White Bison

The Wellbriety Movement Blog


Conference final Agenda 02072014

We are so excited to share our agenda for the 2014 Wellbriety Gathering!  The speakers are leaders in their field and they will be addressing topics that impact all of us. 

When we say “all of us,” this is intentional.  Most people think of the Wellbriety Movement as focusing on recoveryfrom various addictions.  In keeping that frame of reference, it it too easy to overlook the impact of addictive behaviors (whether drugs, alcohol, or compulsive behaviors like gambling and sex) on the other members of the family.  After years of living in an environment with someone who has addiction issues, spouses, parents, and children of these individuals develop behavior patterns that help them cope with the challenges (and the chaos). And one of the biggest issues they face is that they come to believe that the craziness of the home environment is normal.  Children, especially, grow up not knowing any differently!

At a conference a few years ago, a young boy came up to the “open mic” session.  He was about 10 years old and he said:  “When I grow up, I’m gonna join a gang, then I’ll go to jail, and then I’ll join  AA.”   Is that what we want our children thinking?

This conference is about increasing our awareness, making sure that we understand the impact of intergenerational trauma, boarding school experiences, and alcohol and substance about on healthy family relationships.  We also need to know what resources are available to in terms of trainings, books, and organizations that can help us unravel our lives from the dysfunctional survival behaviors so many of us learned.  

We have set up the Gathering to explore how we survive in tramatic and dysfunctional environments, how what can help us thrive , and even heal from those experiences.

Here is a quick overview of the Keynote Presenters for the conference.

Friday morning our focus is on surviving. The keynote speakers are:

  • Anna Whiting Sorrell who was one of the founders of the National Association for  Natve American Children of Alcoholics (NANACOA) has been invited.   She will address the history and contributions of that organizations.
  • Don Coyhis, President of White Bison, will present key segments of the Journey to Forgiveness video on how our parents and grandparents were impacted by the boarding school experience.
  • Dr. Patricia O’Gormanauthor, psychologist, and co-founder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NAC0A) will explore the characteristics of co-dependency and other coping behaviors that often perpetuate dysfunctional lifestyles long after children of alcoholics become adults.
  • Dr. Jerry Moe, who works at the Betty Ford Center, will examine the impact of tramatic family life on children.  He has many stories, and also explores some of the healing approaches used with children.

On Saturday, we begin exploring issues of thriving and healing. The keynote presentations include:

  • Sis Wenger, Executive Director of NACoA, will introduce a new family training called Celebrating Families.  NACoA has developed this training specific for families where there is a history of alcohol and substance abuse.  She will also continue the discussion introduced in Fridays presentations.
  • Marlin Farley and Sharyl Whitehawk, master trainers for the Wellbriety Training Institute, will address the benefits of Al Anon and Al Ateen for families with histories of addiction.  These fellowship programs use the 12 Steps to help family members thrive and heal by learning new thought patterns and responses. 
  • Don Coyhis, President of White Bison, will provide and overview of what it takes to create a thriving community and to heal the community from the experiences of intergenerational trauma. He will explain various strategies and trainings that can help communities raise their awareness and begin to take action to create and implement change.
  • Theda Newbreast, co-author of the Gathering of Native Americans (G.O.N.A.) curriclum, and a member of our Council of Elders,  will provide a overview of how far we have come since the 1950s, 1970s, and 1990s.  She will also invite us to continue to make changes, heal ourselves and each other.

Sunday Closing Presentation:

  • Don Coyhis will describe what is happening with the Wellbriety Movement on a national level, and also explore some of the happenings in Washington DC that impact what we do in our tribes and urban communities. 

In the next blogs, we will focus on the breakout sessions at the Gathering and the Powwow.   We hope that you will find this to be an exciting Gathering and that you will encourage your organizations to send several people.  Raising the our consciousness about the issues that prevent us from living healthy and productive lives is the first step to making meaningful and lasting change.



On Thursday evening April 10, 2014 through Noon on April 13, White Bison will host our National Conference. We are excited to focus the healing of the intergenerational trauma and its connectedness to our current family social issues in Indian Country. New Programs, new information, and new recovery tools will be announced at this conference. Friday Morning we will honor NANACoA, the National Association for Native American Children of Alcoholics, an organization that was responsible for bringing our community secrets out in the open so the healing could begin. The story of NANACoA will be told and we will h0nor individuals who help get this movement going in Indian country.

Friday will focus on showing the impact of the treatment of 1000’s of children who attended the boarding school from  1879 through 1961, and how it connects to present day social issues in Indian country from alcoholism, violence, child abuse , sexual abuse and codependency behaviors. National speakers and experts will share information that can be taken back to the communities you represent.

