Across the United States there are 573 federally recognized, 74 state recognized tribes, and 34 federally funded Urban Indian programs in the United States that are home to nearly four million American Indians. The University of Minnesota School of Public Health recently created an American Indian public health and wellness graduate minor to train professionals to thoughtfully and effectively address the unique health needs of this culturally diverse population as well as understand the government-to-government relationship the federally recognized tribes have with the U.S. government.
“There remains a tremendous need for a comprehensive program of study that addresses a major void of health and wellness knowledge about the ‘First Americans’,” said Indian health systems expert and assistant professor, Dr. Linda Frizzell. “This lack of knowledge has a direct impact on every citizens’ well-being regardless of residence, race, economic status, or community because the ability of individuals to lead a healthy and fulfilling life depends in part on the wellness of others in the community.”
In response, Dr. Frizzell and the school created the minor with the aim of building a knowledgeable and culturally prepared workforce. Coursework for the minor includes cultural humility education, which is necessary to understand the complexity and individual characteristics of American Indians. The courses stress details that highlight how each tribe or Indian community has its own unique governmental structure and culture.
The minor also offers opportunities for students from other countries and minority populations to learn about the current American Indian health care model and potentially adapt it for use in their own communities.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on June 21