Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

Native American Health

According to the Office of Minority Health, Native Americans are more likely to have complications that prevent them from receiving quality medical care. These issues include cultural barriers, geographic isolation, inadequate sewage disposal, and low income.
  • "Some of the leading diseases and causes of death among American Indian/Alaska Native are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries (accidents), diabetes, and stroke. American Indians/Alaska Natives also have a high prevalence and risk factors for mental health and suicide, obesity, substance abuse, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), teenage pregnancy, liver disease, and hepatitis."*
Other Health Concerns:
  • 60% higher infant mortality rate than Caucasians
  • 2 x more likey to have diabetes than Caucasians
  • High death rates from unintentional injuries or suicide
  • 5.8 tuberculosis rate compared to 2.0 for Caucasians (2010) (1)

General Resources

American Indian Health by the National Library of Medicine. Includes more information about Specific Topics plus general health information.
Black Hills Center for American Indian Health- "The Center will work with American Indian tribes, tribal health care systems and tribal communities to enhance their capacity for all phases of health care delivery, including the conduct of health research. This work will occur through training built into each of our grants and the dissemination of research results, as well as more formal types of consultation".
Center for American Indian Health- The Center for American Indian Health’s mission is to work in partnership with American Indian and Alaska Native communities to raise their health status, self-sufficiency and health leadership to the highest possible level.
The Indian Health Service (IHS)- An agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for providing federal health services to American Indians and Alaska Natives. The provision of health services to members of federally-recognized tribes grew out of the special government-to-government relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes. Part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Native Health Database- bibliographic information and abstracts of health-related articles,  reports, surveys, and other resources pertaining to the health and health care of American Indians,  Alaska Natives, and Canadian First Nations. The database provides information for the benefit, use, and  education of organizations and individuals with an interest in health-related issues, programs, and  initiatives regarding North American indigenous peoples.
South Dakota Urban Indian Health- An Urban Indian Health Clinic funded through a contract with Indian Health Service (IHS).  A non-profit corporation that operates three full-time Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) clinics in the state of South Dakota.

