The SAMHSA-produced pocket guide called the American Indian and Alaska Native Culture Card describes Native cultural differences, customs, and identity; spirituality; communication styles and etiquette; the role of veterans and elders; and health and wellness challenges.
It was originally designed for the U.S. Public Health Service Commission Corps who were deployed in response to suicide clusters or other traumatic events throughout Indian country. This publication has become one of the most requested SAMHSA resources.
Many grantees share the Culture Card at GONAs as a way to connect with outside community members on a deeper level and start the dialog that eventually leads to collaborations for the system of care planned under the Circles of Care grant.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is also using the Culture Card. It currently has plans to disseminate it nationally. The VA is also encouraging VA staff to participate in a related webinar with Captain R. Andrew Hunt, Public Health Advisor in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. Captain Hunt co-authored the Culture Card and is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.
“All communities are different - history, beliefs, practices, communication, and the language used to talk about mental health issues” said Captain Hunt. “The Culture Card provides basic information so others can adjust and adapt their approach to meet that community and their cultural context.”