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Project Venture: Evaluation of a Positive, Culture-Based Approach to Substance Abuse Prevention With American Indian Youth Technical Report

NCJ Number
Susan L. Carter; Kee J.E. Straits; McClellan Hall
Date Published
25 pages

This article discusses Project Venture, a research study and the resulting development of a substance abuse prevention program that specifically seeks to help American Indian youth.


The authors of this article review obstacles that have previously hindered the development of effective, science-based prevention programming geared toward American Indian (AI) youth, and they present updated research suggesting that the integration of culture and the development of positive behaviors, rather than the reduction of problem behaviors, may be more effective for AI youth. Specifically, the authors report on research findings that demonstrate the positive effects of Project Venture (PV) on participants’ alcohol and substance use, and discusses the potential impact of a culturally-tailored program with a positive youth development approach for AI youth. Project Venture is an outdoor/experiential youth development program for at-risk youth that was first fully implemented in 1990, by the National Indian Youth Leadership Project (NIYLP); it is guided by American Indian traditional values, including family, learning from the natural world, spiritual awareness, service to others, and respect. The authors suggest that a positive youth development approach to substance abuse prevention may be more culturally appropriate for AI youth, and that an experientially based program integrating pan-Indian values and traditions will form an effective base for prevention efforts in AI communities. The authors also provide an alternative prevention model for AI communities that is not based on mainstream models or majority populations.