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Tending to the aftermath of COVID-19

We are now in the phase II of our COVID response. The curves of new infections have flattened among our hardest hit tribal communities in the Southwest, and we are now tending to the aftermath of the COVID-19 impact. New programming will address behavioral and mental health problems; help families with small children to cope; translate our school-based youth empowerment programs into virtual formats; and, continue our scholarship and training programs for Native Americans pursuing careers in public health—all while working to keep the virus out, and studying new treatment and vaccine candidates.  

In the meantime, we are seeing new COVID-19 outbreaks in other tribal communities, who are reaching out for help and lessons from the work with our White Mountain Apache and Navajo partners.  It is time for new resolve as we enter the colder months when people will be indoors more, and when flu begins to circulate.

We have launched some longer-term solutions to water insecurity with Navajo families we serve, including installation of solar-powered water generators that supply safe drinking water to homes. This equipment is guaranteed to last for up to 15 years. 

Distribution of Relief and PPE to Date

We have had another productive month distributing supplies, including 101 additional handwashing stations, 25,096 children’s story books, and 1,180 food and wellness boxes since we last wrote.

Family Spirit home-visiting program restarts after COVID-19 hiatus 

As the rates of new infection are starting to flatten in southwestern tribal communities, we must pivot our work to help with the serious mental and behavioral health needs of children and families. We are building curriculum modules that can be added to our evidence-based Family Spirit home visiting program and taught by community health workers to families in distress, to build skills and support for problem-solving and coping with stressors related to isolation, fear, grief and loss.  The modules will be 45-minute psycho-education lessons taught to parents via Zoom or using self-distancing on topics including: how to talk to your children about death; addressing grief with children, caregivers and other family members; substance abuse; depression and anxiety; trauma and resilience; safety planning related to risk of suicide, domestic violence, and perpetration of violence. 

SAMHSA provides $1 million in support for Respecting the Circle of Life and EMPWR programs

The Center is proud to announce $1 million in new support from SAMSHA to continue providing two behavioral health programs, Respecting the Circle of life and EMPWR with measurable impact for rural, reservation-based youth and adults in Arizona. New funding will support a multi-tiered five-year program that will make meaningful reductions in substance use and HIV risk. 

Read more.


Dr. Melissa Walls wins one of four SCIBAR competitive grants awarded by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

A huge congratulations to Dr. Melissa Walls (Bois Forte and Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe), director of the Center's Great Lakes Hub, for winning one of the four SCIBAR competitive grants awarded by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The SCIBAR Initiative at JHBSPH calls for investments in new initiatives that build on excellence in basic research, the power of science, and the application of research to make a measurable impact on new or emerging public health challenges. Dr. Walls' project will address opioid addiction and injection drug use in partnership with Bois Forte Band of Chippewa and Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma tribal communities. More information on Dr. Walls' research can be found at

Dr. Teresa Brocki and Dr. Victoria O'Keefe receive prestigious awards

Dr. Teresa Brocki, White Clay (A'aninin) Nation (left) has been selected for the prestigious Brilliant New Investigator Award by the Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science recognizing her remarkable achievements since receiving her doctorate. Her research focuses on achieving health equity through community-based prevention and intervention of suicide, trauma, and adverse childhood experiences among vulnerable populations. Dr. Brockie is one of 25 Native Americans in the US with a PhD in Nursing and one of six inducted to American Academy of Nursing.  More on Dr. Brocki at

Dr. Victoria O'Keefe, Cherokee (right) recently received the Community Leadership Individual Award from the Cherokee Nation recognizing her tireless efforts to make her community more vibrant and livable. Her example of service leadership embodies Cherokee values, and is held high esteem by her peers for strengthening the bonds of Cherokee Nation citizens. More on Dr. O'Keefe at


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