Tribal leaders, representatives, and public health officials from across the country collaborate at the 2016 CDC AI/AN Cancer Summit - Looking Back and Looking Ahead: Collaborating to Advance Cancer Control in American Indian/Alaska Native Communities

2016 CDC AI/AN Cancer Summit

Looking back and Looking Ahead:  Collaborating to Advance Cancer Control in American Indian/Alaska Native Communities


2016 CDC AI/AN Cancer Summit

For Immediate Release



TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2016 Summit titled “Looking Back and Looking Ahead:  The State of Cancer Control in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities” was held for current CDC grantees April 26-28, 2016 at the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City, Michigan.

CDC grantees from five CDC regions across the country collaborated to discuss cancer health policy implementation in Indian Country.  The Grantees included Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Cherokee Nation, Kaw Nation, Cheyenne River Sioux, Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, Hopi Tribe, Navajo Nation, Tohono O’odham National, SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Arctic Slope, Southcentral Foundation, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, Native American Rehabilitation Association (NARA), South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency (SPIPA), Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, and California Rural Indian Health Board.

Day one opened with remarks from the Director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Lisa Richardson, MD, MPH; as well the opening prayer for the event offered Ruth Bussey, Grand Traverse Band Health Director.  Joshua Hudson of the National Native Network (NNN), Margaret Farrell from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Nina Miller of the American College of Surgeons (ACOS), as well as Ena Wanliss and Annie Brayboy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention welcomed everyone to the event and provided the overview for the summit.

Dr. David Espey, MD of the CDC was Day 1’s keynote speaker. Dr. Espey’s presentation “Cancer Surveillance in American Indian and Alaska Natives: What the Data are telling us and Future Directions” focused on emerging trends within American/Alaska Native cancer data sets.

Next was a panel discussion moderated by Kim Marcucci, BFA of the Southcentral Foundation.  The panelists, Kris Rhodes, MPH of the American Indian Cancer Foundation, Diana Redwood, PhD, MPH of the Alaska Tribal Health Consortium, and Delf Schmidt–Grimminger, MD, MBA of the University of South Dakota presented “Unique Characteristics of Tribal Communities and the Impact of Cancer Control” focusing on different areas including research, tobacco abuse, and colorectal cancer.

During the afternoon, Noel Pingatore, BS, CPH of the National Native Network and Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan moderated a discussion with panelists Donald Haverkamp, MPH of the CDC; Melissa Jim, MPH of the CDC; Glenn Copeland, BBA, MBA of the State of Michigan; and Bonnie Culfa, RN, MSN of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Health Division.

The afternoon wrapped with working break-out sessions moderated by Linda Burhansstipanov, MSPH, DrPh of Native American Cancer Research echoing the keynote address and subsequent panel discussing opportunities to decrease disparities in AI/AN communities.  This was followed by a summary and evaluation along with a preview of day 2 with Jen Olson, MS of the South Puget Intertribal Planning agency, Ena Wanliss, and Annie Brayboy.

The final event of the first day was an nDigi Fest, which was sponsored by the California Rural Indian Health Board and the National Native Network.  The event was a cultural exchange through “digital storytelling,” which includes stories that cover many aspects of cancer prevention, education, care, and treatment.  The program celebrated and honored cancer-related, Native-focused digital stories in a “story” setting that was culturally unique and powerfully healing.  The presentation was moderated by Brenda K. Manuelito and Carmella Rodriguez of nDigiDreams.  The event was opened with a prayer from Daisy Kostus of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi, and an Eagle Staff presentation that was conducted by Linda Woods from the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.

Stories included titles “Zaagidiwin (Love)” told by Punkin Shananaquet of the Lac Courte Oreilles/Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Potawatomi; “Stage 2…Stage 3” by Rita McDonald, Cancer Navigator for Northern  Cheyenne Tribe, “Lessons Learned” told by Donald Sumners of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, “Yuuluaqaucirkaq (Healthy Way of Living)” told by Agnes Roland of the Yupik, “My Mother Prayed Cancer Away” told by Ophelia Spencer of the Navajo, “Nikaanag (My brothers, my friends)” told by Dr. Erich Longie of the Spirit Lake Sioux, “Gift of Another Day” told by Dr. Suzanne Cross of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, and “Calling on the Great Spirit” by Daisy Kostus.

The second day of the AI/AN Cancer Summit opened with Sharon Johnson, Fond du Lac Wiidookaage Cancer Team Chairwoman, offering the opening prayer for the event.

Ena Wanliss, Annie Brayboy, and Noel Pingatore offered the Day 1 Summary and Day 2 objectives.  This was followed by the day two keynote speaker, Jeffrey Henderson, MD, MPH of the Black Hills Center for American Indian Health presenting “Intersections of Culture, Science, Policy, and Cancer Disparities Among AI/AN.”

The meeting then transitioned to “Embracing Policy, Systems and Environmental (PSE) Approaches to Address Cancer Disparities in AI/AN Communities” panel presentation in two parts.  The discussion was moderated by Richard Mousseau, MS of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board and Linda Burhansstipanov, MSPH, DrPh of Native American Cancer Research.  The panelists were Margie Burkhart, BA of Cherokee Nation and Eric Vinson of Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board for the first portion; the discussion continued with presentations by Evelyn Watchman of Navajo Nation and concluded with a presentation from Richard Mousseau.  The remainder of the day was dedicated to break out sessions working to identify PSE opportunities and needs facilitated by CDC Program Consultants.

Day three opened with a prayer offered by Karen Morgan of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.  Summaries of the first and second days and objectives for the third day were facilitated again by Ena Wanliss and Annie Brayboy of the CDC.  There was an early working session to finalize action items and the next steps moderated by Judith Muller, MHA of Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and DeAnna Finifrock, MSN, PHN of the Fond Du Lac Reservation.  This was followed by a report back with recommendations for 2026 moderated again by Muller and Finifrock.

Lisa Richardson, MD, MPH; Nikki Hayes, MPH; and Faye Wong, MPH of the CDC gave the closing address and call to action to continue the momentum beyond the summit.  The wrap-up, evaluation, and post-summit steps were lead by Kate Landis, BA of CDC; Kanako Kashima; Aubrey Villalobos, MPH, M.Ed of the George Washington Cancer Institute.  The closing prayer was lead by Eldon Kalemsa of the Hopi Tribe.

The NNN currently has partners across the country with California Rural Indian Health Board, Inc; Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board; and SouthEast Alaska Rural Health Consortium.

More information is available at  The NNN can also be liked at and be followed on Twitter @KeepItSacred.


The National Native Network is a network of Tribes, tribal organizations and health programs working to decrease commercial tobacco use and cancer health disparities among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) across the U.S.  We offer technical assistance, culturally relevant resources, and a place to share up-to-date information and lessons learned, as a part of a community of tribal and tribal-serving public health programs.  The National Native Network is jointly funded by the Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) and Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (DCPC) under Cooperative Agreement #5NU58DP004979-03-00.  The Network is administered by the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan and directed by a board composed of the California Rural Indian Health Board, Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, and SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium.  The NNN has more information online at  The network can be liked at and can be followed on Twitter @KeepItSacred.

Media Contact:

Mike Willette

Communications Specialist

Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan

906-632-6896 x.110

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