The Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 38, Issue 1–2, pp 175–194 | Cite as

The Efficacy of an American Indian Culturally-Based Risk Prevention Program for Upper Elementary School Youth Residing on the Northern Plains Reservations

  • John J. UseraEmail author
Original Paper


Culturally-based risk behavior prevention programs for American Indian elementary school children are sparse. Thus a group of American Indian educators collaborated in the creation of a program that helps children make healthy decisions based on their cultural and traditional value system. In this paper the effectiveness of Lakota Circles of Hope (LCH), an elementary school culturally-based prevention program was studied and evaluated. Three cohorts of fourth and fifth graders participated in a mixed methods quasi-experimental evaluative research design that included focus groups and surveys prior to and following the intervention. Five research questions regarding the program’s impact on students’ self-esteem and self-efficacy, Lakota identity, communication, conflict resolution and risk behaviors were addressed in this study. Participants were compared to non-participants in three American Indian reservation school sites. Educators completed a survey to record their observations and feedback regarding the implementation of the program within their respective school sites. The study provides preliminary evidence that, when delivered with fidelity, LCH contributes to statistically significant changes in risk behaviors, Lakota identity, respect for others, and adult and parent communication. A two-way multivariate analysis of variance with post hoc analysis of data collected from the LCH participants (N = 1392) were used to substantiate a significant increase in respect for others and a decrease in risk behaviors which included alcohol, tobacco, and substance use at the 0.10 alpha level. Significant positive improvements in parent and adult communication and an increased Lakota identity at the 0.01 alpha level were obtained. There were no significant differences in self-esteem and conflict resolution from pre to post intervention and in comparison with non LCH participating students.


Prevention program Elementary school Lakota Culturally-based program American Indian 



The development, implementation, and research of Lakota Circles of Hope were partially funded by the Bush Foundation, Wellmark Foundation, John T. Vucurevich Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention’s Service to Science Initiative grant provided support for some of the preliminary evaluation and research performed in this study. The Lakota Circles of Hope is a program of the Diocese of Rapid City Catholic Social Services. A special recognition is given to Jim Kinyon, Executive Director of CSS, Joanne Beare, Program Director, T.J. McCauley, LCH Program Coordinator, the program developers (Paula Long Fox, Lydia Whirlwind Soldier, Barbara Jones, and Bridget Williams) and all of the program instructors.

Compliance With Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors of this manuscript certify that they have NO affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest or non-financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript. The authors of this manuscript served as external evaluators and researchers of Lakota Circles of Hope and were compensated for the implementation of a program evaluation process based on the American Evaluation Association’s Guiding Principles for Evaluators. Annual reports were produced to document the findings and conclusions obtained from the data collection and analytical process. The authors implemented the Journal of Primary Prevention Publication Guidelines consistent with the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) principles.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research and EvaluationCatholic Social ServicesRapid CityUSA
  2. 2.Delta Evaluation Consulting, LLCSturgisUSA

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