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SPH Launches Indigenous Health Concentration for Public Health Undergraduate Majors

SPH Launches Indigenous Health Concentration for Public Health Undergraduate Majors

In partnership with the Native American community in Portland, Oregon and PSU’s Indigenous Nations Studies, Dr. Kelly Gonzales, Associate Professor at OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, created and launched our Public Health Studies Indigenous Health concentration this Fall 2022.

This concentration is a collaborative model that compliments the Indigenous Nations Studies (INST) major and minor, intersects with STEAM disciplines, and can serve as a post baccalaureate pathway to the health sciences professions (nursing, medicine, dentistry). We are offering the nation’s only undergraduate concentration that centers learning about health equity and public health from Indigenous peoples.

In an effort to invite our SPH community to understand the health issues impacting Indigenous peoples, we recently partnered with Dr. Gonzales to host two events that highlight the work of community-based and community-driven solutions for health-justice, wellness and equity in the Indigenous community.

On Thursday, October 27th, we co-sponsored a book launch event with Native Wellness Institute and PSU’s Native American Student and Community Center, that featured Native American authors and activists Chelsey Luger and Thosh Collins. They are the founders of Well for Culture, an Indigenous wellness initiative. In reclaiming ancient wisdom for health and wellbeing—drawing from traditions spanning multiple tribes—they developed the Seven Circles, a holistic model for modern living rooted in timeless teachings from their ancestors.

Native authors Thosh Collins and Chelsey Luger with Public Health Studies student Shandiin Sloan

On Thursday, November 17, Dr. Kelly Gonzales invited the public to her PHE 215 Intro to Decolonize Public Health virtual classroom to engage with team members from Native Wellness Initiative, Barbie’s Village core team, and the Future Generations Collaborative to learn about the origins of Barbie’s Village. Barbie’s Village is a collaborative effort to give land back to the Native community to provide housing for Native families.

If you are interested in learning more about Indigenous peoples, communities, cultures and ways at Portland State University, here is a helpful guide to courses you can take, which includes our PHE 315 (CRN 44917 – Online) Justice in Public Health: The Epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Peoples this upcoming Winter 2023 term.

While we work to decolonize public health to better serve the racialized and oppressed populations that are historically underserved, it requires all of us to do our part to advocate for services and support in public health initiatives like food security, affordable housing and universal health care.

We look forward to continuously preparing our OHSU-PSU School of Public Health community to be the workforce that is ready to address the underlying social determinants that negatively impact their health through education, policies, scholarship and research.