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Arizona RSA interactions with Native American populations.

Arizona RSA Interactions with Native American Populations

The Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) has long been involved in the special and unique needs of Indian populations residing both on and off reservations in Arizona. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended in 1986, with particular emphasis on tribal interaction in the delivery of RSA services, is a direct outgrowth of the demonstrated effectiveness of Arizona RSA in the development of the Navajo Vocational Rehabilitation Program (NVRP). This model of effective cooperation between state and tribe should form the basis of successful program accomplishments across the nation, utilizing the Arizona NVRP model where appropriate, while also encouraging other service delivery models to be developed by state and tribal partnerships.

From March 10, 1921, when the Arizona Legislature passed the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, until the 1950's, vocational rehabilitation (VR) staffing in a rural state with two large metropolitan areas dedicated very little, if any, special outreach to disabled Native Americans.

From the 1950's until the early 1960's, while VR counseling staff increased in general, some special attempts were initiated by staff through regular visits to some Arizona reservations to solicit referrals while developing cooperative relationships with other ancillary service providers such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the United States Public Health Service (USPHS).

In 1963, the Arizona Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, through a cooperative relationship between the Flagstaff VR office and the School of Education at Arizona State College, Flagstaff, participated in an RSA Research and Demonstration (R&D) Grant that lasted until 1966. The Navajo Project was the result of a joint Arizona VR and Navajo Tribe Education Planning Committee meeting that was held several months earlier. The purposes of the R&D project were to:

* develop vocational evaluation techniques for disabled Navajos;

* demonstrate procedures for coordinating and involving all agencies (tribal, USPHS, BIA, etc.) in Northern Arizona, and;

* gather and analyze data to determine the effectiveness of the project.

From 1963 to 1972, the Northern Arizona Office of Arizona VR expanded service delivery to the Navajo, Hopi and White Mountain Apache Tribes, building upon the demonstrated success of the Arizona State College Navajo Project. All staff were sensitized to the special needs of this diversified client population, and Native American VR counselors were recruited and hired whenever possible. Special activities during this period included Arizona RSA participation in a summer VR work experience placement in 1969 at the Sage Memorial Hospital in Ganado, Arizona, under the supervision of the University of Southern California School of Medicine, Division for Research and Training in Rehabilitation. Graduate interns in VR are still recruited and several Native American VR counselors have gained valuable experience working in the Arizona program. Arizona commitment was also demonstrated in supplying data for a study of American Indian VR service delivery conducted by the University of Oklahoma in 1969. From 1969 to 1970, staff from the Flagstaff Office served on the technical steering committee for the Four Corners Mental Retardation Project that was successful in identifying special needs among the mentally retarded of the four corners of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. Special activities among the Hopi included VR participation in a joint Hopi/USPHS Alcoholism Project and the early stages of the development of the present Hopi Center for Human Development.

From 1970 to 1973, the Pima Indians on the Gila River Reservation, south of Phoenix, were recipients of an RSA Innovation and Expansion Grant along with the subsequent Arizona RSA Establishment Grants. The disability focus was alcoholism, and indigenous VR counselors worked alongside staff funded by a Model Cities Grant that was the first of its kind awarded to a tribal government in the United States.

In October 1973, a delegation from the Navajo Tribal Council and Arizona RSA met with RSA Region IX staff in San Francisco; eventally, this culminated in an RSA Innovation and Establishment Grant being awarded to the Navajo Tribe. Continuation grants in subsequent years included a joint funding effort in 1979, with Arizona taking the lead in eliciting funds from RSA in New Mexico and Utah. Subsequent events, including testimony by the Navajo Nation at the Congressional Subcommittee on the Handicapped and at the Oversight Hearing on P.L. 93-112, resulted in the Navajo Vocational Rehabilitation Program receiving direct federal funding under Section 130 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Throughout the development of the Navajo Vocational Rehabilitation Program, Arizona RSA, along with Dr. Herb Leibowitz of the Region IX Office, has maintained a close, positive working relationship with the Navajo Nation and continues to provide technical assistance and guidance in all phases of this unique system of RSA service delivery. Specific to this effort has been assistance in counselor training, manual and procedure development, Case Review System reporting, and assistance in developing new strategies in the areas of recreation, transitioning, comprehensive services for independent living, transitional employment training, and supported employment.

Facility development on the vast Navajo Nation has been bolstered by Arizona RSA Establishment Grants and Supported Employment Grants totaling over $1 million. Countless hours of staff time, including extensive travel over the past 15 years, have assured that the Navajo Vocational Rehabilitation Program is a workable system developed in partnership between the Navajo Nation and RSA. Elmer Guy, Director, NVRP, and his staff are an integral part of VR service delivery in Arizona and Region IX.

Also in 1973, and continuing in 1974, the Cocopah Tribe, south of Yuma and east of the Coloradio River, was awarded Arizona RSA Establishment Grants to assist in the development of a VR project aimed at alcoholism and its effects.

