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White Bison founder honored with national award

October 15, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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The founder of the White Bison nonprofit that has facilitated the "Wellbriety" movement for culturally based healing of Native American communities was honored this week with a national award from the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA). Don Coyhis received the Ackerman/Black Award, for a lifetime of service to children and families, at the annual conference of NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals.

NACoA president and CEO Sis Wenger said in announcing the award that Coyhis has created and implemented “remarkable programs that have brought light and hope to thousands of Native Americans who have been hurt by the childhood trauma of being pulled from their families and housed in boarding schools and having their culture and language stripped from them.”

In accepting the award, Coyhis stated that the work of White Bison has been strengthened by the inclusion of children and families in the recovery process.

In the 2006 book Alcohol Problems in Native America: The Untold Story of Resistance and Recovery, Coyhis and co-author William White uncovered numerous misconceptions about Native American history and about cultural influences in general. They wrote, “Alcohol problems are not an indigenous element of Indian culture. They are a malignant cancer that was injected into a healthy culture with the intent of poisoning and killing a culture and its people. Seen in the context of this history, sobriety is a revolutionary act—a refusal to participate in the destruction of oneself and one's culture.”