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On March 14, 2024, Pope Francis on Thursday encouraged a closer collaboration between Indigenous and scientific knowledge to address climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and threats to food and health security facing the world today. 

The National Indian Health Board on Tuesday said the Pope’s acknowledgement is a step forward.

The Pope’s recognition of the value of Indigenous knowledge resonates deeply with the National Indian Health Board’s International work that has focused on defining and improving Indigenous Determinants of Health to improve the health and well-being of all American Indian, Alaska Natives, and Indigenous Peoples globally, the National Indian Health Board said in a press release.

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“The National Indian Health Board has worked towards, and supports the Pope’s focus on a world view that incorporates Indigenous knowledge and determinants of health in the broader global efforts to mitigate climate change,” Stacy Bohlen, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, NIHB CEO said. “This is another acknowledgement that follows others on the international stage, that indigenous peoples hold game changing solutions to many modern problems through both longstanding knowledge and their experiences.”

The National Indian Health Boards has long recognized that Indigenous cultures hold valuable insights into sustainable living and environmental stewardship. Through millennia of living in harmony with nature, Indigenous communities have developed a profound understanding of ecological systems and the interconnectedness of all living beings.

“The culture of Indigenous people can heal the earth and its people,” William Smith, a citizen of the EYAK Tribe in the Alaska Village of Valdez and Chairman of NIHB said. “It is imperative that we elevate indigenous voices and incorporate their knowledge into global efforts to address the climate crisis.”

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