Over generations, Indigenous people in the United States have experienced genocide, removal from their lands, forced assimilation that has stolen important language and cultural practices, and discrimination that causes higher unemployment rates, poverty, and poorer health. These traumatic experiences and the resulting physical and mental health reactions to them have led to some of the highest rates of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, inhalant, and hallucinogen use disorders among Native Americans compared to other ethnic groups. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 1 in 5 Native American young adults (ages 18-25) has a substance use disorder, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for that age group.
To address how their communities have been impacted by substance use, Sharayah Lane, a member of the Lummi Nation, Dr. Shawna Fay Gallagher, an enrolled member of the Klamath Tribes, David McLeod of the Flathead Tribe in Montana, and Karen Lizzy, an enrolled member of the Bay Mills Ojibwe are all working to make a difference in tribal behavioral health systems.
Karen says, “One of the changes I would like to see happen in behavioral health services would be that the moment someone walked up to us in the community or walked through our doors and sought our help that we could be more responsive. It is a sacred moment that can be very difficult to honor…This disease has teeth and claws that easily pull people back into the chaos and cycle of use, we don’t always know when that next sacred moment will come and if then we will be able to respond.”
While Indigenous people have endured many types of oppression in the United States, their strength, resilience, and sense of community have helped them survive. The recovery community and health care providers should focus on creating recovery spaces that center Native experiences and allow them to lead from their own ancient wisdom.
Join us on December 17th at 1:00PM for our KCRC Presents panel to hear more from these fabulous speakers about recovery leadership in their communities.
Meet Our Speakers:
Moderator: Sharayah Lane, King County Recovery Coalition Advisory Board
Sharayah has an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Washington, and is a current student at the Evans School studying public financial management. She is an enrolled member of the Lummi Nation and grew up on the reservation. Her work experience has focused on equity and inclusion at a societal and policy level, and she hopes to learn more about the intersection of race, equity, and finance/economy. She has lived in Seattle for 10 years and loves to bring people together and create community. Sharayah believes that the only way for policy to be effective is for people who have been the most marginalized to be involved in creating solutions.
Dr. Shawna Gallagher, Behavioral Health Director, Seattle Indian Health Board
Dr. Shawna Fay Gallagher recently rejoined Seattle Indian Health Board’s (SIHB) Behavioral Health Team as the Behavioral Health Division Director. Dr. Gallagher currently oversees both our Outpatient Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Programs.
Dr. Gallagher has over 20+ years of experience working in healthcare systems; and has over 15 years of experience working in both Native and non-Native co-occurring (mental health and substance use disorder) outpatient/residential treatment facilities, both as a direct practitioner and as a program director. Dr. Gallagher is an enrolled member of the Klamath Tribes and was born and raised in Southern Oregon on the recognized reservation boundaries of the Klamath, Modoc, and Yahooskin Snake Band Indians.
Since Dr. Gallagher’s return to the West Coast in 2016, she briefly worked for both the Colville Tribes (Mental Health Clinic Supervisor) and the Tulalip Tribes (Behavioral Health Director) assisting both tribes with program development.
In Dr. Gallagher’s direct clinical practice, she specializes in trauma-informed care and addictions—and has been successful at weaving indigenous psychology (beliefs, practices, and ceremonies) into Western evidence-based practices. She has an eclectic approach to treatment working primarily from Indigenous Psychology, Family Systems, Attachment Theory, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Narrative Therapy, and the Modified White Bison 12-Step Model. Dr. Gallagher currently provides direct practice part-time in her role at SIHB.
Dr. Gallagher serves as a key member of SIHB’s multi-disciplinary team, establishing an “Indigenous Trauma Informed Care Model” to ensure “holistic care” (traditional healing and medicines, medical, dental, mental health, substance use, and case management) are being offered to meet the needs of urban Native American population(s). Dr. Gallagher also established SIHB’s MSW Training Program in 2018; and currently serves as the Field Instructor for the University of Washington Advanced Practicum – Clinical Social Work Students.
Karen Lizzy, Cowlitz Tribal Health, LMHC, SUDP with the Cowlitz Tribe Seattle Medically Assisted Treatment Program
Boozhoo! (Hello!) Karen Lizzy is an enrolled member of the Bay Mills Indian Community, a band of Ojibwe (sometimes said Chippewa) in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Karen considers herself bi-racial also being Irish and German. She was once a homeless teen who struggled with subtance use and trauma. She was a teen mom who was not capable of caring her child due to that substance use and trauma. She now walks the Red Road of Recovery with a spirit to walk alongside other Native American’s and Alaskan Natives on their own journey. She embraces all parts of the journey including being in the deep end of the pool in Harm Reduction because all parts of the story are Sacred. She was first licensed as an SUD Professional and discovered without the constant chaos of trauma and substance use she could learn! Especially with the support of her Tribes education incentive program. She continued her education and got a BA of Liberal Arts with a focus on NA/AN and Substance Use Disorders/Truama from Evergreen State College, Tacoma Program. Then on to a MA of psychology at Saybrook University/Lio’s. Finally she is slowly but surely working on her degree in Native American Studies at her Tribes commintiy college. She has worked at Cowlitz’s Tribe Mental Health Program, Substance Use Disorders program and now works in their Medically Assisted Treatment program. The main focus of her work is to culturally center Medically Assisted Treatment.
She was given an award from Family Treatment Court in 2014 for her service and dedication to serving Native families with in their court system. She is a published author in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment after being interviewed for the article “Commentary on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on opioid use disorder treatment among indigenous communities in the United States and Canada.” The foundation of her work is that Wellbriety/Recovery means your spirit returns to your body, mind and soul. The journey is not becoming someone or something different than your are but coming back home to reclaim your sacred place in the world. It means the seen and unseen world smile and embrace what no other could ever replace. Migwetch! (Blessings!)
David McLeod, Chemical Dependency Supervisor, Muckleshoot Behavioral Health Program
David has been in the field of chemical dependency counseling since May, 1993. He is a member of the Flathead Tribe in Montana, and has been the adult SUD supervisor for the past year and a half at the Muckleshoot Behavioral Health Program and was the Adult Recovery House supervisor prior to that. “I am so grateful to work for this wonderful organization and for this beautiful tribe. I will continue to fight for the underdog until my dying day. ” On a personal note, David is 35 years clean and sober, married 28 years with two adult children and two grandchildren.