Published August 29, 2022
Due to long histories of oppressive marginalization, American Indian communities across the US experience significant health, social, and economic disparities as compared to non-Indigenous communities. Among the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ enrolled members, 23% live at or below the poverty level, compared to 15% of non-Indigenous WNC residents. The Center for Disease Control recently concluded that “American Indian communities bear a greater burden of health risk factors and chronic disease than other racial/ethnic minority populations.” The Center for Native Health (CNH) was established in 2009 to address these disparities by integrating traditional, community-based knowledge into all facets of American Indian health and education.
CNH prioritizes four focus areas: Education and Consultation, Cultural Preservation and Application, Community-Based partnerships, and training and mentorship. Funds from Dogwood have supported CNH’s Medical Careers and Technology Pathways (MedCaT), an academic-community partnership between CNH, the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) that engages Appalachian rural and American Indian high school students with resources that support the pursuit of health and biomedical science careers. Additional funds support the CNH-sponsored Selu Mothering Project, as well as capacity-building including website improvements, membership in the NC Center for Nonprofits, and the development of an informational/promotional video.
“The Center fills an important role in the community, bridging a gap between Western medicine and a more culturally based approach. It’s about balance, reciprocity, and most importantly it’s about relationships; our internal relationships, our relationship with the community as a Center, and the relationships that we have with each other in terms of who we are as Cherokee people.”
Qualla Boundary and Buncombe, Cherokee, Graham, Jackson, and Swain Counties
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