Ed Barnhart: A Split-Feathered Hero

Edward Barnhart

ed barnhart

Edward Barnhart, a split-feather of The First Nations, was adopted and displaced in America to be raised in Western society.

Following a tour in Viet Nam, Naval Medic Ed Barnhart returned to the States, continuing his work in Healthcare services.

After accumulating several certifications in counseling and mediation, Barnhart returned to his Native roots to aid in the rehabilitation of Tribal Youth Members.

Now, Ed has more than 50 years of experience in Tribal Healing.

Healthcare Experience

Indian Heritage CARE | Indian Heritage High School | Seattle, WA

Thunder Bird Treatment Center | Indian Health Board, Inc | Seattle, WA

Indian Child Welfare Program | Muckleshoot Tribe | Auburn, WA

Indian Child Welfare Program | Suquamish Tribe | Suquamish, WA

ORCA PRIDE Tribal Youth Offender Program | S'Klallam Tribe | Port Gamble, WA

Medicine Bear Native American Youth Treatment Program | Cornell Company | Canon City, CO

Labateyah Youth Home | United Indians of All Tribes Foundation | Seattle, WA

S'Klallam Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (SOPE) | S'Klallam Tribe | Port Gamble, WA

Tribal Healing Program | Royal Life Centers at Puget Sound | Sumner, WA


Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC)

Physician Assistant (PA-C)

Home Health Care Administrator (HHCA)

Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) 

Family and Crisis Mediator (DRC)

Tribal Probation Officer (TPO)

Tribal Affliations





& Other Pacific Northwest Tribes

A Split-Feathered Hero

History has often proved less than kind to the Indigenous community, yet the perseverance of Native tribes— in spite of adversity— proves that each generation passes down principles and traditions that forge strong, passionate people. Never forgotten, these people inspire growth and prosperity within their communities and their impact extends out into society. Washington's die-hard Tribal Advocate and Healthcare Specialist Edward Barnhart is one of those people to the Native Americans.

Years of drafting proposals, digging heels, and making arches out of once-shut doors, Ed Barnhart became expertly versed in the advocacy for and implementation of Native healing through healthcare services such as family mediation, youth rehabilitation, and addiction treatment.

A true pioneer, Ed's steadfast devotion and ambitious visions directly led to the development of innovative Native Healthcare Services and Programs that continue to aid in the healing of intergenerational trauma within Native American communities.

Separated At Birth

Born into a community of indigenous people in Canada, Edward Barnhart was displaced from his The First Nations during infancy. Ed was then raised as a “split-feather,” a native person nurtured outside of their culture and traditions. As a result, Ed Barnhart’s spiritual link to the Earth, his ancestors, and his culture was bred out as he was assimilated into Western society.

Fresh out of an American high school, a young Edward left Ferndale, WA to immerse himself in what would become his fascination with the medical healthcare field. Following his graduation from the U.S. Naval Medical Corps Hospital School in 1968, Ed enlisted as a combat medic as a “navy core man” for a tour and a half in Vietnam. After leaving the U.S. Armed Forces, he began his charitable work in providing detainees with healthcare services during their rehabilitation sentence.

Hitting The Books

In pursuit of higher education, Ed Barnhart began his studies at the University of Utah, receiving a Chemical Dependency Professional Counselor certification through the Western Region Indian Alcoholism Training Center in 1972. Four years later, Edward acquired his Physician Assistant Certification, solidifying him as the first Native American to receive a medical degree from the University of Washington.

Ed continued his education, earning certifications as a Home Health Care Administrator (HHCA) in '84, a Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Social Worker in '90, a Family and Crisis Mediator (DRC) in '91, and a Tribal Probation Officer (NCJTC) in 2010.

Barnhart’s fields of study continued to grow throughout his young adult life, spanning the scope of Healthcare Administration, Social Work, Drug and Alcohol Treatment, Criminal Justice, Community Development, Adolescent Offending Behavior, Detention Alternatives, and Wellbriety.

To this day, Barnhart upholds his certification as a Trained Program Administrator. Arguably the most influential license of his career, TPA acted as the catalyst for most of Ed's work with the many Tribal communities across the North West. In contention for the most influential certification of Barnhart's career is Tribal Probation Officer (TPO). Earned through Fox Valley Tech's Tribal Probation Academy, Ed's TOP certification led him to become president of the National Association of Tribal Probation Officers (NATOP).

Advocating Against Deaf Ears

Before starting his career of transforming Addiction Treatment for Tribal communities, Ed played a massive role in the North American Native community as a figure of support and advocacy, acting as the ultimate contact for mental health and addiction resources for Native people.

To fulfill his calling, Edward Barnhart aided the Native American communities across North America as a passionate and vocal advocate. In his role as Tribal Ambassador, Ed presented at regular local, regional, and National Tribal Conventions discussing Safe Schools, Drug and Alcohol Studies, Indian Child Welfare Act (CWA Regulations), Indian Child Welfare Case Management, Suicide Prevention, Juvenile Justice, Methamphetamine Awareness, Parenting, Foster Care Cultural Competency Building, Cultural Awareness, and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) issues.

