CODI: Cornucopia of Disability Information

Native American Rehabilitation - Montana


Conferderated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
Salish Kootenai College
P.O. Box 117
Pablo, Montana 59855

Section One - Descriptive Information

1. Describe the reservation in terms of geography, people, language and government.

The Flathead Reservation area has a total population of approximately 22,000 people with 6,000 individuals of Indian descent. Of that figure, 3,500 are enrolled members of the confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Approximately 73% of the reservationXs total population is non-lndian, while 27% iS Indian. Members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes make up 16% of the total Flathead Reservation population and 59% of the total Indian population residing on the reservation.

Languages spoken are the Salish and the Kootenal. The reservation is located in the mountainous and heavily wooded area of western Montana. The southern end of Flathead lake, the largest freshwater body of water west of the Mississippi, forms the northern boundary of the reservation.

The everyday affairs concerning the reservation are handled by a Tribal Council. The members of the Tribal Council have traditionally been males. In the recent election of council members, three of the members elected were females and two of these were elected officers. Issues that pertain to culture, air, water and land are also dealt with by cultural committees and in all decisions the body of tribal elders play a significant role in the decision making process.

2. Describe the major health issues addressed by the rehabilitation and medical services on the reservation.

Some of the major health issues on the reservation are diabetes, heart disease, and chemical dependency. Current efforts of medical services on the reservation are focused on these concerns as well as wellness issues and other activities. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes' Vocational Rehabilitation Project (CSKTVRP) deals with these medical issues and also with a broad spectrum of muscular-skeletal problems which are also highly prevalent among the reservation population.

3. Describe the employment/economy, education system and the cultural kinship systems in place.

Unemployment on the reservation generally runs among the highest in the state of Montana, particularly among the tribal population. The tribe, on the other hand, is the largest employer on the reservation. At the present time, there are 668 tribal employees; when employees at the Salish Kootenai College and private enterprise situations are included, there are approximately 1,200 tribal/tribally related employees.

There are reservation-wide tribal education committees who work closely with all the schools to facilitate the design/implementation of programs to retain children in school. Salish Kootenai College, a tribal college, offers a host of two year degrees, certificates and several four year degree programs for both tribal and non-tribal students. A Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Services with an emphasis on Rehabilitation as well as associate degrees in Human Services and in Chemical Dependency are presently offered on the college campus.

Section Two - Program and Services

4. How is rehabilitation viewed by the community, culture, consumers, family and social structure?

Traditionally, tribal members did not spend a great deal of time worrying about what a disabled individual "couldn't do." What a person "could do" was what was important and what you couldn't do someone else would take care of - a natural process where everyone functioned as a unit. This has changed somewhat today. People on the reservation are beginning to realize that there are services available that are uniquely geared to get an individual back into the work force. Consumers surveyed are uniformly of the opinion that rehabilitation services have been the primary key in assisting them in becoming employable once again, or in some instances employable for the first time.

5. HOW iS rehabilitation difhrent today from the practices five years ago? Twenty years ago?

Twenty years ago, rehabilitation services were practically nonexistent on the reservation. Seven or eight years ago, at the point in time when the first Section 130 project was initiated in this area, there were one or two individuals served per year by the state vocational rehabilitation services. Since that period and with the ever expanding range of services offered through the Human Services department at the college, the number of individuals receiving services has increased and is running between 40-50 individuals being served per year at this time. With the additional grants coming into the department at this time, we are able to offer additional supported employment services as well as transportation services.

6. What makes rehabilitation unique or exemplary on your reservation?

The things that make rehabilitation unique at this site are that the staff members all make a concerted effort to "mold" services to the individual client; we are able to incorporate

traditional healing practices into the rehabilitation plan. We emphasize outreach efforts and utilize tribal members as counselors. All of these aspects play a part in facilitating a comfortable exchange between the disabled population and the local Section 130 proiect staff.

7. What are the characteristics of persons with disabilities on your reservation?

Persons with disabilities on the Flathead Reservation appear to represent a significant number of individuals with muscular-skeletal disabilities. This is the primary disabling condition at this time with approximately one-third of the individuals being served having this type of disability. Other types of disabilities include visual, hearing, amputation, chemical dependency, psychological, in addition to disabilities related to the heart and lungs.

8. What do you see as the needs and wants of individuals with disabilities on the reservations? What are the immediate concerns of persons with disabilities on your reservatinn?

