In response to CDC-RFA-DP22-2201, “Tribal Practices for Wellness in Indian Country (TPWIC),” Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB) proposes to provide culturally attuned traditional medicine approaches to improve social connectedness, a core social determinant of health, and reduce chronic health conditions. As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), SIHB serves everyone, but we are driven by our mission as an Urban Indian Organization (UIO) to prioritize services for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN).
Social and cultural connectedness are central to health in Native communities and essential to overall wellness. SIHB has been working to enhance belonging and community connectedness for Urban Indians for over 50 years. Our services and patient care philosophy are grounded in an Indigenous Knowledge-Informed Systems of Care (IKISC) cultural framework, which puts Traditional Indian Medicine (TIM) at the center of all we do.
To address key social determinants and increase social connectedness to improve whole-person healing and wellness, SIHB will expand upon our GATHER Project (Growing Awareness of Traditions that Heal Everyone in Reciprocity) to include Two-Spirit individuals, increase our use of Native languages in wellness outreach, and expand our community connections to Indigenous food. Employing strategies that bring people together and foster connection, GATHER will increase access to and knowledge about food foraging and preparation, traditional Indian medicine (TIM), and experiential educational opportunities for those living with or at risk for chronic health conditions. Through these activities we will reduce chronic disease risk factors including those for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
Target Populations and Health Disparities
Our target population is urban American Indian/Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) in our clinical catchment area of King County. Because AI/ANs have higher rates of chronic disease and are disproportionally impacted by systemic disparities we know our proposed work will have an important and positive impact on our community. Health data for the King County AI/AN population reflects worse social and health indicators compared to their Non-Hispanic White counterparts.
Through this project we aim to achieve a 1) Increased sense of cultural connectedness and 2) Increased sense of social connectedness. We will do this through new and enhanced opportunities for youth, eiders, families, and Two-Spirit people to engage in health and wellness focused cultural events and learning opportunities; use of traditional language to promote health; improved consumption of healthy food through knowledge sharing activities and hands on food gathering. Through knowledge exchange with elders and other tribal partners we will ensure sustainable long term health outcomes and increase social connectedness for our Indigenous community.