American Heart Association & Shakopee Tribe Join Forces for Native American Health


Unprecedented roundtable gathering of funders will address the nutritional health crisis in Indian Country

Published October 8, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS – The American Heart Association (AHA) and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) will convene a groundbreaking gathering of national philanthropic organizations in Minneapolis on October 14-15. The event will focus on the crisis in Native American nutritional health and food access and the interconnections these issues have with tribal economies and health disparities. Representatives of 40 national, regional, Minnesota and tribal funders and philanthropic organizations will discuss the possibilities for greater involvement by and coordination among funders to solve these problems.

This roundtable follows the launch in March of Seeds of Native Health, the Minnesota tribe’s initiative to improve Native American nutrition, and the recent release of Feeding Ourselves, a comprehensive report commissioned by the AHA that examines the barriers to food access and their link to health disparities in Indian American Heart AssociationCountry.

“Native Americans are experiencing extreme health disparities. Native people are twice as likely as the rest of the U.S. population to experience nutrition-related health problems,” said SMSC Chairman Charlie Vig. “This discussion around nutrition and dietary problems is unprecedented and desperately needed.”

At the convening, funders will discuss the Native American nutrition crisis, Native food and agriculture, tribal economies, health and opportunities to make critical, high-value investments in research, capacity-building, education, policy changes, market-based solutions, and community-driven strategies.

“We know heart health is shaped by what you eat, and without sufficient access to nutritious foods, Indian Country is facing a public health crisis,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “In partnership with the SMSC, we want to bring together top experts and philanthropists to develop permanent solutions to the serious problems in Native American nutrition.”

At the event, SMSC and AHA leaders will lead discussions with senior officials from the United States Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Indian Health Service, as well as representatives from major national foundations including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, Clinton Foundation, Bush Foundation, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and the Northwest Area Foundation.

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