A tribal gathering: Strengthening partnerships with Native communities

With a focus on building and strengthening community partnerships, Oregon Health and Science University convened the 2014 Tribal Gathering that brought together faculty and staff, along with members of the 43 federally recognized tribes in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

While the event was a collaborative effort, our team at the Center for Diversity and Inclusion led the charge in planning and executing details. Leaders and members of the Native American Employee Resource Group served as ambassadors during the event.

We were pleased to host leaders and members of the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB), as they described their work in legislation, training and research. The board houses a tribal epidemiology center (EpiCenter), several health promotion disease prevention projects and is active in Indian health policy. For years, NPAIHB has worked with OHSU researchers and faculty on projects that focus on health care delivery, education, and the elimination of health disparities.

It takes a village.

NPAIHB executive director Dr. Joe Finkbonner and Chairman Andy Joseph underscored the importance of cultural competency when working  on health care and research programs with the Native American community. OHSU’s Dr. Norwood Knight-Richardson, Sr. Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, highlighted the importance of continued communication between the Health Board and other members of the Native American community in order to end health care disparities among Native Americans.

OHSU Provost Jeannette Mladenovic described the university’s commitment to addressing healthcare disparities, and School of Medicine Deans Dr. Mark Richardson and Dr. George Mejicano detailed OHSU’s efforts in medical curriculum transformation that would likely have great impact on underserved communities. Presentations by Drs. Tom Becker, Anthony Baptista and Miles Ellenby highlighted great work already in progress thanks to partnerships led by OHSU’s Center for Healthy Communities, the Institute for Environmental Health, and the OHSU Telemedicine Network.

Our team is eager to move toward formulating a strategy that is actionable. As OHSU moves forward with strategies to continue to engage the Native community, we’ll be sure to keep you updated on the progress of tribal collaborations.  And when another tribal gathering is convened in the future, we hope that you’ll join us.


Maileen Hamto is Communications Manager for the Center for Diversity & Inclusion, which leads and supports university-wide initiatives to create a culture of respect and inclusion for all people.