Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month!

Native American family outside

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

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.
Infographic: Tribal Road Safety

Tribal Road Safety Infographic: Tips to Keep You Safe on the Road. View/download infographic >>

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.

  • Page last reviewed: November 9, 2017
  • Page last updated: November 9, 2017
  • Content source:
TOP