To play a new song, click on play button below:

Andrew Thomas: Gift Song:

Click on the play button below to view video highlights of training sessions.



Rapid City, SD, March 28-30, 2012

Montana, December 2011

Albuquerque, New Mexico: November 2011

Warm Springs Oregon: May/June 2011

Macy, NE: March 2011

St. Stephens, Keel Gym: February 21-24, 2011: page one

St. Stephens, Keel Gym: February 21-24, 2011: page two

Wind River Casino: January 24-27, 2011: page one

Wind River Casino: January 24-27, 2011: page two

Inchelium, WA: Sept 2010

Jicarilla Apache Nation: March 15-18, 2010

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center: Feb 8-11, 2010

Billings, MT: November 1-4, 2010

Billings, MT: December 6-9, 2010


Training at Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation, Dulce, New Mexico, 2010



Publication: Native News Network

"There is More Fish in the Sea"
Strong Message for a Future for American Indian Youth

by Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Health


photo credit to Echohawk Lefthand, Indian Health Services


RED MESA, ARIZONA - The suicide rate among American Indian and Alaska Native teens is two and half to three times the national average. Suicides are the second leading causes of death of American Indian and Alaska Native youth between the ages of 10-25 year olds.


Native HOPE (Helping Our People Endure) is a prevention program that wants to reverse the high suicide trend among Native youth. Native HOPE was developed by Dr. Clayton Small, a clinical psychologist and internationally known trainer in the areas of suicide prevention and team trust building and youth leadership development.


Earlier this month, Dr. Small brought Native HOPE to Red Mesa High School, where he spent a one-day "Train the Trainers" teaching to adult volunteer facilitators and the next two days with 80 freshman students.

The time and place of the training was quite appropriate because during the past eighteen months, three young American Indian youth committed suicide in Red Mesa.


click here to read full story


Publication: Navajo Times

Date: December 12, 2012

Native HOPE: Teaching teens how to really talk

By Noel Lyn Smith



A group of 50 students from Red Mesa High School stood in a large circle and shared laughter while completing a series of conversation starters as part of a two-day workshop on suicide prevention and awareness called Native HOPE (Helping Our People Endure).

Most suicide prevention workshops consist of lectures and video presentations but Native HOPE takes the hands-on approach, said Darlene Begay, a health promotion coordinator at Four Corners Regional Health Center.


The Dec. 1 workshop at Red Mesa aimed to get the students to be pro-active, to reach out and intervene before they lose another friend to suicide.


"We are trying to think of innovative ways to get the message across," Begay said.


Organizers also want to teach students that it is OK to ask for help.

Native HOPE is a culture-based peer-counseling program that works to prevent suicide and related risk factors such as substance abuse, violence, trauma, stress and depression.


The curriculum is based on the theory that Native youth can break the "code of silence" surrounding suicide and learn to help and support each other.


The teachings draw on Native culture, traditions, spirituality, ceremonies and humor.


"Youth have the most influence on each other. I say lead your peers into glory rather than the gutter," said Clayton Small, who co-wrote the curriculum.


Eight out of 10 suicides are preventable by breaking that "code of silence," Small told the students.


click here to read full article


Publication: Confederated Umtilla Journal

Date: September 2011

Young People 'let go of their burden's': Suicide prevention camp uses peer-based curriculum to reach vulnerable teens (page 16).


WESTIMINSTER CAMP – Amber Riddle was in and out of foster care, in a rehab center for meth, and locked up for fighting.

Depressed and alone, she took five Percoset pills, a handful of Ecstacy and Vicodin, then slit her wrists.

The young girl – now 15 – wanted all the hurting to be over.
“Nobody wanted me,” she said.

Her stomach was pumped and the cuts stitched up. When she awoke, members of a new family were at her bedside. That was a turning point in her life.

Amber wasn’t the only young person who “stepped outside their comfort zones” and shared agonizing stories about abandonment, parents in and out of jail, drug abuse in the house, sexual abuse, domestic violence and other “monsters.”

About 30 youth from four Oregon tribes gathered in the Blue Mountains for the “Life Takes Courage” camp. Using a peer-based curriculum called Native Hope – Helping Our People Endure, the teenagers – age
“We tell them it’s up to you to break the cycle. We ask them if they are ready to break the cycle?” Small said. “There is a stigma about suicide. Natives say don’t talk about it because it will bring on evil spirits. I say bull- ---. Native Americans have the highest rate of suicides among all races, almost triple (the national average.) We need to talk about it and we need to intervene.”

