Celebrate Native American Heritage Month!
Learn more about Native American Heritage Month and the health of this population.
The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York. Red Fox James, a Blackfeet Indian, rode horseback from state to state, getting endorsements from 24 state governments, to have a day to honor American Indians. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) from hundreds of tribes have shaped our national life. During Native American Heritage Month, we honor their vibrant cultures. Learn more about some of the health issues that affect this population and some efforts to address these health issues.
Strategies for Reducing Health Disparities
As we celebrate Native American Heritage Month this year, CDC highlights Strategies for Reducing Health Disparities — Selected CDC-Sponsored Interventions, United States, 2014 and 2016 reports, which offer real-world examples of how public health programs can address differences in health outcomes and their causes among groups of people.
- The 2014 report includes how four AI/AN tribal communities implemented road safety interventions to lower motor vehicle–related injuries and death.
- The 2016 report discusses the Traditional Foods Project (2008-2014), in which participating tribal communities worked to restore access to local, traditional foods and encouraged physical activity to promote health. AI/AN communities across the country are reclaiming traditional foods as part of the global Indigenous food sovereignty movement that embraces identity, history, and traditional ways and practices to address health, highlighted in the Traditional Foods Stories.
Sudden Unexpected Infant Death
Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) is the death of an infant less than 1 year of age that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly, and whose cause of death is not immediately obvious before investigation. Most SUIDs are reported as one of three types: sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), unknown cause, or accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed. From 2011-2014 SUID rates for AI/AN infants were more than twice of those for non-Hispanic white infants.
- Health care providers and researchers don’t know the exact cause of SIDS. However, parents and caregivers can take actions, like placing their baby on his or her back to sleep, to reduce the chance of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths.
- The 1,000 Grandmothers project is a culturally appropriate approach to reduce SUID rates within the Native American population. This CDC-funded project created opportunities for tribal elders (especially grandmothers) to mentor and educate young Native parents on safe sleep practices for infants. Learn more about The 1,000 Grandmothers Project.
Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that affects how the body turns food into energy. AI/AN people have a greater chance of having diabetes than any other US racial group, and are twice as likely as whites to have diabetes.
- Learn more about who is at risk for diabetes and the importance of getting tested.
- Visit the Native Diabetes Wellness Program, part of CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. The program aims to share messages through youth-focused Eagle Books about traditional ways of health that are remembered, retold, and talked about where people live, work, and play. The program also supports sustainable ecological approaches and health practices to promote traditional foods, physical activity, and social support.
Tribal Road Safety
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of unintentional injury death for AI/AN. Among infants less than one year of age, the motor vehicle traffic death rate among AI/AN is 8 times as high as that of non-Hispanic whites.
- The major risk factors for motor vehicle injuries and deaths among AI/AN are low seat belt use, low child safety seat use, and high rates of alcohol-impaired driving. Share these infographics to keep AI/AN safe on the road.
- CDC’s Roadway to Safer Tribal Communities Toolkit includes fact sheets, posters, and a video with tips on increasing child safety seat use[545 KB], increasing seat belt use,[1.45 MB] and decreasing alcohol-impaired driving.[336 KB]
- The Tribal Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention (TMVIP) Best Practices Guide 2016[4.75 MB] provides a summary of the burden of motor vehicle injury and death in AI/AN communities. It offers recommended strategies with examples from Indian Country and outlines important components of successful tribal road safety programs, lessons learned, case examples, resources, and calls to action for TMVIP programs.
- FastStats – Health of American Indian or Alaska Native Population
- Vital Signs – Native Americans with Diabetes
- Native Diabetes Wellness Program
- Eagle Books for Youth
- Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country
- National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day ~ March 20th
- Health Disparities in HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STDs, & TB: American Indians & Alaska Natives
- Tips From Former Smokers: American Indians/Alaska Natives
- CDC Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country
- CDC and Indian Country: Working Together[11.5 MB]
- NCCDPHP Investments in Indian Country