The Yuonihan Project: An FASD Prevention Campaign in American Indian communities in the Northern Plains

Looking at the development of a community FASD prevention campaign

A recent journal article chronicles the development, dissemination and evaluation of an FASD prevention campaign that was developed in conjunction with American Indian communities in the Northern Plains.

The Yuonihan Project was a collaboration between the University of South Dakota’s Center for Disabilities and the Northern Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center.

The project began with community consultations in 2005 through a series of focus groups. The first focus group was made up of 10 elder tribal women, the second group included 5 adult women of childbearing age, and the third involved about 25 people, both males and females of a variety of ages.

The general themes that emerged from the focus group discussions was that an FASD campaign targeted at the general population should include the use of traditional language and images from the tribal communities. These findings were incorporated into the   marketing campaign which included three posters and five radio ads.

The media campaign was titled “The Yuonihan Project”. Yuonihan means “respect” or “to honor” in the Lakota language. Posters included the image of a turtle amulet and granddaughter dolls. A turtle amulet is a traditional Northern Plains Lakota symbol that is given to a pregnant woman or a new mother by her grandmother or elder female relative, and it is used to place the new baby’s cekpa or umbilicus. Granddaughter dolls were a traditional gift given to young Northern Plains Lakota girls.

The campaign included posters, radio ads, and other materials such as brochures and pens. Posters were put up in a variety of venues, including women’s restrooms, clinics, tribal college buildings, IHS obstetrics ward, domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, and local food banks. Community liaisons were hired to help with the outreach component of the campaign.

In order to evaluate the campaign, researchers conducted a survey with a convenience sample of 119 women of childbearing age (18-44). Some of the findings can be seen in the table below. While many of the respondents indicated that they believed the media campaign changed their drinking patterns, this is hard to verify as there was no survey to measure drinking rates before and after the campaign. And, of course, it would be very difficult to know whether this translated into affecting drinking rates during pregnancy and rates of FASD in the community.

For more on this topic, see previous posts:


Hanson, J.D., Winberg, A., Elliott, A. (2011). Development of a Media Campaign on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders for Northern Plains American Indian Communities.  Health Promotion Practice. DOI: 10.1177/1524839911404232

Rentner, T.L., Dixon, L.D., Lengel, L. (2012). Critiquing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Health Communication Campaigns Targeted to American Indians, Journal of Health Communication, 17:1, 6-21

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s