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Pub. Date:
National Academies Press
Pub. Date:
National Academies Press


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More than 2 million Americans below age 24 self-identify as being of American Indian or Alaska Native descent. Many of the serious behavioral, emotional, and physical health concerns facing young people today are especially prevalent with Native youth (e.g., depression, violence, and substance abuse). Adolescent Native Americans have death rates two to five times the rate of whites in the same age group because of higher levels of suicide and a variety of risky behaviors (e.g., drug and alcohol use, inconsistent school attendance). Violence, including intentional injuries, homicide, and suicide, accounts for three-quarters of deaths for Native American youth ages 12 to 20. Suicide is the second leading cause of death—and 2.5 times the national rate—for Native youth ages 15 to 24.

Arrayed against these health problems are vital cultural strengths on which Native Americans can draw. At a workshop held in 2012, by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, presenters described many of these strengths, including community traditions and beliefs, social support networks, close-knit families, and individual resilience. In May 2014, the Academies held a follow-up workshop titled Advancing Health Equity for Native American Youth. Participants discussed issues related to (1) the visibility of racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care as a national problem, (2) the development of programs and strategies by and for Native and Indigenous communities to reduce disparities and build resilience, and (3) the emergence of supporting Native expertise and leadership. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780309376136
Publisher: National Academies Press
Publication date: 07/22/2016
Pages: 74
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction and Themes of the Workshop 1

Key Points 2

Organization of the Report 4

2 Voices of Native Youth 5

Education and Health 7

Reaching Out to Others 7

Health and the Community 8

Gardening as the Path to Wellness 10

Exercise, Health, and Commitment 10

Information and Support 11

The influence of Social Media 11

The Role of Grandmothers 12

The Effects of Money 13

The Wisdom of Youth 13

3 Contributors to Resilience 15

Protective Factors in Nurturing Environments 16

Protective Factors and Suicide 18

4 Health and Well-Being 21

Culturally Based Interventions for the Prevention of Substance Use and Abuse Among Native American Youth 22

The Joys and Challenges of Helping Native Youth Tell Their Stories About Health and Wellness 24

By Age 7: Developing Our Next Seven Generations 25

Learning a Language 27

5 Addressing Health Disparities Through Education 29

Valuing Traditions and New Pathways 29

Hope, Enrichment, and Learning 32

The Combined B.A./M.D. Degree Program 34

Sheep, Ceremony, and Textbooks: A Native Undergraduate's Testimony 35

Tribal Science: Ensuring the Evolution and Practice of Indigenous Scientists and Researchers in the 21st Century and Beyond 36

American Indians and the Health Professions: A Growing Crisis 39

Scholarship Requirements 42

6 Concluding Comments 43

Key Takeaways 43

Office of Adolescent Health 44

Sources of Evidence 44

A Culture of Health 45

References 47


A Workshop Agenda 49

B Speaker Biographies 53

C Resources 61

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