Specific Topics

  • Between 2001 and 2005, alcohol played a role in 11.7 percent of all Native American deaths, which is more than twice the rates of the general American public. (2)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism- The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIAAA supports and conducts research on the impact of alcohol use on human health and well-being. It is the largest funder of alcohol research in the world.
Diversity & Health Disparities- From the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, this site contains statistical information and explains disorders caused by alcohol consumption.
MedlinePlus: Alcoholism- Also known as alcohol dependence. MedlinePlus is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Covers basic information, latest news, clinical trials, journal articles, statistics, and videos.
  • Cancer is the third leading cause of death for American Indians/Alaska Natives of all ages and is the second leading cause of death among American Indians and Alaska Natives over the age of 45.(3)
  • American Indians/Alaska Natives have a higher incidence of kidney, stomach, liver, cervix, and gallbladder cancers compared to the non-Hispanic/Latino white populations.(4)
All Nations Breath of Life- The Native American Community, the University of Kansas Medical Center, and the American Lung Association, have utilized research methods such as focus groups, surveys, and Community Advisory Board meetings, to present the first culturally tailored internet website devoted to Native American lung health and smoking cessation.
American Indian Cancer Foundation- "We support innovative, community-based interventions that engage Native populations in the discovery of their own cancer best practices. We strive to be a partner trusted by tribal and urban community members, leaders, health care providers and others working toward effective and sustainable cancer solutions". Includes and a American Indian Cancer Foundation Signs Video.
Cancer Facts: American Indian/Alaska Natives and Cancer- A PDF provided by the Intercultural Cancer Council.
Native American Cancer Research- Provides Storytellers as a way to give you information about how real cancer survivors have dealt with the many issues surrounding cancer. All of the Storytellers featured on this site have made up names and their stories combine bits and pieces of real Native survivor's stories. This has been done to protect the privacy of the people who have so generously shared their cancer experiences with us.
Native American Healing- Also known as Native American medicine or Indian medicine-  broad term that includes healing beliefs and practices of hundreds of indigenous tribes of North America. It combines religion, spirituality, herbal medicine, and rituals that are used to treat people with medical and emotional conditions. On the American Cancer Society's website:
  • "Available scientific evidence does not support claims that Native American healing can cure cancer or any other disease. However, the communal support provided by this approach to health care can have some worthwhile physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits."
  • Three times more AI/AN children are born with cleft lips or cleft palates than other children (3.7 versus 1.2 children with clefts per 1,000 births). (5
  • By third grade, almost all AI/AN children (91%) have experienced tooth decay and 72% have unfilled cavities. Among primary-school children, AI/AN children continue to experience higher disease rates; they have four times the number of untreated cavities as their peers (46% versus 11%). (6)
I Strengthen My Nation Campaign- The “I Strengthen My Nation” campaign empowers Native youth to resist drugs and alcohol and motivates parents to talk openly to their children about drug and alcohol use.
American Indian Children's Mental Health Programs- From fiscal year 1997 to fiscal year 2009, the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) has collaborated with Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Indian Health Service through a contract to provide technical assistance to tribal/urban recipients of both the Circles of Care grant program and Systems of Care implementation grants.
Children's Dental Health Project- the Children's Dental Health Project is a national non-profit organization with the vision of achieving equity in children's oral health. The Children's Dental Health Project (CDHP) designs and advances research-driven policies and innovative solutions by engaging a broad base of partners committed to children and oral health, including professionals, communities, policymakers and parents.
National Indian Child Welfare Association- NICWA improves the lives of American Indian children and families by helping tribes and other service providers implement services that are culturally competent, community-based, and focused on the strengths and assets of families. This work includes collaborating with tribal and urban Indian child welfare programs to increase their service capacity, enhancing tribal-state relationships, and providing training, technical assistance, information services and alliance building.
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest rate of type 2 diabetes in the United States. Source: IHS Special Diabetes Program for Indians (7)
  • 95% of American Indian and Alaska Native with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes (8)
American Diabetes Association: Native American Programs- Further information about programs such as Awakening the Spirit and Special Diabetes Program, plus statistical information due to Native American complications and explore cookbooks available to purchse.
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC): Diabetes in American Indians and Alaska Natives- Resources for Native Americans about various topics relating to diabetes, including a brochure, I Can Lower My Risk For Type 2 Diabetes: A Guide for American Indians Can Lower My Risk For Type 2 Diabetes: A Guide for American Indians.
Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI)- From the Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention, provides resources to: community-directed diabetes programs, SDPI Fact Sheets, Ideas and Inspirations, Indian Health Diabetes Best Practices, and more.
  • The average life expectancy of Native Americans in the United States is 75.06 years, however, the life expectancy of a Native American in South Dakota is 68.17 years.
  • The American Indian and Native Alaskan older population (Non-Hispanic and Hispanic) was 232,042 in 2009 and is projected to grow to almost 918,000 by 2050. (9
The Administration for Community Living- Brings together the efforts and achievements of the Administration on Aging, the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and the HHS Office on Disability to serve as the Federal agency responsible for increasing access to community supports, while focusing attention and resources on the unique needs of older Americans and people with disabilities across the lifespan.
National Indian Council on Aging- Advocates for American Indian and Alaska Native Elders- The mission of NICOA is to advocate for improved comprehensive health, social services and economic well-being for American Indian and Alaska Native Elders. Includes elder jobs, advocacy, relative information (lists of resources), and further information.
My Senior Solution-Provides information to assist families in making informed decisions regarding care of elderly family members in the Black Hills area.
Rapid City Seniors- Local information for seniors in the Rapid City area.
  • The numbers of HIV and AIDS diagnoses for American Indians and Alaska Natives represent less than 1% of the total number of HIV/AIDS cases reported to the HIV/AIDS Reporting System. However, when population size is taken into account, this population in 2005 was ranked 3rd in rates of HIV/AIDS diagnoses, after African Americans and Hispanics (10). The rate of AIDS diagnoses for this group has been higher than that for whites since 1995 (11).
American Indians and Alaska Natives- From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s National Prevention Information Network (NPIN): helpful links to information and statistics relating Native Americans and HIV/AIDS.
HIV/AIDS among American Indians and Alaska Natives- Statistical information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Includes Prevention Challenges and What CDC is Doing
The National Native American AIDS Prevention Center- NNAAPC helps organizations that serve Native communities to plan, develop and manage HIV/AIDS prevention, intervention, care and treatment programs.
  • Compared to the general population, American Indian/Alaska Native individuals tend to underutilize mental health services, have higher therapy dropout rates, and are less likely to respond to treatment.
  • The words “depressed” and “anxious” are absent from some American Indian and Alaska Native languages. Different expression of illness, such as ghost sickness and heartbreak syndrome, do not correspond to DSM diagnoses.
  • Approximately 26% of American Indian/Alaska Native live in poverty, as compared to 13% of the general population and 10% of white Americans.(12)
American Indian Children's Mental Health Programs- From fiscal year 1997 to fiscal year 2009, the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) has collaborated with Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Indian Health Service through a contract to provide technical assistance to tribal/urban recipients of both the Circles of Care grant program and Systems of Care implementation grants.
NAMI - Diverse Communities- NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raise awareness and build a community for hope for all of those in need.
National Center for American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research- The NCAIANMHR is sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health and is the only program of this type in the country focusing specifically on American Indian and Alaska Native populations.
Nutrition & Wellness
American Indian Health and Diet Project- The goals of the AIHDP are to bring to light the health problems faced by indigenous peoples, to understand how we came to our unhealthy situations and what we can do about them. You will find no fry bread recipes here! This site also focuses on connecting with the natural world, finding ways to do our part to be responsible consumers and to halt environmental degradation.
The Dakota Diet- "The Dakota Diet shows you how to find and prepare wonderful foods full of omega-3. Also, how to lose weight and improve your health now and throughout your life. It [the book by Dr. Kevin Weiland] includes delicious recipes for grass-fed bison and wild game dishes and salads from the prairie".
American Indian and Alaska Native Resources- Presented by the United States Census Bureau: The Census Bureau collects data for the American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) population and publishes AIAN specific counts, estimates, and statistics at many geographic levels. The Tribal Resource (AIAN) website highlights the Census Bureau's relationship with tribal governments and provides important AIAN and tribal resources.
Health of American Indian or Alaska Native Population- Fast Statistical information from the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Office of Minority Health- The Office of Minority Health (OMH) is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities. The OMH is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Each year drug abuse results in around 40 million serious illnesses or injuries among people in the United States. Abused drugs include
  • Amphetamines
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Club drugs
  • Cocaine
  • Heroine
  • Inhalants
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription drugs (13)
Collaborating with Native Americans and Alaskan Natives- Drug abuse exacts a heavy toll among Native Americans and Alaskan Natives in the United States. In response, Office of National Drug Control Policy is developing programs and policies tailored to Indian Country and designed to assist Tribal authorities using a balanced strategy of prevention, treatment, recovery support, and law enforcement.
MedlinePlus, part of the National Library of Medicine, covers the abused drugs listed above as well as: journal articles, treatment, prevention/screening, disease management, government trials, statistics, and more.
Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse Interagency Coordination Committee- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities. The Office of Indian Alcohol and Substance Abuse is responsible for aligning, leveraging and coordinating with federal agencies and departments in carrying out the responsibilities delineated in the Tribal Law and Order Act.
In 2010, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported the following for American Indians or Alaska Natives:
  • Across ages of the American Indian/Alaska Native population, suicide was the 8th leading cause of death. It was the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged between 10 and 34. (14)

