Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date



This study identifies and examines the components of social capital related to a grassroots initiative to address Indigenous youth suicide through art. The Native Artists for HOPE’s Thoreau Youth Art Project was organized by a small group of professional Native American artists in response to a sudden increase of youth suicide in a community on the Navajo Nation. Built on cultural core values identified by the artists themselves, the day long workshop encourages self-expression and creativity as an alternative to risky behaviors believed by community members to be related to suicide. A brief literature review of social capital including its application to population health models, Indigenous communities, and youth suicide is also included. I argue that social capital is a suitable community-level determinant of health that is consistent with Indigenous health models and the place-based Indigenous worldview. Thus, using my personal experience in organizing the Thoreau Youth Art Project as a narrative frame and selected quotes from Artist Facilitators, this study will identify related components of social capital. I summarize my findings from this research by reflecting on the process of organizing Native Artists for HOPE and the Thoreau Youth Art Project by drawing upon the tenets of Indigenous Planning.

Project Sponsors

Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, Society for the Preservation of American Indian Culture, Center for Native American Health



Document Type


Degree Name

Community and Regional Planning

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Jojola, Ted

Second Committee Member

Isaac, Claudia

Third Committee Member

Parker, Tassy


American Indian, Indians, North America, Native American, Social Capital, Youth Suicide, Indigenous Planning, Community Art

Included in

Architecture Commons