A long lasting need in this area has been the lack of available transportation services. This need is currently being addressed somewhat by the transportation services offered through a grant received by the Human Services department this past year. Another major need that is also just beginning to be addressed is timely and quality transitioning services for students just leaving school or quitting school.

9. What is the future of rehabilitation on your reservation and, from your perspective, for the Native American Nations?

Rehabilitation efforts on the Flathead Reservation will continue to be expanded and will continue to play a major role in the future in providing services for individuals with disabilities in this area. The Section 130 projects, we feel, have amply demonstrated that they can reach the people who need their services, and at the same time take into account an awareness of the cultural nusncec that can make a major difference in whether an individual has a successful employment outcome or not.

10. What role does technology play in the lives of individuals with disabilities on your reservation?

Technological developments have played a relatively small, but increasingly important, role in the rehabilitation efforts in this area. Adaptive equipment is being utilized and a typical comment made by a first-time user is, "Wow, I didn't know that these things existed!" Our project is making an effort to reach out to the local population in order to inform them of some of the technology available to individuals with disabilities.

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Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux
Vocational Rehabilitation Program
P.O. Box 1027
Poplar, Montana 59255

Section One - Descriptive Information

1. Describe the reservation in terms of geography, people, language and government.

The Fort Peck Indian Reservation is located in northeastern Montana, 50 miles from the Canadian border, and 40 miles from the North Dakota state line. The reservation boundaries are 80 miles east to west, 40 miles north to south. The Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Reservation consists of approximately 2.1 million acres.

The native people are of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes (many are intermarried). English is the predominant language spoken, however, there are tribal members who can speak their own native tonRue.

Tribal government consists of 12 council members, a tribal chairman, a vice-chairman, and a sergeant at arms. The elected officials are voted in at-large during tribal elections, every two years.

2. Describe the major health issues addressed by the rehabilitation and medical services on the reservation.

Not necessarily in rank order, chemical abuse/alcoholism, diabetes related traumatic amputation, heart disease/hypertension, head injury cases, visual impairment, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Fetal Alcohol Effect, and other learning disabilities are the maior health issues.

3. Describe the employmenveconomy, education system and the cultural kinship systems in place.

Statistics for 1991 state the unemployment rate was 43%. The reservation economy is primarily agricultural with some activity in oil and gas. There are two tribal manufacturing enterprises, which are the West Electronics and A & S Tribal Industries. The industries relied on government contracts, which are now almost non-existent. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Services, and the Fort Peck Tribes are the largest employers. Within the education system, there are four public schools in each township: Wolf Point, Poplar, Brockton, and Frazer. There are Headstart classes in the Indian communities in addition to two accredited community colleges: Fort Peck Community College, located in Poplar, MT, (2 year degree), and the NAES College, where one can earn a 4 year degree. If one lacks a high school diploma, a GED is an alternative.

In terms of cultural kinship, as with many tribes, the extended family relationship is still practiced to some degree. However, now more of the elderly are being placed in nursing homes.

Section Two - Program and Services

The overall view of rehabilitation by the community is that services are much needed. Cultural view is unknown, as rehabilitation is rather new on this reservation. Consumers have mixed feelings. Clients who are serious about education or work appreciate the benefits derived from the rehabilitation program. A small minority look upon rehabilitation as a welfare or entitlement program. Within the family and social structure, family members will support the person with a disability in some cases

5. How iS rehabilitation different today from the practices five years ago? Twenty years ago?

Modern technology appears to be the major difference.

6. What makes rehabilitation unique or exemplary on your reservation?

One of the only programs designed to assist persons with disabilities.

7. What are the characteristics of persons with disabilities on your reservation?


8. What do you see as the needs and wants of individuals with disabilities on the reservations? What are the immediate concerns of persons with disabilities on your rerervation?

In terms of needs, a sheltered workshop may be of some value. As to the second part of question, the answer has to be iobs.

9. What is the future of rehabilitation on your reservation and, from your perspective, for Native American Nations?

The Rehabilitation Program on the reservation will continue and needs to be expanded. Overall, Native American rehabilitation programs will all gain credibility and be responsible for putting many back to work.

10. What roles does technology play in the lives of individuals with disabilities on your reservation?

In answer to this question, more research needs to be done.

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Stone Child College
Rocky Boy Route Box 1082
Box Elder, Montana 59521

NOTE:Stone Child College is reprinted as submitted.

