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Bemidji summit to focus on American Indian health issues

A health care summit set for Bemidji next month aims to bring people together with a shared goal of improving the health of American Indians.

The Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health will host its annual summit June 11. This year’s title is “Making Relatives for Community-Based Research.”

Featuring nationally known speakers, the summit focuses on a range of topics aimed at addressing health disparities for American Indians. It will provide information on using the latest strategies for interdisciplinary research to aid tribal communities, particularly on health care and wellness issues.

Topics for breakout sessions include sovereignty and research, data management, substance abuse, diabetes and suicide prevention.

“CRCAIH is supposed to serve as a platform to bring people together to have these discussions, to learn more about health research and identify areas for collaboration,” said Dr. Amy Elliott, a researcher with CRCAIH. “This is a great opportunity for everyone to meet others who are interested in the same topics. ... The summit is really meant to be a catalyst for those other relationships to form and develop.”

The keynote address will be “Participatory Research In Action: Marrying Good Science and Local Benefit” from Dr. Spero Manson, who directs the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health in the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado.

“The keynote will address how science can be used to help improve health,” Elliott said.

The summit is planned to be open and inclusive. Attendance is free, but professionals who plan to obtain continuing education credit must pay $25. Registration is due by Wednesday.

This is the second summit, and plans are to rotate locations each year. The first summit was held last year in Sioux Falls, S.D., drawing interest from 350 people, who either attended live or viewed the event through live Web streaming.

For Bemidji, Elliott expects to see that figure increase to about 500, with 400 attending in person. She said the schedule of speakers and breakout topics were selected specifically for this region based on input from local health care providers, the tribes and community groups.

“The theme is really community driven,” she said.

The CRCAIH in South Dakota was formed in September 2012 with a grant from the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities to help tribal communities and health professionals plan and perform research addressing the health issues of American Indians in South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota.

Pre-conference workshop set

The day before the health care summit, Bemidji State University will host a workshop on traditional foods.

Titled “Traditional Foods Role in Health Promotion,” the workshop will be from 12:30 to 7 p.m. June 10 in BSU’s Beaux Arts Ballroom and will teach participants how to prepare and incorporate traditional foods into American Indians’ diets.

Participants also will learn the role traditional diets play in disease prevention and explore the relationship of cultural teachings/practices and environmental sustainability in the promotion of food as medicine.

There is no cost, but participation is limited to 125 people. Registration is required. Find the link to register through the summit’s website at, or register by calling (218) 755-2851.

If you go...

What: American Indian health summit

When: Wednesday, June 11

Where: Sanford Center in Bemidji

Cost: Free for most, but $25 is required from those seeking continuing education credit