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Melissa Walls and Great Lakes Hub staff named CDC Health Equity Champions 

The CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity recognized Dr. Melissa Walls and her team (pictured above) as Health Equity Champions for Summer 2021. This honors the team’s community-based participatory research in American Indian and First Nations tribal communities, particularly through  the Healing Pathways and Together Overcoming Diabetes programs, which focus on the roles of Indigenous culture and family for healthy development, promoting youth mental health, and preventing and managing diabetes.

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NIH Grant Supports Safe Return to Schools

The Center for American Indian Health has been awarded a prestigious  Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) grant from the National Institutes of Health to help schools serving Native communities re-open safely for in-person learning. Project SafeSchools helps schools implement screening and surveillance testing, while understanding the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on families and school personnel's mental and emotional health as they navigate the return to school.

Read more.

NativeVision Awards Two College Scholarships

There were over 130 applications for the two $5,000 college scholarships the Center for American Indian Health awards each year to Native American high school seniors through the NativeVision program. Students applied from tribal communities across the country, excelling in academics, community service, traditional cultural activities, athletics and more, and are dedicated to helping their communities through their future careers. We wish we could support them all of them! Please read on about this year’s scholarship recipients.

Damien Thompson, Kaherokwakeron (left)
Akwesasne Mohawk Nation, New York

Damien is attending Paul Smith's College and plans to study Environmental Science. He would like to become an environmental scientist, environmental engineer or a conservationist for his people and community. Since the 1980's, Damien’s tribe has worked to restore the environment after factories polluted their lands and waters, making people and animals sick, and this spurred his passion to study environmental science. Damien is a traditional singer and hunter, traditions that have helped him understand the importance of his peoples’ natural connection to Earth.

Kai Whitmore, Inupiaq Eskimo (right)
Native Village of Noatak Tribe, Alaska

Kai is attending Washington State University. His goal is to become a teacher and give back to his community. As a teacher, Kai hopes to inspire and mentor his people and other Alaska Natives to follow their dreams. He lives above the Arctic Circle in Kotzebue, Alaska, in a community of approximately 3,000 residents that is only reached by plane. Community involvement and learning his Inupiaq culture is very important to Kai, who also loves to hunt, fish and camp.

I Strengthen My Nation Art Challenge

I Strengthen My Nation: American Indian and Alaska Native Community Projects Created by Youth to Stand Against Substance Misuse is an art challenge for Native youth (ages 14-25) to creatively share their ideas about how Indigenous culture and resiliency protect against substance misuse.

There are two exciting challenge competitions: the Community Project Intervention Challenge and the Art Challenge, both with cash prizes. The deadline for submissions is December 10, 2021. For more information, visit:


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