Indigenous Health Expert Shares Insight on Campus

(photo courtesy: WSU)

Dr. Naomi Bender, an Indigenous Quechua (Peru) and director of Native American Health Sciences and the new Center for Native American Health at Washington State University, Spokane, shared her expertise with students; faculty, staff, and administration; and the community on what that needs to be done in health education to impact inequity.

“It’s not enough for us to sit here in higher ed and say we need to expand the number of Natives in the medical workforce,” Bender said. “We need to culturally embed education to help everyone else who’s not Native understand how to better serve our people.”

During Bender’s visit to Concordia’s campus, she shared insights with the Center for Student Success staff on ways to support Native American students and other historically under-represented populations. Conversations with faculty in the Sanford Heimarck School of Health Professions (SHSHP) centered on the lack of professionals in our region who represent their client populations, what some of the barriers are, and action steps needed to overcome or eliminate those barriers.

She had discussions with students in a healthcare course designed to expose issues, expand on solutions, and energize action toward improved population health; a nursing class on community and public health; and a social work course focused on how to be anti-racist and anti-oppressive in professional practice.  

Community panel members of the Just Futures Initiative also met with Bender. The group is developing plans for community-based reparations related to generational trauma among Native Americans.

Bender’s public presentation, “Culture as Medicine: Reimagining Health Education to Address and Impact Health Inequity in Our Communities,” is available to watch online.