Native American Heritage Month
November is Native American Heritage Month and Each Mind Matters is committed to sharing resources for all Californians including Native American communities across the state.
According to the U.S. Census, Native Americans make up 1.7 percent of California’s total population. State data from 2007 through 2011 show that Native Americans had a suicide death rate of 13.7 per 100,000 people. But for two of those years, the numbers were too small to be statistically reliable. As the Native Vision report documented, disparities exist in mental health for Native Americans, due to inappropriate systems of care, historical policies that created trauma, racism and discrimination, and other barriers.
Committed to mental health throughout the state, counties are hosting Native-specific events to share resources and raise awareness. Each Mind Matters joined the American Indian/Alaska Native Mental Health Conference hosted by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health on November 4. The conference brought together county staff, tribal organizations, tribes and individuals to identify and build on cultural and community resources and strengths to improve mental health outcomes. Speakers included Supervisor James Ramos (San Manuel Band of Mission Indians) from the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and Larry Gasco, PH.D (Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation) from the Los Angeles County Mental Health Commission.
In addition, Each Mind Matters Native Communities of Care awarded fourteen tribes, tribal organizations, and counties with mini-grants to reduce mental health stigma and discrimination in the Native community. Kern County hosted a cultural competency training and community event on November 14 that provided a great opportunity for the county and tribal community to come together and strengthen
Another grantee, the Southern California Indian Center, will be hosting their 46th Annual Powwow in Orange County on Nov. 22-23. This event, which is open to the public, will include traditional drumming and dancing, along with community resources. For more information, visit www.indiancenter.org.
On November 18, San Bernardino County will host a Native American Heritage Month celebration focusing on the four directions of wellness. The event will include keynote speakers, workshops and entertainment. For more information, visit www.sbcounty.gov.
Strength, resiliency, and hope are critical cultural characteristics that continue to be sustained in Native American communities across California, even when challenging circumstances abound. Each Mind Matters invites everyone to join the movement and share your story.
If you are interested in learning more about Native Communities of Care email Jeanine Gaines at [email protected]
 U.S. Census Bureau. California People QuickFacts. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06000.html  California Department of Public Health, Safe and Active Communities Branch. Report generated from http://epicenter.cdph.ca.gov on February 25, 2014.  Native vision: the California Reducing Disparities Project Native American Population Report. (2012). Oakland, CA: Native American Health Center.