New Resource Center Aims to Improve Indian Health

Updated: 06/18/2014 5:17 PM
Created: 06/18/2014 5:16 PM
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.)

Front Page

  • Justin's 2014-2015 Winter Prediction

    Winter is right around the corner and the question on everybody's mind is will we have a winter like last year.  With record stretches of cold and record snowfall last year is one we one like to forget. Chief meteorologist Justin Liles lets us know what we can expect this year

  • Woman in Douglas Co. Shootout was found Unresponsive in House Fire Day Before

    A 22-year-old Lake Nebagamon woman was hospitalized on Wednesday evening after an armed standoff with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. On Tuesday, authorities say that same woman was found by her neighbors unresponsive and not breathing after they saw flames coming from a downtown Lake Nebagamon home. 

  • Funding for Military Funeral Personnel Restored

    On Thursday, Rep. Rick Nolan received a letter from the Secretary of the Army that funding for the playing of "Taps," a rifle salute, and delivering a folded American flag will be restored.

  • Preparing for Ebola: Health System Working Together

    People who work in the Northland's health system are communicating on a regular basis, to prepare for Ebola, even though it's unlikely to appear here.

  • St. Luke's Honored by American Heart Association

    St. Luke's received three honors from the American Heart Association on Thursday, for their approach and teamwork when taking care of heart and stroke patients.


Lake Effect Snow Advisory

Expires: 10/31/2014 11:00 AM

Lake Effect Snow Advisory

Expires: 10/31/2014 11:00 AM

Lakeshore Flood Advisory

MI AREAS AFFECTED: Alger; Baraga; Gogebic; Houghton; Keweenaw; Marquette; Ontonagon
Expires: 10/31/2014 2:00 PM

Lake Effect Snow Advisory

MI AREAS AFFECTED: Gogebic; Houghton; Keweenaw; Ontonagon; Southern Houghton
Expires: 10/31/2014 12:00 PM