Rocky Boys' Reservation

The Rocky Boy Reservation is the smallest reservation in the State of Montana. Rocky Boy was established by Executive Order on September 7,1916, when the 64th Congress designated a tract of land, once part of the Fort Assiniboine Military Reserve, as the home for the Chippewa-Cree Indians. Translated from the Chippewa language, the reservation name means Stone Child, but the original translation was lost and the name Rocky Boy evolved. Located south of Havre, Montana, this refuge consisted of approximately 55,000 acres. Only about 450 Indians chose to settle on the reservation. In later years, more land was added to the original acreage until the reservation reached its present size of 120,000 acres. Since the creation of the Rocky Boy Reservation, intermarriage has amalgamated the Chippewa and Cree Tribes until today they can be listed on the membership rolls only as Chippewa-Cree. The total number of enrolled tribal members is 4,900. Under the provisions of the Indian Organization Act (Howard-Wheeler Act of 1934), the Chippewa-Cree Constitution established the Chippewa-Cree Business Committee as the governing bodY for the tribe.

The reservation lies in the shadows and drainage area of the Bear Paw Mountains of north central Montana and includes country of rolling foothills and prairie land. The Rocky Boy Agency is located 26 miles south of the city of Havre, which is a farming and railroad community of approximately 12,000 people. The principal uses of lands within the reservation are grazing and dryland farming. There are no light industry or businesses located on the reservation, except for small family-owned businesses. Even though the reservation is isolated from larger metroDolitan areas (nearest airDort and major shopping is located in Great Falls - 100 miles away), community residents are avid participants in church, cultural events, community and school related activities, and attending basketball games. The extreme isolation and weather conditions, however, also probably account for the rich cultural heritage continuing on the Rocky Boy's Reservation.

The economic condition on the Rocky Boy Reservation is poor. The Bureau of Indian Affairs Labor Force Report of 1993 indicates a potential labor force of 1,103 people. The number of people unemployed was 729. This indicates a 66% unemployment rate for the Rocky Boy Reservation. This is ten times the unemployment rate of the State of Montana and eight times the unemployment rate of Hill County.

The population base, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs Labor Force Report, has a total resident Indian population of 2,992. The population of residents under 16 years of age is 1,403. This indicates that 47% of the population is under the age of 16 years. This group will soon be entering the potential labor force with minimal job opportunities available.

The private sector businesses with employment potential are seven in number. There are a small number of established farmers and ranchers. There are three convenience stores and three small construction companies. The remaining business is a small casino/cafe. Each private business is small and, for some, seasonal in employment opportunities, especially the construction buisnesses.

The public sector businesses are larger in scale. The public sector, however, is stagnant in growth. PubliC sector employment will never exceed 35ø/0 of the potential labor force. There is an increasing demand for academic and technologically skilled personnel within the public sector. Because of the low volume of private businesses that exist presently, the range of options for future businesses are limitless. The projected plan to upgrade and develop the recreation potential will create some small business opportunities. Consumer goods businesses are a priority because of the reliance of off-reservation businesses to supply those needs. There is a need for media communications within the reservation encompassing the audio and visual mediums. With the growing demand for computer usage and literacy, a small business would be profitable providing the community with hardware and software. A potential business would be for programming and networking the computers for public and private sector businesses. Computer repair and troubleshooting is also a service need that should be addressed by a local business. The natural resources that are abundant on the reservation would service a small business in the timber and lumber market wil:h offspring businesses in areas such as firewood, furniture, sawmill, log homes, post and pole fencing, and sawdust.

The creation of the projected businesses would keep the revenue on the reservation. This would increase a growth economically for a wider range of community members. Presently, the community supports many businesses off the reservation and the majority of those businesses have very little sensitivity to the wants and needs of the reservation community.

Stone Child College

Stone Child College was chartered by the Chippewa- Cree Business Committee on May 17, 1984. The elected Tribal leaders felt the establishment of a Tribal Community College was necessary for the preservation and maintenance of the Chippewa- Cree people and for the educational training of its tribal membership. Off-reservation vocational training Drograms and general college studies programs at existing colleges were not adequately meeting the needs of the Chippewa-Cree Tribe.

The College is committed to meeting the needs of the reservation community, tribal members and tribal programs, and is dedicated to helping promote pride in each tribal member's Chippewa- Cree heritage. Rocky Boy is the only Indian Reservation in Montana to have total responsibility for education of its community members from pre- school through the post-secondary level. The passage of the Tribally Controlled Community College Act in 1987 granted the College a stable funding base for the first time. In the spring of 1993, Stone Child College was granted full accreditation by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.

