West Michigan American Indian Community Invited to Provide Input at Meeting that Addresses Diabetes & Tobacco Use

Published July 19, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS – The West Michigan American Indian community is invited to provide input at a commuity meeting at Western Michigan University’s East Beltline campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Thursday, July 20, 2017 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The topic at the meeting will be diabetes and tobacco use among urban American Indians.

This community meeting is part of the “Enhancing the Circle of Health: Culturally Competent Public Health Care Collaboration to Address Type 2 Diabetes and Tobacco Reduction in Native American Communities” project that will ultimately develop a curriculum to to educate health professionals on Native American culture, history and the impact of historical trauma on current health disparities.

Western Michigan University teamed 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 the curriculum.

“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 impacted Native American communities. Loss of culture, natural resources, traditional economies, and placement in the margins of mainstream society continue to impact the physical, mental, and spiritual health of indigenous peoples.”

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 project was developed as an inter-professional 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.

The proejct is  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.”

WHAT:  American Indian Community Meeting

WHEN: Thursday, July 20, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Western Michigan University, 2333 East Beltline, S.E. Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546

NOTE:  Dinner will be served. RSVP Dee Sherwood at (616) 258 – 0286 or Seth Allard at seth.m.allard@wmich.edu by July 17th.


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