health for families and children affected by FASD,
  • To develop individual and family success,
  • To transmit knowledge and skills to participants that increase successful parenting, nurture children’s development, prevent future FASD births, and build well-being for Native people.

The curriculum design is research based, and built upon the Medicine Wheel Tribe Specific Education Model with input from Native families, Elders, caregivers, spiritual leaders, service providers and others. Field tests were conducted on three Reservations and two urban Indian locations, with highly positive outcomes including 100 percent participant sobriety at three of the field test sites.

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Culturally based thematic curriculum areas include: compassion, support, boundaries and expectations, commitment to learning, positive values, and positive identity. It is designed to be taught in weekly 2 ½ hour sessions for 12 weeks. It can be used in any setting—parenting groups, substance abuse or mental health programs, supportive housing, childcare programs, community educational settings—and can be adapted to tribal specific teachings.

One facilitator, Linda Eagle Speaker, who participated in the field tests had this to say about Gifts from the Sacred Circle:

“In Native culture the child was seen as the future and extension of one self; all family members and extended family members placed high value on the child, each member being responsible for molding and shaping the child’s life. In modern times this role has changed to a non-Native way of thinking where the child is last and adults are at the fore front the most important. Native teachings tell us to always place our children first above all else, treasure them as gifts from the Creator.”

To order a copy, call Hazelden Publishing at 1-800-328-9000. The project was made possible by the support of Cummins Power Generation and the Cummins Foundation.