“Native Americans experience health disparities at rates far above those of non-Natives,” says Seth Allard, cultural anthropologist, research assistant for the project, and member of the Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

“Enhancing the Circle of Health” CDC Grant Addresses Culturally Competent Approaches to Diabetes, Tobacco Use in Native Communities

To promote culturally informed care and disease prevention, Western Michigan University (WMU) teamed up with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Association for Prevention, Teaching and Research (ATPR), and Tribal and non-Tribal stakeholders in Southwest Michigan to create a curriculum to educate health professionals on Native American culture, history and the impact of historical trauma on current health disparities. The project, titled “Enhancing the Circle of Health: Culturally Competent Public Health Care Collaboration to Address Type 2 Diabetes and Tobacco Reduction in Native American Communities,” will run from May-August 2017.

“Native Americans experience health disparities at rates far above those of non-Natives,” says Seth Allard, cultural anthropologist, research assistant for the project, and member of the Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. “We must consider how disastrous Indian policies of the 19th and 20th centuries have strongly impacted Native American communities. Loss of culture, natural resources, traditional economies, and placement in the margins of mainstream society continue to impact their physical, mental, and spiritual health.”

The goal of “Enhancing the Circle of Health” is to develop a case study on two health disparities commonly experienced in Native American communities – Type 2 Diabetes and tobacco use – while focusing on the Urban Native community of Southwest Michigan. The case study will include interviews with Tribal members, who will share their views on the causes of diabetes and tobacco use in the Tribal community, experiences with the health care system, and culturally appropriate approaches to serving Tribal communities.  Information from interviews will inform a national curriculum on diabetes, tobacco use and cultural competency in Native American communities for health professions students.   

The project was developed as an interprofessional partnership within the WMU College of Health and Human Services, including Dr. Shannon McMorrow and Dr. Vivian Valdmanis, from the Master of Public Health Program, and Dr. Dee Sherwood, from the Master of Social Work Program.  “It is essential that we educate future health professionals, including public health and social work students, to be culturally competent. In doing so, we must actively work together to dismantle long held stereotypes and stigmatization of Native American communities,” said Sherwood. “Our overarching goal is to make sure that all voices are reflected in this curriculum development.”


The grant was supported by Family Outreach Center of Grand Rapids, Anishnaabe Circle of Grand Rapids, Choose Your Path program, American Indian Employability Services, and Western Regional Area Health Education Center. “Included in the team,” says Allard, “are Tribal leaders, organizations, the local Tribal community, various researchers, public health care experts, and videographers. The project approaches Tribal health with a focus on resilience, activism and leadership of Tribal peoples, while emphasizing the health care communities’ reaching out to Tribal peoples for teaching and guidance. I look forward to this project as both researcher and Tribal member.”


Tribal members are invited to attend a community meeting where they will be presented with a draft of this project and encouraged to provide feedback that will help improve the curriculum.  Where: WMU Beltline Campus in Grand Rapids, MI. When: Thursday, July 20th, 5:30-7:30 pm. Dinner will provided. RSVP to Dee Sherwood at (616) 258 – 0286 or Seth Allard at seth.m.allard@wmich.edu by July 17th. WGVU will host a mutually inclusive show on diabetes and tobacco use in the Grand Rapids Native American community July 21st, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at WGVU studio 301 Fulton W, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.


Upcoming Events

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FUNDING OPPORTUNITY - CDC's office for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support (OSTLTS) is pleased to announce a new notice of funding opportunity, CDC-RFA OT18-1804:  Technical Assistance for Response to Public Health or Healthcare Crises.  Visit the STLT Gateway to learn more about the purposes of this funding opportunity and expected awardee strategies and activities.  This funding opportunity is a novel approach to emergency response that will allow CDC to expedite funding to qualified organizations to they can provide expert technical assistance and other support to entities engaged in a public health or healthcare crises.  Applications are due no later than 11:59 p.m. (ET) on March 16, 2018.  CDC will collect responsive proposals from eligible applicants and retain them as "approved but unfunded" until a crises occurs.  CDC will make funding available to relevant organizations once the agency determines the need for a public health emergency response.  If you have questions about this funding opportunity, contact the OSTLTS Partnership Support Unit at OSTLTSCrisisNOFO@cdc.gov

LGBT HealthLink's 2018 E-Summit - Save the Date - Join us for Bacon, Eggs, and Data as the first course to our full workshop menu!  Time and topics to be announced next month!  REGISTER HERE

EVENT -Dialogue for Action® - April 11-13, 2018; Hilton McLean Tysons Corner; McLean, VirginiaDialogue for Action® is an annual national conference that brings a diversity of stakeholders together to discuss the best ways to reinforce cancer screening, prevention, and risk reduction initiatives in their communities.  The Wednesday through Friday schedule is packed with unique opportunities for participants to immerse themselves in engaging presentations facilitated conversations, relationship building, and more.  LEARN MORE

The NW NARCH program, in collaboration with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board and the OHSU Prevention Research Center, are offering a new fellowship in cancer prevention and control research.  The training will be offered in conjunction with the last two weeks of the Summer Research Training Institute at the Indian Health Board in Portland, Oregon, June 17-29, 2018.  In addition, fellows will attend a one-week session in the fall of 2018 that is focused on additional topics in cancer prevention and control research among tribal people.  Fellows will work with peer and career mentors to develop and implement cancer control projects, and will be supported to attend professional meetings to present their research findings.  Please feel free to distribute your lists.  For more information, please see the NPAIHB website at http://www.npaihb.org/narch-training or contact Ashley Thomas by email at thomaas@ohsu.edu or by phone at 503-494-2907.

Funding Opportunity - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation - Policies for Action:  Policy and Law Research to Build a Culture of Health - HERE