Saturday, will focus on cultural based programs that can be implemented in your communities. The Four Directions teaching  tells us the natural order of healing: first the healing of the individual, then the family, then the community then the nation. The White Bison Trainers will present descriptions of our culturally based programs. These are used nationwide for the healing of our communities. We also will feature a program called Celebrating Families. this program is design to help parents who are in recovery to rebuild their families. We also will introduce coalition building strategies and a 5 year program for healing entire communities.

Sunday, the focus will be on building a vision for the future of Indian country. We will share the vison of the Wellbriety Movement and where it is going. We are entering a Time of Healing.

Those who register in February will receive a copy of the Red Road to Wellbriety in their conference package when they check in on April 10.


In Wellbriety,



The Wellbriety Movement  was officially started in 1998 with a walk across the United States. A group of 25 people walked and run from LA to Washington D.C. stopping in communities talking about the prophecies,  talking about recovery, talking about getting well, and  talking about coming back to the culture.

The Movement is still growing and expanding including in Canada and hopefully in Australia this year. We continue to be of service to the Wellbriety Movement. We have had a number of request from people asking for help in starting new groups. New groups will help the movement expand and become strong for future generations. In response to these request, we have created a Red Road Wellbriety Group Starter Kit.

What is it?   It has a copy of the Read Road to Wellbriety book. This book can be helpful in picking topics for meetings, for Red Road Study Groups, 12 step study groups. It has the daily Elders Meditation book to help in opening meetings with and Elders meditation. It has 4 posters to be hung on the wall for the meeting room. one paster containing the Native version of the 12 steps, the Wellbriety Traditions to help groups have guiding pronciples in group dynamics, A poster that shows the steps in a circle and a poster for the healing forest. and, it also has aguide with all the instruction and checklist of how to start a group. Everything you wanted to know is in the group guide.

Who should have a starter kit? Any one who wants to start a Red Road Wellbriety Group in their community. We have heard so many times that when people get out of treatment there are no support groups they can attend so in a short while they slip and are back in the same conditions they were before. A long time ago, when AA first started and there were no groups, the people interested in having a group would just start a group themselves. We believe when a person gets out of treatment they should be given a group starter kit so when they get home, they can start their own group and invite community members who may also want to get sober, to come to the group. We would like to see Red Road Groups start in prisons, treatment centers, mental health organization, IHS working on Alcohol abuse, Indian Urban Centers. We would like to see Red Road groups for women, for men, for the Two Spirited, for youth coming home from treatment centers, jails, or prisons. As these groups form and grow, they can help organize additional training given by the Wellbriety Training Institute.

More information on the Group Starter kits can be found on the Wellbriety.com web site. questions can be asked by writing on the info@wellbriety.com email.

The kits can be ordered from CoyhisPublishing.com store.

We are hoping these starter kits will accelerate the Wellbriety Movement across Indian Country in the US as well as our relatives in Canada.


On behalf of White Bison and the Wellbriety Movement, we have dedicated the past three months to settling in here in the Washington DC area and getting some infrastructure in place so we can move forward with establishing a fully functioning Wellbriety Movement Advocacy Office and creating a presence for the Wellbriety Movement here in our nation’s capital.

We are pleased to announce that the Wellbriety Movement Advocacy Office will be at 10920 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 100 Kensington, MD 20895  and co-located with NACoA (National Association for Children of Alcoholics).

We are excited to have this opportunity to be affiliated with and work more closely with NACoA. Years ago at a conference  in New Orleans, NACOA helped to birth NANACOA, the National Association for Native American Children of Alcoholics.  For many years, NANACOA did a great deal of good work toward the healing of our Native People, but unfortunately due to lack of funding it has been dormant for some time now.

 In 2013, the Wellbriety Movement Advocacy Office will re-launch and revive NANACOA to once again help with the deeper issues of healing intergenerational trauma, childhood trauma and co-dependency issues that many Native Americans still suffer with today.

Along with other  like minded  organizations, we plan to co-create a National Wellbriety Vision. Wherever possible, we will  build collaborative relationships and network with other, national level  organizations that can help us to promote the  legitimacy and power of using our Native culture in the healing of our Native People. 

Our work here will include:

  • Advocating  to expand the Wellbriety Movement Nationally & Internationally
  • Advocating  for including Wellbriety Movement curriculum, models & methods as culturally relevant, evidence based practices for prevention and healing of Native People from addictions, intergenerational trauma, PTSD and other related problems.
  • Advocating for a public apology from the White House for the US government’s role in the abuses of the boarding schools.
  • Advocating for recovery, wellness and addiction free leadership within our National Native organizations.
  • Sponsoring  a number of national and regional conferences to keep the Wellbriety Movement  informed at the grassroots level.
  • We are also available to do advocacy work here in D.C. for small tribal organizations or Native Urban centers

We will soon have a Wellbriety Movement Advocacy Office website operational and be able to provide you with additional details on how to contact our office here in Washington.