Suicide Prevention LifeLine- No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7. For Hearing & Speech Impaired with TTY Equipment: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).

Suicide Prevention Resource Center- Provides websites that are designed specifically for individuals working with Native populations. Their aim is to enhance resources and knowledge specific for American Indian and Alaska Native populations to support suicide prevention and mental health promotion.

Suicide Prevention- From Indian Health Service: "Behavioral health professionals, Tribal leaders, teachers, first responders, and others in American Indian and Alaska Native communities can peruse the descriptions below to find best and promising practices, culturally relevant programs, training opportunities, and more about suicide prevention, intervention, assessment, and aftercare. You can use this information to create, improve, or adapt your own programs. (This isn’t a comprehensive list of programs and resources, and a listing on this page doesn’t mean [represent] an endorsement)".
Native American Woman's Health Education Resource Center- The Native American Community Board (NACB) works to protect the health and human rights of Indigenous Peoples pertinent to our communities through cultural preservation, education, coalition building, community organizing, reproductive justice, environmental justice, and natural resource protection while working toward safe communities for women and children at the local, national, and international level.
Office on Women's Health- Provides national leadership and coordination to improve the health of women and girls through policy, education and model programs. From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women's Health.

Further Assistance

Association of American Indian Physicians- To pursue excellence in Native American health care by promoting education in the medical disciplines, honoring traditional healing principles and restoring the balance of mind, body, and spirit.
BenefitsCheckUp- Helps consumers find benefits programs that help them pay for prescription drugs, health care, rent, utilities, and other needs. The BenefitsCheckUp Website includes information from more than 1,650 public and private benefits programs from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Folks Who Are There To Help- Non-profit organizations and government agencies in Rapid City and Pennington County offer resources to individuals and families in need.
IHS Primary Care Providers (Journal)- The purpose of The IHS Primary Care Provider is to facilitate communication and share timely information that is relevant to the clinical practice of Indian Health Service, tribal, and urban Indian health care professional providers*.
South Dakota Department of Social Services- Strengthening and supporting individuals and families by promoting cost effective and comprehensive services in connection with our partners that foster independent and healthy families.

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