Key Points

· This article describes the process of planning an evaluation of the Tribal Tobacco Education and Policy initiative.

· The initiative was launched in 2007 to reduce tobacco use among American Indians, who disproportionately suffer the negative health effects of tobacco use.

· The work of the initiative and the evaluation had to incorporate an understanding of tribal structure as well as of the traditional use of tobacco in American Indian sacred ceremonies. The theory of change was conceptualized as circular, rather than linear, in keeping with American Indian philosophical traditions.

· The planning process, utilizing evaluators familiar with community mobilization and policy evaluation and informed by program staff familiar with the culture, can be useful to the funder, the program staff, the program participants, as well as the ultimate evaluator.

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