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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Indigenous Day of Health draws upon resilience


Courtesy of the American Indian & Indigenous Health Alliance

Carmella Kahn-Thornbrugh, American Indian and Indigenous Health Alliance Club founder and treasurer, left, club advisor Agnes Attakai, center, and club president and founding member Felina Cordova-Marks, right. The club is hosting its annual Indigenous Day of Health on Friday.

The American Indian and Indigenous Health Alliance Club will host its annual Indigenous Day of Health to celebrate resiliency among indigenous people as part of the UA’s Diversity Day on Friday afternoon at the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

“[The event is] part of Diversity Day and the event is specific to the club,” said Felina Cordova-Marks, AIIHA club president and public health graduate student.

Native American Heritage Month, a recognized celebration throughout the U.S., is celebrated during the month of November, and the Indigenous Day of Health is one of the many events being held on campus to celebrate Native American culture.

The indigenous health celebration will showcase information booths, poster displays and performances by Native American students, Cordova-Marks said. Eleven clubs, such as the Tohono O’Odham Student Association, will be at the event promoting their current club activities.

The information booths, all gathered and developed by Native American students, will focus on topics such as public health issues related to native health and will be displayed at the Walkway of Wellness between the College of Pharmacy and the College of Public Health, said Carmella Kahn-Thornbrugh, AIIHA club founder and a public health graduate student.

Kahn-Thornbrugh has been a part of the event for the past three years.

“When you hear about Native American health, the resilience part of it isn’t there,” Kahn-Thornbrugh said. “It’s usually the deficits that are represented through media, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and obesity. We really wanted to focus on the strengths, [the] positive stuff that was happening in American Indian communities. How we are strong and how we are promoting our health for future generations to come.”

Initially started through the American Indian task force, also founded by Kahn-Thornbrugh and other public health graduate students, the event focused on providing a better insight about the presence of Native American health on campus.

“We formed American Indian task force mission [to] come together to create a voice for American Indian students in our college, because we felt a voice was lacking and we needed more support,” Kahn-Thornbrugh said.

The club has 23 members in total with both undergraduate and graduate students from different backgrounds.

Native American students Christie Humphries, a doctoral student who will play the flute, and Nyona Smith, a general studies major who will dance Pow Wow with the Black Mountain Drum Group, will kick off the event with a 15-minute performances.

Nicolette Teufel-Shone, a professor in the College of Public Health and co-principle investigator for the Center for American Indian Resilience, mentors graduate students who are involved with the club and the event.

“[It brings] awareness not only culturally, [but] the presence of American Indian students [on campus],” Teufel-Shone said. “We have a few students in the health disciplines: public health, nursing, medicine and pharmacy. [It’s mostly] campus awareness of American Indians in higher education.”


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