Prevention. Intervention. Respect.
Tipis in a field

Holding up Our Youth

Healing of the Canoe

The Holding Up Our Youth curriculum is an implementation of the Healing of the Canoe that is based on Suquamish culture and includes important cognitive-behavioral skills training and weaves in tribal specific cultural teachings, and information about alcohol and drugs.

"The Holding up Our Youth curriculum consists of 11 sessions plus an honoring ceremony. Each of the sessions includes important cognitive-behavioral skills training and weaves in information about alcohol and drugs. Traditional Suquamish stories were collected from Elders and other community members, and are included as a way to convey and reinforce session information through the messages and values found in the stories. Elders and tribal leaders volunteered to come into the sessions to share their experiences and perspective, and to talk to the youth about various topics such as drug and alcohol use, Suquamish spirituality and cultural values, and Suquamish teachings and stories. These guest speakers provide an opportunity for youth participants to meet with community members who can serve as mentors and resources. The youth also participate in culturally-related activities such as food gathering and preparation, traditional introductions, traditional storytelling, and gift preparation (including beading, weaving, cedar collection, carving, etc.)."

Retrieved from

Suquamish HOC Team Robin Sigo Program Director/Co-Investigator

Robin Sigo, Program Director/Co-Investigator

Suquamish HOC Team


An assessment of Healing of the Canoe appeared as:

Dononvan, D.M., Thomas, L.R., Sigo, R.L.W., Price, L., Lonczak, H., Lawrence, N., Ahvakana, K., Austin, L., Lawrence, A., Price, J., Purser, A., & Bagley, L.  (2015).  Healing of the Canoe: Preliminary results of a culturally tailored intervention to prev . American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research, 22(1), 42-76. doi: 10.5820/aian.2201.2015.42

This preliminary report remarked on the need for additional research with larger samples, but suggested that the “community-derived, culturally grounded prevention curricula represent promising practices. Integrating evidence-based components of positive youth development and tribal-specific culture, traditions, and values, the curricula have the potential of reducing substance use; increasing hope, optimism, and self-efficacy; and facilitating cultural identity” (p. 67). Retrieved from:

Canoe Journey Life’s Journey: A Life Skills Manual for Native Adolescents (LaMarr & Marlatt, 2005), served as the foundation for the cultural and tribal-specific adaptation by the Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribes in the Healing of the Canoe. The Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribes both identified the prevention of youth substance abuse and the need for a sense of cultural belonging and cultural revitalization among youth as primary issues of community concern.  The Healing of the Canoe partnership has sought to address these issues through a community based, culturally grounded prevention and intervention life skills curriculum for tribal youth that builds on the strengths and resources in the community.

Tribally created
  • Child
  • Community
  • Family
  • Tribe
  • Child perceived as problem by parents
  • Low self esteem
  • Mental health problems
  • Social isolation
  • Substance abuse
  • Build trust and confidence in community
  • Community support when faced with challenges
  • Family functioning
  • Involvement in positive activities
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Relational skills
  • Self-regulation skills
  • Social and emotional competence
  • Connecting with cultural resources
  • Cultural community gatherings
  • Cultural teachings
  • Education
  • Ethnic pride/self-esteem
  • Expressing Native identity
  • Healthy lifestyles/activities
  • Hope/looking forward/optimism
  • Increasing coping skills
  • Life cycle events/traditional activities/practices
  • Personal capacities
  • Physical health/fitness
  • Spiritual values/well-being
  • Wairua (spirit)