Status update on creating a Wellbriety Advocacy Office in Washington, DC

We arrived safely in Maryland and have been busy unpacking, organizing our house, setting up the internet and preparing the Wellbriety Advocacy Office.  The next several  weeks will be devoted to building relationships with other the Native organizations and the Federal Agencies in an effort to increase our presence.

The main goals of our Wellbriety Advocacy Office are:

1. Building relationships and gaining support from our Native communities, both reservations and Urban Indians, to seek a public national apology from the White House for the United States Government’s  role in the genocide tactics and its role in the boarding schools’ methods of abuse of the Native children who attended these schools.

2. Seeking funding that will advance the healing of our communities through gaining support for the Wellbriety Movement.  We will accomplish some of this work through our sister company, Coyhis Publishing & Consulting, which is a certified Native American Owned 8(a) small business.  Our first Coyhis Publishing & Consulting initiative will be to get funding for the  healing of our Native Veterans (men, women and their families).  We have developed a number of culture-based programs that we believe will offer solutions in the healing of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other wounding caused to our relatives while serving in the armed services.

3. Raising awareness about the power of our culture in the Recovery movement through creation of a National Vision of Recovery for our Native Communities.


For the past 25 years we have spent time building the Wellbriety movement and expanding the training of  White Bison throughout our Native communities in the US as well as Canada.

We have been evaluating my Purpose  in the Wellbriety Movement and where I can be most useful.  In 2008 we made a 7,000 mile historic journey to 25 boarding schools across the US, video taping the stories of those who attended.

We produced a documentary called, The Journey to Forgiveness. This journey started at Chemawa and ended at the Native American Indian Museum. On the way we gathered thousands of signatures, requesting President Obama to make an apology on behalf of the United States government for its role during the Boarding School era.   We have distributed over 10,000 DVD’s and have had more than 15,000 views on You Tube.

We are just beginning to fully understand the effects of the Intergenerational Trauma (Historical Trauma) and its connectedness to the present day social issues such as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, violence, suicide, PTSD, domestic violence, etc.    We believe that the recognition by the government and the admission of the atrocities committed against Native People would greatly accelerate the healing of the Intergenerational Trauma issues and allow the healing of our people to take place.   We are asking for a apology similar to that which was given by the Canadian government to the First Nations People and by the Australian government to the Aboriginals.  The story of the boarding school era and the genocide of Native People must now be openly discussed and taught in our schools.

We are moving back to the Washingtom D.C area to dedicate the next two years to organize a major grassroots effort, working  with congress and the other National Native organizations to get the apology from the White House. We are not asking for a favor because a bill was passed on December 19, 2009 that authorized the President to make an apology to the Native people. What we would like is for the President to carry out what the bill requires and that is to issue a formal apology.

We will be opening a Wellbriety Advocacy office in D.C. area and help to Create a Native Voice and will communicate via facebook, blogs and twitter.

Wayne Records will be the Acting Executive Director of White Bison and I will remain as the Chairman of the Board. The Wellbriety Training Institute will continue to grow and expand the healing programs for our communities. We will need the support of everyone in all of our communities, churches,  reservations, urban Indian centers, Elders, prayers and encouragment. But, with the help of our Creator, we can succeed to get the apology.

The mover picked up the household goods today, and we will drive back most likely leaving on Sunday spet 23rd. stay tuned.


forgiveness 1 (click on the word forgiveness for the graphic)The Elders explained to us that to hold past hurts….we keep ourself in a prison. the hurts done to many of our people in the boarding schoosl, are now being passed down generation to generation. this intergenerational hurt is behind the alcohol problems, the violence, the abuses and even the sucides. it is time we break the cycle of passing this on to our children and our grandchildren. they told us that our last test is going to be ….can we forgive…..even to forgive the unforgivable. there are 4 directions of forgiveness. in the east is the everyday forgiveness. then we say, I’m sorry.The Second forgiveness is in the south and is called the forgiveness of the unforgivable. this would be like violence, domestic abuse or sexual abuse. we do this type of forgiveness to free ourselves, doesn’t mean we make the offenders not be responsible for what they did, but we ask the creator to help us be free. The third forgiveness in the west is the forgiveness of yourself. Sometimes this is harder to do than the first two. You ever do something stupid during the day or night and the next day you are filled with reqret that won’t go away? maybe you try to keep it a secret and the secret eats away at you. maybe even wishing a thousand times that you had not done what you did. Help from the Creator often is the only hope to forgive self. there is one thing the Creator CANNOT do and that is to not help one of His children who asks for help. He/She must help by his own rules. the rule of love. there is a saying….Love thy neighbor as thyself…and that is the problem..most of us do. The Fourth forgiveness is when we forgive someone to set their spirit free. or it could be an institution like a church or the government. you ever have someone hurt you, you have forgiven them but they cannot look you in the eye? you do it to set their spirit free. You forgive even though they don’t derserve it. You forgive, anyway. When our children see us practicing forgiveness, they will do it also.