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Apr 28, 2024

Friends- Flathead Nation Supports Generational Healing

Research shows that the single most important factor in overcoming childhood adversity is a long-term, nurturing relationship with a consistent, caring adult. This principle resonates deeply within Indigenous cultures, where concepts of kinship and community have long underscored the importance of supportive connections. This philosophy is at the core of the mission of Friends of the Children – Western Montana, who have recently partnered with Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) to expand their work to the Flathead Nation.

Friends of the Children works alongside families to break generational cycles of poverty and trauma that hinder children with big hopes and dreams. Their professional mentors, called Friends, dedicate 3-4 hours weekly to each child, teaching valuable life skills, modeling healthy behaviors, and creating pathways to more choices and opportunities. Committing from as young as age 4 through high school graduation, Friends of the Children ensures unwavering support for youth, no matter what.

Beyond individual children, Friends of the Children extends support to build trusting relationships with families. Friends assist caregivers in increasing household stability, from establishing routines to connecting adults with substance use programs, aiding in job searches, or offering practical assistance such as gas cards or food assistance.

The establishment of Friends – Flathead Nation in the spring of 2023 with support from Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) reflects a deep commitment to recognizing youth as a sacred resource within Indigenous communities. This program is a powerful step toward empowering rural and Indigenous youth to embrace their limitless potential by nurturing their innate resilience.

Youth served by Friends – Flathead Nation, like all children, have unique talents and dreams, yet they also confront a myriad of challenges including systemic poverty, structural racism and generational trauma. In rural areas like Lake County, where poverty rates are higher and access to mental health services is significantly lower than the state average, the need for supportive services is clear.

Recognizing these unique challenges, Friends – Flathead Nation operates as an Indigenous-led initiative, partnering with Tribal community leaders to ensure culturally responsive programming and mentorship. Through collaboration with a community advisory committee, their team aims to support the social-emotional health and wellbeing of youth and families while maintaining connections to culture and heritage.

Friends of the Children – Western Montana serves 64 children and more than 250 family members in Missoula, Ravalli and Lake Counties. Currently, Friends – Flathead Nation is seeking mentors from the local community to join their team and serve youth from the Salish, Pend d’Orielle, and Kootenai Tribes, with enrollment open to all Tribal youth living on the reservation.

To learn more about and support Friends of the Children’s impactful work, watch the video below and visit their website.