The Center For Native Health Inc
The mission of The Center for Native Health is the reduction of health and education disparities for Indigenous communities.
The Center for Native Health (CNH) is guided by two Cherokee principals Duyvktv and Tohi which combine to form an Indigenous structure for understanding health and wellbeing. As stated, the vision for the Center for Native Health is the reduction of health disparities for Native communities through engagement in the preservation and respectful application of community held knowledge. This statement encompasses all actions that center someone and their relationships in a positive way, including the arts. To disrupt the lasting effects of historical trauma we look for projects and activities to revitalize and strengthen traditional Cherokee culture as a form of both individual and collective healing.
During the summer of 2008 more than 60 Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians community members, health professional, regional university members and other interested parties across WNC met to discuss the need for an organization that could help address the numerous health and education inequalities amongst Indigenous populations broadly and more specifically the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The result of these conversations was the creation of a a non-profit, autonomous Center with initial funding coming from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. 501c3 status was awarded in the summer of 2009 with additional by-laws detailing a 12-member executive board. Currently, this board consists of 11 members who are enrolled in one of the three federally recognized Cherokee Tribal Nations and one member who is an Endowed professor at Western Carolina University.
From its creation CNH has looked for ways to partner across communities to integrate community held knowledge into the everyday practices of health and education professionals. In 2010 The Center helped facilitate a series of conversations and workshops between medical clinicians and EBCI elders to dialogue about ways to better situate cultural knowledge and traditions into medical care in various facets. That same year, Wake Forest Medical School and CNH partner to develop the Medical Careers and Technology (MedCaT) program into a multi-faceted summer camp and program to promote post-secondary and careers in Medical professions for Native youth. MedCaT was expanded in 2015 as a year-round program to create a pathway for students, specifically American Indian and Appalachian Rural, that addresses the above-mentioned barriers through integration of cultural education into the traditional health and biomedical science curriculum and teaching paradigm.
The Center has also invested its energy into the preservation of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in the EBCI community by partnering university professionals and Elders in the community to discuss the importance of plant relationships. The first “Medicine Walk” was held in Fall 2011 in the Snowbird community at the Junaluska Museum with Elders Onita Bush, Tom Belt and TJ Holland. Subsequent years saw the Center continue these activities in and around the EBCI community to great success serving as bridge between western health care facilities and practices with community held practices in the EBCI. During this period the Center has supported important programming to promote this integrated knowledge such as the Rooted in the Mountains Symposium at Western Carolina University.
In 2019-2020 CNH underwent transition as Trey Adcock (ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ, enrolled Cherokee Nation), PhD was named the new Executive Director. Dr. Adcock is an Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Director of American Indian & Indigenous Studies at the University of North Carolina Asheville. Having Applied for a Racial Equity Grant, DogWood Health Trust announced that The Center of Native Health would receive a 25K grant to support a Cherokee Doula project, update the CNH website and to provide professional development for the new Executive Director.
Continuing CNH’s track record of carrying out successful projects and grants, in the past year alone CNH has been awarded over $1.1 million dollars in funding to strengthen and expand the MedCaT program in partnership with Wake Forest Medical, WCU and the EBCI. This program is close to celebrating ten years of successful stewardship of Native and 1st Gen Appalachian students into health fields through higher education. In addition, over the past twelve months CNH has hired a full-time staff member, a legal team, engaged in Board Training in collaboration with the National Paideia Institute, undertaken strategic planning and have secured close to 20K in donations. CNH has more recently received over $100,000 in grant applications to support programming around the revitalization of Cherokee mothering practices, to develop a ᎠᏏᎾᏏ ᏃᎴ ᎠᏙᎴᏆᏍᎩ “asinasi nole adolegwasgi”: Cherokee Potters Master Apprentice Program and to bring key stakeholders together to discuss best practices for land conservation and use across WNC. Land is life! Through these efforts we are deepening our belief in preserving and proliferating Cherokee culture to strengthen individual and community health. In addition, The Director of Programming has completed a NC Non-profit leadership certificate program and the Executive Director will be completing a Duke University Leadership in Non-Profit Certificate program in June 2022.