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Tolowa Substance Abuse Prevention & Intervention

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $899,727)

Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation

2021 CTAS Purpose Area 3

Tribal Justice Systems- Alcohol & Substance Abuse




          The Tolowa Dee-ni' is a federally recognized Tribal Nation with a rural service area encompassing two counties in northern California and three counties in southwestern Oregon. The Tolowa governmental seat is based near Smith River, in Del Norte County, CA.

            The Tolowa Community and Family Services (CFS) Department requests CTAS Purpose Area 3 funding to support behavioral health counselors who serve Tolowa citizens at risk of, or in recovery from, substance abuse. Funding will help cover wages for two Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor positions within CFS at FTE over the next five years.

            The Tolowa Dee-ni' region is home to a significant Native American population which is both disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic and enormously underserved by health care. There are 15,408 American Indian/Native American citizens who live within the region.[1] Substance use disorder and co-occurring conditions are prevalent throughout the Nation's service area, which consists of two counties in northwestern California and three counties in southwestern Oregon.

            The Tolowa Nation is part of United Indian Health Services (UIHS), which provides behavioral, medical, dental, and other health services to 11 Tribes in the region. In Del Norte County, UIHS employs one drug and alcohol counselor. There is often a lengthy waiting period for admission to treatment, both outpatient and inpatient. Immediate crisis needs are not always met and potential clients often lose their motivation and withdraw from treatment. The ability for CFS to have two staff CADCs enables culturally-sensitive counseling to help clients build resiliency and regain their lives to a point of well-being. As more Tribal citizens successfully graduate from counseling they will serve as a cadre of supporters for others in recovery from substance abuse and substance use disorder.

            CFS will provide clients in need with direct services each year, including transportation to counseling sessions and transitional housing. During the five years three clients will receive inpatient treatment and at least three will receive comprehensive outside mental health evaluations.

            Funding will also enable CFS to receive training and conduct two Gathering of Native American (GONA) events on the Tolowa reservation during the five years as a preventative measure for substance abuse - one for adults and one for youth.  Mentors (elders and knowledge bearers) will help coordinate cultural activities at the GONAs to help attendees gain skills and build resiliency to using drugs and alcohol.


[1] U.S. Census Bureau, QuickFacts, 2019 Population Estimates [retrieved on line, March 2021]

Date Created: November 23, 2021