American Indian Resource and Resiliency Team

University of Minnesota Extension's American Indian Resource and Resiliency Team (AIRRT) creates and delivers culturally adapted holistic health education. This occurs within a system of existing relationships with Tribal partners and community members to increase community capacity in addressing the opioid crisis. AIRRT was created to directly support the needs of our Tribal communities. The creation and support of the AIRRT, is an innovative approach to opioid prevention and intervention. The AIRRT is deeply and personally connected with the communities they are working with, and are explicitly creating activities that include relationship-building and vetting and approval by Tribal governments. All education and programming delivered is responsive, not prescriptive, and will create a different model for working with American Indian communities.

Responding to the needs of Tribal communities

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American Indian Resource and Resiliency Team (AIRRT) Offerings

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Healing Through History

We know that the whole story about American Indian history in the United States has been left out of our teachings. When we understand the truth, the acknowledgment alone can be very healing to those communities who have suffered. This 3 hour in-person training offers an environment that is open to understanding and being able to share information across communities. The objective of this training is to explore and discuss important events specific to American Indian communities within Minnesota and basic cultural components. Participants will leave with a better understanding of the impact of historical trauma.

Power of Language

Language is a powerful tool for creating, shaping and shifting our life experiences.This training looks at how words shape our reality and can set limiting beliefs or enable us to break-down barriers we have learned to create within ourselves. Participants will explore the connection between shaming language and addiction and depression, and how the language of emotions can liberate us and provide choice in making decisions that impact us. They will gain a basic understanding of how our brains work and are wired through experience and relationships. This two hour in-person presentation engages participants in hands on activities and provides real-world examples to reflect on.

Digital Storytelling

Digital Storytelling is a three-day in-person training that helps participants create a short personal narrative that is powerfully compelling and emotionally engaging. Participants will learn about basic equipment, software, writing and storytelling. It is a community-based, learner-centered approach that combines first person narrative with digital images and music. Stories provide alternative views and perspectives that demystify stereotypes of Indigenous people. Active listening with respect and attention is emphasized as shared stories create an environment of sympathy and empathy within our communities.

Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR)

Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention is an in-person one to two hour educational program designed to teach community members  and professional "gatekeepers" the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to respond. This is a nationally used prevention method given to a diverse audience from taxi drivers to hospital nurses. We recognize that youth in Indian Country are at the highest risk for suicide and suicidal ideation. Research has repeatedly shown that people thinking of suicide send warning signs to peers of the same age first, friends and family second, and to school or health professionals third. Training all youth, families and youth program staff ensure a safety network for those in distress.

Two-Spirit Class

Gichigami Niizhoowaadiziwag, the Lake Superior Two-Spirit Community, is a body of professional individuals looking to support twospirit people in Minnesota Northland addressing rural-specific impacts on mental, physical, and spiritual health. Indigenous people believe that two-spirit individuals house both the male and the female spirit and that the degree of dominance of each spirit ultimately impacts the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual identity of each two-spirit person. As each individual two-spirit person is on their own specific healing and identity journey. Gichigami Niizhoowaadiziwag provides a weekly safe meeting space at the Red Lake Nation urban office in Duluth and offers prevention training in suicide, opioid overdose, as well as cultural crafts, Indiginous food harvesting, and Ojibwe language learning.

Mending Broken Hearts

Mending Broken Hearts is a three day in-person workshop that is designed to provide healing from the loss and grief suffered through historical and intergenerational trauma. The training is interactive with videos and group activities that involve culturally based teachings. This environment creates a safe place for people to talk about grief and loss personally and as a community. Participants will reflect on their own traumas and learn how to turn incomplete relationships into complete relationships. They will have an opportunity to find closure and forgive the unforgivable including themselves.

Adverse Childhood Experiences

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study findings represent a paradigm shift in human understanding of the origins of physical, social, mental, and societal health and well-being. We now know that leading causes of disease and disability, learning and productivity problems, and early death have their roots in the cumulative neurodevelopmental impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The Understanding ACEs: Building Self-Healing Communities is an in-person 3-8 hour presentation that provides information about the ACE study, along with neurobiology that explains why ACEs impact people’s lives, and what we can all do to dramatically improve health and resilience for this and future generations.

Mind-Body Medicine Groups

This evidence-based, transformational training provides the science and tools needed to make mind-body medicine an integral, foundational part of your personal and professional life. This training is conducted in small group settings of eight to ten individuals with the opportunity to focus on a wide variety of well-integrated, practical techniques for self-care and mutual support that affect physical, mental and emotional functioning and wellbeing, such as: meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback, autogenic training, self expression and movement. Small groups can run from eight to twelve weeks with each session lasting two to three hours.


PhotoVoice is a one to three month project where participants are asked to express their points of view or represent their communities by photographing scenes that highlight prevention themes including; anti-bullying, language restoration, suicide, missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW). A brief summary accompanies participant photos and presented to their community. PhotoVoice within tribal communities has been effective in creating health promotion posters showcased in tribal health clinics, tribal museums, youth programs and ceremonial spaces. The training focuses on teaching, writing narratives, photography, digital editing and health promotion.

Traditional Native Games

A holistic training that attempts to lower the burden of drug abuse and suicide through play by way of cultural revitalization.

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