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Partner institutions to reaffirm commitment to Native health

WCU, Wake Forest University and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are reaffirming their partnership to promote Native health initiatives.

The three institutions collaborate to support WCU’s culturally based Native health programs. The CBNHP has developed two basic components: a graduate and undergraduate Native health certificate offered through WCU; and a Native youth-to-health careers initiative summer camp that takes place at WFU.

“We are recommitting ourselves to initiatives we started,” said Lisa Lefler, who directs WCU’s Native health programs.

Representatives will sign a memorandum of understanding recommitting to continuing work on this issue at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, in the chancellor’s conference room, on the fifth floor of the HFR Administration Building on the WCU campus.

Four years ago at Wake Forest University, a memorandum was signed by Principal Chief Michell Hicks on behalf of EBCI, former Provost Kyle Carter on behalf of Western Carolina and former Provost William Gordon on behalf of Wake Forest. The MOU was meant to formally recognize a collaborative effort to reduce health disparities for Native people.

Signing the new agreement will be Hicks, WCU Chancellor John Bardo and Provost Jill Tiefenthaler of Wake Forest. Other representatives include Ulrike Wiethaus, a professor of the humanities, from Wake Forest, and Vickie Bradley, the EBCI deputy health officer. Representing WCU will be Linda Seestedt-Stanford, interim provost; Marie Huff, interim dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences; Wendy Ford, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Jane Eastman, director of the Cherokee studies program; Regis Gilman, interim dean of the Division of Educational Outreach; and Lefler.

The Native health certificate was developed with tribal community members and health professionals to provide a curriculum based on culture to inform providers of the unique nature of Indian health policy and the historical and cultural contexts of heath. This 12-hour, fully online program is one of the first in the nation to include a partnership with a Native community.

The medical career counseling and technologies program, also called MedCat, responds to the universal need for more Native health care workers. MedCat works with the EBCI Health and Medical Division as well as Higher Education and Training Programs to recruit high school students interested in medical careers and related technologies.

The CBNHP works in other ways to heighten awareness of Native health issues. A public lecture series featured its second speaker this fall semester, and a concert and free symposium in October raised raise awareness of the intersection of environmental, health and indigenous issues related to the destruction of mountain land.

For more information, contact Lefler at 828-227-2164 or

By Jill Ingram

Categories | The Reporter

Photos | WCU News Services

Commencement 2017
Commencement 2017


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