In 1986 and 1987, a concentrated effort had been sustained to increase VR service delivery to the White Mountain Apache Tribe in Southeastern Arizona. Establishment Grants totaling over $100,000 have been directed toward the expansion of the Whiteriver Skill Center and has resulted in increased service delivery for Apache clients, including, among other things, the hiring of indigenous Apache staff who function as counselor aids in support of the Arizona VR counselor who works out of Show Low, Arizona, 37 miles to the north. A service contract with the Apache Tribe will allow for further expansion in such areas as transitional employment training, school to work and supported employment. While all disability groups are represented in this effort, particular emphasis has been directed to the special needs of mental retardation/developmental disability clients and their families.

Since the previously mentioned RSA Research and Demonstration Grant awarded to the then Arizona State College in 1963, the Flagstaff VR local office has continued a close working relationship with the Northern Arizona University Institute for Human Development (IHD). As a result of service contracts between RSA and IHD for vocational and psychological evaluations, including American Indian clients from the Arizona RSA caseloads in Northern Arizona, planning meetings were held in 1982 and 1983, prior to the Northern Arizona University application for Research and Training Center funding. Arizona RSA has participated in a number of service related and training activities at the Northern Arizona University and University of Arizona Native American R&T Centers, while maintaining a well defined close working relationship with Northern Arizona University and its continued R&T activities.

Arizona RSA staff have assisted the Northern Arizona University Native American R&T Center in technical assistance activities with the Rocky Boy Reservation of Northern Montana, the Apache of Whiteriver, Arizona, the Shoshone-Bannock, the Navajo Nation, and the All Indian Pueblo Council of New Mexico.

Staff have also contributed to specific research activities initiated by the Northern Arizona University nationwide counselor survey instrument. Specific R&T research requests have allowed unlimited access to outdated, closed VR files and other records that have been retained in the Flagstaff Office for over 30 years.

Since 1963, intensive Arizona RSA efforts have been directed to VR service delivery to the 13 separate pueblo villages of the Hopi Nation some 140 miles northeast of Flagstaff. Services are currently provided by an American Indian VR counselor on an itinerant basis from Flagstaff. This same counselor also extends VR services to the Paiute Reservation in the "Arizona Strip Country," north of the Grand Canyon and 207 miles from Flagstaff. Similar itinerant services from various VR offices around the state include services to the Papago in Southern Arizona; the San Carlos Apache in East Central Arizona; the Haulapai and Havasupai, both along the rim and within the interior of the Grand Canyon; and the Fort Mohave and Colorado River Reservations along the Colorado River bordering Arizona and California. Similar efforts, but somewhat limited in intensity, have been extended to the various Yavapai-Apache Bands of Central Arizona and the Salt River Reservation just east of Scottsdale.

Within Arizona RSA, Jim Griffith, Administrator, and his executive staff, including Ed House, Program Manager for Services to the Blind and Visually Impaired, have determined that American Indian VR is one of five major program initiatives for 1987-89. Dr. Eddie Brown, Director of the Department of Economic Security for Arizona (Arizona VR umbrella agency), has been consulted regarding these initiatives and has been especially supportive of improving service delivery to eligible American Indians. A meeting with Dr. Brown at his office on June 3, 1987, which included Mr. Griffith and Dr. Herb Leibowitz from Region IX, reaffirmed Dr. Brown's commitment to this RSA initiative.

On August 25, 1987, Arizona RSA, along with assistance from Dr. Bill Martin of the Northern Arizona University R&T Center, conducted an in-depth planning meeting with Arizona RSA staff from throughout the state representing all levels of interest, (e.g. regional administrators, secretaries, counselors, and supervisors) to plan approved executive staff strategies for American Indian service delivery improvements in 1987-89. This process is ongoing and represents a firm commitment on the part of the Arizona RSA administration. (A copy of the planning document is available to be shared with other states as they facilitate American Indian issues in their state plan process.)

While comprehensive services for independent living efforts in rural Arizona are relatively new, the recently approved Arizona Plan for new Part "B" money includes a specific initiative to expand comprehensive services for independent living to the Navajo Nation. With funding approved, we are providing technical assistance to the Navajo VR program as they begin to implement comprehensive services for independent living.

At a national level, Arizona RSA has been willing to participate, when requested, in any activity towards improving VR services to disabled American Indians and enhancing the quality of their lives in every area. As mentioned earlier, Arizona staff have participated in technical assistance visits to Northern Montana and, most recently, in a meeting in Riverside, California, with the BIA, RSA, Region IX staff, Indian Health Service, and California VR in an attempt to consider a transitioning school to work concept at the Sherman Indian BIA Boarding School. This meeting demonstrated a cooperative commitment

using the VR process as a catalyst in bringing together various American Indian entitlement programs in order to realize constructive service delivery to a very special potential client population.

Arizona can be proud of its past accomplishments in recognizing the special needs of its disabled Native Americans, as well as its commitment to doing even more in the future.

Mr. Powers is Program Manager, District III, Executive Staff Liaison, Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration, Flagstaff, Arizona.
COPYRIGHT 1989 U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration
Author:Powers, Lawrence E.
Publication:American Rehabilitation
Date:Mar 22, 1989
Words:1883
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