NWIC establishes Center for Health to address Tribal communities’ health disparities

In response to the persistent disparities in Tribal representation in health research, education and professionals, the Northwest Indian College has established the Northwest Indian College Center for Health.

The Northwest Indian College Center for Health (NWICCH) will pursue multi-faceted educational responses to the long-standing health disparities in our Tribal communities. This response will include research supporting health education and services, development of culturally relevant research, curriculum and publications, and continued Tribal “ownership” of Native research and data.

The foundation of NWICCH’s projects will rest in Community-Based Participatory Research, ensuring all research is rooted in the needs of the communities, engaging communities and serving communities. The research projects will be conducted with consensus and collaboration of Tribal communities, further supported through additional partnerships with the Northwest Washington Indian Health Board and its member tribes.

In this endeavor, the NWICCH successfully applied for funding through the Native American Research Center for Health (NARCH). The NARCH Initiative, currently in its seventh year, supports partnerships between Tribes and Tribally-based organizations and institutions to develop opportunities for conducting research, research training and faculty development to meet the needs of Tribal communities (www.ihs.gov).

With the successful application to the NARCH, NWIC has established important partnerships with University of Washington’s Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute and Center for Genomics and Health Care Equality, as well as Washington State University’s Native American Health Science Program and School of Nursing.

The NARCH grant also begins to fund the administrative foundation of NWICCH with  pproximately $1 million in grant support over the next four years.

The NWICCH is facilitating the following research projects:
• “Tribal Colleges & Universities: Alcohol & Drug Problems and Solutions,” Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Bonnie Duran
(Opelousas/Coushatta) - A study of alcohol and drug use/abuse on the campuses of Tribal Colleges and Universities, in partnership with UW.
• “Caring for Our Generations: Supporting Native Mothers & Families,” PI, Dr. Teresa Evans-Campbell (Snohomish) - A study of maternal health and wellness, in partnership with the Lummi Nation and UW.
• “Pathways to Sobriety,” PI, Dr. Lisa Rey Thomas (Tlingit) - An exploration through storytelling of resiliencies that support sobriety, in partnership with Northwest Washington Indian Health Board member tribes and UW.
• “Grow our own,” PI, Dr. Rose James (Lummi) - A core project supporting development of students & faculty in Community-Based Participatory Research, in partnership with UW and WSU.

The NWICCH staff is currently composed of director and NARCH PI Karyl Jefferson (Lummi), project director William Freeman, project coordinator Colleen Berg, and assistant Sandy Ludgate (Kiowa/Comanche/Caddo). For more information, e-mail wfreeman@nwic.edu or karylj@nwic.edu.