On October 25, 2019, TREE Center students, faculty and staff visited the Pueblo of San Felipe to hear about the unique 10-year community-university partnership that spurred the development of a collaborative research study. Additionally, they experienced first-hand the San Felipe Equine Therapy model.

Importantly, one of the two core research studies of the TREE Center is “Integrating Intergenerational Cultural Knowledge with Zero Suicide,” a collaboration between the Pueblo of San Felipe and the UNM Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences’ Division of Community Behavioral Health. The goal of this study is to determine the effectiveness of Zero Suicide plus a critically important cultural component (KICKS) compared to Zero Suicide alone on suicidal ideation, behaviors, and resiliency for Native youth.

The “Katishtya Intergenerational Cultural Knowledge Sessions” (KICKS) was developed in 2014 for youth to see that cultural knowledge is key to resiliency, language is vital to maintain traditions, and Native people have innate natural supports and protective factors that have enabled their survival for centuries. KICKS was piloted through a series of services grants funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA).

Additionally through SAMHSA funding, San Felipe created their Equine Therapy program, aimed at building resiliency. TREE Center members who participated in the visit experienced an Equine activity designed to build leadership skills, social connectedness, and collaboration. To the delight of all, the group was able to encourage a horse to move toward a designated spot in the arena. After the activity, all discussed the process and shared a delicious traditional lunch hosted by community members.