The Board of Trustees is composed of nine tribal members. Four members also serve on the Tribal Business Committee and the remaining four members represent the community with one member being a full-time student with full voting rights.

Schools on the reservation were formerly under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but in 1960 they were made a part of the public school system. Today, Indian children may attend schools located on the reservation from Head Start through the post-secondary level. An all Indian school board assumed operational responsibility for the independent elementary school district established at Rocky Boy Agency in 1970, and the Rocky BOy Tribal High School became a public high school on July 1, 1991.

Until 1979, there was no secondary level instruction available to Indian children on the Rocky Boy Reservation. Students now have access to the Rocky Boy High School which became fully accredited with the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges in 1981. The Rocky Boy Tribal Education Department has provided educational services to both the children and adult population on the reservation since 1980. Rocky Boy remains one of the few reservations in the country to have responsibility for educating its children from Head Start through the post-secondary level. Stone Child College enrolls predominantly American Indian students and the current enrollment reflects 100% being of American Indian descent. Based upon the definitions of special population, 89% of Stone Child College students population are considered disadvantaged, 96% are of limited English proficiency, and 8% are handicapped. The total enrollment population of Stone Child College is 234 with 125 (53%) males and 109 (47%) females.

Stone Child College has seen a continual escalating student population growth since the first academic year of 1982-83. The increasing growth can be seen in both the full-time equivalency and the total number of students. There are many contributing factors to the growth. One of the factors is the establishment of a main facility making the environment more efficient to control. A second factor is the solid curriculum development in the vocational areas needed for local employment opportunities. Growth of Stone Child College is shown in Table 1.

Table 1
Stone Child
        |               |		
  Year	|  Fulltime     |  Total Number 
        |  Equlvalent   |  of Students	
        |               |		
1982-83	|      14       |       32  	
1983-84	|      37       |       45  	
1984-85	|      64       |       80  	
1985-86	|      60       |       72  	
1986-87	|     118       |      137 	
1987-88	|     134.48    |      142 	
1988-89	|     139.55    |      140 	
1989-90	|     155.58    |      143 	
1990-91	|     145.99    |      178 	
1991-92	|     175.85    |      221 	
1992-93	|     218.17    |      214 	
1993-97	|     191.92    |      234 	

Source: Stone Child College, Office of the 
Registrar, February 1, 1994.

Table 2 describes some characteristics of Stone Child College students, north central Montana residents, and Montana residents that will help explain the high percentage of potentially eligible adult education participants at Stone Child College.

TABLE 2 - 1990 U.S. Census Data

Variable that Justifies the Need	    State of Montana |  Hill County |  Rocky Boys 
                                                             |              |  Reservation
                                                             |              |
Income and Poverty Status per capita income	$11,213.     | 	$11,121.    |	$5,199.
     Household	                                 22,988.     |	25,467.	    |   18,859.
     Families	                                 28,044.     |	31,059.	    |   18,819.
     Non-family household	                 12,502.     |	12,932.	    |   11,250.
                                                             |              |
Persons for whom poverty status is determined 	 776,793     |   17,116     |    2,005      
                                                             | 3,079 (18%)  |  891 (44.4%)
                                                             |              |
Income below poverty level over 18 years      42,237 (19.9%) | 1,173 (22.4%)|  443 (50.7%)
     5 to 17 years	                         29,257	     |  796 (31.0%) |  314 (53.2%)
     Persons 65 years & older	              12,433 (12.5%) |  272 (14.2%) |   40 (43.5%)
Families with income below poverty level       5,691 (12.0%) |	   561	    |      159
                                             of all families |	 (12.4%)    |    (39.0%)
                                                             |              |
Persons 5 to 17                                    ND	     |    19.7%	    |     46.3% 
& who do not speak English very well)	                     |              |
                                                             |              |
Persons 18 years & over                            ND        |    16.7%	    |     37.2%
(% who do not speak English very well)                       |              |	
Persons 25 years and older:                                  |              |
     Percent high school graduate or higher	   ND	     |    78.4%	    |     67.9%
     Percent college graduate or higher	           ND	     |    18.1%	    |     10.7%
     Civilian veterans 16 years and older	   ND	     |    2,038	    |      130
                                                             |              |
Number in Labor Force	                          599,765    |   12,834	    |     1,221
                                                             |              |
Percent in Labor Force                             63.7%     |    63.9%     |     56.6%
     Female                                        55.8%     |    55.4%     |     51.4%
                                                             |              |         
Civilian Labor Force                              376,940    |    8,154     |     1,103       
                                                    7.0%     |    29.0%     |     66.0%
                                                            unemployment rates

souree: 1990 CPH528,1990 Census of Population and Housing Summary
ND= No Data Data: Social, Economic and Housing Characteristics, 
Montana, April 1992 Statistics *=BIA

