Organize an Event

Events can serve as great attention-getters and agenda-setters for tribal community health and wellness efforts, including smoking cessation and cancer screening awareness. When the community gets involved, lives are touched and progress is made.

photo attribution: Nicole Steffen
photo attribution: Nicole Steffen


Pink Shawl Project

The Pink Shawl Project raises awareness about breast health issues, honors cancer survivors and those who have walked on. Within Native American communities, the shawl represents warmth and knowledge between women. Using the creation of shawls as a teaching tool represents a commitment to keeping each other safe and warm.

Pink Shawl programs educate Native women on breast health and cancer screening resources, create sacred space for sharing stories, and in many cases, pink shawls are created to present to individuals in honoring ceremonies. The project was created by Punkin Shananaquet, a Michigan Odawa woman who held the first gathering of women to make pink shawls. Pink kuspuks have been made in Alaska Native communities.


Inflatable Colon

Giant inflatable colons are used as an interactive exhibit at community events, where trained tribal staff walk through the colon with community members and facilitate education and discussion. These events work to promote early detection by raising awareness and knowledge on colorectal cancer symptoms, risk factors, and screening tests. Pre- and post-event surveys assess participant knowledge on colorectal cancer and gauge their intention to get screened. Inflatable colons are available for event use through several Area Indian Health Boards, inter-tribal organizations, and cancer outreach organizations.


Relay on the Rez

Tribes and tribal organizations partner with the American Cancer Society to host a “Relay for Life” event. This event can be used to raise awareness on healthy lifestyles and lowering cancer risk through healthy food choices, physical activity, and cancer screening. Contact the American Cancer Society for more information on organizing a “Relay for Life” event on the Rez.



Tribal and local health clinics work to schedule a full day of cervical cancer screenings during a “Pap-a-thon.” Pap-a-thons are used to promote cervical cancer prevention, awareness, and early detection. Free screenings have been offered to uninsured or underinsured women through collaborations with the American Cancer Society. Contact the National Native Network for more information on “Pap-a-thons” that have been successful in tribal communities.


Pink Paddle Project

The Pink Paddle Project works to raise awareness and provide outreach and support services for breast cancer and survivors. It was developed by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and is tailored to Northwest Native culture. The project is centered around the creation of canoe paddles by breast cancer survivors and their participation in the Canoe Journey in the summer as a healing journey and to help connect Native women who are breast cancer survivors. Contact the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe or Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board to learn more about the Project and organizing a similar project.


Great American Smokeout

Since 1977, the Great American Smokeout is held on the third Thursday of November. The Great American Smokeout can mark different kinds of events. Some commercial tobacco smokers may use it as a day to start their attempt at quitting, or there may be events held to encourage commercial tobacco users to consider quitting. Get involved by promoting a community-specific effort for this important annual event. Visit The Great American Smokeout's website.


Kick Butts Day

“Kick Butts Day” is a national day of activism led by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Each year, events are coordinated on a single day in schools and communities across the continent, with youth empowerment at the center. Kick Butts Day is an event to raise awareness of commercial tobacco abuse across the community, encourage local youth to stay clear of commercial tobacco, and urge local leadership to take action to protect kids from commercial tobacco. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids offers project ideas, implementation grants, media, and more resources. Kick Butts Day


Just Move It

The Healthy Native Communities Partnership developed this physical activity campaign to motivate Indigenous communities across the continent. Native community-based physical activity programs are supported with planning, implementation, and tracking tools, and success stories are shared in an online community. Check out Just Move It for ideas and resources to begin planning an event in your community.


MEN's health day

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Standing Rock Community Health Representative Program, Custer Health, and Spirit of EAGLES developed this toolkit to help American Indian/Native Alaskan communities launch a Men's Health Day program, a one-stop screening and education event including physical exams, screening for cancer, diabetes and heart disease, and health education.  It can also be used by other communities with modification. Check out the Men's Health Day Toolkit for ideas and resources to begin planning an event in your community.

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