Beyond talking about the issue, communities must “take action.”
Plans and studies are useful but they don’t address the underlying problems, Small said.

click here to read full article

Publication: Wind River News

Date: February 17, 2011

Northern Arapaho WIC prepares for Healthy Familes Conference (PDF)

Success Story: Wind River Indian Reservation: 10/4/2010


"The success of this year's sessions, have been the expansion of positive life experiences with the native men; i.e. building a sweat lodge, participating in the sweat; learning and practicing eagle drum songs integral to the life of the Northern Arapaho people. Seeing men in the community enjoying sober activities with one another; shows that we are actively combating the epidemic of alcohol and drug addiction that takes the lives of many men on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Some Native men this year involved with the GRL [Good Road To Life] have also attained work, sobriety, and the custody of their children. The GRL has been a road map of where we are taking all native men who choose to take part; the destination is a life of wellness. Resolving our own issues with our fathers as Native men will also inspire us to beome the responsible fathers, uncles, brothers, and sons that the creator created us to be."


Rain Chipewa,
CDC Infant Mortality Prevention
Outreach Coordinator

Rain Chipewa, Outreach Coordinator for the CDC Infant Mortality Prevention Program

Cindy Washakie, Director of the Northern Arapaho WIC and CDC Infant Mortality Prevention Program

Sandor Ironrope, Good Road To Life Trainer

Retreat helps American Indian men, families find their way to health



Leon Rattler, center, shares a laugh during a trust-building activity while attending the Native American Conference, “The Good Road of Life: Responsible Fatherhood,” Wednesday afternoon at the Hampton Inn. The group then broke into groups of clans to discuss spirituality and sources of strength.

It's not hard to believe that historical trauma still colors the lives of American Indian people.

Statistics help prove the point. For American Indian males alone, the risk factors for substance abuse, violence, depression and suicide are three to six times higher than all other races in the United States.

The trauma comes from the forced colonization of a whole race of people in the early days of the country — people robbed of their land and their identity, children separated from families and sent to boarding schools, and crushing poverty that survives until today.

It's not hard to understand why a people faced with such obstacles would turn to alcohol and drugs, and why violence would be such a part of their culture. What is difficult is to find the solutions to turn it all around.
That's why Clayton Small helped develop a curriculum to help heal Native men and, in turn, put Native families and tribes on a new path. Small is at the Hampton Inn in Billings for a four-day retreat called “The Good Road of Life: Responsible Fatherhood.”

Small, a Northern Cheyenne, earned his doctorate at Gonzaga University. The focus of his dissertation was the wellness challenges American Indian men face.

Out of that he founded NATIVE PRIDE (Prevention, Research, Intervention, Development, Education) as a healing model to help men turn from their self-destructive toward health. Small, who lives in Albuquerque, N.M., has spent the past 25 years in Indian Country as a trainer in the areas of prevention, wellness, leadership and healing.
Small's organization was awarded a grant from the Administration for Native Americans to develop a curriculum to put all he's learned into a format that helps men heal and grow. The first four-day retreat for men is followed by a second one — in this case Dec. 6-9 in Billings — for men and women.

Last year, Small took the retreats to the Southwest. This year, he's traveling to Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Oregon and California.
On the first day of the retreat, Small trains people will who assist him the next three days to walk participants through the activities. The clan leaders and rovers come from the retreat's co-sponsors — in this case from the Indian Health Service, BIA Social Services and the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council.

That's why there are women at the retreat geared toward men, Small said. But the focus of the sessions is on helping the men.
The curriculum of the first four-day retreat is summed up in a 15-chapter workbook that focuses on everything from colonization, racism and the role of native men to breaking unhealthy cycles, healing the shame, conflict resolution, communication and responsible fatherhood and family preservation.

As for the structure, Small puts participants into clans. They come up with clan names, create a clan call and a clan shield, all toward the purpose of team-building.

Small leads large-group teaching times, often starting off each topic with a story or Native artwork, and then moving into the meat of the topic. They fill in blanks in their workbooks, sign contracts for new behaviors, break into small groups to talk about related issues and open up about things they may never have shared before.

“Oftentimes the clan sharing gets emotional,” he said. “Participants feel safe to do healing and grief work they've never done. As they hear the challenges the other men face, it helps to know they're not alone.”
The work doesn't stop when the retreat ends, Small said. The men are expected to go deeper into the topics they've learned about at the retreat.
They are encouraged to find a support group to be part of and meet once a week. They delve more into spirituality, and look into their family history to see what old patterns need to be broken.

“Some of that goes back to boarding schools, reservation schools, losses in their lives,” Small said. “It's making a decision that I don't have to keep doing this behavior. It can stop with me so my children don't have to experience that kind of inappropriate behavior.”

The past can't be changed, but Native Americans can change how they let the past affect them. It's changing their minds and their behavior little by little, Small said.

“It's a journey, it's not always getting to the final destination,” he said.
Contact Susan Olp at or 657-1281.

Copyright 2010 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Posted in Local, Health-med-fit on Thursday, November 4, 2010 12:00 am Updated: 1:21 am. | Tags: Clayton Small, Native Americans, Administration For Native Americans, Montana-wyoming Tribal Leaders Council, Historical Trauma,