Stone Child College students are required to take a Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) upon entering Stone Child College and upon graduation which serves as a pre and post-test assessment. Those students that are enrolled in the Vocational Rehabilitation program are also required to take the Strong Campbell Interest Inventory and are also taken to Great Falls Career Development Association for special assessments if required. We also refer our students to the Indian Health Service Social Worker who also administers psychological testing on those students who are referred to the office for intensive counseling.

Stone Child College Students are required to take a math and English placement test upon entering Stone Child College. The College Preparatory Instructor then recommends to the student what level of course to attempt based upon the test scores.

We have five full-time counselors on staff who serve the total student population for special counseling. Stone Child College has created a counseling center for the benefit of the students. The counseling center provides vocational and career education counseling. Each student is assigned an instructor/advisor who then works with the student based upon his/her education field. The students are also assigned mentors from the staff of counselors so that the students are monitored on their progress through their selected programs.

Stone Child College received a student support services grant that serves all of Stone Child College students. This grant assists Stone Child College in providing college preparatory classes, tutoring, cultural activities, and career guidance activities. This grant also allows Stone Child College to employ a full-time College Preparatory Coordinator/ Instructor who administers the math and English placement test and teaches the college preparatory courses in English, math and reading. The need for such support services for the students at Stone Child College is very evident by the data submitted in Table 3, as follows:

                              TABLE 3
                    Average Grade Level Performance
                   On Test of Adult Basic Education

Subject Area              Grade Eauivalency

             1986-87  1987-88  1988-89 1989-90 1990-91 1991-92 1992-93 
Reading        9.5	9.3     10.3 	 9.7    10.8    10.2    10.6    
Math	       7.8	7.6      7.7 	 8.7     8.8     8.4     8.2     
Language       8.3	8.8      9.0	 8.7     8.6     8.0     8.3     
Spelling       9.3     11.1     11.0	11.2    11.6    10.4    11.0    
Average	       8.4	9.1     10.8	 9.6    10.0     9.2     9.6     

source: Stone Child College, office of the Registrar, February 1,1994.

Stone Child College has a full-time Native American Studies instructor who teaches Cree Language I, II and lil (speaking, reading and writing Cree). All students are required to take Cree I as part of their core educational requirements. We have a full-time English instructor who teaches English I and 11. All Stone Child College students are required to take English I and 11 as part of their core requirements. All Stone Child College students must take the English placement test before being placed in college preparatory English or in the basic English classes. Stone Child College also has a cultural committee comprised of elders who serve as advisors and consultants in the classroom.

Stone Child College has a vocational rehabilitation program that serves handicapped students. This program provides for counseling, career education, and other services to meet the special needs of the handicapped and the disabled students. Stone Child College has an advisory committee comprised of community directors that advise and recommend to Stone Child College on how to meet the needs of our handicapped and disabled individuals. One of the committee representatives is a state vocational rehabilitation coordinator. We also have a State Cooperative Agreement that we will work in conjunction with the state in serving our handicapped individuals. Stone Child College also has a state liaison person that works with the tribes in coordination of vocational rehabilitation programs.

Stone Child College operates a state licensed child care center. All full-time enrolled college students are eligible for 20 free hours of child care services per week. After the 20 free hours are used, the students pay $2.00 per hour. Child care services include quality child care, meals, snacks, a daily child care curriculum with hour by hour activities, and referral services.

Transportation services are provided free to all college students. We have employed a full-time transportation coordinator who transports students to and from class in a 15 passenger van. Our driver is a certified chauffeur who holds a first aid card and has one year of experience as a driver.

All Stone Child College students are eligible for Indian Health Services. If a student needs special aids, Stone Child College makes every effort to purchase the special aid for that student. All students have access to tutors, the computer center, library services, counseling, college preparatory services, and transportation services which are provided at no cost to the students.

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