About Culture Forward

CULTURE FORWARD provides a starting place where our Native youth thrive, pave the way for future generations and continue to lead us in impactful global movements. We are committed to weaving together our collective knowledge, existing resources and diverse voices. Our goal is not just to prevent Native youth suicide, but to hold up the strengths of our communities and cultures. 

Prior to CULTURE FORWARD, the majority of published literature and resources about American Indian/Alaska Native youth suicide tended to be problem- and deficit-based, missing essential understandings of Native communities’ capacity to promote unique cultural strengths and traditions to protect youth. Every single listening session the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health conducted across Indian Country with Native youth, tribal leaders, Elders, traditional healers, grassroots leaders, and others highlighted the vital importance of cultural strengths to prevent suicide. We responded to this call from stakeholders by designing CULTURE FORWARD with a vision to flip the dominant narrative and elevate Indigenous knowledges, findings and resources that represent strengths- and culture-based approaches to prevent suicide and promote healthy Native youth development.

CULTURE FORWARD is designed with implementation in mind. It includes actionable steps that community leaders can take and links to resources containing a wealth of additional knowledge from across Indian Country. We hope this new resource will provide elders, youth and tribal leaders, health and human service providers and other change agents with carefully researched ideas and solutions to leverage unique strengths within tribal communities to protect youth against suicide. We also see this as a first step toward building a national coalition to advance a strengths-based Indigenous movement to promote tribal youth well-being.

In its entirety, CULTURE FORWARD is a reflection of Native voices and visions. It represents groups within Native communities directly impacted by suicide, those who are actively working to end suicide, and tribal leaders and stakeholders who care deeply about the future of their youth and seek healing, strength and well-being for their tribal nations.

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