In fact, Edward Barnhart was one of 10 founding members of the OJP-supported National Association of Native American Children of Alcoholics (NANACOA).

On March 1, 1988, over 70 Indian people from 30 different tribes rallied together to participate in the 4th Annual National Convention on Children of Alcoholics in the name of NANACOA. Ed and the other elected board members discussed the collective Native American concerns regarding the multigenerational effects of alcoholism and drug abuse on Native families and communities.

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"[NANACOA aims] to establish a national network and newsletter to promote the exchange of information and resources... and to increase community awareness, understanding, and recognition of the needs of Native American Children of Alcoholics of all ages, especially among policymakers."

Within NANACOA, Edward advocated for Native American Addiction Research and Treatment during his eleven-year run as a key board member.

In addition to presentations and campaigns revolving around the betterment of Native Treatment Programs, Edward immersed himself within Native American programs to reach those within the community on a personal level.

Returning to the root of his spiritual traumas, Barnhart participated in foster parent training as a means of finding holistic healing of his past through the reintroduction of his Native culture. Later, Ed Barnhart took on the role of presenter for Foster Parent Orientations in addition to several related Child Behavior workshops. These organizations acted as an avenue for Ed to help Native youths that were coping with the negative repercussions of Tribal separation and Western assimilation.

The Flash of A Firefly

In 1983, Ed kick-started his career in management as the Program Director of Indian Heritage CARE through Indian Heritage High School in Seattle, WA. As program director, he directed the operation of the first-ever school-based drug and alcohol intervention and prevention program. Within his role, he procured grants, contracts, and provided oversight, and self-funded the CARE programs through Federal NIAAA, ONAP, and IHS sources.

At the tail end of the 1980s, Barnhart managed the Thunderbird Treatment Center under the Seattle Indian Health Board, Inc. During his time at Thunderbird, Barnhart supervised a staff of 40-plus individuals. As operation director, Barnhart managed a 96-bed treatment facility, providing oversight for the Thunderbird Treatment Center programs.

Following his stint at Thunderbird, Edward Barnhart acted as the Director of the Indian Child Welfare Program Muckleshoot Youth Home for the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe of Auburn, Washington. As the Director, Barnhart administered and supervised the Tribal child welfare program for the Muckleshoot people. His roles included staff recruitment, training, ICW policy, development, case management supervision, and other related duties. He directed program services such as CPS/CWS, FRS, Independent Living, Family mediation, and separate foster care licensing. All the while, Barnhart essentially operated the self-funding of the Child Welfare and Youth Home Program while directing and supervising the 22-bed children’s residential care facility.

Over the course of twelve years, Barnhart maintained the role of trainer, advisor, and child welfare expert on Federal ICWA requirements as president of Washington's Local Indian Child Welfare Advisory Committee (LICWAC) for Region 4 through the DSHS. Within this role, Barnhart aided tribes along with local and regional Native organizations as Community Resource Program Manager (CRPM) and Regional Indian Child Welfare Liaison for the Division of Children and Family Services of Washington State.

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Lightning In The Hand

Entering into the 2000s, Barnhart became Indian Child Welfare Program Director for the Suquamish Tribe of Port Madison Reservation in Suquamish, Washington. As program director, Ed Barnhart aided the independent Tribal Nation in achieving its goal to provide government, health, education, welfare, safety, and economic opportunity and development for its Tribal members.

Within his role as program director, Barnhart supervised the staff and the Tribal Child Welfare Program in addition to staff recruitment, training, ICW policy, development, case management supervision. Barnhart also oversaw the program services including CPS/CWS, FRS, Independent Living, Family mediation, and separate foster care licensing.

A Wind of Change

During his time with the S'Klallam Tribe, Barnhart received encouragement from a Tribal Elder to throw his name in for consideration as Juvenile Justice Officer in early 2001. In taking that advice, Tribal Probation Officer Edward Barnhart rose up to ranks, becoming the Justice Officer over troubled Native youths of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe. Unfortunate as it was, this Tribe, native to the Puget Sound region of Washington, was experiencing an increasing number of juvenile crimes that sparked a need for change in the community.

In late 2003, Ed was faced with the task of thinking outside of the box to curb the rise in juvenile crime cases and indiscretions. The tribe’s new Juvenile Officer gathered a small team with the goal of rehabilitating the Native youth of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe. The group of Native experts conceptualized, developed, and opened the ORCA PRIDE Tribal Youth Offender Treatment Program to treat the underlying issues surrounding Native youth crimes.

The Tribal Youth Program aimed to provide hope for Native youth through an alternative method to detention for those with “crim[inal records], AOD issues, truancy, gang issues, and spiritual decay.” In less than a year's time, juvenile crime rates within the tribal community dropped by over 90%, gaining national recognition as the “best” and “effective” native-infused treatment guidelines.

