Skip to content

September 1, 2017 – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Native Americans and Alaska Natives are more likely to report their health is fair or poor compared to other groups. Native communities also report higher rates of chronic illnesses like diabetes and higher rates of suicide and depression.

This new series explores the effectiveness of initiatives that combine Western medicine with culturally relevant practices. It can be challenging to find data on health outcomes in Indigenous communities. According to the US Census, less than two percent of U.S residents identify as Native American or Alaska Native. Research on small populations poses unique challenges in creating significant statistical data. But local leaders and health providers are seeking to quantify what’s working to help people improve health and wellness and whether those practices might work in other communities.

At United American Indian Involvement (UAII) in Los Angles, we meet Dr. Carrie Johnson, a clinical psychologist, who helped bring cultural activities into existing behavioral health services at the center. Program participants at a drum and dance class speak about what wellness means to them and how culture is part of their efforts to decrease stress, engage in their community and maintain sobriety.

This series was produced with support from the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism and the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism.