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Urban Indian Health Institute: Decolonizing Data

Posted by on September 28th, 2017 Posted in: Data Science
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The Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI), a Division of the Seattle Indian Health Board located in Seattle, WA is one of 12 tribal epidemiology centers (TECs) funded by the Indian Health Service (IHS). TECs serve as a crucial component of the health care resources for all American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) by:

Managing public health information systems
Investigating diseases of concern
Managing disease prevention and control programs
Communicating vital health information and resources
Responding to public health emergencies
Coordinating these activities with other public health authorities

Although eleven of the TECs focus on regional AI/AN population health issues in IHS service areas, the UIHI addresses nationwide tribal AI/AN and urban Indian public health and disease surveillance needs. On their website, you will find the data-rich UIHI annual Community Health Profile, an overview of the health status of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) within the 33 Urban Indian Health Programs (UIHPs) service areas. They also offer an excellent series of fact sheets, reports, and toolkits on chronic disease, communicable disease, and child and maternal health.

With her team of researchers, UIHI Director, Abigail Echo-Hawk, is passionate about decolonizing AI/AN data. For centuries, tribal information has been collected and interpreted by outside officials, government agencies, and researchers.  This has not only led to inaccurate and often harmful outcomes, but is also reflected in the wide gaps in accurate and reliable data available about AI/AN populations and their health trends. One of the overarching goals of the UIHI is to right this wrong and place health data back in the hands of the tribal and urban Indian population, where it can be used to help identify and ameliorate the health disparities that currently exist.

The NNLM PNR is proud to work with the UIHI and we look forward to bringing you more information on the amazing work they are doing.

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Developed resources reported in this program are supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.

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