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Rattlesnake Eloquence

Two years after his success with ORCA PRIDE, Barnhart began working with the Cornell Company, a large private provider within correctional services, to develop a residential treatment program for Native American youth in Canon City, CO. In seven months' time, he and a partner conceptualized, developed, and opened the innovative 40-bed youth residential center dubbed the Medicine Bear Native American Youth Treatment Program. An integrated Youth Treatment Program with Evidence-Based Therapeutic Intervention. which he then supervised as Program Director.

Following his rewarding start-up in Colorado, Ed returned to Washington state to assist the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation of Seattle. Within his role as Chief Youth Program Officer and Administrator, Barnhart supervised the Labateyah Youth Home, a 40-bed youth residential center.

Additionally, Barnhart founded Denver Indian Health Board, Inc., an organization meant to provide healthcare services for Native Americans. Overseeing the company as the first executive, Barnhart facilitated the distribution of culturally cognizant healthcare services that provide quality care to the tribal communities of Denver, CO.

The intermission from ORCA PRIDE was brief, however, for only a year later Barnhart resumed his role as manager of the Port Gamble Tribe’s 42-bed Native American residential Tribal Youth Program (TYP) for several years before becoming the Senior Adult Probation Officer. During his time as the senior adult probation officer, Barnhart assisted in the development of an innovative adult probation program that went on to inspire the creation of yet another tribal program at the S’Klallam Tribe called SOPE, or S'Klallam Opportunity Probation with Enforcement.

During his extensive time working with the S'Klallam peoples, Ed broadcasted the accomplishments of his effective program model in hopes of spreading prosperity to the treatment programs of other Native Tribes across the country. To make his dream a reality, Edward Barnhart founded the native-based organization, Native American Youth Offender Treatment Services (NAYOTS). As planned, NAYOTS helped Barnhart integrate ORCA PRIDE’s practices within the treatment programs of several other tribes and organizations.

The Tracks We Leave

In early 2021, Edward Barnhart joined Royal Life Centers at Puget Sound, our progressive addiction treatment facility, as the program director of our Puget Sound location in Sumner, Washington. Within his role as director, Ed applies his expansive healthcare background in education, administration, and in-field experience to further the impact of our treatment services and programs.

With the goal of revitalizing Puget Sound's Tribal Healing program, Ed strives to upgrade native-based SUD treatment to benefit the healing of tribal members with substance use disorders while renewing their spiritual connections to the universe under the belief that “our culture is our prevention.” To achieve this, Royal’s culturally-based program now incorporates additional courses within

Wellbriety’s Medicine Wheel and 12 Steps, based on the teachings of the Medicine Wheel, the Cycle of Life, and the Four Laws of Change. Ed Barnhart has also honed the execution of Mending Broken Hearts, another Wellbriety program, furthering the impact of the healing circles performed to grant a therapeutic release from the grief and loss caused by intergenerational trauma.

The go-getter that he is, Ed Barnhart is responsible for the +1,000% increase in Tribal courses and activities at our Sumner facility in all but a month's time. The expeditious progress was made possible by utilizing his long history of developing, managing, and administering a wide array of Tribal Social Programs for the Muckleshoot, Port Gamble S’Klallam, Suquamish, and Lummi Tribes.

Within his first thirty days as director, Ed’s meaningful contributions took form in his expansion of our Tribal course load, upping the Wellbriety curriculum from one Tribal course to thirteen with additional plans in the works. These program enhancements tripled Puget Sound's availability of classes by 3-fold in addition to expanding the accessibility of Royal Life Centers' Native American rehabilitation programs.

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Feeding The Wolf That Matters

Currently, Ed Barnhart is focused on the renovation and advancement of the treatment programs offered through Royal Life Centers at Puget Sound with a focus on our Wellbriety-based Tribal Healing program. He and our Tribal Specialists are working to implement additional sweat lodge events, increasing the frequency to bi-weekly events. The updated schedule for our Sweat Lodge events includes separate ceremonies for male and female guests that occur twice a week for Tribal Healing. Additionally, Ed and our Tribal Healing team are in the process of implementing bi-monthly Salmon Cook Out events and Drum Circle events every Saturday.

Puget Sound’s White Bison-certified team is currently developing the Traditional Medicine course which includes an educational and therapeutic curriculum meant to strengthen our tribal guest’s connection to their culture. Having practiced the art of medicine and wellness for thousands of years, the lineal herbal and botanical remedies are elemental traditions within the Native American culture. Our Tribal Gardening course emphasizes the enduring connection between agriculture and Native traditions as guests participate in an interactive garden where they sow and cultivate culturally significant medicinal plants.

Another addition to Royal Life Centers and Puget Sound’s Tribal Healing program is Native Canoe Paddle Carving. For thousands of years, the native peoples of Northwest America piloted their canoes along with the rushing currents of the saltwater coast, building their identities and way of life of the resources found in and around the rivers. It is our hope that, as guests carve their canoes from the logs of cedar, they reconnect to their ancestors, once again becoming stewards of the rivers that once sustained their way of life.

Ed Barnhart and all of us at Puget Sound are excited for the upcoming additions to our quality, native-based treatment programs and services! 

Disclaimer—Due to the time frame in which these programs were founded, many lack early documentation via internet records as search engines only became available for general public access in 1993.

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