NAU awarded grant for Center for American Indian Resilience
By Sara Weber
Northern Arizona University (NAU) was recently awarded a $6 million dollar grant, in partnership with UA and Diné College, for the creation of a Center for American Indian Resilience (CAIR).
Priscilla Anderson, leader of the project, said the grant will be used for research concerning various aspects of American Indian culture.
“This grant is going to be used to identify the health-related factors of American Indians and we also want to assess how Native people deal with chronic illnesses,” Sanderson said. “We want to take a different angle. Traditionally, we have looked at the challenges and the problems with health issues for American Indians. We’re coming from a different angle; we’re trying to look at the positive aspect: Native Americans are able to live with and overcome chronic disease.”
Robert Trotter, Regents’ professor and chair of anthropology, explained how this particular program was awarded such a hefty grant.
“It was a competitive grant process,” Trotter said. “It’s a grant from the National Institute of Health. A group of people here at the university applied for the grant, and the principal investigator, Priscilla Sanderson, worked with Nicolette Teufel-Shone [from UA]. It’s a very interesting grant because it focuses on resiliency rather than just problems. It focuses on ways that people have been helping themselves as well as focusing on health disparities that exist among American Indian people.”
CAIR is a new research project conducted out of the College of Health and Human Services. According to Sanderson, the center will be hiring student interns as well as researchers. Most CAIR contributors, however, are already faculty members at NAU, like Sanderson, Trotter and Leslie Schulz, executive dean for the College of Health and Human Services.
“The only new people will be a program manager, research ethnographers, research coordinator, as well as some students we’re looking to hire,” Sanderson said. “. . . It’s basically starting a new center with existing resources. If students want to do an internship, this will be an opportunity for them to get involved as well as to learn about resilience models.”
Schulz said the new center will offer students more than an opportunity to educate themselves on American Indian culture.
“It will provide NAU students an opportunity to get an advanced education in the areas of American Indian resilience and allow them to potentially participate in research projects and outreach projects to the reservation,” Schulz said.
Aimee David, president of the Native American Cultural Enrichment organization and freshman criminal justice major, said she looks forward to the experience CAIR will bring to NAU.
“This is going to be very beneficial to students in my organization, as well as others, in bringing them knowledge on different topics they could be researching,” David said. “There are a lot of Native Americans who aren’t well-informed about a lot of the health topics. It will be good for them to get more experience in this type of work force.