American Indian Public Health and Wellness Certificate

The American Indian Public Health and Wellness (AIPHW) Certificate program is designed to provide a succinct body of knowledge which is necessary to provide a specific focus that targets the unique, highly complex realm of the current 573 Federally Recognized Tribes, 74 State recognized Tribes, and 34 federally funded Urban Indian environments for public health and wellness educational opportunities.  The courses stress an understanding that each Tribe or American Indian community has their own unique governmental structure and culture.

This AIPHW Certificate program is designed to help you understand how to work respectfully and effectively with Tribes and American Indian communities, to understand the basis of health services and implications of specific tribal (local and federal) law to help improve the devastating health issues currently experienced by American Indians.

Central to this area of study is an appreciation to understand the unique governmental relationship based on how the federal government relates to Tribal nations as distinct sovereign political entities, not as a racial classification.  This trust responsibility is a government to government relationship, recognized and legally justified in the Constitution, numerous Public Laws, and Presidential Executive Orders.

Increasing the knowledge of health professionals and increasing a culturally prepared workforce in the U.S. is the aim of this Certificate.  The unique knowledge about American Indian health care and services also offers opportunities for students from other countries to learn about this isolated public health model. This knowledge includes understanding the legal responsibility of the United States to provide health care and services to American Indians using a historical holistic approach encompassing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of individuals, families and communities utilized before forced assimilation was practiced.

You will examine the public health and wellness issues facing American Indian communities: review historical implications, analyze legislation, apply specific financing requirements, and gain an understanding of the unique American Indian public health system and the complex set of services, activities, collaborations and stakeholders that varies by Tribe and region.

This AIPHW Certificate program is open to all individuals regardless of their race, ethnicity, culture, and gender or personal beliefs.  The demand for culturally-cognizant, professionally trained health and wellness personnel, who are prepared to work within the unique world of Tribal Public Health and Wellness is currently at high demand.  The highest number of education requests comes from those who are not enrolled as a student and/or currently working in this environment (e.g. state public health professionals and federal health agencies).   This certificate directly addresses the benefits that can be gained directly from the additional knowledge and administrative skills necessary to provide optimum advocacy for complex innovations, creative program designs, and improvements of policy and legislation (locally and nationally).

American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) continue to experience the worst health outcomes compared with the rest of the U.S. population.  American Indians have disparate needs for health equity, perpetuated by high rates of poverty, accompanied by high unemployment rates, barriers to accessing higher education, poor housing, lack of transportation and geographic isolation, which, all contribute to poor health and wellness outcomes. However, the fact that American Indians exist today is because of inherent strengths and numerous paths of resiliency.  These characteristics speak to the fortitude of conquering the experiences of genocide, historical trauma, damaging federal policies, forced removal/relocation, boarding schools, taking of Tribal lands, and continuing threats to culture, language, and access to traditional foods.

Historic and persistent under-funding of the American Indian healthcare and service system has resulted in problems with access to care and services, and has limited the ability of the American Indian healthcare and service system to provide the full range of medical, behavioral, environmental health and wellness services that could help prevent or reduce the complications of chronic diseases, co-occurring disorders, and pre-mature death.  Lastly, it is fundamentally necessary to understand that the American Indian health and wellness system is unlike any other.  It serves the poorest, sickest and most remote populations in the United States.  Each Tribe’s culture under-grids and guides their elected leadership to meet their respective unique needs in this complex environment.

This AIPHW Certificate program will begin to address the tremendous need for a comprehensive program of study that addresses a major void of health and wellness knowledge about the “First Americans”.  This lack of indigenous knowledge has a direct impact on every citizens’ wellbeing regardless of residence, race, economic status, or community.

All Courses are designed to be inclusive of all Students from all races, cultures, and experiences.  Everyone is welcome to attend this course.  While the focus is on American Indians, there are advantages to learning accurate history, other health models, innovative health services, and the importance of using a holistic approach of health and wellness for all populations.

Application Deadlines

  • December 1 to start spring Term
  • April 1 to start summer term
  • August 1 to start fall term

Contact Us

Program Coordinator
Kate Hanson
php@umn.edu

Certificate Director
Linda Frizzell
lfrizzel@umn.edu

Linda Frizzell
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