Updated: 06/18/2014 5:17 PM
Created: 06/18/2014 5:16 PM WDIO.com
By: DAVE KOLPACK, Associated Press
FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A resource center meant to improve American Indian public health programs is targeting Midwest tribes that have disease and death rates much greater than the general population, officials said Wednesday in announcing the project.
The American Indian Public Health Resource Center will assist tribes with health promotion and policy, disease prevention, technical work, and grant writing, among other things. Its director, Dr. Donald Warne, said the Indian population in the Northern Plains has some of the worst health disparities in the country.
In North Dakota, the average age at death is nearly 76 for the general population and nearly 55 for American Indians.
"Most of these health disparities are preventable, so the role of public health is essential," Warne said. "This is really an opportunity to raise the bar much higher."
Warne, a native of Kyle, South Dakota, and an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, received his bachelor's degree from Arizona State University and medical degree from Stanford. He came to Fargo to start a master of public health program at NDSU, which features the only American Indian specialization in the country.
Warne said the program will allow officials at each tribe to tailor their health programming for their specific needs.
"Won't that be wonderful: tribes setting the agenda for their own research," Warne said.
The center is being funded by a three-year grant of more than $1.4 million from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and $720,000 for the North Dakota Higher Education Challenge Fund.
The center expects to employ up to 10 people, including an operational manager, project managers, support staff and graduate assistants. NDSU President Dean Bresciani said he's confident funding will be available beyond the grant period.
"It's going to be a model, frankly, that quickly extends beyond the state of North Dakota's border," Bresciani said. "I'm very optimistic about the sustainability of this and I think it's of obvious importance to our state."
Shelley Stingley, program director of the rural health care program for the Helmsley trust, said the goal is to have Native Americans take their training back to reservations. Warne said the "messenger matters in Indian country" and it's important to have home-grown talent.
"It's fun to be here and know that we are going to do something for our Native American populations, not only in North Dakota, but South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Wyoming, Montana," Stingley said. "These are where our large tribes are. These are the people who need the help."
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Duluth Police: 1 At-Large, 1 Injured in Central Hillside Shooting
A suspect is at large after a 21-year old male was shot in Duluth's Central Hillside neighborhood Tuesday night. We'll bring you more details as they become available.
Fire that Damaged Historic Duluth House Determined to be Arson, Police Search for Suspect
A hefty structure fire brought a slew of crews out early Monday morning in Duluth. It happened just before 1 a.m on 1511 E. Superior St. While there were no injuries and no one was inside the building at the time of the fire, substantial damage is estimated at over $150,000. On Tuesday, the fire was ruled to be caused by arson.
Federal Officials Say Native American School in Minnesota Needs Help
Federal officials got a firsthand look at one deteriorating Native American school in Minnesota Tuesday--they said it's one of many suffering similarly throughout the country.
Shark Tank Star Inspires Entrepreneurs in Northland
Have you ever wanted business advice from a millionaire entrepreneur? Folks in the Northland had the opportunity Tuesday at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. Daymond John not only created his own brand, but is also a star on ABC's hit show Shark Tank.
My Social Security Week and My Account Website
The Social Security Administration has launched an online tool, to help you manage your benefits.