Adapt for Native Culture

As a community advocate you already realize the importance of empowering communities to make decisions that promote personal health and well-being. Incorporating culture can enhance the experience and improve results of BCBH-SD workshops. We encourage the use of cultural practices alongside workshop curricula. 

Following are some ideas on how to tailor your workshop to fit your community.

Explore traditions & beliefs by customizing workshops

In Native culture, health is defined as a balance of physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects. We encourage you to Find Wicozani. Ceremonies and kinship practices are important aspects of Lakota/Dakota culture. These elements can weave together with the BCBH-SD workshop curriculum for a more robust and satisfying learning experience.

Each BCBH-SD workshop group can customize the activities that speak to them. Some ideas to consider include:


  • Choose a traditional or historical site for workshops
  • Make sure the site is azilya friendly for sage or sweetgrass
  • Make sure the room is large enough to accommodate prayer or learning circles


  • Make traditional gifts available or consider incorporating crafting, beading, or creating artwork before, during, or after the workshop
  • Prepare or supply traditional foods

Blessings & Prayer
Incorporate traditional blessings such as:

  • Smudging—Burning sage/sweetgrass, pulling the smoke over you as you pray
  • Caŋŋnuŋŋpa—Prayer with traditional pipe and tobacco practices including caŋŋsasa
  • Use traditional names

Activities for Self-Management Education Workshops
Traditional language introductions and greetings include answers to questions like: Where are you from? Who is your Family? What tribe are you from? Or the meaning of your name. These can be spoken or written on cards. Also recognize that Tiyospayes (families) from other tribes may introduce themselves with their clan or band.

Mind/body connection/distraction—use a traditional activity, like the rock and fist game, for distraction before, during, or after the workshop. Use a plum or chokecherry for mind/body connection.

Action planning can be introduced by encouraging cultural activities such as researching your lineage or chief, learning a new traditional phrase, prayer, song, game, or activity. These can be incorporated into the workshop itself or as challenge done outside of the sessions and reported back to the group.

Physical activity—learning or rekindling your connection to traditional exercise such as dance, traditional lacrosse, double ball, horseback riding, hunting, harvest, canoeing, or archery can improve physical and emotional health and help you keep balanced.

Good night’s sleep—At the end of the workshop, drink hot soup or tea to help with sleep. Listen to flute music, traditional song, or sing a prayer song.

Real results
from Indian Country

BCBH-SD self-management education workshops provide a proven framework and curriculum, but workshop leaders and participants can choose the format and the skills or activities the group feels will best help them be healthier. Here are some of the results:

80% of Diabetes workshop participants reported better quality of life.

80% reported they are encouraging healthy habits and sharing information with family and friends.

100% reported implementing learned skills:

  • More physical activity
  • Feeling less stress
  • Better management of diabetes

Personal reflections from participants who have attended our workshops

Steve, Diabetes workshop
“I lost a daughter to diabetes recently, so I share the diabetes information, like the plate method. I am so impressed with the program and the book. I have shared with community members too.”

Dawn, Cancer workshop
“Five-week action plan: making a ribbon skirt for my niece’s graduation.”

DeAnna, Cancer workshop
“I really enjoyed the class, it was very fun and very knowledgeable.”

BCBH-SD workshops are FREE

Workshops are FREE and designed for adults living with chronic health conditions who want to:

  • Better manage symptoms
  • Improve quality of life
  • Boost overall mood & health

Our small group sessions are available in-person and online and can help participants (and their caregivers) build confidence, find community, learn new skills, and positively address a wide range of health conditions including:

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression/anxiety
  • Breathing problems
  • Weight concerns

Register for a workshop

Education Programs

Millions of adults live with chronic health conditions. These workshops can help you manage symptoms, improve quality of life, and reduce healthcare costs. Participants and caregivers will gain confidence and meet others who deal with similar chronic conditions. Learn new ways to get through daily activities, manage physical and mental health wellness, and connect to new resources.

Physical Activity

Physical activity has many health benefits. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans details specific scientifically proven benefits and offers a set of guidelines to follow for better overall health. Even a small amount of regular exercise has preventative and therapeutic benefits and can improve health and mood significantly.

The physical activity programs have been designed specifically for older adults with arthritis, but all

Additional resources

If you have ideas, questions, or need technical assistance please contact us.

Download our Cultural Commitment brochure.