Non-Native recovery approaches often look at addiction as an individual disease, ignoring the social, political, or economic roots of addiction. The indigenous experience adds a dimension of acknowledging sociopolitical causes without removing an individual’s need to do the hard work it takes to heal. This is new, culturally specific thinking that can also add to the field of mainstream recovery knowledge.
– Don Coyhis (founder) and Richard Simonelli
The White Bison Vision
Don Coyhis, Mohican Nation, is the President and Founder of White Bison, Inc., an American Indian non-profit organization, located in Colorado Springs, CO. Don originally set out to raise awareness and treat alcoholism among Indian youth on the reservations. After studying the underlying causes of alcoholism, White Bison’s mission expanded to include drug addiction, dysfunctional families and relationships, as well as the American Indian suicide rate. From this, the Wellbriety Movement was born.
The teachings of Wellbriety go beyond being sober to include thriving in the community and being balanced emotionally, mentally, physical,ly and spiritually. Over the past 26 years, Don has developed a series of culturally-based programs to address recovery and treatment, youth prevention and treatment, programs for healthy families, and healing from unresolved grief and traumatic loss due to intergenerational trauma. These programs are designed to help with all facets of family healing and have been implemented throughout the United States and Canada.
White Bison is a Native American-operated 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to creating and sustaining a grassroots Wellbriety Movement – providing culturally-based healing to the next seven generations of Indigenous People.
The Wellbriety Movement
To be sober and well. That’s what White Bison wants for our community, that’s why we’re a proud facilitator of the Wellbriety Movement. We must find sobriety and recover from the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol.
To Go Beyond
The “Well” in Wellbriety is the inspiration to go on beyond sobriety and recovery, committing to a life of wellness and healing everyday. Many use White Bison’s healing resource products, attend its learning circles, & volunteer their services to help themselves and others achieve wellness.
A Resource to the Community
White Bison offers sobriety, recovery, addictions prevention, and wellness/Wellbriety learning resources to the Native American/Alaska Native community nationwide. Our resources are also available to non-Native people.
The Wellbriety Movement is an interconnected web spreading across our Native Nations carrying the message of cultural knowledge about recovery. Substance Abuse Treatment Centers across the country have taken steps to become a Wellbriety Certified Treatment Center. ( https://whitebison.org/treatment-centers/ ) They have met specific criteria by utilizing principles, methods, and resources from the Wellbriety approach within their programs.
By sending clients to Wellbriety Certified Treatment Centers, it means that these centers are guaranteed to:
- Include culturally-based Wellbriety curriculum, including:
- The Medicine Wheel and 12 Steps course, materials and related counseling
- Mending Broken Hearts course, materials and related counseling
- Warrior Down/Recovery Coach course, materials and related counseling
- ‘The Red Road to Wellbriety: In the Native American Way’ and the supplementary workbook.
- Employ at least one individual of Native American ancestry;
- Provide individual counseling for clients;
- Provide access to a Native American Elder, who conducts ceremonies and provides teachings;
- Incorporate traditional Native American healing practices (smudging, pipe ceremony, sweat lodge, etc.);
- Establish aftercare plans by providing community referrals for continuous self-care; and,
- Ensure all counselors are trained in and incorporate culturally-based curriculum, including:
- Medicine Wheel and 12 Steps Programs
- Mending Broken Hearts
- Warrior Down/Recovery Coach course
- ‘The Red Road to Wellbriety: In the Native American Way’ study groups/circles.