Our ProgramsOso Vista Ranch Project has helped approximately 40 Navajo Nation Chapter communities to pass clear air resolutions, protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke in public and workplaces.
Our experience with integrating Spiro Manson’s idea of financial sustainability with our programs has been a very natural and essential progression. Currently, our Financial Literacy Program provides free income tax preparations for the community, including person to person financial literacy education. These free tax preparations help protect community members from the exorbitant fees charged by most tax prep providers. During the 2016 tax season OVRP prepared approximately 900 free tax returns for Native American community members.
As prevention and making healthy choices are at the foundation of creating a more healthy community culture, Oso Vista Ranch Project believes that Youth Leadership programs are essential to healthy communities. Based on youth interviews, we understand that youth love challenge course events, youth leadership activities and camp evenings and weekends. They are hungry to learn about their culture, do wilderness hikes, learn about horses, build things and develop as leaders. We are aware that these activities produce the most effective substance abuse prevention results possible as they offer powerful opportunities for personal growth. Oso Vista offers evening, weekend and summer youth leadership events which include challenge course initiatives, photography, elder presentations, cultural crafts and service learning activities.
The Ramah Navajo Tribal enrollment is 2,400 strong in Cibola County in west-central New Mexico. Approximately 1,600 people live permanently in the Ramah area. Many people have moved to other areas to seek employment. The unemployment rate in the Ramah Navajo area is more than 60% with the average hourly wage rate being approximately $7.50 per hour. The average household income is well below the poverty level. Ramah Navajo School Board is by far the largest employer offering 375 jobs. Many of these jobs are more suited to women, being clerical, teacher aid, food service or cleaning positions. Unemployment for men is far higher than for women.
Unique Aspects of the Program
Historical trauma is variously defined in literature, but the basic elements are consistent: it is the legacy of numerous traumatic events that a community experiences over generations, and includes the psychological and social responses to those events. (Evans-Campbell, 2008). Relating all poverty, substance abuse and co-occurring disorder data to contemporary American Indian youth requires viewing it through a lens of historical trauma and cultural values. Programs designed to help American Indian (AI) youth gain skills that will translate into greater social and economic success must incorporate the lessons learned from this research. While it is beyond the scope of any program to completely redress historical trauma, there is evidence that some factors operate as protective factors and thus enhance AI youth resiliency to withstand historical trauma’s effects.
To better understand protective factors, some scholars have developed a model, the “Indigents stress-coping model,” where protective factors, including family/community, spiritual coping, traditional health practices, positive cultural identity attitudes and enculturation would reduce stress, defined to include both historical trauma and traumatic life events. (Walters, 2002).
The Oso Vista Ranch Project’s board of directors and staff are predominantly from the Ramah Navajo community. The Executive Director has lived in the community and worked as an educator for 31 years. This team is inherently sensitive to the issues of historical trauma and traumatic life events. This life-perspective, combined with Oso Vista’s culturally-competent programs and the strong inclusion of elder wisdom, has proven to be a model that alleviates traumatic stress by valuing the indigenous knowledge that has been intricately woven into the fabric of community life for generations.
Also unique to Oso Vista Ranch Project is its culture center, youth leadership and challenge course facilities. All are located on the Oso Vista Ranch just 15 miles from the community-centered Pine Hill, NM office. The combination of these facilities is highly effective. The office provides an easily accessible location for individual and classroom work while the ranch facilities allow for youth or adults to experience personal development, team building, elder wisdom and Navajo ceremonies all at one pristine venue.