Founded in 1990 as a South Dakota non-profit, NOFAS has worked closely with American Indian and Alaska Native communities over the years to address alcohol-related birth defects. From its inception, Indian leaders and activists have been deeply involved in NOFAS’ governance and its development and implementation of numerous public health projects in Indian Country, nationally and internationally.
In the early 1990s, NOFAS co-organized a task force among the Sioux Tribes of South Dakota and conducted two national Indian conferences in Minneapolis and Albuquerque. In 1995, NOFAS board member and renowned Native artist Sam English illustrated a popular children’s book written by acclaimed author Luci Tapahonso. The Bureau of Indian Affairs strongly promoted the book’s use to educate all populations about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin reprinted this NOFAS children’s book twice as a tremendously generous $80,000 in-kind contribution.
From 2004 through 2007, NOFAS partnered with Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma to conduct FASD trainings for practitioners and a multi-media public awareness campaign. This NOFAS Indian Youth Outreach Project involved training of teenagers as peer educators to make FASD presentations in schools and other settings. NOFAS also collaborated with Mississippi Choctaw, Navajo Nation, Standing Rock Sioux and urban Indians in Portland, Oregon on similar youth initiatives. In 2006, NOFAS worked with the Indian Health Council in Southern California to develop an online FASD training for practitioners as a pilot project and provide professionals with education units as they learn to screen women for alcohol problems and individuals for FASD.
NOFAS assisted the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in identifying and convening the expert panel and Native American Advisory Group that developed and published in 2007 the “American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaiian Resource Kit” to help AI/NA/NH communities understand and prevent FASD. The Kit includes Fact Sheet, Information Sheets, How-to-Brochures, Posters and Media and Resource Guides. In 2014, NOFAS also published “Implementing CHOICES in Clinical Settings that Serve American Indian and Alaska Native Women of Childbearing Age” in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a report assessing the feasibility of implementing an intervention designed to reduce alcohol consumption among AI/AN women of childbearing age.