Springs man wins prize for Native American program
Condensed by Native Village

Colorado: White Bison Inc. is Colorado Springs group that helps Native Americans overcome health issues. Recently, White Bison won the $100,000 Purpose Prize which honors those solving community problems.

White Bison's founder, Don Coyhis, says he'll use the money to expand the nonprofit group. He also plans to launch an institute to promote wellness - or what he calls "Wellbriety" - among the nation's 564 tribes.

Coyhis, 66, marked 31 years of sobriety in August. He named his organization after the white bison image he saw while fasting in the Rampart Range two decades ago. White Bison Inc. uses Indian culture to address addiction, obesity, domestic violence, suicide, divorce and other issues.

"This funding will accelerate the healing, matching tradition and technology will create a powerful force. I'm pretty pumped," Coyhis said.

Coyhis, who grew up on a Mohican reservation in Wisconsin, uses a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. It includes elders' teachings, medicine wheels, group drumming circles, songs and healing ceremonies. All tribal members, from elders to children, are involved in the healing process.

"The reason we're in this situation is because our culture was taken away," he said. "When I regained my culture, I realized I was not ashamed to be a Native, but proud."

Alexandra Cespedes Kent is director of The Purpose Prize. She cited Coyhis' trailblazing approach to address the needs of Native Americans. "His organization has trained over 2,000 individuals to implement Wellbriety principles in their own communities," Kent said. "We saw The Purpose Prize as an investment in what Don is going to do next."

All photos, graphics and more information: http://www.whitebison.org/

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